THE CUBE AT THE BACK OF THE DRAWER
by J Lenni Dorner
I realize now that I made a terrible mistake.
Emily, with her strawberry curls that smell like candy and sunshine, bounces into my room. “Hayden,” she says, “you’re gonna improve my life today.”
She doesn’t ask for favors.
Fallux House, which now belongs to Emily, fell into a combination of hoarding and antiquing under the last owner (Emily’s crazy aunt). Room by room, inch by dusty inch, Emily and her appraiser tag everything with sticky notes.
Yellow tags indicate it’s worth money. Pink is for sentimental value. Blue gets donated. The rest will fill the rented dumpster. A second box of black trash bags cracks open an hour before lunch.
Emily asks me to pack a bedside table with a yellow sticky note attached. The bubble wrap on the antique legs is easy to secure. I only sneeze twice while doing it.
“Ems? You up here?” I lean back, using a full-length mirror to peer down the hall. Nada.
“Hey Ems, you want the drawer in or out?” She bubble wrapped the other large dresser drawers separately. I think it was so I could make more trips hauling junk out to my truck. Good thing I love her.
She’s my friend. I love her as a friend. Good buddies. Old pals.
I repeat the mantra, keeping myself in check, as I pull the drawer out to wrap it. A tiny cube waits at the back of the drawer. In a house this full of junk, I’m not surprised. The cube looks like the keychain version of a Rubik’s cube, except the colors are shades of black and the lines between the squares are sparkling silver. I grab it for Emily to sticky note later.
The tiny cube will not move.
I try again. The world goes dark.
Rubbing my eyes, my vision finally returns. A giant me grins the grin of a cat who caught a mouse. Two massive fingers surround the square, silvery cell encasing me.
I scream, kick, and hit, but the walls don’t budge. Giant me shrugs, sarcasm dripping from the gesture. Lime green packing peanuts, each the size of an airplane, crash all around me. Only cracks of light remain. I tumble over and over, suffocating in the stiffening hot air, as giant me bubble wraps the drawer.
In the distance, like the thunder in the cave behind Niagara Falls, Emily calls out to me. I shout for help, but she can’t hear me. I glimpse one bouncing, strawberry curl. Giant me answers her.
“We could earn this mattress a sentimental pink sticky note.”
No! She’s my friend. Why would giant me drop a sexual innuendo?
Why isn’t Emily saying no?
I made a terrible mistake.
Word Count: 450 FCA