I have a secret stranger than a trip down the rabbit hole. It’s big and grand like a canyon set on fire by purple flames. I carry it on my shoulders, hold it in my hands and stab it in the back. It lives inside of me, goes nowhere else, let alone gets to know anyone else.
Its winter in Miami, FL, and the twenty-five days of Christmas are beginning to fill the toy stores with candy red fire trucks and Barbie’s dressed in emerald green gowns. Coffee shops are tailoring their flavors to the festivities. Pine trees are being fostered, lit up and glamourized with love and family traditions. It’s midnight and I am lying in bed reading a novel about insects and art. My collection of candles burn as my only source of light, the sheer white curtains sway with the push of the spinning fan and the only sound is the flipping of pages.
Someone softly knocks on my bedroom door.
“Hello?” I jerk up, a little caught off guard and call out, figuring maybe it was my mother who sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, or maybe it’s my sister coming home from a night out. Though, this family isn’t known for limitations. We have never knocked on bedroom doors or kept’ privacy on an expected level. We are open with our space and belongings.
I doggy-ear my page and shift the covers off my legs. My bare feet touch the tile floor and baby sparks tickle my skin. The knock comes again, though this time louder, more defined like a statement without the possibility of change. I don’t move.
A white envelope is slid underneath my bedroom door. Seconds later, I hear someone run down the hall. Loud, rushed footsteps fill and replace the quiet. Then again, only seconds later, silence consumes and fills the space, as if it had never left in the first place. I wait. My face grows hot, skin becomes sweaty, and heartbeat throbs like a beat picking up momentum. Slowly, I walk towards the white envelope and pick it up with shaking hands. My unsteady wet fingers rip open the seal. Inside is a plain sheet of printing paper with two words typed across the top left corner.
The familiar small world inside of my room with my comforting lit candles, white duvet covers and owl figurines, which remind me of a place far away, suddenly feel threatening, tainted and absurd. I drop the envelope and turn around in circles, unsure of what I am looking for, though certain I don’t want to find it.
Like I said, I have a secret.
That secret has arms, limbs, a steady blood flow and a well working heart. It has the power of sight, can hear for miles and speak with a terrifying eloquence, but the strangest power it carries is its mind; it is dark, hushed and burns like a continuous fed fire. Though, there are moments when the flames die down, the smoke clears out and there is clarity, kindness and warmth, but these are rare times. I hold the message in my sweaty shaking hands. My pearly black nails dig into the paper, already causing creases to form, resembling crackling ice water. I think of the rushed sound of someone running down the hall, the question is who…?
I fold the letter, grab the torn envelope off my bed and stash both in the drawer of my nightstand. I want to tell someone what just happened, but then I will have to reveal my secret and that is not an option. I pace around my room desperately trying to listen for more footsteps, and glad when I hear nothing. My reflection in the long mirror dashes by quickly. I’m a mess of white skin and black hair. I start racking my brain, going over every person in my life, figuring it has to be someone who knows me, though no one really knows me.
It could be anyone.
I know…they wrote, I know.