This is a piece of Flash Fiction that I wrote with my Thursday night group with a list of prompts too long to copy here. This is NOT a fictionalized account of the day a homeless man came to my door and I let him in and he stayed until I’d written a 700 page novel and a handful of poems about him. THAT is a different story. This is fiction.
A stranger came to my door. His shoes were dirty but his button-down shirt looked crisp. I decided there was little risk in opening the door as the screen was latched. We stood for several seconds, each framed on the threshold, wondering. “Can I help you?” I asked finally.
“That’s what I came to ask you,” he said. “I’m looking for work.”
I wanted to tell him I had no work, but he began to spin a tale of hardship and poor judgement. I suspected it was all lies, but I couldn’t turn away. It was the soft melodic quality of his voice like the whir or a hummingbird’s wings, the drone of a wasp, dangerous but compelling. As he spoke he grew taller and his neck was long and his legs were spindly and his arms grew thin feathers and he stretched them into wide open wings, white and blue like a heron. Then he grew short and furry and rounded like a badger and finally he grew tall and grizzled and his hair became matted like a barbaric Hun or Visigoth and his clothes were like animal skins and his shoes were bits of tough hide strapped on with burnt rope and long rubbery vines, and then he was himself again, a man in a button-down shirt and muddy sneakers, a book of wild childhood imaginings. I knew he was the creature I’d been waiting for, a shape shifter with his stories of adventure and fake fates, Neverland and Oz and a tiny hamlet where that wily sleuth Nancy Drew lived with her lawyer father and her girlfriends, blond chubby Bess and the boyish girl George. But Nancy had red hair, and so did I, and I recognized this man as a mystery to be solved. No wait, my intuition was tingling, reminding me that women like me have never been good at solving mysteries. For us mysteries were sacred, mysteries were meant to be entered and accepted and loved and lived. You could set up a duel—me against nature—or you could take nature as an ally, dive into self-acceptance and compassion.
I looked at the stranger at the door. He was small, unarmed, vulnerable. I unlatched the screen. “Come in,” I said.