I took the empty jar devoid of its pickle treats down to the dusty basement. I tucked it into the box, where it would wait until next year's crop of pickling cucumbers to be made into sour, crunchy nibblies. For now, it would just fill in a corner of the derelict store room.
As I lifted the jar back onto the shelf, my gaze fell upon another box on the adjoining shelf. No written missive on the side of the box gave clues as to its contents. I paused, trying to think of what the box held, to no avail. Curiousity got the better of me, so I brushed off my hands and pulled down the box from the rickety metal shelf. A layer of dust coated the top of the box telling me that it had been forgotten for too long. A puff from me sent the dust into the air. An erstwhile warning burst from my brain, but too late to prevent me from sneezing and coughing in the cloud I released.
One final sneeze released me from its grip, as I choked back a thick snurtle. With now bleary eyes, I wondered why I was down there in the first place. Ah yes, the box...
With already dirty hands, I wiped the lid of the box. It had certainly been down here a long time and my jeans took the punishment as I swiped my soiled hands against them. Now what was in this thing anyway?
The yellowed tape that protected the contents of the box was brittle in my inquiring hands. It crumbled as I picked at it. Intent on seeing the interior of this vessel, I put the box down to collect a blade to aid me in my quest. Retrieving an exacto-knife from my tool box, I returned to my mystery package. Gently, I ran the blade the length of the top. It was a big box, now that I thought of it. Some weight to it too, but still I could not place its contents.
The phone broke me from my explorations. I jumped up and ran upstairs to the demanding ring, leaving the contents still a mystery.
A week later, I carried the laundry downstairs to the washer. Humming to myself, I sorted darks from lights, into my regular waiting piles. I tossed the first load into the washer and brought it to life with the push of a button. Stilling humming an errant tune, I paused to shut the open storage door with a frown. The tune disappeared on my lips as I remembered the box I had discovered the week before. I never did return to unearth it's contents, as life busily spun me on to my next task.
With curiousity peaked again, I approached the dusty box. A memory nagged at me, but I couldn't quite place it. I knelt on the concrete floor and felt a shiver run through me. Suddenly, the contents of the box didn't seem so important anymore, but a compunction drew me forward despite myself. I slowly lifted a corner of one of the flaps, feeling my heart flutter around its edges. I don't even want to know what is in this thing! My brain cried, but my fingers demanded I continue. They knew what I did not.
I took a breath to focus my running thoughts and peered into the small revealed rectangle. Dry newspapers gave up no hints, so I flipped open the other flap carefully. Crumpled newspaper. I released the breath that had disappeared within me. A dull glint caught my eye and I froze. My hand mutinied my soul's demands and reached out to the cold metal in the box. No! no! was all I could muster in a whimpering voice, but it was too late. My fingers tentatively brushed the metallic edge, even as tears began to fill my eyes and overfill their bounds. Slowly I pulled one, two, then three pieces of yesteryear's news world out of the box to reveal the trophy nestled inside.
Water streamed down my face, as I attempted to blink vision back to me. It did not matter. I knew the name on the cup. I ran my hand over the lettering and broke. Sobs wracked my body. I convulsed and choked out my pain and loss, filling my husband's old relic with fresh grief. Why now? Why now had I discovered this snapshot of his past, when I had been so with it for weeks now. It hurt, this reminder of a reality that I could not change. His glory athletic days were long gone, swept away by the disease that had robbed his body of its health and vitality. It had robbed him of everything. It had robbed me of everything.
It would be a year that he was gone in a few short weeks. I could never forget that date. It loomed on the calendar, but I had tried to busy myself to forget it. Now this old burnished trophy demanded memories and I was powerless to stop. I sat cradling its cold comfort in my lap, as it filled up with pain, anger, sorrow and tears. Its lie of Champion felt heavy, as I rocked back and forth on the unforgiving concrete. I did not want this award today. Any day really, but the wave would pass.
I sighed deeply and gently brushed a travelling tear off the front of the award. It seemed to gleam a little brighter.
Inspired by a Magpie Tale Prompt