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” Michael said as he pointed down the garden path, “Its been abandoned for years before my grandfather, my dad told me. We should go and see what’s inside!” “I don’t know Max. Its far and its nearly night time.” replied Peter. “You’re not scared, really?” Michael questioned. No more words were exchanged. The boys loved to explore, they were only 14. All boys loved to explore. They made their way down the garden path. The leaves were orange and the growth was wild. Tangles of vines wrapped pillars and metals. Flowers had bloomed and died for many years here. A canopy of trees covered the path. Years of fallen leaves had concealed the track. It was a minor concern to the boys, crumpling old leaves as they made their way to the house. The house was old. The front door needed no force to open. Peter pushed it with ease and entered. Michael followed. Unimpressed with the hallway entrance the boys proceeded deeper into its helm. Discovering its many rooms. Dust had settled upon everything. No furniture in any room, just soulless voids. Michael stared long and hard at the stairs. He wasn’t wondering what was up there, he was questioning if anything of interest was worth the effort of the climb. Peter ran past, crashing into Michael’s shoulder. “Are you scared Max?” Michael ran after him. Boys love to play. Through the hallway upstairs they chased. In and out of empty rooms until only one room was left. It was at the back of the house, down the corridor. Peter ran smiling into the room and slammed the door shut, hoping to prevent Michael’s entrance. The trauma of the slam forced the old house to break. Walls separated and floors cracked. Michael kicked the door opened triumphantly but it added to the shock. More of the wood cracked, more walls broke. The house was dying. After years of resting alone the house could not hold its own weight, its bones had worn away. Peter tried to grab a wall for support. Michael unsure of his footing remained in the doorway. “We have to go Peter. I think we have a bit of time before it collapses!” Michael, with concern in his voice. Peter made a bolt for the door and the boys ran. Ran. Down the hall. Jumped the stair well. The last step gave way under Michael’s feet and toppled him to the ground. He landed hard, breaking the floor boards. Peter without looking fell over Michael. His feet were unable to gather under his body and the landing caused him to tumble across Michael. Both boys fell through the boards. Boys did not love to fall. The house gave in. Dust filled the now night sky as the stairs collapsed. For them it was black. “Are you alright?” Peter can here a voice, it took him a small amount of time to recognize that it was Michael’s. “I’m fine.” Peter said as he tried to stand up, “The house didn’t entirely collapse?” “No, just the stairs and some parts of the house.” “Lucky us hey?” Peter smiled. Michael stood up and began to clean the dust from his body. As he brushed, a piece of paper fell to the ground. Michael picked it up and opened it. “It’s a piece of an address book. Addresses all over the world.” Michael revealed. “Who cares! I’m going home.” Peter cleaned himself and walked down the leaf scattered garden path. Michael followed with the note in his pocket. The note
went into a small booklet and was forgotten, like many things would be forgotten in his youth. Winters passed... Unpacking the last box of books into his new home with his new wife. Michael grabbed a handful of books and rearranged them onto their new book shelf. The last book he placed was his old note book. “Babe! This is my old notebook from back when I was a brat.” Michael shouted out. “Great!” She replied, uninterested. She just wanted the house unpacked. Michael opened the book reliving his past. Turning pages and living a younger life through his imagination. Smiles of joy of fond memories, then a piece of paper fell from the booklet. The note. Michael recognized it straight away. He opened it and read again. Running through the addresses and cities until he came across a city he was familiar. Paris. Michael loved Paris. “Babe! Let’s go to Paris for our holiday.” “Let’s get our house unpacked!” She ordered. A winter passed... Michael had just landed in Paris with his new wife. They have been here before, during their years courting each other. Michael was excited to explore and discover new parts of this old town. Boys loved to explore. The note was also with him. I might as well check out the address if I was in town, he thought. Michael had left his wife to spend money. He was happy for the free time. He missed being alone. It allowed him to relive his boyhood adventures. He could go anywhere. The address was his first stop. He came out of the train station and found an old pawn shop. The shop front had not been changed in years. Goods had gathered dust and no care takers removed it. Michael walked in. “Bonjour!” That’s all Michael knew as he greeted the shop keeper. “I’m sorry do you speak English?” The keeper turned and smiled, “It must be a little bit annoying for you. No one speaks English in this town. Not because they want to be arrogant, its because its France. The language is French.” “Yes.” Michael did not care he was just relief to not have to bring out his French English dictionary. “I have a note here with the address of this shop in it.” Michael passed the note to the shop keeper. He glanced at it, but a look of confusion replaced his face. “I don’t know. There is also a date. I’ll check our books. It may take a while. The date was years and years ago. Do you know this shop has been in my family for more generations than you and I could count together. I’ll be right back, find a seat.” Michael looked around but there was no seating available, the shop was cluttered. Old furniture, toys, pictures, painting, and things. Very very many things. Michael’s wife loved things. “Here. I found the catalogue. It’s old. I remember moving this when we had our big clean out when I was about 14.” The old shop keeper said as he turned the pages and read the catalogue. “We sold nothing on that date. But bought two items. Two wooden boxes. Gold trimmed it says here. Lock and key as well.” “Do you know where these boxes are?” Michael asked. “I sure do!” Michael was surprise, the place was a mess. “Its in the shop.” The keeper smirk. Michael grew a frown. A small one, not of unhappiness, but more of annoyance. Michael had a bit of time before his wife would want to show him all her purchases, so he decided to look around. Maybe these wooden boxes with gold trims would just appear. Hours passed. Every corner checked, by both men. Nothing could be found. Michael had given up and walked out of the shop thanking
the keeper for the afternoon. As he walked past the shop window he glanced very quickly, a habit after years of walking past city shop windows. The light reflected gold into his eyes. The boxes! He ran into the shop and told the shop keeper. A price was settled and the purchased was made. Michael returned to the hotel room a little poorer but a little richer spiritually. The boxes sat on the table. Michael did not want to open them. He was not afraid of its contents, he was more afraid of disappointment. If they remain closed there may still be a treasure but opened, definite knowledge, but of what? He studied the carvings on the boxes. One box had a carving which resembles a hand and the other, a cylinder. It made no sense to Michael. Hands and cylinders? Michael hates puzzles. He left them. Went to the comfort of his bed and television. He fell asleep. “MAX!” She shouted and woke Michael in a sudden, “What did you buy?” Michael slowly rose and waddle over to the table. His eyes widen very quickly as he saw the opened boxes. He made eye contact with his very angry wife. His heart began its race and walked faster to the table. His eyes finally peered into the boxes. In one was a human hand and the other a forearm. The limbs were fresh, as if they were just cut. The skin’s colour radiated life. Tiny hairs still moved with the gentle breeze. Michael was shocked. “I don’t know...” Michael was more that astounded, “I followed the address on my note and bought these two boxes from the place and...” He had no more words. He grabbed the hand and forearm out of the boxes. Michael wanted to feel them, made sure they were real. He looked closer, his logical brain still uncertain. Running his finger across the nails on the hand, caressing each fibre of hair. Michael was disturbed and he dropped the limbs. They fell together. As they hit the ground the forearm rolled towards the hand. They touched and began to move on their own. The hand was now connected to the forearm. The mark of the cut was sealing. Until the seal disappeared and the limbs were one. Michael and his wife stood still. Their eyes wide. They were scared. They were motionless. They were confused.
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