Gene lived in a very nice house, on top of a very nice hill. The hill was nice in the ordinary ways that hills are nice, it was not too steep, it had a tree to provide shade, and in the spring, wildflowers would grow on it. The house was also nice in the usual ways that houses are nice, it was dry, it was not too big or too small, and it was a lovely shade of blue. It was also nice in extraordinary ways. The refrigerator was always full, and nothing in it ever went bad. In the winter, the fireplace was always burning, without needing any fuel to be added. And the bookshelf always had new books to read, but still also had the old books that Gene liked to reread. Overall Gene was very happy to be living in the house.
It did have one problem, though. Every day a small rock was placed in front of the door. The rock was not too heavy, and easily moved aside. And even that allowed him to make a very lovely stone wall.
Even though the house was very nice, Gene always found an excuse to go outside. In the warm months this was especially easy because he liked to go for walks around his hill, and sit in the shade of the apple tree that grew in his yard, and read books.
When it was colder out, Gene would call up a friend, and they would do something together. Even though the refrigerator always had food in it, Gene still liked to go to restaurants. He liked being around all the people without any obligation to interact with them, and he liked getting ideas for what to make at home. They also went to see movies, and sporting events, and sometimes they just hung out at someone’s house and passed the time.
In this way, the stones never had a chance to pile up in front of the door, and Gene could always push them aside. Until one winter, when it was especially cold, especially early. The fireplace was always nice in the Winter, where Gene could watch the snow fall from within his nice cozy house, reading a nice book. And this Winter it held an extra draw, and he didn’t feel the need to go outside where it was cold and windy. So first there was one rock in front of his door, and then a second. Then he called his friend Clarence, but Clarence had work that day, so a third rock stayed. Then he called his friend Ruth, but Ruth just wanted to spend time alone, which Gene understood, and then there were four. He tried his friend Sam, but Sam was out of the house, perhaps visiting someone else.
This continued with all of his friends where they were busy or otherwise unavailable. Gene decided that it wasn’t so bad staying inside anyway, and he just stopped making any calls, and instead spent all of his time inside, reading, which he liked to do very much. And so the stones kept piling up, 10 stones, then 15, then 30.
Spring came around and the fireplace went from cozy to stifling, and Gene decided to go outside. But when he went to open the door, he found it wouldn’t budge. He tried ramming it, but he only hurt his shoulder. So he went looking for something he could use to pry it open. Unfortunately the house was too nice to need fixing, so Gene didn’t own any tools, not even a hammer. He sank down in front of the door, defeated.
And the rocks kept piling up.
Ruth realized that she had not seen Gene in over a year. She started asking around. Clarence had not seen Gene either, and neither had Sam, and neither had anyone else. They all decided to visit Gene, because they were worried.
When they got to Gene’s house they couldn’t even see the front door, the whole thing was covered by a small mountain of rocks. They all set to work, carting the rocks off, one by one. Because there were so many people helping, it was not a difficult job at all.
After the last rock was removed, Ruth knocked on the three times, knock, knock, knock. Gene was blinking when he opened the door. He was unused to the sunlight. He saw that all of his friends had come to help him out, and it made him cry.
“Why didn’t you call one of us?” asked Ruth.
“I didn’t want to admit how long it had been since I had been out,” replied Gene. “It was embarrassing.”
They all went out to a restaurant that day to celebrate Gene’s recovery, and Gene promised never to let himself get locked in his house again.