No matter what Alan does, the handle always breaks. It is held to the door by four, small screws and has no connection to the one outside — although he finds that when one breaks so does the other. When it breaks on the inside, he has to insert his finger nails into small gaps around the frame and pull the door before leaving; if it breaks on the outside it is easier, he can just push, and worry about having to pull again later.
Damn that handle! Alan stares at it in his hand. It’s going to make him late for work again. The handle has seen better days, it has been mended and taped so many times; cracks are beginning to show, he doesn’t know how much longer it will last. If he fixed it good and proper — perhaps got a new door — it would shave precious moments off his day. Imagine the things I could do then, he thinks. Standing here before the door — perched before this moment of pulling that preceded later thoughts of pushing — he thinks of the wonderful things he could do, if only he fixed the handle. Accumulated together, he calculates the time would allow him to read a third of a book a week, perhaps plan out a career change, sleep more, eat better, put together that online dating profile, get some time at the gym.
If he had a letter box, he could pull it, grasp the metal lip between his index finger and thumb, how delicious that would be; he would already be stuck in traffic now. If he had a letter box, he could attach the handle to a string for later retrieval so he could arrive home in style, with the pretence of turning a handle like most people did. What a sight his door must be when he was at work, those small holes exposed and getting grubbier around their edges.
And what a strange shape the handle is! He’s never noticed that before. It feels so uncomfortable in his hand. If only it were round. How pleasurable his grasp would be then! He would stand and turn it all day long. Holding an oval handle seemed very displeasing.
Alan thinks about the pulling again, locates the optimal place around the door frame to insert his fingers. If only Sally was still living with him, she would be helping him open the door now. She would know what to do. She would have replaced it for something solid, reliable, perhaps made of heavy brass. How happy a handle like that would make him feel. But Alan has been pulling and pushing everyday for so long now, struggling to get in and out, that it would be frightening if he didn’t have to do it anymore. Perhaps he should leave it as it is.