The Little Box

Pink Sherbet Photography on flickr
Pink Sherbet Photography on flickr

I stood with my back to the mirror. The mirror had been turned around so only its dull gray back showed. That had been Mommy's idea. She told Daddy I looked at myself too much for a six year old.

Now she was going through my desk drawers. She was always inspecting something. Sometimes it was my bathroom or my closet or my fingernails. If I was really lucky I'd pass with an, "It's o.k.," but that was rare. Today she was checking all the drawers and cupboards in my bedroom to see that they were neat and organized.

I looked at her with a knot in my stomach. She bent over to open a lower drawer and her thick brown hair fell forward in waves hiding her face. For a second I felt safe.

The sun was shining brightly from the windows behind us. It felt warm and good on my shoulder and cheek.

She moved closer to the cupboard. My heart beat faster. I felt the pulse of it in my head. Thump. Thump. I couldn't hear anything else. My mind darted. She moved her hand toward the cupboard. My mind tripped and darted again.

The desk was covered with thick layers of paint, the last being a pale green. I hoped this would make the door stick. It always stuck on me. But Mommy was bigger and stronger, much stronger.

My palms were slick with sweat. What would I say? Maybe she wouldn't see it.

The sun reflected off the blonde wood floor. It hurt my eyes. She pulled at the green handle and the door popped open.

I had curled my toes so tightly inside my socks they began to ache. The room was very quiet. I looked at Mommy's back as she reached inside the cupboard. My mouth felt dry, my tongue thick; I tried hard to swallow.

She pulled out the small cardboard box. I had closed the top like I had seen her do, so it would stay shut by itself. Maybe she wouldn't open it.

She did.

She didn't move for a second then she whirled around and thrust the box toward me.

"What's this for?" her words cut through the silence. She glared at me through crossed brows.

I could feel the hot tears coming. I wanted to run. I wanted to snatch the box from her. I froze.

She began pulling the contents from the box and throwing them on the desk: yellow rose shaped soap, wash cloth, small comb, saltine crackers,...

She looked at me again like a mad cat.

"I was gonna run away," I heard myself blurting. "but I'm not gonna anymore; I promise. Mommy, I promise I won't."

"Why?"

But she knew why. My bruised friend in the mirror knew why. We all knew why.

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Comments 70 comments

C. C. Riter 7 years ago

What a haunting tale. You poor thing you. Mommy was obsessed with keeping you in check. Sounds like she'd had a rotten childhood herself.


Florida Keys profile image

Florida Keys 7 years ago from Jewfish Key Florida

You Have me. WHY? Good pacing. I like the way your sentences are spaced....added dramatic effect.


Zooloot.com profile image

Zooloot.com 7 years ago from Europe

WOW! Is this an excerpt from a book you're writing or a short story?

Very nicely written! I really got engaged by this and felt the tension rise. My sense of anticipation was satisfied and the image developed beautifully.

WANT MORE PLEASE!!


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

C.C. Don't feel sorry for me, that was a long time ago and it only lasted three years. Her life has been much more tortured than mine. I have long since forgiven her and we are friends now.

Glad to "have you" Randy (Florida Keys). Those minutes felt like hours that morning; I was trying to create that effect. Glad it worked.

Zooloot, I don't think I've gotten a "wow" before. I like the way that feels. Just a short story. I was thinking I should get back to lighter and randier, but I can see what I can do.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

I'm very impressed. I was totally captivated. It is very tempting to ask you questions: Why was the little girl bruised? What had happened? But all short stories end somewhat cryptically, and leave the answers to the reader's imagination. This is what they are supposed to do, and you have done it expertly. Of course, I don't know those writers so I can't badger them incessantly until they fess up. Don't tell me if you don't want to, and don't tell me here.

You have quite a talent, Randy. I feel like you are discovering that about yourself, and I'm glad you have found a place to write it, and feel lucky that I am privy to this "birth." Thank you for sharing this. It's touching.

P.S. When the heck did you publish this? Last night after your bubble bath?


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks for reading Chris, finally. You know your critical opinion means everything to me.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago

Randy,

The first thing that popped in my head was 'mommy dearest'.  I'm so sorry you had to endure that.  I'm also very glad you and your mom have made your peace.

Very sad, touching and all too human.  Thanks for sharing a part of your life  You're a writer after my own heart :)


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

There is something else that I thought of (a good sign - that I am still thinking about it) is how much you have accomplised with such a short piece. The emotions we feel for the little girl; the way we want to take her in our arms and hold her, comfort her; how we'd turn the damn mirror around for her if she wants. A pretty big accomplishment for a writer with an economy of words. Bravo!


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Trish, Both Mommy Dearest and Sleeping with the Enemy both made me sick to my stomach and reminded me of the little girl I once was. Thanks for your sweet comments.

My first "Bravo!" Thanks Chris :)


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

Nice tension. Very nice execution.

We have similar experiences.

