He approached the end of the street and turned with his heart hammering. Situated between two obviously thriving businesses, his shop with the apartment he used to live in over the top sat desolate and unkempt. The awning was rolled up into the cover, and one of the straps had come loose. It flapped in the cold breeze. The windows were covered in faded brown paper on the inside so that no one could see in. The porch had one or two empty fast-food packets lodged along one wall as if the wind had deposited them there and they’d latched onto their new home. The blue door was the same, and apart from a layer of environmental dust, looked to Jason to be fine.
Jason knew he could approach the back of the shop via a narrow walkway alongside the shop, and crammed in between the next building. He took the walkway, and a shiver ran up his spine. The back of the shop looked solid, but as uncared for as the front. If there was a fire sale, there couldn’t have been much of a fire. Maybe Simi was mistaken.
He tried the back door. Naturally, it was locked. Jason took the fire escape steps to the large grime-covered window on the fourth floor of the rambling building. His boots clanged on the metal. Unless someone had fixed it, he could jiggle that open. He’d meant to fix it, but the place was alarmed if he went out and he’d never bothered. Especially since he’d once forgotten his keys and had to call a locksmith and have all the locks changed to get in.
Jason glanced around to check if anyone was watching him, then took hold of the two handles adjacent to each other in the doorframe and jiggled around. He was about to give up when the crack between the door widened and the catch of the lock was accessible to press inwards. The metal hurt his cold fingers as he pushed the catch in, but the doors opened. He was inside his old home. He expected the security alarm to go off, but it didn’t. It can’t have been set.
He stared around, his heart hammering. The air smelt dusty, but other than that, this was his living room, uncannily untouched since he’d last seen it. He raced through to his kitchen, remarkably large for an apartment, and discovered it had been tidied. The fridge door hung open, the shelves sat empty, and the thermostat set to off. Jason opened the cupboards. Everything was the same, except no food remained in the larger cupboard. Stands to reason someone would clear it out, but who?
Curiosity burned in him as he dashed through to his bedroom. Someone had stripped the bed and the quilts lay folded on the mattress with the pillows. He wondered if his cell phone was still on the floor next to his bed where he’d let it drop the night of the spell. He walked around the bed, but couldn’t see it. He opened the bedside table drawer, and there it was with the charger lead neatly wrapped around it.
Jason flung open his wardrobe doors. His clothes hung neatly from the rails. He rifled through them and found the jacket where he always left a couple of hundred dollars in the inside pocket. It’s still there. Surprise gripped him as he rustled the notes and then thrust them back into the pocket. His T-shirts and boxers were stacked neatly on the vertical shelves on one side of the wardrobe.
Jason took a step back, perplexed. He closed the doors and turned around. Someone had left the place for him to come back to. He tried to list the people who would do such a kind thing and he couldn’t. He’d grown apart from university friends when he’d moved to this town shortly after his parents died in an air crash. He had no girlfriend, nor had he made many close friends in the year he’d been at the shop. He went down the corridor and opened his study door. His desk stood in the corner next to the window with a view of the high street below. He went over to it. His laptop sat there with an envelope placed on top. Jason picked it up. It was addressed to him. With his fingers shaking, he opened it. The fold of paper fluttered in his hand as he started to read it. Completely amazed, he slumped heavily in the desk chair close by.He sat there for a few minutes thinking about the letter and the person who’d left it. His fingertips felt thick with dust. He needed fresh air.
Copyright Elodie Parkes 2014