The girl holds the beam, cupped carefully in her two small hands. She knows it will be useful later, like a remote control for happiness. But what to do with it until then? She steps through the doorway, enters a small palace of pink oh my god so much pink where white lacquered ghosts watch her sleep at night in their spindly forms.
She knows the corners of this room, the places where dust and hair collectively defy the vacuum’s growl. Stepping softly, lest she jostle her precious burden, she searches the recesses for just the right cocoon: a place of darkness and walls. Her toy bin is opened too frequently to suffice, and her closet with its slitted eyes would surely leak brilliance in tears of gold. No, it must be secure, her gift kept safe for later. Her gaze lands on a small silver box on her dresser, and she decides that it’s perfect.
She needs her hands to open the box which is slightly out of reach, but they’re busy right now. The vanity stool offers its assistance, so she kicks it to the chest of drawers with puffs of determination and concentration. She tears a hole in her white tights when it catches on an edge of metal, but she has more. Her black ones will look better anyway. Climbing onto the stool careful must be careful, she drags the box close with an awkward pull of her chin; then, as a puppy would nose its empty bowl, she flips the lid open. The black velvet lining stares at her, sad with emptiness. She feels bad she can’t let her new friend stay forever in there, but no matter, maybe its shine will rub off a little during their visit.
The girl holds her hands over the box and opens her thumbs just enough to put her mouth where a glowing hollow has formed. Poised, she breathes so soft not so hard with strawberry- glossed lips and a feathery heart. When she feels the transfer is complete, she snatches her hands back and slams the lid shut. Smiling, she leaves the box and climbs back down to wait.
“Come now, we’re running late. Why do you have that box? Leave the box and get in the car.” This voice wears a suit of authority.
The girl, now clad in her fresh black tights, simply offers the stern woman a radiant smile set into adorably flushed cheeks. She declares the box must come. Disapproving, yet softened by the child’s amiability, the woman nods her permission then sniffs her feelings back into place. They climb into the car why are the windows so dark where the peculiar tang of leather welcomes her; this pleases the girl.
They ride swiftly, the people and houses and dogs blurring as they recede into nothingness. The clouds are winking at her, sharing her secret. The girl is charged with anticipation, clutching her box and swinging legs that are too short to reach the carpeted floor mat below. She smiles again at the woman, who doesn’t notice because she’s too busy staring down at her knees–the skin is visible in spots where her pantyhose stretches a little too tightly. The box whispers to the girl that its companion is becoming restless, but the girl just offers a pat of assurance that freedom is coming soon are we ever going to get there. She turns her attention to her own knees, wondering if her tights are happy to be a little loose or if they’d rather be pulled to tension.
The movement finally stops and they step into the air which wraps around the child, its touch a kiss of freshness and lace. The woman reaches for her, so the girl shifts the box against her side, careful not to snag her dress, and accepts the offering with her free hand. As they move through the doors of the building, the girl nods with grace to the flowers set all around. They kindly blow their scent to her. Forward they go, parting people before them like a crisp line of long division on a blank page why do they look at me so. A familiar man comes striding toward them, clasping his hands and turning his watery grey eyes to her with a sad smile. She grins back, knowing that he hasn’t seen her gift yet.
When everyone stops talking and the music sings to her that her time has come the time is now, she releases her connection to the lady and stands up. Ignoring the arms trying to draw her back, she marches to the front of the room. The audience seems surprised, so she lifts the little silver box in explanation. Still smiling, ever smiling, the child turns to the glossy brown wooden rectangle which stands by her with its gleaming silver bars that match the shine of the box she holds. She thought there would be a keyhole, but since there is not, the seam that is right there at eye level assures her it will help.
With delicate fingers, she pries the silver lid open a crack and presses it to the house where her mother lives now. She blows gently upon it to give a little direction to the golden ray that streams forth. The girl touches it one last time as it travels into the darkness, her little finger scattering shimmering flecks to the side; the beam hums to her as it settles with a sigh so happy now you’ll be happy now.
When the last specks of the sun are free from the box, she closes it with finality and lightness. She turns back around to find her place below. The girl, feeling full inside from love and faith, cannot understand why there are tears falling from the faces before her.
KJ Hunter is a writer who lives in the north Georgia mountains and works in the life-safety and rescue industry. She spends her free time as an outdoor adventure enthusiast: her hobbies include caving, skiing, rafting, hiking, and rappelling big walls like El Capitan in Yosemite. She is a member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association. Her website is http://kjhunterwrites.com/