Discover Challenges · Short Stories · The Daily Post

The numbers…


The words Jen read startled her. The spidery handwriting indicated that the writer had struggled while writing.

“If you are reading this letter, thank you for finding me. It means that my time here is over and I am sorry that you are unfortunately saddled with the responsibility of laying me to rest. The money inside the envelope is some money set aside for my cremation. I don’t want to be buried in a box for I have lived buried for far too long inside one and would like my ashes to be scattered across the Seas so that it can float free. I loved the sea as a young girl.”

She wasn’t sure if she should simply put the letter back as she found it – back in the envelope marked ‘URGENT PLEASE READ’ and propped on the empty vase on the dust covered table. She could go away with the pie she had brought along and no one would know that she had visited, but her curious interest had been thoroughly aroused.

Everything about the little house down the cul-de-sac was intriguing. A pair of nondescript eyes in glasses always stared out of the window when she took her brisk jog in the evenings, until a week ago when she stopped seeing or feeling the eyes; the bold numbers on the intricately designed door were unusual since no other house in the area had such numbers and none of the neighbours she interacted with since her move to the neighbourhood knew anything about the person living behind the door.

Decision and justification made, she baked and went visiting. She reasoned that it was the neighbourly thing to do. To fraternize with those living close to you a little bit, especially if you are going to be living there permanently.

Her gentle rap on the door found it slightly ajar and she stepped in cautiously, repeatedly saying hello, to no response.

Jen’s eyes quickly took in the sparse furnishing, an implacable, unpleasant odour hitting her nostrils and sending alarm bells to her senses that something wasn’t right and to get away fast, but her piqued mind sent her walking down the short passage which led to the rooms.

The design of the bungalow was familiar since it’s shaped like hers but both houses were sharply different. Where her’s wore a cheerful, homey and inviting look, the atmosphere of this one was forlorn and tired. The drapes were worn with age, the wallpaper lifting at the corners, the dirty rug gave off a musty smell that mingled with the other smell that only grew stronger with each step.

A body laid on the bed in the second room as though in deep, peaceful sleep but the pungent smell of death belied it’s appearance. Rushing out of the house into the street for fresh air, Jen dialed the police.

Providing all the information that she could muster when they arrived, she watched with saddened interest as the men from EMS respectfully wrapped the frail body of an old lady in a body bag. Spying the numbers that was crudely branded on the inner part of her left arm which was so thin that her skin was almost translucent, Jen recognized that the numbers on the arm matched the numbers on the door.

What did it they represent? Who is the lady? What was her story? These questions raced through her thoughts and she wished she had followed her prying mind to seek the eye’s in the window earlier.

© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha

The story behind the door. Discover challenge

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Out of the silent breath



17 thoughts on “The numbers…

  1. All I can say is wow, Jacqueline! What a sad and moving story. May we all have someone who cares enough to inquire about us as we get older. We all deserve to know that we matter to at least one person.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it would be. My heart went out to the poor woman in your story. She obviously had no one in her life who cared enough to check on her. You have a way of getting to the heart of story so quickly. They’re always food for thought. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow!! That’s really the only word that comes to my mind when I read this story. I have read it twice already and each time a different kind of melancholy has embraced me. What a fantastic response to a simple prompt!! I am completely blown by how well you write…and how fertile your imagination is!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a sad story! What concerns me is the rate at which such incidents are becoming common. And people are least bothered about it. I feel that eldery people, for any reason should not stay alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sadly we had something like this happen in our own street a few years ago. He was a recluse, didn’t like to interact much. Between a few of us we kept an eye out for him. Then a few weeks during an intense heat wave went by and no-one had seen him during that time. I called the police for a welfare check. He had been dead for quite some time. So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A stench that bad will definitely stick with a person for a very long time. I haven’t experienced that particular kind of incident (and hope I never do)..but for years I could still smell the smoke that came from the gun that killed my friend. I can only imagine how horrible that smell was…great story Jackie!

    Liked by 1 person

I love it when you decorate my heart with your words..

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