“Maggie McCoy, I’m on the list.” She stared the doorman straight in the eyes and tucked a stray lock of her long blonde hair behind an ear. “Would you mind either checking the list or stepping aside, please?” She raised an eyebrow at him, because he still hadn’t moved.
“This is just perfect,” she muttered to herself, as she took a deep breath and prepared to duck around him, but he finally lifted the clipboard into his field of vision. She let out the breath and smiled, much more pleasantly this time. The smile faded abruptly as he dropped the clipboard back down the the desk before him.
Maggie fumed. “This is ludicrous,” she began. “You know as well as I do that I’m here at least twice a week to pick Kat up, and I come to every one of these parties that she throws, whether they’re once a month or every day for a week straight. You’ve worked here about four years now, and it’s always the same–“She broke off in shock.
The doorman turned to open the door for the person who had walked up while Maggie was ranting.
Maggie was too stunned to move, and as soon as the doorman stepped back in front of the entrance, she kicked herself for not ducking around his sorry ass when she had the chance. I won’t waste the next one, she promised herself. Someone else will be along any minute.
“As I was saying,” she continued, “It’s always the same thing. You won’t let me in even thought you have to recognize me by now, and so you check your stupid little list, and I’m on it, so you let me in. Every freaking time. So tell me, why is this time any different?”
The doorman looked through her. Jeez, talking to this guy was like talking to a hologram or something. Maggie tried taking a half step in the direction that he seemed to be making eye contact, but she guessed wrong.
“God, what is with you, man?” Maggie stomped her foot like a child. “There isn’t even one of those stupid parties tonight. There’s nothing going on! Maggie McCoy, here to see Kat Sanders, 312, how hard is that? Let’s get a move on, dude!”
She was so mad that she didn’t even notice at first when the doorman slid aside to let another resident enter. It was only as he was moving back into her path that she realized that she’d missed yet another opportunity to dodge this jerk.
What was the deal? None of this was like her. The impatience, the throwing an actual fit, berating this poor man on the street like a savage! Maggie took another deep breath. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I’ve forgotten my manners. I’d like for you to let me up so I can visit my friend Kat. Thank you.” She waited, hopefully.
The doorman continued to ignore her.
Maggie was at her wits’ end. She started to take yet another deep breath, then realized that she was hyperventilating over this whole situation, and struggled to breathe slowly and normally. Eventually, it worked.
The doorman didn’t bat an eye.
Maggie burst into tears, and at that exact moment, a cab pulled up to the curb and Kat stepped out, dressed in black from head to toe, with red eyes and a tissue in her hand. The doorman slid aside, inclining his head respectfully towards her.”I’m terribly sorry for your loss, ma’am,” he said.
Maggie’s jaw dropped. No one recognized her. She was here to see Kat for their weekly toast and tea, and Kat wasn’t even home?
Something weird was going on.
A thought struck Maggie. No one was paying any attention to her. Kat wasn’t home. Kat didn’t even see her. Kat was sad. Kat had a loss.
“I’m a ghost,” Maggie said. “I’m a freaking ghost. Isn’t that just perfect.”
Lynn pushed on her front door a bit, and it squeaked on its hinges. She knew she’d locked it and shut it firmly behind her when she left this morning, but there it was. Open.
She wondered briefly if she should call the police before deciding against it. That would likely cause more trouble than it was worth. She gave a soft cough, and entered.
Nothing looked wrong or out of place. Her belt still hung on the back of the chair nearest the door, and she noticed that she’d left the ranch dressing on the table. Her left hand absentmindedly reached to pick it up, and that’s when she saw it.
The tiny baby puppy cowering beneath the kitchen table, shivering.
Lynn had no way of knowing if someone had left the poor thing, or let it in, or if her door had malfunctioned and opened just enough for it to seek refuge, but she wasn’t arguing.
She carefully set the bottle of dressing back on the table and lay down on the floor, inching closer and closer to the dog. Finally, she was close enough to reach out a hand and pet its soft, damp fur. The puppy snuggled into her touch, seemingly unafraid. She scooped it up and held it against her chest, trying to warm it.
In a few minutes, the puppy fell asleep, and Lynn had fallen in love. She never forgot the day that her door was just a little bit open when she came home from work, and she loved little Bradley for a very long time.