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Puzzle Box Infinitum

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Written by   31
1 month ago
Topics: Writing

My visits to my uncle Jeremiah's house were usually uneventful. When my parents were busy or going out of town, my uncle and his step-wife, who I called Aunt Lydia, would take me in. They lived in the same town, which was convenient and my uncle never had any kids so I'm as close as they would get to experience being a parent.

Jeremiah was a widow. His first wife Dawn, had passed away tragically in a car accident on icy roads at night. It was a sad time and I remember uncle Jeremiah being at our house most of the time after the funeral. He was quiet and soft spoken during those times, often wishing to retreat to his room after meals. There were a few times I caught him speaking with my dad, who was his brother, in hushed voices. It would occur over several evenings and I could never get close enough to hear what their conversation was about.

One neat thing that I always looked forward to when I went to uncle Jeremiah's was looking at this cool puzzle box he kept on a shelf. It was an intricately made wooden puzzle box, made from alder and birch wood. It had been stained, sanded and smoothed out to have a picture of a beach scene on the top. The wood had a silky touch and was about nine inches long and stood five inches tall. It was heavy when picked up. As much as I gazed at it and picked it up, there was one rule when staying with my uncle. It was that I was never to attempt to open the box. I could take it off the shelf and look at it and that was it. It was terribly frustrating.

One of the first activities of my stay was to go straight to the box and take it from its place on my uncle's bookshelf in his bedroom. The shelf was jammed packed of books, mostly having to do with history and cultural arts. There were a few mysteries and autobiographies, but for the most part my uncle kept almost a book on each part of cultural history he could on this shelf. He was a history professor at the local university so it made sense. But on the third lower shelf sat the box.

On this particular visit, I removed the box from its place and sat on the floor crossed-legged. I ran my fingers along the beach scene with its dark stains and carefully evened surface. Why was this box special and why couldn't I ever open it? On the front part of the box was a small metallic ring that seemed to pull the lid open. Similar smaller rings were on the sides but just for ornamental reasons. I flipped it upside down and as I did I heard something. It was almost as if a small animal yelped. Then I noticed a small trap door at the bottom of the box. There were tiny screws at the four corners.

Excited and frightened at my discovery, I placed the box back in its place and got up and ran to find uncle Jeremiah.

I soon found him in the kitchen by himself looking through the pantry shelves.

"Uncle Jeremiah!" I exclaimed, trying to catch my breath.

"What is it Sylvia?" he turned to look at me.

"The box! It made a noise, there was a noise that came from it. It was like an animal or something that sounded like it was cry for help," I exclaimed, tripping over my words and hoping they made sense.

Uncle Jeremiah turned back to look at the pantry shelves and let out a breath. The silence lay thickly between us.

Writing prompt:

Start your story with someone being forbidden from doing something.

(taken from https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/)

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Written by   31
1 month ago
Topics: Writing
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