Adventures in Akadia
Elizabeth, Lukas, Jamari, and Gabriela began to stand and, for the first time, made eye contact with each other. They were silently asking, “Do you know why Ms. Quinn called our names?” The concerned and surprised looks they saw on each others’ faces communicated that they were each unsure of what was about to happen. Approaching Ms. Quinn’s desk, they were greeted with her warm smile, “Well kids, I have an interesting note here.” She picked up the piece of paper that had been brought to her and read, “Please send the following students to Room 143 for a Youth Development Seminar.” Ms. Quinn set the note down so they could all see it and added, “Whoever wrote this has very nice handwriting.”
After allowing the children to look over the note for a moment, Ms. Quinn asked, “Do any of you know what this is all about?”
They each shook their heads.
Ms. Quinn, somewhat amused by the situation said, “I must have missed the day where they talked about—” she picked up the note again to double check “—Youth Development Seminars.” After spending another moment looking over the note, Ms. Quinn let out a chuckle and said, “Alright then, you best be on your way.” Checking the note a final time, she reminded them of their destination, “Remember, you are looking for room 143. I look forward to hearing about it when you get back.”
The children hesitated before leaving Ms. Quinn's desk. Their confusion seemed to affect their movements as they turned away and left the classroom. As they started down the hallway, their pace quickened but almost immediately slowed back down as they each realized they didn’t know how to find room 143.
Now at a standstill, Jamari was the first to speak, “Do any of you know where room 143 is?”
The other three shook their heads and Elizabeth added, “I don’t know.”
Sounding confident, Jamari pointed down the hall and said, “Let’s try this way!”
“Do you know where it is?” Elizabeth asked skeptically.
“Well, no…” he paused briefly to think, “...but it’s gotta be around here somewhere. The school isn’t that big.”
While Jamari was right that their school wasn’t all that big when compared to other schools or buildings, it quickly started to feel much bigger as they struggled to find room 143. After some aimless wandering, Lukas suggested, “Maybe we should look at the numbers on the doors. That way we’ll know if we are getting closer or further away.”
“Good idea!” Elizabeth exclaimed. They each quickly turned their eyes up to the small number plates above each door. As they walked, they noticed the numbers getting bigger: 3, 4, 5 and so on. But after room 8, they came to a dead end.
“Alright, let’s try another one,” Jamari suggested.
The others nodded in agreement and they tried another hallway. The doors picked up where the last ones had left off: 9, 10, 11, and so on. But after room 16, they reached another dead end. At this moment, they each had the same thought: none of these numbers are even close to 143. They gave up on their organized approach and began again to simply wander the halls, hoping they would get lucky and find a room labeled “143”.
When the group felt like they had searched everywhere, they once again came to a stop. Elizabeth suggested, “Maybe we should go back and tell Ms. Quinn we can’t find it.”
“Alright, let’s go,” Jamari responded. Gabriela and Lukas both gave a silent nod in agreement.
As they began to walk back to their classroom, they noticed a much older student walking the opposite direction; she looked like she might even be a 6th grader. This made each of them somewhat nervous. As a younger student, you never know whether the older students will tease you or be kind. To their relief, this student approached them with a smile and asked, “Can I help you find something?”
Jamari responded, “We’re looking for room 143.”
The older child's smile grew wider and more bright at the mention of room 143. "I thought that might be it. I know exactly where 143 is. C’mon on, I'll show you." Happy to have a guide, the children eagerly followed their more seasoned schoolmate.
The older student led the group to what felt like the opposite end of the school from where they had been searching. They found themselves in a short hallway that, in all their searching, the children had somehow missed. They immediately noticed something different about this hallway: there was only one door. Every other hallway in the school was lined with doors to classes and other rooms.
As they approached the door, each of the children started walking quickly and ahead of the older student, anxious to get a view of the room number. There, sitting above the door, the number plate read “143”. The children stood side by side, noticing the door didn’t look like any of the others in the school.
The door was made from a dark-colored wood and had been carved with several intricate designs. Their eyes were first drawn to a beautiful sunrise carved near the top of the door. Just below it was a mountain range with snow-capped tops. Coming down from the mountains, the carvings continued with dense forests of pine trees surrounding streams and rivers. Approaching the base of the door, the carvings became a variety of wildflowers. These wildflowers looked so realistic that someone might make the mistake of trying to smell them. After taking in the individual scenes depicted on the door, they could now see that the carvings were meant to come together to illustrate a single place.
Their eyes were then directed to the doorknob, which also had clearly been expertly handmade. The backplate to the knob was long and had a detailed pattern. The knob itself had a similar pattern but left the center mostly open for a beautifully written letter “A”. Each of them had seen thousands of doors in their life, but none of them looked quite like this.
