“What's that?” She replied. She stared up at me in her yellow puff-sleeved dress, and red mary janes, with an innocent grin that she knew had gotten her answers before. I didn’t want to tell her what it was. Creature had gotten it from the forest that day, and to be honest I wanted to keep it- I liked it so much.
“Can you tell me?” She wanted to know, with her baby blues fixated on my non-negotiating face, but I wasn’t ready to spill. I wasn’t giving away any secrets… even though I myself did not know exactly what was in there.
Creature had found it and brought it up 3 days ago. This was a box if I’ve ever seen it. It was brown, like most cardboard boxes, and it was about 12 inches wide, 12 inches long. The shape was square, square like a cereal box almost, except for more square than that. You know the box I’m talking about. A box you can put things in, store away, deep in a closet and it could be found by someone years later, maybe there'd be a couple bucks laying in it. If I found a money box like that I’d run down to the store and get Mama some pink flowers to soothe her from Papa’s mistakes.
This box was wrapped with so much tape on it I could barely see the lining. But that is why she and I were so damn curious about what was inside.
Creature had returned from staying with his dad in Virginia. His mom had been sick for awhile, so he decided to come back and look after her but the responsibility was getting to him. He was just 14, but much wiser than me. He listened to rock ‘n’ roll that was loud. He claimed he had a girlfriend once but doesn’t remember her name.
Ellie wasn’t this interested in anything else before. I think it’s because she heard it may be the neighbor’s finger in that box. An eight year old wants to see everything they can and more, even if it is indeed an old lady’s finger, ring and all. Creature always said he’d do some darn thing to it because the old lady pissed him off so much when he stole three daffodils from her yard, he’d wanna do something she’d never forget.
It's not everyday Creature lets us sit in his yard beside him, thinking. I know by now my cousin is dying of curiosity. There’s not much else happening around here. So I asked Creature if he could show Ellie what was in that box.
He said he needed time to consider that.
“It's not everyday I show off my belongings, you know,” he replied, spitting tobacco in the grass.
And by the time we tried knocking on his door again the next day, we saw a note that Creature himself wrote:
I've left the box behind me and will not be returning.
There’s nothing for me here. So long as I stay, you’ll will keep
harassing me for that damn box, but the grass will still grow
beyond the horizon where I'll be.
We turned around and we saw, dead in the eyes, a cobra snake! And the box... opened at the sides.
Copyright © 2020 Oona O'Brien. All rights reserved.