When she came home from work, there was a red envelope on the doormat. She opened it impatiently, and inside was a white index card with a single word on it: ‘Microscope’. Curious where it had come from, she grabbed the envelope from the floor. There was no address. Somebody had delivered it by hand. She closed her eyes. Microscope. She thought about it for the rest of the day.
The next day, there was another red envelope, and this time the card said ‘Warehouses in the east’. That night she dreamed of corrugated metal, guard dogs at wire fences, and the secrets that might lie inside.
By the third day, she expected another letter. It came. ‘Things had changed’ it read. The next day: ‘Chrysalis’. ‘A bunch of -‘. ‘Reluctantly’. Each day, her thoughts spiralled around those words. At work, she had dozens of conversations a day. Read articles on her phone until she fell asleep. But the mystery of these particular words lit a fuse inside her. Who was sending them? What were they for?
Some days, there was no letter. When it appeared after a few days, she was relieved. Sometimes they came in the dead of night, or two at a time. Once, one arrived as she was walking through the hall. She seized the door open and looked up the street, her pulse racing. There was nothing there except dry leaves, and a scent in the air: the musty smell of old fashioned school desks, top hats, and ink.
She lost herself in daydreams about purple satin; about tamed magpies and a man that cried golden tears. There were eggs, and toadstools, and magical forests that sucked you in, and she remembered stories that might have happened to a friend, or a woman at the salon, or someone else that lived inside of her.
Then, one day, the deliveries stopped for good. Well, that’s that I suppose, she sighed. But inside, she was excited: the feeling you get when you cross the finish line in the heats. She knew there would be no more red envelopes, but that didn’t matter, because something else was about to happen.
She tied the index cards up with string and placed them in a drawer. Thank you, she said, whoever you were. Now, what next?