The Red Box

Barbara Hinton
Feet to the Fire Writers’ Workshop – Evansville
April 11, 2019

David was going to be away from home for several hours, giving me the opportunity I needed to explore the BIG storage room, completely unsupervised!  For days, my curiosity had run rampant trying to guess what I would have stored in such an inconvenient spot. The intriguing red box was only recently revealed when David moved a larger container that had hidden the smaller box. Judging by the multi layers of dust covering the top, the box in question must have been languishing there, unnoticed and completely out of my reach, for years.

This particular room has had several incarnations. David used the room for a library. He liked the quiet, peaceful atmosphere where he could read, think, or doze in the comfy, over stuffed wing back chair. His many books lining the walls were faithful old friends.

I changed the space into a charming guest bedroom for our darling grandchildren and my two beloved sisters.  When the kids grew up and my sisters preferred to stay in a hotel on the riverfront, we changed the room once again.

You probably wouldn’t expect it, but David and I are incorrigible packrats. We save scraps of paper, old Alcoa training manuals, defunct telephones from the 60s and wrinkled bits of wrapping paper and ribbons. I once owned 6 sets of dishes, hundreds of cloth napkins and tablecloths for every imaginable occasion.

Obviously, instead of throwing anything away, we needed more “in house storage” to protect our many treasures. David installed three rows of sturdy industrial strength, black shelving. The top shelf is still too high for me to reach. The room was now known as the “big storage room”.

Standing on my tippy toes, I stretched my arms upward in an effort to reach the top shelf. Couldn’t be done. I was undeterred.  The red box was even more enticing because I couldn’t get my hands on it.  Appearing before me, as if by magic, was a ladder. I was forbidden to ever use it. Way too dangerous for my unsteady body. The shiny grey metal called to me, Barbara, David is not home. He won’t be home for hours. No one will know

Bringing the ladder closer to the shelf, I stepped on the first rung. Well that felt OK. I will try the second rung, a little more uncomfortable. Third step, precarious. One more step and I can retrieve my prize.  

OOPs.  The little box was unexpectedly heavy! In a panic, I tossed the box to the floor and clutched the ladder to steady myself. On the floor, a myriad of brightly colored small objects spilled out, rolled across the floor, scattered at my feet, under the cabinets, inside my ribbon box, everywhere I looked…shiny treasures from my past, smiled at me. I smiled back. On my knees, searching for special mementos, I found my Brownie pin I wore when I was 6, the church pin I received for singing in Children’s choir. I was stunned by my discovery!

Spreading my treasures across the kitchen table, I was free to study each piece, hold it in my hand and reminisce for hours. Bits and pieces representing generations of loving relationships. My grandmother, mother, sisters, daughters, childhood friends. Every item I touched brought a dear family member back to me to visit awhile at my kitchen table.

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