“What is this room?” Elizabeth asked.
“I don’t think you would believe me if I told you,” the older student replied.
This response caught Jamari’s attention, “So, you’ve been here before?”
“Oh, yes.” Pausing for a moment, she then added, “I love this place.” The older student then took two steps forward, now within arm’s reach of the door. The others remained in line with one another, their eyes switching back and forth between the door and the older student.
Feeling uneasy, Lukas asked, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Are we in trouble?”
With a slight giggle, the older student looked back to Lukas and replied, “Don’t worry. This is a very good thing.” The older student looked back toward the door, lifted her hand, and began running her fingers across the carvings of the trees.
Jamari, feeling somewhat awkward, like he was interrupting the older student, asked, “So, what are we supposed to do? Knock on the door or just go in?”
The older student stepped back, once again standing beside the children. She took a moment before answering but eventually responded, “When the door is ready, you’ll be able to open it. And then…” she paused, “…and then it will take you where you need to go.” Her response was followed by a long silence. The older student was being very nice but her answers weren’t making any sense. What did she mean that the door would open when it was ready? How can a door be ready? They also wondered why she had described the door in such a funny way. She had said that the door would take you where you need to go. Doors don’t take people places. Do they?
The older student broke the silence by offering a final instruction, “Once you get there, look for Aurelia. She’ll explain everything and help you know what to do.”
The list of questions was only growing longer: Who is Aurelia? Why would they have to look for her? What was behind this door?
At that moment, Gabriela remembered what her dad had said to her that morning: “When one door closes, another door opens.” Was he somehow talking about this door? That’s not possible, she thought to herself. Her dad wouldn’t even know about room 143 or this door…would he? Either way, thinking of her dad’s words helped Gabriela to feel like whatever was behind the door, it was going to be okay. For the first time in front of her classmates, Gabriela spoke, “Thank you for your help. What is your name?”
The older student looked toward Gabriela, smiled, and replied, “You’re welcome. My name is Ivy.” Ivy stepped forward again and placed her hand on the door. Her other hand moved slowly to take hold of a necklace that she was wearing. After a brief silence, Ivy turned to the group and said, “Well, I better get back to class. Good luck.”
After only a few steps, Ivy paused and turned back to the group, “Oh, and be sure to trust the Quo—,” Ivy stopped herself, took one last look at the door and said, “Actually, never mind. That’s something you’ll need to learn for yourself.” Ivy smiled at the group one more time, turned around, and skipped back to class.
With Ivy gone, the four kids were left alone standing in front of the door to room 143. They looked to each other to try and understand what was happening.
“What was she talking about?” Jamari asked.
Elizabeth added a question of her own, “How do we know when the door is ready for us to open it?”
They exchanged confused glances and shrugged their shoulders.
Unsure of what to do next, the children looked forward again toward the door. Their attention was immediately drawn to the doorknob. Somehow, while they were looking away, the doorknob had started to glow.
The children stood in disbelief. After a brief silence, Jamari spoke, “Um, that wasn’t happening before, was it?”
Nobody spoke. While the glow was subtle, it was unmistakable. The doorknob now had a warm and golden color to it. After having just enough time to notice the glow on the doorknob, a similar glow began to fill the tiny space between the door and its frame. The glow started on the right side and began moving across the frame at about the speed you might trace the doorframe with your finger. When the glow completed its journey to the other side, the entire door lit up. The carvings looked even more realistic and now had color to them. The snow-capped mountains were white and a deep gray, the trees emerald green, the rivers a bright blue, and the wildflowers were every color imaginable.
“It’s ready,” Gabriela said, barely loud enough for the others to hear. The other three were immediately reminded of what Ivy had said: when the door is ready, you’ll be able to open it.
The door was now producing a warmth that led Lukas to ask, “Do you think the doorknob is too hot? Will it burn us?”
Jamari thought to himself, that’s a good point, we should check that, and took a step forward. He began making a quick tapping motion on the doorknob to test how hot the surface was. His tapping slowed until he finally took a hold of the knob. Jamari’s face went from concern to surprise as he realized that, despite its warm glow, this doorknob felt like any other you would use. He let go of the doorknob and, stepping back to join his classmates, said, “No. It’s not hot.”
The door was clearly ready, but what was waiting for them on the other side?
After a moment of silence and stillness, Gabriela took a step forward. The other three focused intently on her, curious what she was about to do. Gabriella reached forward and took a hold of the glowing doorknob. Her eyes looked over the door a final time. She breathed in, held onto that breath for a moment, and let it out slowly. Unsure of what was in store, Gabriella turned the knob and pushed the door open.