The Cellar

 

 

Cool, dry air grazes my skin, trickling in from nowhere in particular and everywhere at once through a hidden ventilation system, its presence felt but unheard. Only a handful of customized pot lights shine from the high vintage ceiling, sparse and evenly dispersed. Their warm, isolated glows create a collective dimness all around, much like single wick-candles do. As usual, the cellar is incredibly quiet. Almost eerily so. All the noise and music from above the basement is completely drowned out by exceptionally sound-proof walls. Except for the rhythmic taps of my converse against the expensive wooden floors, total silence encompasses me as I haul a moderately heavy crate of wine onto a trolley.

Tonight’s shipment isn’t as large as it usually is on Fridays—relatively small, actually—and thankfully, the boxes are light enough to be handled by one person. However, smaller shipments typically mean more expensive content.

The slight jingle of glass against glass fills the still room, making my heart leap into my throat. I grip the sturdy wood casing instinctively, feeling the pulse in my neck rise unusually fast. My fingers latch on to its sides intently, refusing to loosen their hold even when they start to hurt.

I know I’m being overly cautious, handling the crate with extreme care—probably more than the bolded words on its side instruct—and guarding the glass bottles it contains like my life depends on it.

But that’s because it does.

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