Published on 2014/03/02

The Package Arrived on June 17th

Dylan Larson-Harsch

The package arrived on June 17th, 1981, a neatly boxed rectangle of brown that appeared inconspicuously on Samantha Greenglass’ front step waiting to be taken inside. After making a quick detour to drop her briefcase on her oaken desk, Samantha did just that, curiosity piqued at what the parcel might contain. It was addressed to her, Samantha Greenglass, 4251 N Astor Street, but there were no holidays remotely near to June 17th, not even her birthday.

On her sun drenched kitchen table, the package seemed even more tantalizing, and Samantha’s scissors worked at a furious pace to slice through the layers of duct tape that encapsulated it. Once she had pried the twin brown flaps open, Samantha plunged her hand into it, wading through a sea of foam balls.

Her fingers first brushed against a smooth, papery surface, and Samantha came up clutching a small business card, the front of which advertised Naomi’s Fabulous Flora and Fauna. On the back, Samantha found a message, presumably for her, written in scratchy pen. “Remember me?” it read.

Searching her mind for some outstanding past event for which she would receive a package, Samantha found none. In fact, she noted, her life had been generally drab, dull. Sure she had gone through the motions, high school, college, entry-level banking job, short-term boyfriend, but there was nothing that really stood out to her as particularly memorable.

But that was the past. Turning her attention to the task at hand, Samantha once again ventured into the foam balls, this time connecting with cool, sleek glass. When she tried to lift the object out, Samantha discovered that it was quite heavy, requiring the full force of her arm to bring it free from the box and set it gingerly onto the table.

The object appeared to be a burnished glass half-sphere that emitted an ethereal blue light with unknown origin, giving it the semblance of beauty. There were no markings on the uniform glass, but upon closer inspection, the flat side contained a small indentation, what looked to be some queer keyhole. It was a smallish thing, and it looked as though Samantha could cradle it comfortably in her hands.

Probing her past for memories of a glowing hemisphere, Samantha remembered nothing, and resolved to send it back to the return address, located somewhere in California.

But just as she was setting the object back into its bed of foam, Samantha paused.

“Why not,” she thought, “why can’t I just keep this thing? It’d be exciting, finding out where this came from. It’d be like a mystery.”

And so instead of resting nestled in foam, the half-sphere took up residence on the topmost shelf on Samantha’s bookcase, where it presided over the comings and goings of her study. Samantha always felt its presence, enticing her with sweet mystery, but still it remained sealed.

#

Samantha made the next step on her investigation of the sphere three days after it arrived, when she dialed the number for Naomi’s Fabulous Flora and Fauna.

Samantha was quickly referred to a Floral Associate, to whom Samantha imparted with a description of what she had received and when.

“No sorry,” the Associate said with a slight whine to her voice, “I’m afraid we don’t carry a product matching that description. How did you come to contact us again?”

“Your business card was in the package, with the words ‘remember me’ written on the back,” Samantha replied, perturbed at having to repeat herself.

“No sorry,” the Associate drawled, and the conversation was terminated soon after.

Disappointed and disgruntled, Samantha dropped into the embrace of the plush chair in her study and glared maliciously at the half-sphere pulsing with blue glow.

“Now what?” she asked aloud, and only silence answered her.

#

The next inquisition was into the keyhole-like indentation. It had been two weeks since the call to Naomi’s Fabulous Flora and Fauna, and Samantha had puzzled over this oddity several times, attempting to find a suitable object to insert, but nothing had fit.

In her study, Samantha turned the object around in her hands, passing her fingers over its cool and unearthly surface.

“Two weeks and nothing,” Samantha thought with annoyance, “two weeks and no single clue! Not a thing to be found!” Samantha speculated that her last sentence might have been spoken, pushed out of her mouth by anger.

A sudden wave of frustration rocketed through Samantha’s body, and she hurled the glass object through the study doorway, where it landed with a dull thud upon the tiled kitchen floor. She approached the object and picked it up, inspecting the glass surface for any hints of cracks, but there were none. The glass remained as uniform and immaculate as it had when she had taken the object from its package.

In her inspection, Samantha’s eye passed over the keyhole crevice, where she was startled to find her gaze matched by a red eye looking back at her. Samantha yelped in astonishment, but was also intrigued by this new discovery, and an inkling of hope formed in her.

Samantha once again righted her eye with the indent and stared straight into the piercing gaze of the red iris.

“Incorrect retina,” said a robotic voice that had seemed to emanate the hemisphere.

Samantha drew back, appalled, but it was not the voice which made her uneasy.

“Incorrect retina?” Samantha parroted the object, “but it was sent to me! I am correct! I’m the one who got the package!”

But the air Samantha was speaking to had no reply.

#

The investigation into the object remained dormant for three more weeks. Disheartened, Samantha only sighed when she happened to glance up at her bookshelf and the object resting upon it.

