The Box

A Fiction Story
By Disa Wylde

antique-1022481 1920

Damon crashed through the front door and tossed his keys and his school books onto the table in the living room. The candy dish, the mail, and Aunt Jackie’s special box went flying off the table as he ran past it on his way to the kitchen to get some cookies.

Leslie came out of the kitchen with cookies in hand and looked at all of the mess on the floor.  “Boys.” she said disgustedly.  When she finished her cookies she knelt down to pick up the empty candy dish, put all the wrapped pieces back in it, and placed it back on the table where it was supposed to be. She picked up the mail and stacked her brother’s books in a neat pile and placed the mail beside them.  She checked the box to make sure the metal latch on the front was still intact and she was slightly disappointed that it was.  She picked the box up by its heavy metal handle and placed it delicately on the side table.

She started to walk back into the kitchen, but she could hear Aunt Jackie scolding Damon for something he must have done wrong and she knew the berating could take a while. Her attention turned again to that beautiful brown oval shaped box.  The top was made of soft leather with a bit of a bumpy texture to it, and  the color was a deep, rich shade of brown.  She moved the metal handle on the top of the box back and forth to admire the scroll design and star pattern in the middle of it. She traced along the edges of the box as her fingertips felt each antiqued metal bead across the top and down its wooden sides.  She picked the box up by its two tiny metal handles, one on each side, so that she could turn the box in different directions to admire it from all angles. She felt sure those two handles were merely ornamentation and put the box back down quickly for fear that they would break .  She reached again for the latch on the front.  She popped the latch open, then turned her head to look over her shoulder as she opened the hinged box ever so slowly. 

Suddenly she saw her aunt’s shadow moving toward the doorway to the living room.  She let go of the top of the box and it dropped loudly as it closed.  She raced frantically as she tried to put the latch back in its place before her aunt poked her head into the living room and caught her.

Though it had been a few years since Aunt Jackie had taken the cards out of the box, Leslie remembered the magic that was contained within it.  She longed to steal away unseen with the box so she could fully examine its contents at her leisure. How she desperately wanted to run her hands across the plush black velvet drawstring bag with the golden silk lining.  She imagined taking the cards out of the bag herself and seeing if they would tell her what the future held.   No matter how many times she heard Aunt Jackie try to convince other people that the cards contained no magic, Leslie just knew that they did.  She could feel it.

“Here is the Death Card,” Leslie once heard Aunt Jackie tell Mrs. Johannes who lived just down the street. “Now don’t you worry,” she said reassuringly with a big, bright smile, “it doesn’t mean an actual physical death as people often think.  In this case it means a transformation in your life, changes are on the horizon, possibly resulting from the death of an old way of doing things.”  

Mrs. Johannes left that day feeling quite pleased with everything she was told, as most of Aunt Jackie’s visitors did. This all happened a long time ago, before Leslie and Damon came to live with Aunt Jackie.  Their mother used to drop them off for a few hours each Saturday so they could spend time with their favorite aunt.  They had often been playing underfoot while their aunt sat at the kitchen table pointing to different cards and talking to her friends about them. They always seemed to be having such fun, and many of them came back again and again to hear what their aunt would tell them. She had a special way of telling people things, so that even if it seemed like it wasn’t good news, they still felt like everything would work out fine. 

Leslie’s mom never wanted Aunt Jackie to talk about the cards to her, she said she really didn’t believe in all that stuff, but  one day, despite her reservations,  she agreed to let Aunt Jackie read her cards.  Leslie’s mom and Aunt Jackie sat at the kitchen table.Leslie’s mom shuffled and shuffled the cards while Aunt Jackie coached her to stop shuffling when she felt ready,   pick three cards, and then spread them out on  the table.  Aunt Jackie’s face grew excited when she saw the first card, then turned to terror upon seeing the last one.  Then Aunt Jackie quickly picked the cards up and stuffed them back into the bag. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all; I think I’m getting a  headache.” 

 “Aww, c’mon sis, you’re always harping on me about not letting you read my cards, so read them already,” Leslie’s mom teased.  Aunt Jackie said nice things to her about the cards, but she wasn’t having any fun with it like she did with all the other people that came.  She kept rubbing her head and her face was pale.  She spoke words that even she didn’t seem to believe.  Something was very wrong.  Leslie could feel it.

Soon after that day, Leslie’s mom was in a car wreck and she died instantly. That’s when Leslie and Damon started living with Aunt Jackie.  That’s also the last time Leslie saw her aunt read the cards.

“Leslie, Leslie?” Aunt Jackie’s voice caught her by surprise.  “Leslie, I have something for you,” she said.  Aunt Jackie walked quietly over to the couch and sat down.  She patted her hand on the couch and Leslie sat beside her.  Aunt Jackie pulled a rectangular shaped box out from underneath the couch.  It had metal hinges and a lock on the front.  Aunt Jackie handed a tiny key to Leslie.  Leslie opened the box carefully and was astonished to find inside a plush black velvet drawstring bag with  red satin lining.  Nestled snugly inside the bag was her very own set of cards.  “I thought it was about time I picked up my cards again, Leslie, and I thought you might want to have a set, too. We can look at them together, and talk about what they mean.”

Leslie hugged her Aunt Jackie as tightly as she could and asked, “How did you know?” 

Aunt Jackie smiled and shrugged her shoulders, “I just knew.”

Leslie’s eyes welled up with tears and she said meekly, “Aunt Jackie, I always wanted to ask what cards you pulled for Mom that day.  Can we start with those?”

Aunt Jackie’s eyes began to fill with tears. “That day, I pulled The Empress, The Chariot and the Death card.  Now don’t you worry,” she said reassuringly with a big bright smile, “it doesn’t always mean an actual physical death as people often think…”

“But sometimes it does, doesn’t it, Aunt Jackie?  What magic is in the cards that told you  Mom was going to die?” 

Aunt Jackie just sat and stared for the longest time and finally said, “The magic is not in the cards, Leslie, the magic is inside of you.  Somehow, you just know.”

The End

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