Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My box has become a gift

This occurred to me yesterday. Think it has possibilities?

Annie's Gift

It started like an ordinary day, sunshine sneaking through the cracks in the blinds and spilling into the bedroom and the whiff of bacon snaking through the quiet house.
It started like an ordinary day, but it was anything but ordinary.
And it all started with an unexpected gift.
.. .. ..

Annie rolled over and hugged her stuffed lion, which was missing a brown eye and some of its tan fur. The lion was a present for her fourth birthday and every night for the past ten years she had slept with it. Well, except for when she stayed overnight at a friend’s house. She didn’t want the other girls to think she was a baby, so she left Charlotte at home. That’s what she named him – Charlotte after her mother who had died shortly after giving Annie the lion.
She named everything Charlotte. Every doll was Charlotte and every stuffed animal was Charlotte and every goldfish she ever won at the fair was Charlotte. Her dad, Will, figured it was Annie’s way of keeping her mother close. Charlotte had told Annie that the lion would give her courage. All Annie had to do was squeeze its right paw and say “a posse ad esse,” which Annie later discovered meant “from possibility to reality.” It didn’t make any sense to Annie, but she did it just the same. Anytime she needed a little courage, like when she tried out for the cheerleading squad, she’d squeeze Charlotte’s paw and say “a posse ad esse” and she always felt better.
The doorbell rang. Annie rolled over and looked at the alarm clock. Who’s that at 7 on a Saturday, she thought. Annie whipped back her pink sheet and ran to answer the door. But when she opened it, the porch was empty. She stepped outside to look around.
Still, no one.
That’s when she saw it – a gift wrapped in pink paper and topped with a lime green bow, her favorite colors. It was beside the chipped black rocker her dad loved to sit in and read. Annie took the box inside and put it on the kitchen table.
“What’s that you got?” Will asked.
“It was on the porch, but no one was there.”
Will walked over. “Is there a name on it?”
“Yeah. Mine. But it’s not my birthday or anything. Who would give me a present for no special reason?”
Will picked up the gift and shook it. Whatever was inside slid from one end to the other. “Seems OK to me. Go ahead and open it. Maybe there’s a letter inside telling you who it’s from.”
Will nodded and patted Annie’s head. He couldn’t believe how fast his little girl was growing up. With her curly blond hair and green eyes and long arms and legs, she looked more like her mother every day. God how he missed Charlotte. He dated some over the years, but no one ever came close to his Charlotte. He just couldn’t bring himself to open his heart to anyone else. Maybe someday. But not now. Now was for Annie. He would concentrate on raising Annie to be the young lady her mother always dreamed she would become.
“Mind if I open it upstairs?”
“Want some privacy, huh?”
Will smiled. Yes, his daughter was a typical teen – spending hours in her room, listening to music Will couldn’t stand and needing lots of privacy. It was hard for him to get used to at first. They had spent her childhood doing everything together. But he understood that she was growing up and needed her space. God he wished Charlotte was here. Wished they would have caught the hit and run driver who had hit her. She’d know just want to do. Annie needed a mother, and all she had was him.
Annie carted the box to her room. She wanted to open it in private in case it was sent as a joke from someone at school. It would be just like The Sisters (They weren’t really sisters but the group of popular girls called themselves that.) to pull such a prank. Get Annie all excited about a getting a gift only to open a box with some sort of joke inside. Like a pair of granny pants. They did that once to Petra, Annie’s best friend. Gave her a gift bag in the middle of the cafeteria and when Petra pulled out the granny pants everyone laughed. The Sisters ere mean. And, well, if it were them, she didn’t want her dad to see. He already worried about her enough. Thought she studied too much and needed to have more fun. Annie tried, but it didn’t come easy to her. She felt more comfortable with her nose between the pages of a book. And, besides, the other girls laughed at her when she tried out for cheerleading. She hadn’t told her dad, but after the first practice she didn’t go back. She went to the library instead and read until it was time for him to pick her up. When she didn’t make the team, he told her how proud he was that she had at least tried. She hated lying to her dad. But what she hated even more was disappointing him. Maybe one little lie, the only one she had ever told, wasn’t so bad if she didn’t do it again. Cheerleading wasn’t for her any more than playing basketball or softball was. She hadn’t made those teams either.
Annie sat on the bed. She took off the lime green bow and unwrapped the gift, peeling back the tape at the seams so the pink paper would remain in one piece. That’s how she approached life, carefully and methodically. She wasn’t the type who’d rip into a gift and have a million pieces of paper everywhere. She folded the pink paper and placed it next to the box. She’d find some use for it. Maybe she’d use it to wrap Petra’s present. Her favorite color was pink, too. Annie shook the box again, trying to guess what was inside. Then she opened the lid and her mouth dropped.

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