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Frank L Parker

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Member Since: Mar, 2012

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The Box
By Frank L Parker
Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A woman of a certain age receives a package through the post. What does it contain?

It's sitting on the kitchen table. Not doing anything, just sitting there. Not saying anything either. But it's very being there is like a giant puzzle. "Go on then," it would say if it could speak. "Go on then; have a guess. I bet you can't. I bet you will never guess what's inside." 

"Well, of course I won't. I don't even know who sent you," I silently reply.

 ***

 I was still in bed when it arrived. The door bell woke me and by the time I had on my dressing gown and slippers and had recovered the key from its hiding place under the china bulldog on the hall stand the delivery man was getting back into his van. 

"Excuse me!" I shouted. 

"Mrs Jones?" he quizzed as he retrieved it from the sliding door at the side of his vehicle. 

"Yes," I confirmed. 

"Parcel for you," he said and handed me this big box. I could see it wasn't heavy by the way he handled it but I was still surprised at how light it was when I took it from him. You know the way you expect something that size to be heavy and you prepare yourself then, when you take it, it almost floats up in your arms? It was like that. 

So now it's sitting on the kitchen table and I'm sipping my morning cuppa while we stare at each other. My first instinct was to open it, slide a kitchen knife under the edge of the brown wrapping paper and tear it open. Then I thought of all those stories about parcel bombs. Then I thought: who would send me a bomb? But you never know, do you? I mean, I don't think I've ever said anything to upset the IRA or L. Kayda. And that Mr Kayda and his followers seem to go for crowded places, not little old ladies in retirement villages. I wonder what the "L" stands for and why he is always referred to only by his initial? Why not Lionel Kayda? Or Lesley, or Leopold? Leopold Kayda sounds more like a suave, rather handsome chap, not one of those bearded Afghans with their wrinkled faces and tea cloths wrapped around their heads. 

Anyway, it's not a bomb. I'm sure it's not. Mind you, I did send a text to that radio programme the other day. Some fella was going on about the importance of sending money to people starving in Africa. I didn't mind that but it was when he said that we shouldn't be bothering about starving donkeys that I got a bit cross and decided to try sending them a text. Well, they're always on about it. "Do join in the discussion," they say. So I decided I would. Trouble was, by the time I'd tapped out the message, what with having to tap some keys three times and others only once - kept getting it all wrong, "g" instead of "i" and "k" where I wanted "l". Took me ages to get it right; what with having to go back and correct things. So, by the time I sent it the programme was over and they never read it out. So I couldn't have upset the Hungry Africa man could I? And anyway people like that don't send bombs to people do they? 

Thinking about the radio I wondered if I could have won something in one of their competitions. You have to phone in and be "caller number ten". Seems I'm always number nine or twenty one or something. Never number ten. So that can't be it either. And CDs - that's what the prize usually is; a CD or tickets to a concert. They wouldn't need a great big box for something like that. 

The label is one of those computer printed ones so I can't tell from the hand-writing who sent it. And it came by courier so there are no stamps. So I am going to have to take off the brown paper and see what's underneath. 

***

The brown paper's gone, and I've carefully removed the sticky tape to release the flaps and, guess what? Under a load of old newspapers there's a smaller box inside. This one has an envelope taped to it and I recognise the hand-writing! It's my former neighbour from when I lived with my late husband in Wales. I wonder what she has sent me. Come to think of it, the newspaper consisted mostly of old copies of The South Wales Echo so I should have guessed. 

Van and me were good friends as well as neighbours. Her husband Hywel and my Davy worked together at the steel works until that explosion in the blast furnace that killed Davy and left Hywel with no legs. It wasn't long after that I decided to come back to Ireland to be near my brother and sister. Problem was that I couldn't bring Mr Tiddywinks with me. There would have been no problem bringing him on the ferry but the people who run the retirement village don't allow pets. Van agreed to look after him for me. He already spent as much time in her house as mine anyway so I'm sure he is happy. Van writes to me now and then and tells me how he is getting on. He must be quite old now.

 Anyway, I'd better open the envelope and see what Van has sent me.

 Dear Bridie,

The enclosed box contains something very dear to you. I wasn't sure what to do for the best but Hywel said it was only right that you should have it. 

Hywel is doing well with his new chair. Says he wants to start wheelchair rugger! He always wanted to play for Wales and this way he thinks he might have a chance. 

Anyway, I hope you can find somewhere nice to keep the contents. 

Best wishes, 

Van.

 Nothing to tell me what is in the box. I shall have to open it.

 ***

That was such a kind thought of Van and Hywel's. Mr. Tiddywinks looks so much nicer than that nasty bulldog and I can hide the key inside the urn with his ashes.


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