Don’t open the box. A metallic sheen was covered by a black tinge of neglect. When I was younger I would look at it, as though infinite possibilities laid within. Gold, pixies, or even a rainbow, could all be hidden beyond its interior. My brother thought it to be slightly different. He imagined ghouls, snakes and a pirate’s curse. I thought him – stupid.
My mother passed away on one of the warmest days recorded in August.
Both my brother and I had moved out as soon as we married our partners.
I drove down the street of what was once, the place I called home. The neighbours had neglected their yards,but not our Mother. Although it had been a week since her passing, the roses were trimmed, and the lavender burst with colour as shrubs surrounded it near the letterbox.
I had told Mum countless times to move it because of all the bees it attracted. She shrugged and said she liked it there. I said that was only the case because Paul the postman was allergic, and despised bees. She said, oh I didn’t know. She did, and there it was full of bees.
The attic wasn’t as dusty as I recalled. We hardly needed to sweep, but we did so anyway. Each of us collected a few trinkets that we felt were of sentimental value and bagged the rest. My Mum hadn’t owned much.
My brother had found the metal box and although he said he would take it, I found it in my cardboard box at home.
I called him that night and he reminded me of the keys we’d sewn from twigs and leaves, and the matches we had once used to try to break the box open.
I put the box on a shelf and soon it was forgotten. That was until my kids grew to age three, four and six. A ball they had thrown came close to it. My six-year-old Natalie eyed the lock suspiciously. She shook it about.
The box cracked open and in it was – nothing.
More likely than not, my mother hadn’t wished us to play with it. My childhood was a lie! I laughed and called my brother. As 36-ish-year-olds, we shared in our equal devastation in it’s emptiness. But even though something hadn’t been there, a kind of magic grew between us, and that kind of imagination and silliness was our childhood.