The Little Box
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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 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."
But she knew why. My bruised friend in the mirror knew why. We all knew why.
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