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A Box with no Sender

By Sarah GavinPublished 2 months ago 5 min read

The dim, yellowish light of the funeral home illuminated the mourners puttering around in their dark suits and dresses, exchanging quiet words of comfort and grief. The little girl did not like it here. But her parents ushered her in, trying to soothe her as she resisted entering the room.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of. We all might be sad today, but we’re here to be together and remember your great-grandmother. It helps people mourn. And don’t forget what we told you about your great-uncle.” her mother said.

They began a circuit of the room, reuniting with family members from years past and offering the obligatory condolences. The little girl tried to be proper like her parents taught her. She looked each adult in the eye and shook their hands. She nodded politely as they commented on how much she had grown. They kept circling and approached the next group of people, some older adults the little girl barely recognized. She was introduced to each of them.

“You remember our youngest daughter,” her parents said, gesturing to her. Each adult smiled and offered their hand. She moved down the line, greeting each one by one. She reached the last man, whose arms had been crossed behind his back until now. But then he reached forward to offer her a greeting, and her face went pale. It was him. He extended his arm, but he had no hand to shake. From the elbow down, there was instead a silver prosthetic ending in a small metallic hook. The girl froze. Her parents had prepared her for this, but seeing it in person jolted her. He stood there patiently, arm outstretched, looking unfazed.

Just do like Mom and Dad said, the little girl thought. Don’t be rude.

She slowly extended her hand, grasped the hook at the end of his prosthetic arm, and shook. It was so cold. She quickly brought her arm back down, relieved to be done.

Finally they finished this dreaded social hour, and everyone found their seats for the service to begin. The little girl knew she ought to be paying attention. They were saying nice things of her late great-grandmother. People were shedding tears. Prayers were offered. But all she could think of was the hook. The way the lifeless cold felt in her hand. The sharp, pointed end of it. And the story of how it got there. Her brain wandered to the day her father told her.

“Your great-uncle was the sheriff in the town that he and his family lived in,” he had said. “He put some people in jail. Some people who did very bad things.”

Our father, who art in heaven

“And when he put them in jail, he made those people and their families very angry. He ruined their reputation.”

Hallowed be thy name

“My love I don’t want to scare you. But people can do very awful things when they are angry.”

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

“One of the men he put into jail was released on parole one day. That means they let him out of jail a bit early but with some rules in place.”

On earth as it is in heaven

“And that man decided that he wanted revenge on your great-uncle.”

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses

“And so he built something. A device designed to hurt him.”

As we forgive those who trespass against us

“He built a bomb. A bomb that was hidden inside a simple box. A box that could be delivered to look like mail, so that no one would suspect it.”

And lead us not into temptation

“And he snuck it onto your great-uncle’s doorstep. And the next day your great-uncle came outside to play with his kids. And he picked up the box to open it, thinking it was just a regular delivery. But opening it triggered the bomb, and it blew his arm off.”

But deliver us from evil

“That’s why he has the prosthetic arm, my sweet. It was an awful event but he is a tough man, and he is not ashamed.”

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory

“That’s why you must always be careful, my dear Alice. Sometimes things that look innocent are not innocent at all. That man hurt your great-uncle for what he did, and could have hurt his kids. Now we must make sure no one ever hurts you because of me. Never open a package that you don’t recognize.”



Alice rubbed her head, willing the pulsating ache to subside. She stared down at her front stoop. A package sat there. A pristine box, that bore almost none of the usual markings of being tossed around on its journey. Her name was clearly outlined in the recipient box. The exact spelling. Her exact address. Where was the delivery truck? She had heard the telltale thud of a package being dropped on the front porch and came out almost immediately to bring it inside. But she saw no delivery person, no truck. No one at all, as if it had dropped from the sky. It sat there, squarely facing her door.

I must have just ordered something and forgotten about it.

She reached out for the box, but as her fingers grazed it, a cold sweat made her neck prickle. Something held her back. She turned to go inside and slammed the door, searching for her phone. She dialed the number with shaking fingers.



About the Creator

Sarah Gavin

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