My hands shook as I fumbled the key into the lock of my grandfather’s front door. It was wooden and heavy. The old brass lock needed just the right pressure to release. I made numerous sloppy attempts before it finally gave up, the teeth of the key grinding inside the mechanism. I twisted the doorknob with my free hand leaving a smear of rainwater and blood on the knob. I barely remembered the wound in my hand. My mind was rifling through an old box of memories far away from that wet doorstep. I lurched inside and let the door swing closed without taking the time to clean off the stain.
Three days. Three days. I would be home in three days! Enough time to sort through and box his possession, list the house with an agent, get on a plane and go home. What the hell was happening? I took off my wet shirt and started washing the blood of my hand in the sink. I hadn’t switched on the heat before I left. My wet skin bristled at the chill. Crimson water circled down the green, crusted plug whole. I loved my grandfather. Sure, I was grieving. The house brought back memories. Some hard, but for the most part good memories. I was not having a breakdown. My family had left me here to sort out the details. I was the reliable one. I was the sane one! My head rang as my hand pulsed. I turned over a thousand images and memories in my head. Family dinners, my grandfather’s smile, games with my brothers, school, dreams, nightmares, anything to place that face. I scrubbed at the cut harder. Blood spattered into the sink. Who the fuck was this girl? More soap, I needed more soap. I’d never seen her before. I pushed the yellow stained cake hard into the cut. My eyes watered as it stung. Why was she following me? Was she even fucking real? I wedged the soap so hard into my palm that it shot from between my hands and into the side of the metal basin. It sounded like a baseball hitting a car door. I stood still for a moment. All I could hear was my own panicked breathing. You need to calm down. I swallowed hard and gathered myself as best I could. Slowly I turned off the tap and walked into the dining room. I took my grandfather’s seat at the head of the table, laid my head down on one of my grandmother’s crochet placemats and wept.
I awoke to the sound of my grandfather’s doorbell.