The gift comes in a pretty box with a red bow. A knock at the door, but there’s no one there when I open it. Instead, there’s a note that says, “With love, from Aunt Gloria.” Aunt Gloria has been dead for five years. It is windy and cold outside, the last gasp of a brutal winter. The slushed snow on the sidewalk is gray and black, disgusting remnants of a storm a week ago. I keep hearing whispers. I’m not sure if they’re in my head or in the house. I can’t make out the words.
I put the gift box on the dining room table. Something is moving inside. It moves frantically, so much that the box shuffles to and fro. The lights in my house flicker. Another storm is coming, will knock down power lines. The box continues to move. In the distance, I hear screaming now. I can’t make out the words. The lights finally go out. The wind outside howls viciously. It feels like the house is shaking, and it’s bitterly cold inside, no matter how high I turn up the heat.
I get a flashlight and go to open the box. The red bow must be made of satin; it feels so smooth in my hands. The sides are taped down. I remove the tape and bow, open the box. The box is filled with insects. I can’t see them because it’s so dark, but I hear them buzzing and moving around. The insects crawl and fly out, attaching themselves to my arms and face. I open my mouth to scream, but no sound comes out. My Aunt Gloria has been dead for five years. This is her gift to me, and I deserve it for what I did. I deserve every last bit.