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A Dream, A Trip, And An Unexpected Brown Paper Box

by Babs Iverson 3 months ago in Short Story · updated 28 days ago

Sentimental Journey

A Dream, A Trip, And An Unexpected Brown Paper Box
Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

There must be a reason. There has to be a reason. Bella thought about the recurring dream that she had awakened from. In the dream, Bella was five years old. Gramps was showing her the family bible. With a twinkle in his eyes, Gramps carefully and reverently showed Bella the large antique family bible. He instructed, "Handle this GOOD book with care Bella. It's not like your other books, and it's to be respected and not to be played with. You understand!" Bella sighed, "Yes, Gramps!"

Afterward, Gramps placed the bible up on the highest shelf out of Bella's reach. Then, he asked, "Do you want to help me feed the chickens?'' It was at this point in Bella's dream that she would always awaken with a pleasant memory and with a smile on her face. Starting the morning off on a satisfactory note, she went through her morning rituals.

In her home office and at her desk, Bella looked over her schedule and notes on her calendar. Looking at the calendar, She whispered to herself, "Only three weeks until the family reunion, gee time is flying by?" Before leaving on her trip to the Central New York area, she had a lot on her plate. After all, Bella had an enormous amount of work to do each and every day with following up on window treatment orders, responding to clients' inquiries, and scheduling appointments either the first initial visit or the last completion visit. All this was done by text, phone, or email. In addition, she had to make sure everything was running smoothly and all bases covered while she would be out of town for her family reunion.

With the threat of an airline strike and with sporadic flight cancellations, Bella decided to drive from Raleigh, NC to Rome, New York. Besides, she didn't relish the idea of two flight changes and three stops. With all the changes, the chance of the airline losing her luggage was a mishap waiting to happen. In Bella's mind, it was a real issue and major concern which was to be avoided at all cost. In fact, she had her share of lost luggage experiences. The first time, it took several hours for the airline's personnel to locate her luggage. Delaying her departure from the airport, she had to take a later train causing her to almost miss her scheduled appointment. In the next instance, Bella went three days without her luggage, and it ended with a $250 time-limited voucher towards her next flight. Unsurprisingly, the voucher was never used.

Consequently, after making her decision, she immediately checked the driving distance on google and selected the shortest route that showed the time to be 10 hours and 58 minutes. Telling herself, "This is going to be a serious road trip. Driving six hours a day for two days and an overnight stay on the road." Besides, it was time for a road trip. Furthermore, she hadn't seen her extended family in so long that she couldn't remember the last time she was in Rome, New York for a family reunion.

By Joshua Hibbert on Unsplash

Two weeks and five days later and two days before her road trip, a challenge arose.

On her way home from a client's three-thirty appointment, Bella was stopped at a traffic light eight blocks from her home. When the light turned green, she stepped on the gas pedal. At the same time, she observed steam and smoke that rolled and poured from the front and back of her, not so new, van. Instead of turning right, she drove straight to her auto mechanic's shop that was two blocks away.

Upon her arrival, Bill, the owner, was outside adjusting his new auto shop's sign. With the van still steaming and smoking, Bella parked the van towards the right side which was the closest to the shop's office and waiting area. Bill quickly walked towards the van and inquired, "Bella, good to see you, how long has your van been overheating?" She calmly replied, "Bill, since two blocks away, I was headed home. Hopefully, it's not too serious." "We will see!" retorted Bill as he pulled on his greasy well-worn ball cap. He commented, "I'll definitely be able to diagnose the issue tomorrow afternoon." Bella responded, "That's good, Bill! I'll go next door to the Budget rental and see about renting a small car."

Naturally, Bella was grateful and thankful that Budget's location was so close and convenient. Opening Budget's door, the bell overhead rang out as she entered. Walking straight ahead, she couldn't help but notice the large, old colorful raging bull with a matador picture on the 1942 wall calendar hanging on the wall behind Budget's customer service counter. Finishing up with the customer ahead of her, the representative waved and greeted Bella, "I'll be with you in a minute!" Bella nodded her head in acknowledgment and response.