It's funny how the little powerless boy can come back sometimes, filling me with fear and paranoia. Then I see it's him, and I could almost laugh if I wasn't quite so intent on getting my pulse rate down.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Tom, that little girl is still inside me. She's the reason I have a really hard time breaking any rules and always think I'm in trouble with people when its usually in my head. But those experiences also made me stronger.


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia

RB, this is very moving, and, regarding your last comment to Tom, it is amazing how experiences like that create strength. It's testimony to the old saying...what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Or something like that, I've never been great at memorizing or remembering old sayings verbatim. And it's amazing to me how differently we all process such experiences, but the end result always seems to be one extreme or the other, like either sticking to the rules or doing everything possible to break them.

Thanks for sharing in such a creative and captivating way.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Pam its funny what you say about what doesn't kill you. I just finished a hub and that's the title!


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia

Now that's just downright SPOOKY!


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

I know huh? Mind meld...


Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California

This was haunting, Randy - from the photo to the first paragraph. Keep writing!

~G


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks for reading my more serious stuff Gerg.


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

A beautiful and haunting Hub, Randy. I really enjoyed reading that, and am off to get lost in a few more.

Thanks for sharing that :)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

For all its pain, this is a beautiful piece of writing RB.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thank you Sufidreamer. I am glad you enjoyed reading it and found it "haunting."

Thanks for stopping by Feline, and your nice comment.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

She was a very scared little girl, but she's gone now. Thanks for using the word magical. :)


blaise25 profile image

blaise25 6 years ago from close to you...

the picture charmed me to read...

when I opened the box, every word of it thrilled me to uncover more...until I found what I was looking for.

you're a great writer RB. this hub made me to yearn for more :) loved it!


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks for reading Blaise. I'm glad it left you wanting more... I think that's a good thing?


blaise25 profile image

blaise25 6 years ago from close to you...

of course it is, your works are good to read and it's free LOL


CarpetDiem profile image

CarpetDiem 6 years ago from Southern California

Fantastic writing, especially for a short "excerpt" of sorts...

I was glad to read in the comments that you and your mom are friends now. I always prefer happy endings!

Steve


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Nice to meet you Steve. We had to work to get here, but we are friends for sure. I am glad you enjoyed this.


Seldon55 profile image

Seldon55 6 years ago from Somewhere in Florida

Awesome, haunting, painful story. It seems that at least your alter ego has "run away from home" eve if, like you said, you still have trouble breaking rules." go ahead, break 'em, we won't tell.....Eddie


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Seldon thank you for coming by and reading this one. I'm trying to break some rules these days, but if there is an actual sign....


Arthur Windermere profile image

Arthur Windermere 6 years ago

Hey Randy,

From what I gather in the comments, this isn't just a first-person short-short story, but a real event. Even so, it's very powerful. You're a good writer, Randy. And I'm not easy to please.

A more frivolous thought: I don't recall ever hearing the word 'saltine.' I see it all the time in writing. Saltine crackers. But I've never heard anyone refer to crackers as saltine before.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Hi Arthur,

I'm glad you enjoy my writing, really. Yes it was a real event, many, many moons ago.

Maybe its an American thing. We say "saltines" all the time. As in, don't you have any good crackers? No, just saltines.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

This story reveals so much more than the content of its words. There were no accusations but the clues were there and led right down the path where you wanted us to go and find what you could not tell us with the same impact. This is an excellent work in my opinion. You have a lot of talent in finding objects and symbols that help to transfer your message. I hope this worked out for you in the long run but that will be up to you to share. WB


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks for the compliment Wayne. Yes its all worked out for me. I forgave her and re-friended her about 15 years ago. She is one of the reason's I have this alter ego. Reading the two pieces I wrote about her would hurt her and she follows my other true avatar. She has yet to forgive herself; I'm afraid. But, that is her path to walk not mine.


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

I know the pain of being a vulnerable child. My mirror in my room reflected a broken heart and tear filled sad boy staring back at me. I have never been comfortable looking at myself in a mirror ever since.

The pain stayed with me for many years. Thank you for sharing a piece of your anguish and bruised reflection of many years ago.

I am happy that you and your mom have become friends again, it is not a good thing to go to our graves filled with anger and regrets. Peace and hugs


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks Saddlerider and I will take those hugs. I read a book by Myss I think, where she said we pick rough childhoods to give us strength in adulthood. I've noticed a lot of writers have had childhoods of abuse. Perhaps is shapes our writing.


davidseeger profile image

davidseeger 6 years ago from Bethany, OK

I suppose that like pottery we have to go through the fire to give us the strength to survive and bring out the beauty that is hidden in our dull soft clay. My sympathy for what you went through and congrtulations on what you did with it.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Aw thanks David, I don't think I've been congratulated for my outcome before. I like it.


poetvix profile image

poetvix 6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

This broke my heart. It's beautifully written and straightforward but yet riddled with layers pain.

I admire you greatly for sharing.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

I'm glad it reached your heart poetvix. Thanks for coming by.


