There is a letter, hand written, faded,
smeared and crumpled up, tucked in a book,
glued beneath endpaper, snuggled
into a hollow oak, abandoned
in an ivy tree, encrypted in cypher
no one can read, painstakingly,
accidentally on purpose,
maybe even fortuitously lost.
It is addressed to me.
under my shoulder blade opens
a very private deposit box. I obtain
a red sweater and cut my hair,
now dyed a different color, then
cautiously approach the staff.
Left alone with the box, I lift
the lid and find it full of old photographs.
I have come across bad secrets,
proof of theorized conspiracy,
betrayal of trust, and if I reveal,
that act will very likely kill me.
Just knowing has already killed my heart,
so it is possible I will do nothing at all.
I used to be an agent of change,
focused, lethal, able
to turn anything to weapon, fearless too,
but I threw away memory, hid in a life
so ordinary it consumes the past like a black hole.
I am abetted by those closest to me,
who only want to keep me safe.
Are you sure
this still is the password?
Do you recognize me,
after the years, the changes? Tell me
we yet have a chance to cross
the frontiers so closely guarded
out of this underworld.
- A.B. Emrys
A.B. Emrys's study of two mystery writers, Wilkie Collins, Vera Caspary and the Evolution of the Casebook Novel, was an Agatha and Macavity finalist. Her shorter works have appeared in many journals ranging from Prairie Schooner to Danse Macabre to Clues: a Journal of Detection. Examples are at abemrys.com, including her ebook, Temporary Vampire.