Sidney lifted the lid of the box, looking for her silver earrings that he had given her on his return from Gatlinburg a few years back. They were tiny dream catchers with a single turquoise bead near the middle. She thought that a little help from the Indians wasn’t a bad idea today. Lying in the bottom of the jewelry box was the card that he had given her along with the jewelry box that he had spent so much time making for her. She looked at the little wooden box. It was smooth and glossy from the layers of varnish, which he had meticulously painted on. The inside, lined with red velvet, still had the smell of him in it. She smiled as she slid on her black heels.
It was the week before finals. There had been a snowstorm so Sidney had decided to stay at her apartment, rather than risk driving home on the ice covered roads. Sidney and her roommates had stayed up that Friday night watching The Grinch. She usually didn’t stay at the apartment on the weekends, so it was a chance to hang that they didn’t always have. Sidney was exhausted when she finally went to bed that night. She and her roommates had vowed to sleep in as long as possible the next morning.
Ding. Sidney rolled over looking at her phone screen. I just want to sleep. “I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa. He was a good man.” It was her Sunday school teacher from when she was little. She had sent the message over Facebook. Sidney did a double take. She must mean since he was in the hospital. He’s fine now though. Mom said they removed all the blockages. She must have only just heard that he was in the hospital. Sidney locked her phone screen and then rolled back over. She just means the hospital stay. Mom said everything was fine yesterday.
She must have fallen asleep, because half an hour later she woke to her phone ringing.
“Hello,” she answered.
“Hey, sweetie. Did I wake you?”
“No. I’ve been up for a little while,” she lied.
“Honey, I need you to pack a bag. Your dad and I are on our way to pick you up…”
There was a sharp inhalation on the other end.
“Mom, what’s wrong?”
“Sweetie, Papa died this morning.”
“He what?” She told me he was fine last night when we talked.
“He had another heart attack this morning. They weren’t able to revive him. Your dad and I are coming to get you. Pack whatever you need. We will be there in an hour or so.”
Sidney couldn’t remember what she had done next. All she remembered were the tears in the shower and telling her roommates that she was going home. They had both hugged her, but she felt too numb to cry or even say anything. All she knew was that now she was home and the whole family was in the living room. They all sat in somewhat of a circle, waiting for the preacher to come in. He finally arrived and settled in. He had some questions to help with the funeral ceremony. Everyone was telling stories and crying. Sidney, however, didn’t make a sound. She watched out the window as people driving by slowly passed, being careful not to wreck on the icy road. The trees were covered in ice and they glistened in the tiny bit of light that peaked through the clouds. A tiny red bird flitted into view. He was hunting for the holly berries on the tree in front of the window.
“Honey?” Mom said, laying her hand gently on Sidney’s knee. “Is there anything you want to say?”
Looking down to her lap, Sidney rubbed her hand along the lid of the small wooden jewelry box that she hadn’t put down since she got home. It shined like the day he had brought it to her. It had been her birthday. He had knocked on the door, which he never did, and when she answered he stood there holding it before him with a red ribbon tied around it.
“For the birthday girl!” he had said, handing her the smooth wooden box, a giant smile widening on his face, making his snow-white beard crinkle in places. “I made it just for you. You can keep all your jewelry in it.”
Sidney clutched the jewelry box now, running her hands along the edges and opening the lid to reveal the red velvet. A tear dropped from her cheek onto it, leaving a tiny dot on the velvet. That was when the tears had started and it had taken a long time for them to stop.
Walking into the living room, Sidney slid on her coat and pulled on her gloves. The windows in the house were frosted over. It was going to be a cold day. She got in the car with her mom and dad. They drove silently to the church. Walking in she saw it once more. The long wooden casket, which looked so much like her jewelry box sat at the end of the aisle. Sidney felt tears start to stream down her cheeks, as she got closer. As she went past the casket, she ran a hand along the varnished side. It felt just like the little wooden jewelry box. She would never look at the jewelry box the same again.
Rachel W. writes in Tennessee, USA.