Underneath her bed was a small locked chest made of wood. Embroidered with only delicate, light carvings, it was a simple box of humble origin. Though rather plain in the exterior, the softness of its surface suggested a history of being touched and caressed.
If one listened intently, a thumping sound could be heard from the chest; if one looked carefully, a rhythmic sway could be seen; if one felt delicately, heat would emanate from the inside and enshroud this strange object.
“Whoever can unlock that little box of yours has the key to your heart,” her best friend would jokingly comment.
“Sarah, my heart is not something to be locked, opened, and probed.” She twirled the key around her finger, rubbed its ridges, and encased it inside her palm protectively.
“Come on Meredith, take a joke will ya’? Geez, when did you become so serious?” Sarah rolled her eyes, then suddenly her bright blue irises lighted up. “Who’s the guy?” She gave her friend a probing look.
“No one, okay?”
Sarah knew to drop the subject. When it came to love, Meredith had a peculiar seriousness unlike her contemporaries. She did not see men as art to admire, names to throw around in gossip, nor giggle-worthy topics of conversation. She was cynical and critical, but when she met a potential, the fall was steep and precipitous. “A romantic old-soul fit for the 1800s” was Sarah’s classification of her best friend. “19th century women were oppressed by their loveless husbands” was Meredith’s habitual, disgusted reply.
“I need to buy something from Target. You coming?” Sarah grabbed her bag.
“No, I’ll pass.” Meredith sat on the couch, doodling.
“Okay, suite yourself.” Sarah gave Meredith a wink, and left.
After Sarah left, Meredith headed to her bedroom. Crouched under her bed, she took out her box, feeling along its weathered edges. Taking the key resting against her breast, she carefully unlocked it. As Meredith lifted the top, a swirl of colors blazed, creating a light that lit her face rainbow. Melodies welcomed her, dancing around her ears.
Each color had unique attributes, and were placed in deliberate spots. The yellow one, on the right, was for joyful relaxation—she listened to it on sunny days, to feel light, bubbly, and in love with life. The purple, just below the yellow, was darker and richer, for days of deeper contemplation. The red she listened to when in a romantic mood—it stirred excitement, ecstasy, and sentiment, and thrust onto her a wrenching heartache, throbbing silently beneath a collected composure. And the blue, sitting at the bottom left corner, was always a favorite. It provoked deep longing and melancholy, and each chord, crescendo, and lyric, had the power to induce tears. Sorrow was a beautiful melody.
Then suddenly, Meredith shut the box. She quickly grabbed her phone, guitar, book-bag, and dashed out the door.
Night arrived slowly, with final hints of orange hue still visible until 8:40 pm. Just as the last remnants of the day faded below the horizon, Meredith entered her house, guitar bag on one shoulder, book-bag on the other. Humming absentmindedly, she headed to the kitchen for a glass of orange juice.
Her cell phone rang.
“Oh hey Sarah. A concert? Tonight? Um, I’ll think about it.” Deep in thought, her hand automatically fiddled with her key necklace. She twisted the chain, waiting for the key fall down, it often got stuck at the nape of her neck. Then her hand felt around the chain in its entirety, and her heart started racing. Thump. The key was not there. The key had to be there. It was there this morning. The chain wasn’t broken. So the key had to be there. Thump. Where was the key. It wasn’t there. Hands, frantic, searching.
“Sarah, hey Sarah. Um, I had my key this morning right? Yeah…I can’t find it. It’s gone,” Meredith’s voice shook with hysteria. “Okay, fine. I’ll meet you at the concert. Yeah, you’re right, it’ll help me take my mind off of it.” Maybe this was another one of Sarah’s practical jokes, Meredith thought, or rather hoped. Regardless, her heart beat faster, and as she left, slammed the door with unnecessary force. Whoever stole the key would pay.
The concert was at a rundown bar, on a road no one heard of. “Isn’t this great?” Sarah shouted, smiling wide. “What? I can’t hear you?” Meredith pointed to her ear. “Oh, never mind,” Sarah directed her attention back to the current band. Meredith’s mind was still on the key, her thoughts consumed by its loss.
Okay ladies and gentlemen, this next song is taking a different tempo, worthy of a slow dance to any love-birds out there. Please welcome, my good friend Austin.
A young man with shoulder-length, tousled hair sat on a simple chair, hugging an acoustic guitar with his left hand. He had deep-set, thoughtful eyes, broad shoulders, and a lopsided grin. Tapping the microphone with right hand, he nodded casually, and the lights on the stage directed to him.
He started singing, in a low soulful voice, and the crowd stood enamored by the power.
“Ooh, that’s a sexy voice, I need to see this guy.” Sarah looked at Meredith, who was still swinging and dancing to a faster rhythm, so lost in her own thoughts that she had not realized the shift in music. “Helloooo, Meredith. Come back to Earth.” Sarah waved her hands at Meredith.
“Oh, sorry” Meredith’s eyes were still glazed and confused.
The singing reverberated throughout the bar. And suddenly, Meredith’s eyes brightened. As, she listened longer, her eyes darkened in bewilderment. She started walking toward the singer.
“Meredith, where are you going?”
“I know that singer. I know that song,” Meredith replied, as she pushed through the crowd.
Before long, no one else blocked Meredith from viewing the singer. They were only a few feet away, but Meredith continued to move closer. Upon seeing her, the singer smiled. Their eyes met, and for a brief moment, they were the only two people who existed in the rundown bar. He was singing to her, for her, into her heart. The singer winked, and Meredith blushed crimson, breathing heavily, heart beating rapidly. Her eyes welled with tears.
Then, something her eye, and she squinted to get a closer look. It was sitting underneath his guitar case, a shape all too familiar to Meredith. Ignited with fury, she stepped onto the stage. She gave him a knowing look, and his eyes stared up in terror. Glaring at him with profound fury, she slapped him across the face.
Inspired by a DailyPost prompt Melody