When You Don’t Need It

In a quest to get back on the writing wagon, I’m starting small by writing 500 words from the prompt at my other site, The Parking Lot Confessional. I’m going to free form this one. I won’t know where it’s going until I write it. Should be interesting, or it could be crap. If that’s the case, you’ll never know because I won’t publish it. Okay, time to quit stalling.

Finish This Opener:

When You Don’t Need It

Jeff’s hand shook on the handle. It was all about breaking the habit, right? Habit breaking or no, he didn’t know if he’d open it. He let go of the handle.

Grabbed it again.

And let go.

Even with his hand off the handle, he could feel where the smooth finish left a cool tingle in the palm of his hand. A simple handle, wood like the rest of the box. Simple yet complex. Where the handle joined the box, Jeff couldn’t make out a single seam. He had spent hours tracing with his fingers and eyes the carvings that covered the box. The sweeping marks curled and crashed into one another, disappeared, started and flowed with such grace and intent. He found it hard to believe that someone had carved it. In fact it was easier for him to believe that it came into existence just as it was.

The whole thing could fit on Jeff’s lap, as it was now. He didn’t even notice his hand back on the handle, applying the gentlest of pressures. The lid lifted a mere millimeter, revealing a crack that couldn’t be seen when shut. The opening wasn’t straight, either. It flowed with carvings, and in some places, hidden behind them.

Jeff quickly released the handle. The lid didn’t click back into place so much as sighed as it settled, the seam disappearing once again.

He hadn’t been alone the first time he opened it. Hester showed the box to him a month ago.

Had it really been a month already? He wondered how time could move so fast when up to that point, the days had crept by. It did change things. Without a doubt, it changed things. Didn’t Hester warn him in the beginning? Something like, “Prepare for the nothing you never knew you needed.”

“What? You’re not making sense again, Hess.”

Jeff had been getting frustrated with Hester for the last couple of weeks. His gibbering like an idiot progressively backslid into the ravings of a gloom and doomist. Like the guys on the corner willing to knock a man to the ground to prove God’s love could kick the crap out of non-believers, Hess started to get overly physical to get across points nobody understood.

“I know. I know,” Hess said almost apologetically. “That’s my fault. How could you understand if you haven’t seen? I couldn’t before. Couldn’t bear the thought of showing people. Nobody would get it.”

He got agitated and what began as a twitch in his shoulder, turned into a localized seizure that he fought under control. Had that been when Jeff started to write off his friend? He thought so, but he could think of a reason quick enough to get out, to leave his once-friend’s apartment.

And that’s when Hester pulled out the box. The beautiful, terrifying box.

That was the last time he saw his once-friend. He remembered brushing the carvings in reverence, grabbing hold of the handle, and lifting the lid. He could remember the contours of the box, what was inside, what wasn’t inside.

But he couldn’t remember what happened to his once-friend. Maybe if he looked in box. Looking would help him remember. Sure it would. Just one more time…

Meh. It isn’t my best, but it’s something. And this something is more than I’ve done in far too long. So I’ll take it. I think I might even have more to it. We’ll see.

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