David Gabriel is an Orlando based writer, who has not seen the light of day in months. Please send help. You can follow him on Twitter @MrGabrielWrites.
Penny’s tapping of the keyboard ceases as a knock echoes upstairs. She opens the blinds and recoils from the sun. Her eyes adjust, and she sees a mailman walking away from her house, continuing his rounds. She sits up from her ‘desk and knocks over a mug. It spills day-old coffee that stains a photo. In the photo is a smiling Penny and a scrawny man, in times square. In the bottom corner of the photo written in pen, are the words Forever yours - Jacob. She slaps the mug aside and manically wipes down the photo attempting to preserve it. She fails, and the words end up smeared. She grips the sides of the desk, taking shallow breaths.
She looks dejectedly at the photo and shakes her head. Penny then exits the room into the hallway and avoiding half-packed boxes as she walks towards the door. On the walls a thin layer of dust outlines where pictures once hung. She reaches the door, opens it and looks down. On the welcome mat she sees a thin cardboard box, picks it up and reads over the label. It’s for her, but there’s no return address.
No, no, no.
She closes the door and walks inside with it. She opens the package; a photograph slides out depicting a single pine tree that overlooks a lake. Written in the bottom corner are the words Find Me. Her shoulders slump, and a knot forms in her stomach. The photo shakes in her hands.
Why? Why today? Why not tomorrow or a year from now? Why did you arrive today?
She takes a deep breath and tosses the box against the wall. She then walks back upstairs, holding the picture delicately. When she reaches the bedroom, she goes over to an open box. Within is photos showing various scenery: hills, lakes, skyscrapers. They all have the same hand-written words: Find Me.
How am I supposed to find you?
She carefully places the picture in the box and moves towards her computer. A half-written document covers the screen. A speech filled with hollow words describing who Jacob was, and what he meant to her.
With a few clicks, the document is erased. Before she has the chance to change her mind, she turns the computer off. An upbeat ringtone interrupts the silence. The caller ID says, In Law. Penny lets it ring twice before answering.
“Penny?” Jacob’s mother asks.
Penny doesn’t answer, and stares at the coffee stained photo.
“Penny, I know its hard right now, and I don’t want to be insensitive but… I need to know. Are you coming tonight?”
Should I? Penny thinks. She walks back over to the box, and retrieves the photo she received today, re-reading the message Find Me.
“Should I go?” she asks the photo.
“Of course, you should go, Penny. Everyone wants you to be there,” Jacob’s mother says
Penny stares at the photo taking in every detail. The room begins to smell of pine, and she hears rushing water. Jacobs mother clears her throat as if saying, well?
“I’ll go,” Penny says.
“Oh? Excellent, dearie. We will come get you in a couple hours.”
“Okay, sounds good.”
Penny feels wind brush against her hair and hears a faint voice.
“Find me,” the voice says.
“How?” Penny asks.
Margaret walked up to the single-story home of her son. The peeling yellow paint, and unkempt garden cause her nose to stay perpetually pointed skyward. A thin black veil covered her piercing eyes, that swept across every detail of the building.
“Really Jacob, this is where you lived?”
She knocked on the door, and after a minute knocked again. Then she rummaged around her purse, withdrawing a key. She opened the door, and found the home abandoned.
“Dearie? Are you home? We really must get going.”
She searched but found no one. Her phone rang somberly, and she flipped it open.
“Hello?” Margaret asks.
“Mrs. Taylor? This is Mr. Johnson from the funeral home.”
“Is everything alright?”
“Well, I don’t know how quite to explain this, but your son is missing.”
Penny groaned and pulled against the heavy weight dragging her down. Ahead she could see the outline of the lake, the trees became sparse until only one remained a tall oak. She laid down a large black bag next to the tree and sat down next to it. She looked over the lake and watched as the sun set. Far away, she heard sirens, and saw faint red and blue creep in. She looked down at the black bag.