Daniel had overslept a few minutes, no thanks to the dreams wearing him out, and had to cram down his egg-and-toast to make sure he'd make it to school on time. He was just finishing his breakfast when he heard the harsh signal of the doorbell.
Daniel bounced to his feet and rushed to the front door, brushing his chin to make sure he didn't have any toast crumbs stuck. On the front drive was a delivery-girl, a corrugated board box by her feet. She was short, hardly bigger than a child, and her uniform didn't have the logo of any delivery company he recognised. (But all those were things he would only think about later, after he'd opened the box.)
She asked for his name. “If you'd like to sign here, thank you very much.”
Daniel put a squiggle on her electronic clipboard, his glance resting on the package while he did. It wasn't particularly big, with no markings to hint at what was inside, only an address label with his name.
The woman flashed him a smile and turned back to the road. Daniel hefted the package. Whatever was inside didn't weigh much.
As he carried it up the stairs, he nearly bumped into Mom.
“What's that you got there, Dan?”
“The package.” He couldn't remember having ordered anything. A surprise from one of his friends? That seemed like the most plausible explanation. “It was for me.”
“Which package?” Mom said.
“You know, at the door right now.” He juggled the package to one hand so he could gesture toward the door.
Mom shook her head. “Huh? I didn't hear the bell.”
She shrugged and stood back to let him pass. Daniel stopped for a few moments in the sunlight falling into the upstairs hallway, out of steam, almost forgetting where he was going. Weird recurring dreams were one thing, but it wasn't possible that one person could miss a signal that he'd heard loud and clear.
He dumped the box on his bed. It was real, for sure, tangible enough to leave an impression in the quilt. He gave it a poke, just in case there was a bomb inside – as if that would make a difference after he'd moved it about and carried it. When he looked at his alarm clock, he had a couple minutes to spare, at least enough time to see what was inside.
He cut open the cardboard flaps and folded them back.
Written by on 02 April 2019