By Lis Lily
It is an ordinary morning on October 20th in the small town of Stowe, Vermont. Sir Thomas is a strange cat, he absolutely loves going for long strolls in the morning. Therefore, Alice wakes up at 5 AM and puts him in a harness and leash; she had to get a medium dog sized harness because Sir Thomas was just that chunky. Together they stroll through the chilly neighborhood. The leaves are falling gently to the ground in an array of different colors, from the deepest orange to a greenish brown.
When they get back to the apartment, Alice instantly knows something is wrong. The old brown door to her apartment is swinging open on its hinges, making a creaking sound that ordinarily would have grated on her nerves, but at that moment sounded like a warning bell ringing through her body. Alice picks up Sir Thomas and gently tip toes into her beloved home. Clinging to the fluffy tabby cat, she checks every nook and cranny to make sure no one is there; from the bathtub to the counter under the sink.
As suspected, there is no one. With her heart pounding wildly in her chest, Alice goes to check the one thing in her apartment that she values most. There is a small panel of wood that is loose in the hallway, she uses it to hide her most treasured possessions including her savings to move to the Netherlands, and even more importantly, a locket. This locket is the only thing she has left of her parents. She wears it from time to time, but usually keeps it hidden in fear of the old chain snapping and falling into some crack in the road. Upon approaching the panel of wood, she sees it is swinging open, completely empty.
Alice screams. Something in Alice cracks, a feeling like something is shattering inside her already torn chest. It is all gone, everything she worked so hard for, one of the only things she dared hope for, and even worse than that, her most treasured possession of all.
How will she start over? A sudden feeling of anger overtakes Alice, and she finds the nearest glass object, a clear floral vase, and throws it against the wall. No, not anger anymore. Suddenly she is sliding down the wall, sobbing. Sir Thomas comes over mewling his concern. Alice picks him up and sobs, feeling like she is crying out over every injustice ever to have happened to her.
After hours of sobbing and screaming out the unfairness to the world around her, Alice slowly puts herself back together. She checks her outdated flip phone. It is 10 AM, and she must be at work by 11:30. Next, she decides to take a quick shower and wash her face. She is exhausted and defeated, but she resolutely throws her hair into a quick messy bun and changes into her regular work outfit of jeans and a black t-shirt. Alice then makes sure Sir Thomas has food and water, grabs her small rainbow-colored backpack, and heads out the door, triple checking the lock. Somehow, it did not get damaged when her home was broken into. Something is amiss about that, but Alice shrugs it off in her misery shrouded mind and continues to the bus stop for work.
Alice gets to the small coffee shop, Simply Brewed, and heads toward the single bathroom instead of to the back to change. It is quickly evident why because as soon as she closes the door she bursts into a fresh round of tears. Finally, after a few deep breaths, Alice pulls herself together enough to step outside and start her shift. Surprisingly, Kate, her favorite coworker, is not there. Rather, the kindly old grandfather of the shop, Steven, is there instead.
He takes one look at her face and says, “My dear, why do you look so sad?”
“My apartment was broken into, and my parents’ locket stolen, along with all my savings.”
“Oh dear, oh dear, you better go home and take the day off to sort everything out. But here, let me make you a warm caramel latte with oat milk before you head out. I know it’s your favorite.”
Alice nods in apparent appreciation. She sits at a stool near the coffee making station and waits for Steven to bring her the steaming latte in a to-go cup. He has also brought out a blueberry muffin for her.
“My wife made it for me, but I think you could certainly use it more,” he offers with a wink.
Alice slowly meanders home, choosing to walk rather than take the bus, thinking about what exactly she should do about this whole situation. She promises herself that she will find that locket if it is the last thing she does. With that determination set forth in her mind, she heads inside her apartment to cuddle with Sir Thomas and piece together who exactly could have done such a thing.
Settled comfortably on the worn out cinnamon colored sofa, Alice starts to think back and write in her journal any tiny thing she can remember, little pieces of information come back to her. First, there is the fact that the door was ajar yet not broken in any way. It is almost like someone had a key. Next, Alice realizes that nothing else had been missing, just whatever was in the panel, the things she cared about the most.
Is it possible whoever robbed her wanted to hurt her more than steal from her? If they cared about money, why steal the locket? Why not her television or laptop that were so clearly set out in plain sight? Whoever stole from her clearly knew what they were looking for, because nothing was out of place except for the panel and the door. Is it possible they wanted Alice to realize instantly what had happened? Why not just close the panel and door and runaway with her stuff?
With these thoughts on her mind, Alice stands up to make a late lunch. As she searches her cupboards to look for something to eat, her mind is roaming, contemplating all the possibilities of who could have been in her apartment She reaches for the bread – whole wheat – and grabs all the vegetables she can find from the fridge. She finds a tomato, some spinach, half a cucumber, and some avocado. Throwing on some mayonnaise and salt and pepper, her simple vegetable sandwich is complete.
As she eats, she starts writing a list of anyone who either had a key to her apartment or could potentially get one. Mary-Anne (the landlady) obviously had a key as it was her property. Alice instantly knows there is no way it could be the kind-hearted old widow. Other than Mary-Anne, Kate (her coworker and good friend from Simply Brewed), was the only one to have a key. Alice had given her a key because someone needed to walk and feed Sir Thomas when she was gone from home for too long. The only other people who could easily get a key included one of her neighbors, none of which she really knew, or Steven (borrowing it from Kate). It was clearly not Steven because he seemed just as shocked as Alice herself had been. It was also most likely not the neighbors, because none of them would know about the lose panel in the wall.
That left the most likely suspect as Kate. But why would she do that? They were friends. The more Alice contemplated it though, the more it made sense: Kate had been acting distant lately; she was not at work for some reason, which was especially strange because Kate never called out. Unease and betrayal upset Alice’s empty stomach. Kate was one of the first people she had met in the small, lonely town. A growing sense of sadness and acceptance creeps over Alice as she lets herself eat her tear-stained sandwich, miserable with the knowledge of who had most likely betrayed her.
Hello, my name is Lis Lily. I currently reside in the one and only city of Lynchburg. Some fun facts about me include my love for all things art, including painting and colored pencil artwork. I also recently married my beautiful wife, Kylie and together we own a very chunky kitty named Froggy. Additionally, we love to go on weekend trips to explore Virginia together. This semester is my last one at CVCC, after which I will graduate with an associates degree in general studies. From here, I plan to transfer to a 4-year college to pursue a degree in English and Art