Peace, but for the tinkle of the decorative bells Kaya’s grandmother surrounded the house with — comforting guardian angels that broke the eerie silence of the isloated neighborhood. No breeze or gust of wind, but the perpetual tinkle…
Kaya sat up from the floral couch, alert now. Too many tinkles, and gentle thumps downstairs. The fish tank’s whirring filter? Had grandma forgotten to turn it off this morning? No, Kaya knew her strict routine by heart… out of bed at precisely 6:15 am, feed beta fish, turn off filter, power walk five times around the block, return home through the garage. Grandma couldn’t be back so soon.
The lock of the back door twisted distinctly, very deliberately. Kaya glanced up at the key ring on the coat hanger and realized, with a jolt, that the key to the back door had disappeared indeed. The intruder seemed familiar with the house, as if he came in every morning for a visit while Grandma was out for her walk. tap, tap, tap, up the twenty-six steps of the winding stair case, one by one. tap, tap, tap, while Kaya could do nothing but freeze in her contortionist stretch, eyes fixed on the door knob….
Dressed in a white apron, he paved his way through the backyard path. It was a treacherous trail; he’d always been a clumsy guy and the two-gallon milk bottles falling out of his hands didn’t exactly help his balance. Oh, how he loathed old ladies with their five tea-times a day, in little antique tea cups served with saucers of milk for all their old-lady friends. Those horrid old ladies with tea sets and wind chimes. Every morning, he tripped and knocked over an assortment of angel bells, dolphin chimes, bird houses and copper swirls. Finally, he arrived at the door and turned over the ceramic pot on the deck.
He picked up the rusty key from its hiding place, expertly twisting it in the keyhole — this he knew how to do.