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The Visitor - Your Story 60 Finalist

PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:20 pm
by TiffanyLuckey
The Visitor

The man slowly rose from his recliner and yawned as he stretched. He scratched his lower back and looked out his living room window. The mailman had just pulled away and he was due a new issue of Military History, so he pushed his feet into his worn tennis shoes and made his way to the front door.

It was more humid outside than he would’ve liked but he savored the bright sun. The children down the street laughed and hollered, as they played in the sprinklers in their front yard. The man smiled slightly as he pushed his walker to the end of his short driveway. He envisioned the tall glass of iced tea that would be waiting for him once he returned to his house. Since it was after 4 p.m., he would maybe even put a little peach schnapps in that tea. The smile grew a bit further across his lined face.

As the man reached his destination, he straightened up and steadied himself by placing his hands on his mailbox. A memory of a time when he didn’t get winded so easily flickered through his mind and was gone again before he really even had the time to register it. He opened the mailbox to see his magazine, the latest electric bill and one other unfamiliar item. For a split second he hoped it would be a response to the last letter he had written to his grandson, but he knew that was unlikely. He was lucky if he could get a few letters a year out of that boy.

Pulling everything out, he realized the other piece of paper wasn’t actually mail, as it didn’t contain an address or even a stamp. It was a small red envelope with a piece of tape at the seal and it was completely blank on both sides. He removed his other hand from the mailbox and, after ensuring he still had his balance, broke through the tape with his thumbnail. He then pulled out a sheet of matching red stationary that had four lines typed in bold black letters across the middle of the page:

1. Turn around.
2. Stay quiet.
3. Follow me.
4. Brace yourself.

The man stood still, staring at the letter in his hand. He could feel his heart rate quicken as his white eyebrows unconsciously lifted. He was old enough that nothing really surprised him anymore, and yet his curiosity was definitely piqued.

He slowly shuffled both his feet and his walker in a half-circle and raised his eyes toward the home he’d lived in all his life. Standing on his front stoop was a vaguely familiar sight—a boy about the age of 9 in a dusty red baseball cap with lettering so faded it was practically illegible. For the man, at this distance, it was entirely illegible.

The boy placed his finger to his lips and grinned a devilish grin while his eyes sparkled with mischief and delight. That’s when the man’s grip on his walker slipped and he nearly lost the balance he always tried so carefully to maintain.

He recognized that face, all right. It was the same face that had reflected back at him from every mirror he had ever used all throughout his childhood. He immediately remembered that hat, too. It had been nearly attached to his head during his adolescence, and he suddenly felt its comfort and frayed elasticity covering his skull. His slightly shaking hand went automatically to his baldhead as a bead of sweat rolled down his neck.

The boy had been watching him patiently and the grin had left his face. He nodded once, solemnly, and beckoned to the man in a gesture that was both youthful and wise. He then opened the front door and slipped through, leaving it cracked open behind him. The curtain in his living room window pulled slightly to the side and he could see the boy within his home, watching quietly.

As strange as all of this was, the man was not scared, because for the first time in a long time, something felt new instead of old. Feeling as if he could do nothing but follow, the man completed his set of instructions by bracing himself for whatever was waiting for him inside.