After Bonnie’s mom died,
someone had to go through the house,
collect the family photographs,
roll bubble wrap around
limited-edition porcelain figurines,
throw away stained coffee mugs
with chipped lips and cracked handles,
laugh at the ancient record collection,
cry a bit over the ancient record collection,
pack up clothes for Goodwill,
sell stacks of paperback romance novels
with yellowed pages.
She did all these chores,
Her two siblings lived out of state.
Her husband had to work,
and of course the kids had their
soccer tournaments and swim meets.
She didn’t mind, though.
It was hard, dusty work,
but it was quiet in her mother’s house,
and it still felt as though
her mother was just in the other room,
washing dishes or making coffee.
No one had been in the attic
in probably over 30 years.
The door was locked,
and the gaps around the door
were long ago sealed with silver duct tape.
Bonnie had a faint memory
of toddling on the dusty floor of that attic,
being surprised by an angry adult,
crying out as she was roughly picked up
and carried away.
She never stepped inside again.
But it would need to be cleaned out,
its contents sorted,
before she had the realtor over.
She found an unlabeled set of keys
in the kitchen junk drawer
and correctly guessed that the key
marked with a black “X” in electrical tape
would open the attic door.
When she shone her flashlight inside,
to her relief
that the attic was almost empty.
and it made her sneeze three times in a row,
but not cluttered,
no dead mice or bats resting in peace
on the wooden floor.
The single naked light bulb hanging above
even dimly illuminated the space
when she pulled on the cord.
There was just one large steamer trunk,
sitting in the middle of the walnut floor.
She retrieved bolt cutters
from her father’s old toolbox in the basement
and broke the lock off the trunk.
What was inside the darkness called to her
with a voice that was enticing and vaguely familiar.
A faint trace of music
she heard only once
She smiled with happy tears
shining in her eyes.
after all this time.
Compelled to follow,
she stepped inside the trunk,
the lid closing after her,
and she was never seen again.