Part 1: The mystery box
Part 2: The story of the box
The thing when saying a story (here the word can have multiple meanings) is that you, as a storyteller, redefine reality. You set your own mark on what happened and especially on what not happened. But mere words have the special gift of bringing reality a step closer. At least in the mind of your listeners. That’s your main challenge after all. To inject the idea that every last word which comes of your mouth is God’s own truth and nothing else. It’s the exam you have to pass with flying colors. And it can cost you your dinner if it’s anything less than that. You are safe to assume that your mom might just send you straight to bed without dinner if she even smells your inner insecurity, if she just squints her eyes at the sound of your trembling voice, at your restless eyes, your breath which picks up the rhythm. And imagination is just one step closer to reality.
“Mom… who’s we?” He asked the question without having any expectations. He was too big a fan of Stephen King not to know that the dead can walk and their words are honey and milk when falling on the ears of the loved ones. And his parents had been in love. They had been a happy family, like the kind he knew his mother was still writing about. Now those stories were dead fiction, with just memories behind them, nothing real anymore, nothing alive under the cover. But back then, when his father lived, the words were soft, warmed by the love which his mother breathed in from her real life to breath out on empty pages and fill them with herself. That life was gone now, only wooden puppets of characters were left. And vast, cold plains where they wandered clueless and aimless. Sometimes he wondered how could people even read something like that. Didn’t they see right through it?
His mother seemed taken aback by the question. He was looking at him with smiling eyes, but behind which he could see no sparkle of understanding.
“You sure have a good memory! We have a guest, how could you forget?” A guest. The name of Stephen King crawled up his spine, cold as the dead of winter.
“I… a guest?” He couldn’t articulate a proper question. The memory of his father’s grave was fresh in his mind, too fresh, just like the earth which seemed damp and a bit too black a couple of hours ago when he visited it. Even if he was supposed not to. His counselor thought it might be better like this, just to make possible a quicker recovery. His mother agreed instantly to her and he could not understand why. She of all people should have known how much he needed his father. His dead father now. All of which a grave and a headstone was left. A hand of bones now, after all these years.
He was about to start counting the years when a noise interrupted his train of thought. It came from the room behind him and it seemed like somebody had dropped a book on the floor. He didn’t startle just looked puzzled at his mother.
“The bookshelf… Mom who’s here?”
After his father had died, that bookshelf was locked by his mother. She wouldn’t allow her son to browse through his father books, she said he was too young for this. The bookshelf was small, but quite exhaustive. Books from all domains: science, literature, psychology, astronomy, physics. He was dreaming of the day when his mother would raise the ban and he would touch those books which caressed his father’s soul and mind. His thoughts flew back to him, the warmth in his eyes and and voice when he spoke. But when he realized he couldn’t remember the colour of his father’s eyes, his own eyes almost filled with tears.
Your mother smiles encouragingly. She liked the story of your afternoon. She is proud of you that you fed a starving kitten, that you were so curious to see what was up with that rotten wooden box. She knows inside that she should kiss you on the cheek, soft and short, not to embarrass you. You accept the kiss light-heartedly, beaming inside. As a storyteller, you played with words, twisting reality, bending it to your will. You know you shouldn’t push it and your mother knows it too. You smile to each other, knowingly and secretly. Words are no longer needed and, besides, some things are better be left alone.
His mother didn’t answer that question. Or maybe she forgot to. Her eyes were fixated on whatever was behind him. Usually, he thought, and even this morning when it was closed, it was a door. An oak door, leading to the small studio next to the kitchen. It was his father’s favourite spot in the house. It’s where he had his bookshelf, his newspapers and the desk where he wrote letters sometimes. He liked to simply watch his father write letters. If his father asked if he wanted anything, he would just answer that his question can wait until the letter was finished. But he would not give this answer out of an excess of politeness, it was just the best excuse he could come up with. His mother might have very well been the writer in that house, but it was his father who used the ink and paper. And that’s what he loved about it. The smell of the black ink, the screeching of the pen as it curled and twirled effortlessly under the guiding hand of his father.
He wanted to turn around to face the oak door. He wanted it so much. He could see the shadow cast by the yellowish light of the reading lamp. He almost started laughing when he asked himself why on earth was that reading lamp turned on. Nobody read the books anymore, nobody wrote letters anymore. At least not in ink. But he was wrong. Somebody did read his father’s books. Maybe that somebody even tried the old pen to see if it remembers the craft. He wouldn’t know. The burst of laughter almost chocked him as he tried to breathe down on it. This seemed all like a bad joke to him.
“He loved you, you know”
Strange. His mother’s lips hadn’t moved and yet the words were spoken. When he finally turned around, a woman was standing in the oak door now open. The kind smile and the light in her eyes reminded him of someone. And then he remembered. His father’s eyes were dark brown. The light in this woman’s eyes was dark brown.
And then the laughter which he was trying to gag just now, broke into tears. Light, pure tears like he never cried. He never allowed himself to cry since the very beginning, he felt he was too old for that, a man grown already. And now he was there, standing with his back to his mother and facing this woman with dark brown pebbles for eyes, who was telling him that his father had loved him. And he was crying. His father had loved him and he was crying.