The door is ajar. He can see her sitting from where he’s at, legs crossed in her chair, hands busy with a project that’s piled in her lap as the dogs curl around her feet. This isn’t his door. Here. This time and place; he should go. This door was a mistake created when he took a wrong turn and he glanced carelessly through to the scene on the other side. Always a warning they’d given him in the training. Once you look, it’s hard to look away. He hadn’t really understood until he’d seen her sitting in her chair.

Now he found he couldn’t stop coming back to this place, to the slightly open door with the warm light of a fire spilling through onto his feet as he carefully, not a breath could cross the threshold, watched her. She hadn’t seen him once. She was casually relentless in her task. Again and again he’d watched her hands fly, tangled in yarn, needles an extension of her clicking together as logs crackled and tumbled in the stove. He timed his exit to the shift if the older dog’s head in his direction. Always at the same moment; just as her hair tumbled from the loose bun and spilled around her shoulders breaking her concentration only briefly. The companion would look up at her, her agitation and in that moment, glance at the door and he knew he couldn’t stay a moment longer. He’d step back and through the gate and move on to the next stop. Again and again, however he found himself here; unable to shut the door. Wondering what it would be like to stride to her side and tuck the stray strands of hair behind her ear for her. What her hands would feel like on his. He was voyeur. A watcher. He was obsessed.

Beyond the gate the others would gather at the thresholds, various assignments whispered into their ears by the managers. They’d slide out of the space and complete whatever task was asked. He’d do the same. Over and over. Again and again. And then here he was: back at the door. It had to stop and he knew all he had to do was give it a gentle nudge. It would slip from the stream and from his line of sight and he could forget about the woman and the chair and the tumbling hair and the dog looking up.

And here he was again. At the door. Watching. Knowing that he was breaking every rule. That he was violating something sacred. Something his people had been taught since before his people could move the streams. To watch and to observe was once. It was to watch and record but once. To violate the privacy like this. It was obsecene. Was he becoming something else? What? They didn’t speak of it.

Always the door was ajar for him. Never he stepped through. He was close though. He knew a few more breaths like this and he’d be done for. All he had to do was let the dog sniff the air before he shimmered away; catch his scent.

He couldn’t close the door.

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