September Shocks #2 – N.M. Brown

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Death Shaped Box

By N.M. Brown

It’s been eight months since the incident and I’m still hearing sirens in my sleep.

It was a Thursday evening; I came home from work to an empty house. My wife Lena’s clothes and phone weren’t missing. Her cell phone sat abandoned on our counter; vibrating with calls and notifications.

The only thing signifying that she hadn’t been abducted was her missing car.

I hadn’t even completed all three numbers of 911 when police officers came to my door. Our neighbor Janice stood behind them; eyes rimmed red with tears. She had asked Lena to pick her son Thomas up from school due to a work emergency; meaning he was also missing.

They questioned Janice and I repeatedly over the following weeks to no avail. We knew less than they did. No one wanted our loved ones home more than we did.

Janice and I got the answers we asked for about two months later, but they weren’t the ones we wanted. Lena’s car was found burned up; crushed like a tin can. Someone saw a set of tire tracks heading off the mountainside and called it in once they saw the wreckage at the bottom.

This New Year’s Eve, I finally got the courage to try to remove the last of Lena’s clothes from the house. The closet had been cleared, leaving only the items she kept in the linen trunk. I painstakingly packed up her favorite skirts, dresses and shoes. My heart felt emptier with every new item I removed from it.

My heart broke to find a heart shaped box at the bottom, one I’d never seen before. A tag was taped atop it; my name scrawled across it in red ink. There was no lock; no key to be found. Only a simple, metal clasp kept me from the last gift my wife would ever give me.

My fingers fumbled to open it in a frenzied anticipation. The endless possibilities of her love called to me from inside. Once it opened, I felt my soul freeze and then shatter. Tears ran down my face as I punched our closet walls until my knuckles bled.

Laid inside, was a simple scrap of bloodied paper. A set of latitude and longitude coordinates (which I found led to the same mountainside her car was found at the bottom at) was written on it in my wife’s handwriting; along with a message.

Dear Tobyn,

I know about you and Janice. It always killed me that Thomas had your eyes. — Lena

N.M. Brown’s Facebook Page.

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