FirstStepsFitness profile image

FirstStepsFitness 6 years ago

Very nice Hub ! Did you feel release writing it ? Also glad she is gone :)


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

It was a very emotional write. The comments are the healing part though. She's still in my life. I forgave her and communicate with her regularly, but she isn't my "mom." The lady in The Bath poem is.


Michael Ray King profile image

Michael Ray King 6 years ago from Palm Coast

This is powerful writing. The tension fills the reader. Your use of nonverbal communication is huge. This is one of the finest reads I've had in a long, long time. I won't address the experience as many already have. The writing - wow! Thank you for suggesting this on your profile. Now I'll go read the other one...


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 6 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Oh Michael thank you for such rave reviews. I adore being praised.


abradford55 profile image

abradford55 5 years ago from Howell,MI

That was a sad but beautiful poem good work.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thank you Abradford55. I hope you enjoyed it.


RandomLife profile image

RandomLife 5 years ago from Nashville TN

This was so expressive and kept me waiting to see what was next. Thanks for sharing.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks for coming by a read RandomLife :)


McHamlet profile image

McHamlet 5 years ago

Very well written and powerful Randy. You had me hooked on knowing what was in the cupboard and in the box. It was an interesting effect because first I thought the little girl had something shameful in there but then the climax reveals that all the shame belongs to the mother.

Arthur Windermere said above: "You're a good writer, Randy. And I'm not easy to please", I second the motion. I'll be reading more.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Hi McHamlet. Your take on this is interesting. It never dawned on me that one might think I could have something shameful in the box. I read somewhere that Jeffery Dahmer had a box like that with body parts in it that his Mom found. If she would have just looked, lots of people would still be alive today... Now I'm gonna have to get that image out of my head! Thanks for the comment.


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

I found you commenting on the Hub of a poet I admire and am glad that I did. I went to your profile page; read the interview and this Hub and the comments. I shared the anxiety of your childhood and the rigidity of your mother before and after the box was opened. The sin of vanity is not one that I've ever considered despite my Catholic background. The reversed mirror created a captivating image and metaphor from the outset. The forgiveness expressed through the comments was inspirational.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thank you for finding me sligobay. I'm glad you connected with my work here. There is no sense playing to an empty room. If we can find common ground, entertain or better yet help each other heal all the better.


samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee

Well written and captivating...


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thank you samsons1. Nice to meet you.


LaurieDawn profile image

LaurieDawn 5 years ago

I found your works and I have to say, I will not offer you words that are cliche, for I hate them myself in the affairs of abuse. But what I will say, is thank you. Thank you for making us "feel" and realize that we can all heal from the past pains of abuse, and we can overcome.

Blessings,

Laurie


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Hi Laurie. I find myself partial to some cliche's like, "I pulled myself up by my bootstraps" and it was "like water of a duck's back" although it took me "a coon's age" to get here. Thanks for your comment ;)


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA

two years of comments, I'm almost afraid to say a thing... But I have to - beautifully written & heart-breakingly evocative. You've written too much for me to go through - but I'm glad to have followed your profile advice - you're a gem, Randy.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks for leaving me a comment regardless. I adore being read. Tell me what your taste and will steer you.


What Is Q profile image

What Is Q 5 years ago from Tennessee

This was just as good as your poetry. Makes me wish I took this writing thing more seriously and wrote some great stuff like this.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

What a sweet thing to say. You do the humorous thing quite well though!


Curiad profile image

Curiad 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

Everyone has stated it so well, I can only say the style of writing is superb!

You created a desire in me to reach out and take the girl's hand and protect her, left me with a powerful desire to know the rest of the story.

Bravo.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Nice to meet you Curiad. I am glad you liked this piece. The rest of the story is I turned out just fine. Thanks for stopping by for a read.


sillyfrogsusan 5 years ago

My stomach was in knots! I have felt this afraid too


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Susan, it turns out a lot people related to this. I was surprised. Hugs to you.


JohnnyZenigame profile image

JohnnyZenigame 5 years ago from ...in the dark corners of the night; where truth sleeps.

Yes, a very sad tale I feel like I've lived through before.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

If that is true, I am sorry.


bluevarnish 5 years ago

What a story... couldn't stop reading. I know the feeling you get from those inspections, used to live like that. You really found the way to describe it, those sweaty hands and a the heartbeats of fear. It was great!


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks Bluevarnish. I'm glad you like it and felt it. :)


Poetic Fool 5 years ago

Well, this was captivating and so very well written. I'm sorry you had to go through that but, having read through the comments, I also glad to here that you have reconciled with each other. A great testament to your strength. It would have been easier for you to just give up. Voted up and awesome.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Hi PF. Thanks for commenting. Giving up has never come "easy" to me. ;)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Wow Randy, just read this and was captured from start to finish, never knew what was coming next...the sign of a great writer.


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 2 years ago from Near the Ocean Author

Thanks Jodah, I'm glad it kept your interest.

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