A short story by Tegan Harris
I patiently wait, sitting in the chair by the door you used to sit at to put on and take of your shoes at the beginning and end of every day. My leg taps an unusual beat that has become a distressing white noise in my head. I attempt to hold it down with my hand, but the anxiety takes over and I just let my leg do its strange bounce as my beating heart pounds with it. The first day of every month I wait for your letter to arrive. Seeing your delicate handwriting calms me and my pulsing anxieties. The angelic silhouette of the postman fades into view and his tiny pink fingertips peek through the letterbox as the letter slides into my open hands. I hear the postman let out a little chuckle; it’s like he knows I’m there receiving his letters sent from heaven with open arms but doesn’t care to admit it. I frantically clutch the letter between my shaking fingers and a tear traces down my face. My anxiety is stronger than ever. I’m like a drug addict with my ecstasy right between my fingers. I rip open the letter so I can get my fix of you, alive between my hands. As soon as I see your handwriting with the words “hello sweetheart”, my whole body is relieved like the surge of anxiety exits out of my hands and beyond the letter never to be seen, well, until the next first of the month. But this letter was different. I could sense it. The anxiety didn’t fully leave. Like that tiny bit of hope in Pandora’s box, the smallest bit remained. I carefully opened up the letter; I couldn’t wait to hear what you had to say. This letter was different to his usual love poems written in a beautiful calligraphy cursive writing style that he was lucky enough to have possessed naturally. My fingers danced over the paper as I read your writing like braille.
You like games, right? The kitchen floorboards are the key, my dear, 12 by 5.
Love, Your Angel”
I was startled. Frozen in confusion, I was worried that if I moved, I would lose this moment we had. But what did he mean? Kitchen floorboards? I was then overcome by some invisible being that lifted me to my feet and guided me towards the kitchen; I wasn’t in control anymore. It was him, urging me to play his games; 12 by 5 ringing in my head. I immediately knew what I had to do without thinking, as if he, himself had whispered the instructions in my ear. I counted out the twelfth floorboard across then the fifth up. The only floorboard in the kitchen that had a small hole in it which I hadn’t noticed until this very moment. I hooked my finger into the hole and wrapped it under the floorboard and lifted which took no effort. A wooden box was placed underneath with exquisite patterns engraved into it. I took it out carefully as I felt his hands wrap around mine and flip my thumbs to open up the box. Engulfed in red velvet, a bronze key, with the same engravings as the box, slept quietly under my feet for so many years and blanketing it was another note in his same cursive writing. No “sweetheart” or “dear” or “honey”. Just the words “You know where to go” with an angel wing either side of the first and last letter; a message from heaven and heaven guided me to where I had to go. I first placed the key in my jean pocket as if it were still asleep and I didn’t want to wake it up. I floated up our creaky staircase and into the bedroom. I pulled the bed back with the whole force of my body, with the key still safe inside my pocket. Behind the bed was an oval shaped door about half my height and a little hole for the key to be reunited with it. Apprehension took over my every being, I knew nothing could hurt me, but I had never felt a fear like this before. You were always unpredictable but something about this felt like something unlike anything else. My hands shook as I reached for the key in my pocket and cradled it gently in the palm of my hand as I picked it up between my fingers of the other hand. I returned it to its proper bed and twisted it around until the entire door clicked. Your game was about to be won. Whatever you were hiding behind this door was about to be discovered and I would see you in a totally different way. I felt your hands lie themselves gently on my back, urging me to open up the door. You were there with me, we were going to do this together. I closed my eyes as I rested my own hands on the door, took the leap, and pushed.