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The Mystery Box

A Short Story

By TestPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
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Photo by Caroline Grabowska from Pexels

When Olivia stepped out onto the front porch, dressed for her morning jog, she noticed a slim, rectangular box setting near the welcome mat. She didn’t remember ordering anything and checked the shipping label. It was addressed to her. She picked up the box and went back inside. After setting the package on the kitchen island, she peeled away the tape. Her hand flew to her heart, and she gasped when she saw the photo of her husband kissing another woman.

“Damn it, Brian!” she said, pulling her cell phone from the jogging, arm wrap.

She opened the message app, snapped a picture of the photograph, and sent it to her husband, Brian. When caller ID displayed his name, she pressed the ignore button.

She threw her luggage into the trunk of her white BMW coupe and whipped out of the driveway. She couldn’t stand the thought of seeing him. The betrayal was too fresh. Fidelity was of the utmost importance to her, and he was well aware of her ex-husband’s sleeping around. How did she end up with such losers?

She pulled into a hotel thirty minutes away from the city of Phoenix and booked a room.

“Hello Olivia. To what do I owe this phone call?” Jade said, Arranging a bouquet of flowers in the kitchen.

“Brian’s cheating on me.”

“Oh no! I’m terribly sorry dear. How’d you discover him?”

“Someone left a photo of him kissing another woman in a package on my front porch.”

“What are you planning to do?”

“I’m at a hotel. I can’t bear to see him.”

“You’re always welcome here.”

“Thank you, Jade. But he’d be by your house. I’m sure he’ll contact you.”

****

Brain rushed home from the office and found that Olivia had packed and left. When he found the box on the kitchen island with the photograph in it, he closed the flaps and saw it was addressed to his wife. He rewound the doorbell’s camera footage and watched a drone set the package on the porch.

“Creative. Very creative.” he said, zooming in close on the drone for clues to who had ruined his marriage. The only mark was a red and pink wavey line with a flower at the end. He immediately recognized the design. It had been on their wedding invitations. Things had just turned very strange.

They’d had a small wedding, mostly family, and he didn’t believe any of the attendees had a notion about his infidelity. Besides, if one of them did, why the photo by drone? No, they would have contacted Olivia directly. The mystery person had not been at the wedding. At a dead end, he messaged Olivia a picture of the drone. He hoped that she would respond.

Olivia opened Brian’s text message. Tears filled her eyes when she saw her wedding invitation design on the drone. They’d only been married for two years. She didn’t respond to his pleas for a second chance and began to listen to his four voice messages. One voicemail was from a private number, and the text translation startled her. It said: “Hope you enjoyed the gift.” Her eyes grew wide, and she pressed the play button. She didn’t recognize the muffled voice. She wanted to call Brian but was angry and hurt. Then she considered the danger she could be in. Was someone out to kidnap or kill her?

“Olivia, I’m sorry. It was only that one time. It wouldn’t happen again.”

“One time too many Brian. Look, I didn’t call to discuss our broken, marriage vows. I received a voicemail. All the person said was that they hoped I enjoyed the gift.”

“I need you to come home now. Please Olivia. If something happens to you, I’d never forgive myself.”

“Alright, on my way.”

When Olivia reached her car, the front two tires were flat. She quickly glanced around, then, went back into the office. She didn’t feel safe waiting for roadside assistance in the parking lot. Now, she was sure that someone was out to not only ruin her marriage but her life. She mentioned the incident to the receptionist, but the surveillance tape couldn’t be released without police involvement. She doubted the perpetrator would be able to be seen past concealing clothes.

****

“Can you zoom in on that ring? Olivia said, pointing to the hand with the knife that had slashed two of her car’s tires.

Her ex-husband, Richard, had a ring like it. She refrained from telling the police about the ring. She knew that Richard would still be free to harass her. She didn’t even tell Brian. She wasn’t sure which cheating man she despised more. She wanted her life back but knew it would never be the same with Brian. He’d stained their relationship, and she doubted it could be removed. What she needed aright now was a drink and cigarette.

“I’m going over to Jade’s house.” Olivia said, sliding into the driver’s seat of her car.

“Can we please talk about us. This is killing me.” Brian said, leaning against her car’s door.

“Yeah, later. I… I can’t right now.”

****

Olivia ordered a beer and a shot of whiskey when she got to The Eclipse Bar and Lounge. She never drank anything other than red wine with a meal. She was sitting in a booth on her third round when a handsome man asked to join her.

“I’m in a sour mood.” She said, putting out a cigarette.

“Too beautiful to have so much pain in those green eyes.” Derek said, taking a seat.

She felt the break in her heart begin to stitch together at his words and craved more. She leaned into the kiss without hesitation and savored a stranger’s touch. A little revenge was good for her soul.

“Let’s get out of here.” he said, trailing a finger down her arm.

“I don’t sleep with strangers.” She said, expecting a backlash from him. However, he only got up from the booth and moved on without a word or backward glance.

“I told you I’d get you back.” Richard said, standing in front of the booth.

“What the hell! You flattened my tires. And how may I ask, did you get me back?”

“You’re here, drinking like you used to when I met you.” he said, before leaving the bar with a petite red-haired woman on his arm.

She stumbled from the booth and followed them outside. But she refrained her balled fist from finding its target at his face and sat on a stone bench by the entrance. She stared at the large fountain in the center of the courtyard. The trickling of the water was soothing and there was a cool breeze blowing through the palm fronds overhead. It reminded her of visits to the beach. A place she wished she was now.

She stumbled across the courtyard toward the hotel. She, still, had no desire to talk with Brain and decided that divorce papers were the best way to deal with the situation. At least this cheating loser had money to give her for the loss of two years. She’d take every penny she could get and buy a house near the beach.

Strong arms grabbed and pulled her into a van. She was too drunk and drugged to put up a fight. Consequently, she closed her eyes. Moments later, she rolled onto her side and vomited before passing out.

When she opened her eyes, she was in a dimly lit room surrounded by barely dressed women and armed guards. She immediately knew she was a victim of human trafficking and had a feeling that both Richard and Derek were involved. Tears of hopelessness rolled down her cheeks, and she dropped her head from the vacant stares of the other women.

Her head whipped up toward the direction of the thuds. The two guards had fallen over lifeless. The door burst open, and a squat team ushered the women from the room and into a van.

****

Olivia told the detectives everything that had led up to her kidnapping. She pointed Richard and Derek out from photographs they showed her. While they were both arrested and waited for a trial in jail without bail, she filed for a divorce. Brain agreed to the terms and conditions of the divorce, which saved them both hours of courtroom time.

Olivia bought a beach house far from her horrific experience. One overcast morning, she walked down to the ocean’s edge and removed her wedding and engagement rings from her pocket. Without giving them a last look, she threw them out into the sea. She vowed to never let another man waste her time and energy. Two divorces had given her enough broken memories to last more than a lifetime.

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