Charlie’s Room: The Doorknob

“Dad,” Charlie said at breakfast. “My doorknob is getting stuck again. Can you fix it?”

“I have the afternoon off today,” Isaac said. “I’ll see what I can do when I get home.”

So, Isaac came home after work and checked the doorknob.   It took two tries to get the door open.   Time to get a new doorknob for Charlie’s room.

Before he drove to the hardware store, Isaac checked the shed for super villains. You never know when someone might be hiding out and using a crazy machine that keeps doorknobs from working properly. The shed had all the tools it was supposed to have and no super villains.

Isaac drove to the hardware store and bought a doorknob. He picked up his toolbox from the garage on his way back into the house. He started to unscrew the doorknob. But, one of the screws was stripped. His screwdriver turned, but the screw did not.

He went to the kitchen and searched through the catchall drawer.   In the back corner he found a wide rubber band. He took it back and held it over the screw and tried to carefully unscrew the last screw.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work. It was times like this that Isaac missed his Uncle Henry. When he was younger, Uncle Henry would come to visit about once a month.   First thing, he’d ask Isaac’s mom for a list of repairs she needed. Isaac followed his uncle around and watched him fix things. Sometimes he got to help too.

He felt a wave of homesickness for his childhood. He wanted to be that little boy again, living in the house where he grew up and following Uncle Henry around helping him fix things. It seemed like there wasn’t anything Uncle Henry couldn’t fix. A stripped screw wouldn’t have been a problem for Uncle Henry.

Isaac felt tired and a little bit sad. Maybe things would be better after a nap. He went to his room, crawled under his covers, and went to sleep.   And then, he dreamed. He dreamed that he was Charlie’s age. Everything was in his parent’s house just where it was supposed to be.

Uncle Henry was visiting and he had a list of things to do. Together they oiled the squeaky cupboard doors and tightened the loose table leg. “Next on the list,” Uncle Henry said, “we need to change the doorknob on Charlie’s bedroom door.”

And somehow Charlie’s bedroom door was right next to his bedroom door and it didn’t seem at all strange. Uncle Henry stared to unscrew the doorknob, and one of the screws was stripped. It felt like déjà vu, but Isaac didn’t remember why.

Uncle Henry tried a rubber band, but it didn’t work. So, he got his hammer and lightly tapped the flathead screwdriver into the screw. He was able to remove the screw and change the doorknob.

“See,” Uncle Henry said. “Not so difficult after all. You just need to remember to never give up. Can you remember that, Isaac? Never give up.”

“All right,” Isaac said. “I won’t.”   And he felt himself start to wake up.   “But I don’t want to leave yet,” he said. “I haven’t learned everything.   I need to stay here.”

But, Uncle Henry just smiled and patted his arm, and Isaac woke up. He looked at the ceiling and tried to not cry. “I promised to never give up,” he said at last.   He got up and went back to Charlie’s door.

And the doorknob had already been changed. Isaac turned it and checked both sides of the door. It was perfect. The old doorknob was sitting next to the empty packaging for the new knob on Charlie’s desk. His toolbox was on the chair.

“Marianne? Charlie?” he said. He wandered through the house.   No one else was there. “Thank you, Uncle Henry,” Isaac said softly. He decided to oil the squeaky cupboard doors.   He’d put it off far too long.