When I look in the sitting room, she is gone and the box is open, a single flap hangs listlessly from the top. The kettle screams steam.
The flap bobs invitingly, light as air. It’s strange, I think, how such simple movements remind me of grand vistas and emotions that I haven’t remembered since they occurred and I see a beach in Spain, our honeymoon. Marie is in the ocean and I watch from the beach propped on my elbows.
“Where are you?”
I was thinner then. I could see the rim of my shorts, where the string-ends poked from a hole in the felt.
In the box was nothing. Turning it upside down revealed as much. Waving my arm inside around and around as if I was stirring soup only showed how old I am getting.
“This isn’t funny Marie.”
Rubbing my shoulder I make to open the front door but it was locked. From the inside. Still, I flick open the latch and turn the lock. Outside was perfect, clammy summer, the midday sun drinking up this mornings rain. A car passes and beeps it horn at me but I am already half way up the stairs, the noise of the horn travelling up after me, through the open front door.
“Are you up here? Marie? ARE YOU UP HERE?”
Bang. Each door yells when I kick it open. It yells again when it smacks the wall. Some busted plaster, a smashed wall tile and a missing wife.
Each room is empty. I look behind doors, under beds, in closets as if I am searching for a monster. My body sweats defensively and my throat tightens and stings as I yell my wifes’ name. The middle step creaks when I bound down on top of it, when I skip the five steps before it.
“WHERE ARE YOU?”
Her voice travels from the sitting room where she stands beside the box, her face hidden in her hands. The box tips over from the force of us knocking into it, my arms wrapped around my wife.
“… Where… were you?” I squeeze tight.
“Alan… I saw it all.”