But during this time, Samantha could feel her resentment building. She hated that hemisphere for denying her access, even though the right was clearly hers. Opening the object became a necessity for Samantha, verging on obsession. She had told no one about its existence, out of privacy but also out of fear that they might be able to unlock it instead of her.

Samantha Greenglass was convinced, beyond any equivocal doubt, that the hemisphere was meant for her. All that remained was to open it.

#

It was a Saturday when Samantha plucked the object from its resting place once more. She again peered into the indentation, again made contact with the eye.

Again: “Incorrect retina.”

Uncaring, Samantha looked into the keyhole again, which produced the same response. Samantha looked again, again, again, but every time she received the same answer.

“Incorrect retina.”

Now the eye shown to the object was blurry with tears but the hemisphere was stoic in its response. Samantha tried to trick the thing; makeup was furiously applied, contacts ripped in and out, but all the while the same answer.

“Incorrect retina.”

Finally, in a fit of rage and determined to expose the object’s secret, Samantha deposited it on a countertop then stalked out of the room, reappearing moments later with a hammer clutched in her fist. She brought it down hard on the glass surface with a malice her body had never experienced. Samantha Greenglass wanted this object to die.

“Open!” she screamed as the object endured increasing amounts of hammer blows.

But there was nothing.

The glass half-sphere remained unscathed.

Breath heaving madly, Samantha collapsed on the hard tiled floor, disheartened and ashamed at her outpouring of anger.

“I have to find its secret,” Samantha breathed through violent sobs, “I just have to.”

#

Ruth Greenglass weaved in and out of the guests at the grandmother’s 80th birthday party, catching snippets of conversation that floated about on the congested air.

“Poor Samantha, still all alone.”

“I heard she turned mean right after that boy Mark left her.”

“No, it wasn’t a man; it was that stock crash that turned her sour.”

“Her inheritance isn’t even worth anything.”

None of the gossipers took notice of Ruth, who glided about on a ten-year-old’s legs, below the cacophony of conversation above.

Despite her fellow attendees’ comments, Ruth felt pity for her withered grandmother, who had never found a suitable partner or employment. She had always been known as the shrewd one, even in her younger years, who had been loath to attend family gatherings and maintain cordial conversation.

Ruth halted in her miscellaneous meanderings, realizing she had wandered into the bedroom of Samantha’s assisted living home. Out of the gaze of her elders, Ruth decided to inspect the room, imagining she was a detective on the search for evidence.

Ruth opened drawers, peered under the bed, inspected the small nooks and crannies, and it was in a shoebox holed up in a remote corner of the stale smelling closet that she made her first real discovery.

The object was a strange glass half-sphere that gave off some kind of alien blue light. Ruth turned it over in her hands, finding that the flat side of the object was indented with a small keyhole-like crevice.

Ruth put her eye right up next to the minute hole to see if she could peer inside and was astonished to find a red eye staring back at her.

Ruth let out a small yelp and the object tumbled to the ground, but not before it uttered a soft click and the words “retina confirmed” in a soft metallic voice.

Frightened, Ruth started to back away, but then realized the object was undergoing a transformation. Its glass surface partitioned into equal slices, which then pulled back to reveal the half-sphere’s central core.

The first thing Ruth’s eyes passed over was a note, written in hurried script on the back of a business card soliciting Naomi’s Fabulous Flora and Fauna.

“Ruth,” it read, “This is the one year anniversary of that night last June. I wanted you to have this, as a memento of the memories we created.”

Ruth next drew out from inside the glass container a feather, light and gossamer to the touch. It was covered with animalistic patterns that danced over its surface, and seemed to be the source of the ethereal glow. To Ruth, the feather seemed to be the precipice of beauty.

A short flash caught Ruth’s eye. She reluctantly set down the feather and peered back into the hemisphere to find that another note had appeared in the bottom of the glass object.

Ruth blinked furiously. She had been sure the feather was the last item in the half-sphere. The girl drew out this new message anyways, finding it transcribed in the same format of the one previous.

“From the Office of Transdimensional Postal Affairs and to be sent at the time of parcel’s perforation,” it read. “Dear Valued Customer, we apologize for the inconvenience. An unexpected error rendered this package and others like it off course and the parcel was sent to the incorrect recipient. Please send this package back to the listed processing center to be redistributed. Once again, we apologize. Thank you for your time.”

#

The package arrived on June 17th, 2054, a neatly boxed rectangle of brown that inconspicuously appeared on Ruth Greenglass’ front step waiting to be taken inside. When Ruth tore it open, she discovered, once again, the ethereal glass sphere, and a note.

“Remember me?”

Ruth Greenglass smiled. Because this time, she remembered everything.


Dylan Larson-Harsch is a student of a Midwest suburb who really loves to write. In his free time, he is also an avid runner and enjoys tinkering at the keys of a piano. His favorite authors include John Steinbeck, Frank Herbert, and Graham Greene.