by Nchimunya Milambo

As I lie in the warm sheets of my twin sized bed, I am suddenly awakened, jolted by fear of the terrible, incredible sound of thunder and bright, white flashes of lightning. I arise from my bed, my delicate feet touching the cold tile floor, the coldness of the floor penetrating through my socks to shoot through my body. I take slow, measured steps, out of my room and into the long, dark hallway. I reach the bare, wooden door that dwarfs me.

Gusty winds outside shake  the door violently. As I open it, the African rain and dirt floods my nose; I breathe the moist, earthy smell of cleansing in, slowly and calmly. I tiptoe to the linen cabinet, grabbing the ratty towels that have seen better days and a crumpled, old newspaper. To stop the door’s trembling, I roll up the newspaper and stuff the crack between the door and its frame.  I block the wind and cold air from entering the flat by shoving the towels at the bottom of the ill-fitting door.

Turning back down the long, dark hallway, I gaze into my parent’s room at it’s end. Looking around the dark empty room, seeing the wooden drawers’ left half open, the clothes scattered around the room that remind me how my father left in a hurry.  My frail, little body is as ill-fitting in the empty queen sized bed as the door to the flat is to its frame. I cover myself with the big warm sheets, my eyes filling with tears as I fall asleep.

I come from the world of broken doors. Waking up every morning out of the warm sheets of my twin sized bed has been an independent task, and handling difficult, frightening situations on my own are things I have learned to do from an early age. My education has been based on self motivation to achieve my dreams and goals, lacking the support of my parents to achieve them.

Every time I left the flat with the broken door, I was reminded of my struggles and my unstable household. As I walked through the doors of the airports to my new, shiny, American life, I fled the broken door of the past for the glorious entry way of my future. And yet, I still get out of my twin sized bed every morning, reminding myself to be the best I can be, to make myself whole as I strive to find a reachable doorway into my future.