"Hello! How may I help you, ma'am?" queried Larry, who was wearing his name tag on the left side of the white polo shirt. Bella announced, "Well, Larry, it looks like I'll need a small car for a week or more. Is that possible?" "We can put you in a mid-size car for the same price, and time-wise, we can do whatever works best for you," replied Larry. "Fantastic!" uttered Bella. Larry inquired, "When do you want to pick up the car? "Right now!" Bella exclaimed with a weary smile.

After renting a mid-size car, Bella went directly home. Obviously, the day had been absolutely exhausting. On top of that, she was extremely hungry. Nevertheless, it was one of those days when Bella chose to have dessert first. Having a German chocolate cake in the refrigerator, she poured a cold glass of milk and placed a slice of cake on her dessert plate. Savoring every bite and washing the cake down with the cold milk, she was fortified and ready to review her work messages. As a matter of fact, she was so full she didn't make dinner that night. Completing her work and reading her mail, she could no longer stay awake and prepared for bed.

The following afternoon, Bill, from the auto repair shop, called Bella. On the phone, Bill informed her, "Your van needs a new water pump, a new radiator, and the head gasket needs to be replaced. The bad news, it's going to take a while to receive some of the parts; and the good news, we should have the work done in eight to ten days." Bella confirmed, "Since I have a rental car and I'll be out of town, go ahead with the repairs."

With the car packed, Bella headed North. The trip to Central New York was uneventful. Thank goodness!

Approaching her destination, Bella estimated that she was about ten miles from her aunt's home and the reunion venue. As she neared her Aunt Margaret's home she passed by the Smith's old barn which was a surprise that it was still standing. Naturally, Bella was the first to arrive and parked next to the white picket fence. From where she was parked, she could see the pear trees that were loaded down with pears and that Bella remembered climbing with her cousins back when they were in elementary school.

As it was early August, the marigolds were in bloom in front of Bella's aunt's home. Walking to the front door, Bella wondered what happened to the peony bushes that were planted on each side of her aunt's front porch. Bella rang the doorbell. Aunt Margaret opened the door and gushed, "Aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" "Happy to see you, Aunt Margaret!" Bella sweetly exclaimed. "Don't just stand there. Come in! How was your trip? Can I get you anything?" Aunt Margaret rapidly stated and questioned. Bella quickly replied, "A cup of herbal tea would be nice. It's been a long trip without any problems thank goodness which was a true blessing."

"Come sit down in the kitchen!" commanded her aunt. As they sat and enjoyed their tea, Bella shared the fact that she has been having a recurring dream about Gramps and the old antique family bible. Bella quizzed, "Do you know where it is?" Aunt Margaret turned several shades of crimson. "No, you have to ask your Aunt Marilyn!" "Okay!" sighed Bella. "Is there anything I can help you with before everyone arrives?" asked Bella. "No, we are good. Maybe, you can help with the clean-up afterward," her aunt retorted with a pleasant smile.

As Bella got up from the table, Bella's eyes gravitated to the pictures displayed on the kitchen wall. There was an anniversary picture of Gram and Gramps, a picture of Gram knitting which surprised Bella because she was always crocheting and making so many beautiful baby booties and gorgeous blankets. In the center, the black and white picture of the Gram and Gramps with all their children had been enlarged for Margaret's display.

Bella questioned, "What's this? Is that my dad shoe skating on the frozen pond?" "Let me see! Yes! That's your dad on the frozen pond shortly before the ice broke. As I recall, we made homemade ice cream the very next day," chimed Aunt Margaret.

The doorbell rang, it was Aunt Marilyn with her children and grandchildren. The house became noisy with everyone talking, hugging, and asking too many questions. Later that day, when things calmed down, Bella finally had a quiet moment to ask her Aunt Marilyn about the old antique family bible. Before asking, Bella provided her aunt with all the details of her recurring dream, what Gramps said and when she would awaken. Ending her story, Bella asked, "Aunt Marilyn, do you know where the family bible is?" This time her aunt turned white as a ghost. Aunt Marilyn instructed, "You need to ask your Aunt Mia!"

