Writing in Public, Story 6, Scene 13
Nikki made sure that the front door was locked, and and then she and Randy circled around to the back of the house to check those doors. One of the neighbors must have been keeping the lawn trimmed. The grass was vigorously growing in the humid air, but not overgrown.
A door on the side of the house opened out on a landing nearly four feet off the ground—for carriages. Another door was inside a screen-enclosed porch on the backside of the house.
Nikki had to step carefully up the four steps to the porch. The screen door stuck a moment, then popped open with a loud screech.
“Some oil on the hinges will take care of that,” Randy said.
The porch was pretty, the kind of place where you’d come out on a summer day with lemonade and just sit. There was a small table with a pair of wooden folding chairs parked by them. Like everything else, it was covered with a layer of dust.
“I can bring a hose,” Randy said. “We can wash off everything. Screens need it, too.”
“You don’t need to try to fix everything.” Nikki pulled out the plastic chair nearest the wall and sat. She was already dusty and more dust wouldn’t matter.
“What can I do?”
Nikki shook her head. She felt lost. That was the only way she could describe it. She had something on the second floor she could not explain. Her family had kept secrets from her. Even her boyfriend seemed to be in on the secret.
And a sense of urgency pushed at her.
Nikki stared at the brick wall of the house. Real brick. Not a façade like today’s houses. Masons had laid each brick out, all the way up. She leaned forward, resting her hand on the wall, as if she could contact the people from long gone.
“What aren’t you telling me?” she murmured.
The mortar blurred. She blinked, rubbing at her eyes. But it was only the mortar blurring, not the brick.
She drew back her hand. Her fingertips were tingling. Faintly, as if she were underwater, she heard music playing. Like a harp, except that there were gaps that made the music stutter.
The gaps bothered her. They were wrong somehow. She dropped down further into herself, hardly aware of the porch, or Randy. The music caught her in its current, swirled around her. The gaps were icy, like the iciness in the room above. There were brighter spots, but the notes struggled to be heard.
They were dying.
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