Her eyes widened as she watched it float within the flames without burning.
Hesitantly, marvelling over how impossible it was for paper to not burn, she reached for it.
The flames parted for her fingers as she plucked the letter free.
Scrawled upon it was a single line.
“Do not open until December 31st,” she read aloud.
The words stuck to her eyelids.
I wouldn’t keep that, if I were you.
The fire extinguished.
Clover sprung to her feet and looked around fervently. If she hadn’t known any better, the walls had talked.
“Wh-Who said that?” she stammered.
It doesn’t matter who. All that matters is that you listen.
She swallowed hard. She studied the letter and searched for more;
another part of the message
But there was nothing.
“Wh-…What’s wrong with it?”
Destroy it, the walls demanded.
“Why should I believe you? I c-can’t even see your face.”
She set the letter on the floor in front of the jar and turned on her heel, watching the walls as she spoke.
“I have to go. I shouldn’t be talking to strangers.”
I am no stranger.
I’ve watched you since the moment you opened your eyes.
Your parents know me well.
“Then who are you? Why’ve they never told me about you?”
Your parents keep many secrets but I don’t need to tell you that. You’ve always felt it.
Even now I see on your face you’re struggling to find reasons to doubt my words.
The walls were right, she thought as she shivered. Her parents had always been secretive.
There were the moves from city to city,
the hushed conversations she caught the tails of,
the fact that Clover didn’t know anything about her parents’ childhood
or the names of her own grandparents, let alone whether any of them were alive.
The same went for any relatives in general. All she knew they had were the terrible Crowleys
– friends of the family she’d sometimes been made to stay with during the summer.
If you leave, I’ll go and take my answer with me.
“The answer to what?”
To what you are. If you find me, I can show you.
At that moment, the flames reappeared.
They flickered before her and moved like a hand beckoning for her touch.
With hesitant yet curious steps, she walked to the jar and sat before it.
Her shaking breaths cut the flames.
She watched them,
her hands devoured by the cold,
she timidly reached them onto the warm glass.
When she blinked a moment later,
the shed disappeared and took every bit of Olearia Crescent with it.