Obviously, Bella felt that she was being stonewalled. However, Bella was determined to see what Mia had to say. More members of the family arrived with two more aunts and five of her uncles. Of course, Aunt Mia was the last to arrive. Surprisingly, her Aunt Mia was carrying a brown paper box in her right hand. Walking straight towards Bella, Mia handed the package to her and without saying "Hello!" or asking "How are you?" "This is yours. You should place it in a safe place, perhaps inside your car," Mia demanded. The brief encounter blindsided Bella, leaving her speechless. With Bella holding the brown paper box, her aunt walked away.

By freestocks on Unsplash

"Attention everyone!" shouted Aunt Margaret. "We will have one-minute silent prayer and blessing. Please form two lines for the buffet. We have drinks in the iced-filled galvanized tubs," Margaret announced.

While everyone was lining up, Bella carried the box to her car extremely curious as to what might be in the mysterious unexpected brown paper box. For now, the box in her car trunk would have to wait. It was time to join everyone for the afternoon picnic lunch.

After lunch, there were games to be played, contests to enter, even a silent auction. By five-thirty, people were leaving, saying their goodbyes, see you soon, take care of yourself. Before her Aunt Mia left, Bella patiently sought her aunt. Inside Aunt Margaret's house, Bella found Mia, who was sitting at the kitchen table. This time, Bella didn't give all the details to Mia. Bella blurted, "Aunt Mia, in my recurring dream Gramps, who was very proud of the old antique family bible, told me that the GOOD book should be handled with care. Where is the family bible?

Hesitantly, Aunt Mia, taking a sip of water, admitted, "The family bible was gone." "Gone?" questioned Bella. Aunt Mia replied, "One of your uncle's little kids damaged and destroyed the old bible." Outraged! Bella cried, "When? Where? Why? How did they destroy a five to seven inch thick old antique FAMILY bible?"

Understandably, Bella was devastated emotionally and physically with tears streaming down her face. Unable to control her composure, she went for a walk in hopes that walking would help. Sometimes, it did! Questions ran through her mind, "Why? Why couldn't this be a dream? Who would let this happen? What were they thinking?" Heartbroken, Bella walked back to her Aunt Margaret's house. She tried to help clean up and put things away after the gathering. Going through the motions, Bella tried to be pleasant.

Once the clean-up was completely finished, Bella went back to the hotel and cried herself to sleep. Resting a few days at the hotel, she headed back to Raleigh. Instead of stopping along the way, Bella drove straight through and arrived home after midnight.

Because of the late hour and lengthy drive, Bella was completely and extremely exhausted. Leaving the car in the garage locked for the night, Bella chose to unpack everything later. In order to destress, she showered and went straight to bed.

The next morning. The cell phone chimed and awakened her. Glancing at her phone, a message appeared from Bill's Automotive Repair, stating that the van was ready.

Before heading to the Budget's car rental and to Bill's Automotive Repair, she emptied the rental car. From the trunk, she reached for the mysteriously unexpected brown paper box, picked it up, and placed it on her kitchen counter. Then, retrieving and dropping her bags and placing them into her bedroom, Bella proceeded to return the rental car and pick up her van.

After returning the rental car and picking up her van, Bella arrived home. In the kitchen, she held up the brown paper box, turning the box in her hands and inspecting it from all angles. As if the box could answer, Bella asked, " What are you?" Carefully, she opened the box and inside was a DVD.

Moving into the living room and slipping the DVD into the player, she recognized her dad's 8mm home movies from decades ago. Now, on the DVD, the pictures flashed across her television screen. Seeing herself as a child along with other family members, she watched and discerned the children who were dancing, giggling, showing off, and acting silly on her TV.

Bella wept.

Short Story

Babs Iverson

Barbara J Iversen, also known as Babs Iverson, lives in Texas and loves her grandkids to the moon and back. After writing one story, she found that writing has many benefits especially during a pandemic and a Texas-size Arctic Blast.

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