"As you both are probably aware," the real estate agent explained to the prospective buyers, "this home was once owned by the famous painter, Ramon Cruz."
Neither of them had heard of Cruz, but they reacted as if they had and feigned being impressed. Encouraged by this, the agent then went into great detail about how the artist had imprinted the home’s interior with his distinctive style.
“Here, for instance, is the actual Spanish Door which Cruz used in his 1956 masterpiece, ‘El Jardin Oscuro’,” she pointed out.
The pair, intrigued by the intricacy of the door’s design, stopped in front of it and one of them asked, “Where does it lead?”
A bit embarrassed, the agent admitted, “Well, it’s not a real door. It’s a ‘trick of the eye’ painting, a ‘trompe l’oeil’ work. And anyway, there’s no doorknob. It’s just one of many quirky things about this house.” She ended with a nervous laugh and then indicated that the couple should follow her into the living room. As they did, both of them couldn’t help but glance back at the door and wonder.
While they listened to the agent as they toured the rest of the house, the couple’s thoughts were continually drawn back to that Spanish Door. And as they walked down one of the many long hallways in the home, they both noticed something that the agent hadn’t. There was a small, unlit alcove in a wall. And laying in there was a doorknob.
As his wife kept the agent preoccupied with a few questions, the husband surreptitiously pocketed the doorknob. He kept his hand on it as they moved onward with the tour and he was surprised at how cold it felt, almost as if it had been outside all night.
“Well, I suppose you two want to take some time by yourselves to go back and revisit some parts of the home,” the agent said at the end of the tour. “I’ll be out front by my car when you’re ready to head back to the office. Take your time. It’s a big place.”
As the two of them headed back towards the front door, she tugged on his arm and whispered, “What does ‘El Jardin Oscuro’ mean?”
“It means ‘The Dark Garden’,” he replied as he opened the door for her.
He could hear her gasp slightly as he spoke those words and as he closed the door behind them, she grabbed his arm and demanded, “Why didn’t you tell me when you first knew?” She trembled and her eyes filled with tears as she waited for his answer.
“I had to wait until we were alone. You understand now, don’t you?” he replied, holding her closely and speaking softly into her ear. “If I had told you while the agent was still with us, I wasn’t sure how you’d react.”
They had lost their young daughter last year to illness and a psychic had told them she had gone to ‘a dark garden’ and nothing else. And now here they were in a house with a strange door perhaps leading to ‘The Dark Garden’. The coincidence was almost too overwhelming for them.
“Should we call the psychic?” she asked.
“I think it’s clear we should open the door right now,” he said, retrieving the doorknob from his pocket. “Are you ready?”
They both breathed in deeply and then walked slowly out of the alcove and down the steps to the waiting door.
They looked at each other for a long moment and then, as she held his hand in hers, he slid the doorknob gently into the door with his other hand and turned the knob. The door opened itself slowly. and as he let go of the doorknob, they stepped back, waited and watched.
Minutes passed as they stared with wonderment at the scene behind the door. Finally, gathering their thoughts, they closed the door and astonished by what they had witnessed, headed for the front of the home.
“Well, have you decided?” the agent asked them as they approached her at the curb.
“We’ll take it,” they both said in unison.
“Oh, that’s great. Let’s head back to the office and I’ll get an offer together.”
They looked at each other and then he responded to the agent by saying, “We’d like to stay with the home for a while. We’ll be here when you get the offer ready for signing. Will that be alright?”
“Sure thing. I’ll see you two in about an hour. There’s some snacks in the refrigerator. See you soon.”
As the agent departed, the couple turned back towards the home, clasped hands and walked silently together. It would be their first hour with their daughter since her illness and they had so much they wanted to share with her.