By Sommer Nectarhoff
He kept it in a glass case that sat on a black granite table in the middle of his bedroom. It was crafted of a jet-black wood. Its surface was perfectly smooth and polished. The metal of the lock was black as well; the metal had doubtless come from deep beneath the earth. My father wore the key to the lock around his neck.
And so had his father before him. The box had been handed down from father to son for as far back as the family could remember. It had always been with us. One day, when my father decided that I was ready for it, he would give the box to me.
However, he told me that I could never open the box.
I had looked at it with eyes of avarice my entire life. And he told me that I could never open the box.
But I wanted to; we all want to open the box.
I couldn’t wait. I tried to force open the box without the key, but I couldn’t crack it open.
I tried to smash the box when my father was gone from home, but the box would not break. I could neither dent it nor scratch it. My attempts were useless.
I could not pick the lock. I could not burn the box.
It would not open.
Night after night I lay in bed thinking of the box and what was inside of it. I could not sleep. I could not dream. When I closed my eyes all that I saw was the box.
I could wait no longer.
I crept into my father’s room while he slept and I climbed on top of him. He was breathing softly. I grabbed the chain around his neck that held the key to the box, and then I gritted my teeth and drew it as tight as I could.
My father slept on his stomach, and I pressed his face into the pillow as he suffocated. The blood from the chain biting his neck seeped into the white linens and dried on my hands. After he was dead I took the chain from his neck and put it around my own.
I took the box under my arm and went up to the attic. I removed the key from my neck and placed it in the box’s black lock. I twisted the key and heard the solid click of the mechanism inside. I opened the box.
It was empty.
The box was always empty.
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Sommer Nectarhoff is a twenty-two year old writer from Chicago. He is the author of “22”.
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