The Red Door

The little house is built on a hill, the back half of it being held level by pillars of stone, the front porch really the only thing seated properly on the forest floor before the rest sloped off into the little valley. The autumn leaves drifted down in whispering flurries, gold and red splashed across the nearly black wood of the front porch and the mossy shingles of the roof. The house is small and cozy, just a little forgotten cottage on the outskirts of town, the mailbox is worn and battered from time, and the door is a vibrant red.

His hands were stuffed into his pockets, the chilly wind playing with his hair and clothes as he made his way along the road to the little house, fiddling with the key to the front door in his pocket. It had been another rough few nights, the way it often was, and just like all the other times, he was there to help pick up the pieces.

He hopped over the little fence that did nothing to keep intruders out, mindful of the barbs that dotted the wire. He watched his footing on the leaves, slipping up the front steps and smiling at the bright red door. It was inviting, somehow, the cheery color making the ramshackle house a little less sinister, in some way.

He unlocked the door and slipped inside, glancing around the shadowy interior for a moment before he spotted the boy curled up by the fireplace opposite him. His shirt was missing, crumpled on a nearby chair, and his shoes were nowhere in sight. He was asleep, the deep, even rhythm of his breathing indication of that.

The taller man moved across the cottage, stepping lightly and carefully, to keep from making too much noise. There were new scars on the boy’s tanned skin, new stories to go along with them, too, he shouldn’t wonder. He stooped by the fire, adding another log to the dwindling blaze in order to rescue it before it snuffed out completely.

A hand fumbled out, catching the edge of his coat and giving it a gentle tug. “What time is it?” The boy asked, eyes still squeezed shut as he lay on the floor.

“Time to get up.” The older man replied, smiling gently at the boy’s tired expression, reaching out a hand to gently ruffle the chestnut hair, mindful of the two lupine ears that protruded from his skull. “We can’t have you lying about all day now, can we?”

“Can’t we?” The boy asked, one golden eye cracking open to look up at the older man. “I feel sick as-”

“A dog?” The older man supplied, grinning wickedly when all he got in return for that jibe was a flat look. “I know, I know… I brought you something to make you feel better.” He started to rummage in his pockets for a moment before he handed over a carefully wrapped parcel, the contents both edible and delicious.

As the boy began to tuck into the treat with gusto, the elder merely sat by the fire and watched him, musing over that red door on the cottage. Red, the color of blood and bravery and passion— red, the color of the door that hid so many secrets from the light of day. That color was so ill-suited to a house that hid a monster, and yet no one else dared come near the place.

This was their secret, their hideaway from the world, and whether the color of the door suited the purpose it had or not, he didn’t care. He had always liked red, regardless.

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