Small Packages: a novella (Part I & II)
**A story in chapters to appear each week.**
By Maureen D. Friedman
Eliza's eyes flashed with the sharp light of mental and physical alertness. What had woken her up so suddenly? She reached for her cell phone atop a stack on books on her bedside table. 2:37. The room seemed earily bright for such an early hour. Each item in her room seemed to glow with a liquid metal glow outlining everything from her dresser to her lamp to each individual lace on her cross trainers.
Trying to dispel her anxiety, Eliza lay back down and closed her eyes tight. But as though something was pulling her lids back open like cheap plastic blinds, she was soon examining her room once more.
As her eyes scanned what she could see of her apartment through the view afforded by the ajar door, she realized that the strange light was coming through the blinds of her dining room window. Headlights.
A gentle rapping came at the door and the thought occurred to Eliza that this shy knock may not be the first and perhaps the first was what first woke her to the oddly bright night.
Another knock came, a bit louder this time but still hesitant--as if ashamed. Moments later the roar of a motor started and the headlights faded away. The room was again still and black but the quiet that Eliza was accustomed to had not returned with the dark.
Outside the door came small, ragged breathes and then a muffled cry, like the sound of a child's weeping through a heavy winter scarf and the burn of a snowball to the cheek.
Eliza's heart alternately pumped and clenched as her pale feet slipped into a pair of fuzzy blue slippers at her bedside and she pulled a blanket around her bare shoulders.
Hearing another cry she nearly leapt to the door but as her fingers flipped the lock, she froze. What if a rapid animal or clever thief awaited her with the opening of the door. Whatever it was, it had been purposefully placed at her door, the thought of which was at first comforting but quickly became terrifying upon further consideration.
Eliza steeled herself for what lie behind the two inches of wood that acted as a weak shield against whatever was waiting for her. Slowly she gripped the knob with her clammy hands and turned it clockwise. A gust of cold wind pushed the door open at a speed much greater than Eliza had planned.
What she saw was not a wild animal with creamy foam dripping from his jowls, nor was it a hulking criminal with a ski mask pulled over his panting mouth. It was a cardboard box, lined with a cheap fleece blanket like the kind you buy during desperate Christmas eve moments at cvs. And writhing inside, face streaked with tears, fine hair slicked to the clammy sides of tiny ears, lay a baby.
****PLEASE NOTE: Due to lack of interest, I am discontinuing this novella. I am open to continuing, however, if I get comments asking for me to do so. Otherwise, thanks for reading. :-) ****