The Box (Emily Marshall)

I have a box that sits on my dresser. It’s small, maybe six inches long and four inches wide, and it’s made entirely of dark-stained wood. That is, except for the hinges. I don’t keep anything in it right now, but that’s only because it’s my preference, not because it isn’t big enough to hold anything. If my daddy were reading this over my shoulder, he’d say, “June-bug, ain’t nobody gonna know what that word means!” But that’s just because he didn’t have Ms. Casey as a seventh grade teacher last year. She taught us big words, like “preference” and “dejection” and “malady”.
Once I put my favorite poem inside the box. It’s the one about hope having feathers or wings or something, by that author who stayed inside all the time. I like it best because of her story. One time my friend Janey told me that if the author was really a brave person, she would have left her house and met people and had a family. I guess that takes bravery, too, having a family; but I think she was just as brave to stay inside and be herself. Sometimes being yourself is equally as scary as facing the world around you. I asked my mom what she thought, if she figured that the author had been just as brave to be herself, and mom said I was right, and hugged me. I’m not really sure why she did that, but I hugged her back.
Another time, I kept my mom’s favorite perfume in the box. She was going on a trip, and I was going to miss her. She’d never been on a trip before, so I didn’t really have experience of missing her, but I just knew I would. After she got back from her trip, I gave her the perfume back, since it’s her favorite. It’s called “Wildflowers”, and it smells like the outdoors. It isn’t my favorite; I like the one she wears on special occasions best, but whenever I smell it, I think of my mom. After we read that author lady’s poems, I told my mom that she reminded me of the author, the way she always admired the outdoors. Mom was really tickled about that, although I’m not sure why.
One time, I kept a dead June bug in the box. I liked all the greens, and the iridescence of its shell. (“Iridescence” is another word Ms. Casey taught me. I like to use it all the time.) Whenever I got the chance, I would lift up the lid on my box and look at the June bug. Sometimes I would lose track of time, staring at the shell and letting my eyes create swirls and waves of pattern. That’s why my daddy calls me “June-bug”, because I kept that June bug in my box for almost a whole year. Janey said I wasted a lot of time staring at “That Thing”, but I never could get her to look at it. She’d just squeal and say, “Eeeeeew! I hate bugs! Don’t get That Thing near me!” I bet if she had looked for just a minute she would have understood. Mom told me not to count on it, though. She said not everyone sees things the way I do. I’m not sure I understand what she meant.
The last thing I had in my box was a rose petal from my mom’s funeral. I’m still not sure why we had roses. She always said she liked daffodils best. It seems like we should have had her favorite things there, instead. All the same, I saved one petal to put in my box. I tried to stare at it, like I did the June bug, but it didn’t work the same way. Sometimes my vision would get blurry and tears would fall on the petal, and on my box. But I wasn’t crying, because I don’t cry. I told my daddy about how the petal didn’t work, how it didn’t swirl and create patterns like the June bug did, but he didn’t explain why. Maybe it’s too much science for him. My daddy doesn’t like science. Instead, he just hugged me and said that he loved me. I’m still not really sure why he did that. All I wanted to know was why the petal didn’t make patterns in its colors like the June bug.
Now all I keep inside the box is silence. Since the funeral, my house has been really quiet. I guess when Mom died, she took all the noise with her. That time she left on a trip, the same thing happened. Even my daddy, who used to clomp around the house in his big work boots, tip toes and whispers. I asked him why everything was so quiet, why the sound left, and he told me that we were going to move. I don’t really understand how that relates to silence. I guess when we move, I’ll take my box with me, holding all its silence. I’ll put it on the dresser in my new room. That way, even though the house won’t be the same, because Mom never lived here, the box will. And, if I keep the box shut most of the time, and only open it on holidays and my birthday, and Mom’s birthday, too; maybe when I open it, the silence will sound like our house, instead of this new house. I told my daddy this, and he just said he doesn’t understand me sometimes. I said I know, but Mom would have understood.

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