The box was waiting on Helen's doorstep when she got home. It was about a foot and a half on the long side, and wrapped in nondescript brown paper. Her address was scribbled on it, but there was no return address.
She turned it over in her hands as she dropped her purse on the couch. She didn't remember ordering anything? She shook it, but heard nothing inside. Setting it on the dining room table, she retrieved a pair of scissors to cut open the flaps, and that's when she heard the voice:
She looked left and right, but no one was there. The voice was small and garbled, like someone talking through a mouthful of water.
"Helen! Down here!"
There could be no mistaking it this time; the voice was coming from inside the box.
"Hello?" she said. She put her ear to the side in hopes of hearing the tiny voice better.
"Helen, thank God you're here. Please open the box."
Helen frowned. Was someone playing a trick on her? Was there a radio or a phone in the package? "Who is this?" she asked.
"Don't you recognize my voice? It's me, Daniel!"
Helen suddenly felt unsteady on her feet, so she sat down. Her hands were trembling, so she put the scissors away. She pushed the box to the opposite side of the table.
"Daniel?" she whispered.
"Yes Helen, it's me. Please open the box? I can't stand being in here any longer."
"But Daniel, you're dead. Aren't you?"
"Am I? I don't remember..."
"You are. Six months ago. I was at your funeral."
"Really? Was it nice?"
"It was. Your mother gave the eulogy. But Daniel, you shouldn't be here."
"I know. They were supposed to deliver me somewhere else, but I guess they made a mistake."
"They. Them. Whoever does these things. Helen, why haven't you let me out?"
Helen scraped her chair back a few inches on the linoleum. "I don't think I should," she said.
"Oh, please darling, please? I have so many things I want to say to you."
"So say them?"
"I can't, not like this! I want to see your face. And it's so dark in here, and it's cold, it's very cold, and I'm scared. Please help me Helen, please let me out. I was so relieved when I realized it was you who had found me, because I knew you would help."
Helen reached for the scissors, but hesitated. "How do I know you're really Daniel?"
"What?" said the voice. "Who else would I be?"
"I don't know. Anyone, I guess. But you don't sound like Daniel, and for all I know you're trying to trick me."
"Helen, we don't have very long. They'll be back for me..."
"Tell me something only Daniel would know."
The voice was silent for a while. Then it said: "Do you remember that time we stayed in Lisbon?"
"And we drank all of champagne in the hotel mini bar and then skipped out on the bill?"
Helen's hands stopped shaking, and she relaxed a little. "Keep going."
"You looked so beautiful that night, with your hair tied up in that red scarf. Do you remember?
"Do you remember that I used that scarf to tie you to the headboard?"
Helen blushed. "I...may remember that."
"And I traced drops of champagne onto your thighs and then licked them off, one by one." The voice sounded slightly dazed, as if lost in remembrance. "You were so hot I thought you might burn my lips."
Helen picked up the scissors.
"You kept tugging at the headboard because you wanted to run your fingers through my hair, like you always did, but I'd tied you too well, and all you did was leave a dent in the wall."
"We skipped out on the bill for that too, didn't we?"
"I remember sliding your stockings down your legs one at a time. You were wearing those black and red lace panties that I always liked. You were so wet that I could taste you even before my mouth got there."
Helen fumbled with the box, trying to figure out which way was right-side up.
"You tasted like a sweet, ripe peach. We'd gone through all of the champagne and I was drunk as hell, but it felt like I was drunk on you."
She sliced the paper wrapper off in one piece. The voice kept talking:
"I remember kissing my way down your hip bone, and biting you there, once, hard enough to leave a mark. I think I might even have left a little scar?"
"It's still there," Helen said.
"And I licked you from top to bottom, and you kept moaning 'Fuck, oh fuck, fuck, oh fuck!' until the couple next door banged on the wall and threatened to call management."
Helen cut through the tape covering one flap, then another.
"And for the rest of my life, every night I laid down to sleep I thought about your face then, with your eyes half-closed. And I can't ever forget pushing my mouth up against your cunt and parting your lips with mine, slipping my tongue inside and licking out all the wetness I found there."
Helen thought that it had grown tremendously hot all of a sudden.
"When you came I thought your thighs were going to crush me. The mattress was damp all the way through with our sweat, and you said I had to either untie you or fuck you that minute, my choice."
Helen fumbled with the scissors, dropping them.
"So you see," said the little voice, "I really am Daniel.”
"I suppose you must be," said Helen, her fingers poised to open the flaps of the box. "But I still don't understand what's going on."
"Don't you trust me?"
"Then open it."
Helen took a deep breath. "Alright..."
There was a knock at the door.
"Don't answer it!" said the voice, but she could no sooner leave a knock unanswered than she could leave a box unopened.
On her doorstep was a tall man with a craggy face wearing a uniform she did not recognize. "Excuse me m'am," he said, "but I think I might have delivered the wrong package here earlier today."
Helen stood on one foot, then the other, looking up into his grey eyes. "Oh," was all she could think to say.
"Do you have the box, m'am?"
"It's on the table," she said, in a tone that sounded less sure than she was.
"Well, I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I would surely like to have it back. There'll be hell to pay for me if I don't get it." He raised an eyebrow.
"Of course," she stammered, going to the table and returning with the still-unopened box. The deliveryman took it with a smile.
"There now. I hope it didn't cause any trouble for you?"
"Not at all."
"You didn't open it, did you?" he asked, frowning.
"That's good. These packages, they don't usually have what you expect in them. You can get quite a nasty shock if you go peaking inside. If you know what I mean m'am."
Helen sighed. "I don't think I do, but you're probably right."
The deliveryman made to put the box into his satchel. "Helen!" cried the little voice, once, and then it vanished into the canvas bag.
The deliveryman fished around inside, then produced an equally nondescript gray box, about half the size of the first. "This is the one I was supposed to drop off for you. Special delivery."
"Thank you," she said, taking it. "Should I sign for it?"
"No need. You have a wonderful night now m'am. Sorry for the mix-up."
She closed the door, taking the gray box in. It was heavily taped, and she couldn't find where she had dropped the scissors. She looked at the clock and saw that it was nearly one in the morning
Well, she thought, it's been such a strange, busy night already, I think this can probably wait until morning. She stood, leaving the box where it was, making her way to the bedroom.