Tania found it rather strange that she received an invitation for Malachi’s birthday party considering she hadn’t seen him since Mama’s funeral. She didn’t stay in Chicago long because the memories were just too painful. First Micah, then Mama. She wasn’t planning on going back either, until her publisher called her early on Monday morning.
“Tania, I need your help.”
“Yes Aaron,” she said as she continued her typing while putting him on speakerphone.
“We have a manuscript we want you to look at.”
“Is it in my email?” Tania kept typing.
“No, we need you to meet with the author.”
“Okay, set up an appointment for me?”
“In Chicago.” Aaron said wincing because he knew about Tania’s past.
Tania took a deep breath and inquired, “When?”
Aaron gave her the details, and she began packing.
It was only for the weekend, and she was to arrive Thursday night; the trip would be quick.
At least that’s what she thought, until she checked her mail while waiting for the cab. That’s when the invitation fell out.
On the ride to the airport, she just kept tapping the invitation against her knee. Tania looked for an RSVP, and when she found it she began to dial the number. Then she hung up and decided to wait to call until she got to the hotel.
She loved the city. And she loved this particular hotel because her window faced the Sears Tower and she could walk to Navy Pier if it wasn’t too cold. Instead, she turned on the clock radio and Jaheim’s “Anything” was playing. Tania smiled softly and without realizing it, she was dialing Malachi’s number.
“Hello?” His deep baritone voice stunned her speechless. Physically, everything about him and Micah were identical. Their height, stature, complexion, eyes, and even their voices were the same. The only way anyone could tell them apart was Micah had dreads and a full beard, and Malachi was clean shaven for his job.
“Hello?!” Malachi barked his annoyed response into the phone, which snapped Tania out of her reminiscing.
“Yes, he said frowning and checking the number on the display in his cell, “Oh wow, is this Tania?”
Her bottom lip was shaking because he sounded so much like Micah. The shake traveled down to her hands as the phone trembled. But outwardly her conversation was steady.
“Unless someone else calls you Ky-Ky, who else would it be?” She said somewhat faking a giggle.
“Oh wow, how are you?” He seemed completely surprised.
“Well ironically, I am in town on business, and I got your invitation before I left so…”
“Invitation?” This time he not only sounded surprised but confused.
“Forrrr, your birthday party?” Tania asked becoming more uncomfortable by the moment.
“Tania, I am so sorry. I thought I got all of the invitations before they were mailed. I haven’t celebrated our…my…birthday since…” His voice trailed off and got caught in his throat.
Tania’s just came out in a long sigh, “Ky, I…”
He interrupted her, “No, no. You’re fine. Don’t worry about it. If you’re not too tired c’mon over, I have something to show you anyway.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’ll make us some dinner. It will be fun. You remember how to get to the house?”
There was an awkward silence.
“Of course you do,” He said nonchalantly. So I’ll see you in a half hour okay?”
Tania sighed, “Okay Ky, see you in a half.”
She grabbed the pass key to the room, the foil bag with the bottle of cognac, her purse, and headed to the lobby of the hotel to catch a cab.
Not only did she remember how to get to the house, she still had her key. She was fumbling for it on the stoop when Malachi came to the front door donning dreads and a beard.
Tania almost dropped the cognac.
Malachi grabbed the bag and her elbow, but she just stared at him with her eyes wide and mouth open. She was laboring to breathe as he helped her into the house then onto the couch. She was visibly shaken. He didn’t understand it until he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror.
With his hair and beard, he looked just like his twin brother.
He rubbed his head through his hair and said “Tania, I…”
She interrupted him by leaping at his throat, grabbing his hair, and punching him in his face over and over. He let her hit him until she got tired and sank to her knees on the floor.
Then she sobbed.
And he held her until she stopped.
Which took a while.
She didn’t even remember going back to the couch, but Ky must have put her there. He was standing over her now with two glasses of cognac with ice and limes.
“I remembered how you took it,” he said handing the glass to her.
“Fuck you Malachi.” She whispered as she took the glass from him and drank it in two gulps. She stood up and took his glass, gulped it down, then handed him both empty glasses. “Keep them coming, and don’t you dare try to apologize to me again. What is it that you want to show me so I can get the fuck back to my hotel?”
She held up one hand, “Save it Ky! You and I never got along; I was just being polite by coming to your little party. Just show me what you need to show me, and get me another drink.”
As he walked back into the kitchen he said over his shoulder, “If you still have the key to Micah’s room, it’s sitting on his bed.”
Beyond pissed and a little tipsy, Tania walked up the steps and sort of stumbled down the tiny hallway that led to Micah’s door. She lovingly put her hand on it, and it felt cold.
Cold like the day he was killed.
Cold like his lips were when she tried to give him CPR.
Cold like everyone thought she was when she left Chicago before his funeral and didn’t come back until Mama died.
Tania had an easier time unlocking this door and pushed it open while her left hand searched for the light switch on the wall. When she flicked the light on, she saw a Valentine’s Day bag sitting on Micah’s bed. She walked over to it and peeked inside. There was a black box and a card. She flipped the top of the black box back and saw the most amazing emerald cut diamond ring. Confused, she opened the envelope and saw a simple white card with a red heart upon it. Her heart was pounding out of her chest as she read the words:
Will you marry me Tania?
She looked up towards the door and Malachi was standing there with another drink for her while sipping his own.
“What the fuck is this Ky?! Not only did Micah die on Christmas Eve, but he and I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We thought it was stupid.”
She walked over to him and grabbed the drink. This time she sipped it because she knew the effects were going to kick her in the ass. “Micah and I showed our Love for each other all year long. Valentine’s day? He would never do something so commercial and corny. So, I’ma ask you again, Ky, what the fuck is this?!” She sipped bigger gulp of her drink and glared at him.
“Lord knows I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just that when…see… ever since you left, I couldn’t stop thinking about you…”
“Stop.” Tania said with tears beginning to stream down her cheeks again.
“…Then when you came back to help me bury Mama…I just couldn’t believe how beautiful you…”
“Didn’t you hear me?!? I SAID STOP?!?”
“And since Micah has been gone now for…”
The most blood curdling scream came from Tania as she hurled the glass at Malachi, and it broke over his head. Glass shattered everywhere as Tania headed towards the door and into the hall. Malachi grabbed her elbow, and Tania jerked away from him slipping on the broken glass and tumbling down the steps. Malachi ran down the steps only to see the black box in her open hand and the ring on the floor next to her.
© michele mitchell, 2013
Choose a set of three elements and write a story that contains all three of them!
Extreme challenge: combine three of the elements with one of the other short story ideas on this page:
1. A taxi, an old enemy, and Valentine’s Day.
2. Identical twins, a party invitation, and a locked closet. (I changed it to a door)