Dad has gone and left me with this box of I don’t know what. It has stood like a book on the cookbook shelf with undiscarded yellow pages and other worthless paper, but I never called anyone whose number I didn’t know, or cooked anything I couldn’t figure out, or needed to save my life. I was eight when I first got sick, and Dad showed me the box while I was lying in the hospital bed playing with plastic dinosaurs on a landscape of sheets a hundred kids had used. I had no fear of dying, but I could tell my adults were terrified. He never told me what was in it. Be wise in how you use it, son, he told me. This box will solve all your problems but only once. I picked up the spiny green tank-like creature with the open mouth and a tail like a spiked club. Take that, deathosaurus, I told him. Throughout my bumpy youth of loss, of deprivation and pain, my illness, my accident, my long recuperation, I never opened the box. When Mom died and I suffered a small amputation, I wrapped it completely in duct tape to reduce the temptation to see what was inside. It sits before me now on the kitchen counter utterly orphaned, scuffed, frayed, faintly ridiculous. I’m drinking wine that tastes like someone meant to make it better. I always thought that something worse would happen that would call for a bit of magic, and now that the worst is upon me, I know I’ll get through this too without opening the box. And anyway, I know what’s in it. I’ll probably pass it along to my daughter if ever she seems to need it, just as my grandmother passed it along to Dad.
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