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Unpacking the Package

Tuesday March 23, 2010

A package arrives at your home, and you open it.

Baffled at its contents, you turn it over and look at the label—it’s for your neighbor.

The nap had been overly optimistic.  Although she couldn’t imagine who would be on her doorstep at 2:30 in the afternoon (didn’t people work anymore), Fletcher was clearly eager to find out.  Of course, Fletcher was eager about everything.  That seemed to be part of what it meant to be a dog.  Emily was pondering all of this as she straightened her t-shirt, finger combed her hair and pattered down the hall towards the front door and all of the barking.  When she opened the door, much to Fletcher’s slack-eared dismay, there was no one on the porch.  There was however, a brown UPS truck paused at the stop sign that seemed to suggest that a glance downward would be likely to solve the mystery.  Yup, there it was.  A small brown box waited patiently for her notice.

Bending down to collect it and ushering Fletcher back in the house, she wondered what was inside.  They had moved into the house only last week and the “We’ve Moved” postcards that she’d finally convinced Jeff were quite practical and not silly at all, still sat on the kitchen table.  She couldn’t think of anyone but the real estate agent who would know the street address.   It was surprising, but surprises could be fun and she felt a flutter of expectation as she slid the knife beneath the brown line of packing tape.

Maybe it was Jeff, sending a little something special to his bride in their new home.  Pushing back the cardboard edges, her breath caught.  What?  Was this what it looked like it was?  Rifling through the packing materials for a better look, she suddenly hoped with a kind of desperation that this package was not from her new husband.  In that moment, everything her Mother had ever said about the dangers of internet dating suddenly filled her ears.  “You’ve only known him for four months, What do you really know about a person from email, Emily do you really think this is a good idea?”  All of it flooded back and spun through her head until she thought she wouldn’t be able to catch her breath.

The faces of the smiling women on the cover of that book, their bodies situated in an awkward ring around the lone man at their center, unsettled her.  She could see a strangely vacant presence behind their eyes, but that wasn’t the worst of it.  The horror of the package lay in the words stamped earnestly below them.  “Polygamy Works: Women Speaking to Women”.  What was Jeff thinking?  Fumbling through the pile on the counter for her cell phone, the better to confront her new husband immediately with, the writing on the box caught her attention.

Ned Wortherly.  This package was intended for Ned Wortherly.  Ned Wortherly was not her husband.  It seemed likely that he was somebody’s husband and Emily felt a momentary twinge for whoever she was, but suddenly this was no longer her problem.  Sure, she had to figure out a way to get this cargo to Ned and that was sure to be an awkward new neighbor introduction, but she would deal with that later.  After a nap.

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