We finish, and the family heads into town. I follow Koso up the stairs to the Porthouse, but he stops. I can feel the weight, in the ocean air and exuding from both of us. He doesn’t look at me.
“Go home, Tomas,” he says. His voice is weary, and I cannot look straight at him for fear of seeing an old man, shriveled and dry in the sun.
“Where?” I ask, half serious, half sorrowful. My question is the forbidden one, and some great breath seems to go out of him, even as the sun’s heat boils down upon our skin. He looks back at me, finally, with dark, dark eyes. He judges me and finds what?
“Come inside. There is something you need to see.”
I follow him to the guest room, which is empty and still and has been for quite some time. A smattering of dust floats about the room, disturbed by our entrance. It glides across the bright window, into and out of view, dancing. The room is sparsely furnished, with only a bed and nightstand and a door opening to a closet. None of these appear interesting, but Koso kneels to the nightstand and lifts its top surface. The surface pops off after a moment, revealing a hole of storage. Koso pulls an envelope out, and replaces the nightstand’s top.
The envelope is blank, but has been opened many times. Koso unfolds it gently, watching to keep it safe. It is creased and yellowed on the edges, a product of years kept in this stale, dusty room. It has the age, the fade, of a secret. A single sheet of paper lies inside, folded over again and again, so that now the creases can be nearly seen through. He offers it to me. I open it and read.