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I pulled out picture after picture of different family events from when I was a child. There were newspaper articles of significant events, such as when I was in track and volleyball in high school. I couldn’t believe my grandparents didn’t put this stuff in photo albums. I put the box aside after I put everything back in. I thought to myself, this summer when I don’t have classes, I’ll put all that stuff in albums and scrap book some of it.
To get to the bottom boxes, I moved boxes to the floor, stopping at the third row from bottom. Straddling the box, I opened it with Cara’s help. Pulling out the first few pictures, it was the box I needed.
The picture I saw first was me sitting on a young woman’s lap. She was leaning over me and her black hair fell over my shoulder. The woman was smiling and looked happy. I turned the picture over to see if names were written on the back. It said Sara and Raven. Finally, a picture of my mom. My hands started to shake as I turned the picture back over to look at it.
Tears streamed down my face as I looked at her. I pulled out more photos, finding so many photos that I had never seen before. Closer to the bottom, I found a baby picture of me in a man’s arms, wonder if that was my dad. On the back it said, Darren and Raven, 1998. I dug a little deeper and found a wedding photo of my mom and Darren. My mom was very pregnant. He had to be my dad.
Looking further into the box, I had to know if Darren was my father. There were so many answers from my past that I needed. I had to know what happened to him and why he didn’t try to raise me. More and more questions ran through my mind. Was he dead also? Was he the reason my mom committed suicide?
Knowing I had the pictures I wanted, I looked over at Cara, “Hey, can you stop staring at the door and help me put the boxes back?”
“I’m scared we won’t get out of here. The door shut on its own. Has that ever happened before?”
“We’ll get out of here. Don’t worry.”
We stacked the boxes and I picked all the pictures up off the floor. I pulled the string to shut the light off and used my phone to light our way upstairs. Cara reached the top before me. She tried to open it and it wouldn’t budge. “Cara use your hip to try to get it loose. I bet it’s just jammed. This is an old house.”
She hit her hip against the door and it opened. I was just as scared as she was that we wouldn’t get out. I kept telling myself it was my grandparent’s thoughts getting to me. I put the pictures on the table beside the cedar box and went outside to grandma’s garden.
I pushed the yard swing as I walked by and stepped over a small flower garden that was beside it. Grandma was bent over, picking some cucumbers off the vine when I approached her.
“Raven, there is only a week or so left that we can get cucumbers out of my garden. Soon fall will be here and we’ll be pulling out our winter coats,” She said as she stood up.
She pulled her blue gardening gloves off and dropped them on the ground. She leaned over and hugged me. “Be careful. I know you don’t believe your grandpa or me, but please be careful.”
“Grandma, there was a picture I found downstairs of a man named Darren. Was he my father?” Grandma’s face turned as white as a sheet. I put my hand on her arm. “Are you OK? I’m sorry I asked.”
She swallowed hard, “Yes, he was your father. He died before your mother did. I hope you didn’t take his picture also.”
“I did. I’m sorry. Grandma, please understand, this paper is finally giving me answers I’ve wanted for so long.”
“Raven,” Grandma said in almost a whisper. “Some questions are better left unanswered.”
I hugged Grandma and kissed her on the cheek before turning to leave. We went in through the back door, so I could get my things for the paper. When I got to the table, I noticed the cedar box and the pictures were gone. I knew Grandma didn’t move them because she was outside. “Grandpa! Grandpa! Are you home?” He didn’t answer back. I walked to the hallway and on the table beside the stairs were the pictures and the cedar box.
On the way back to our dorm room, smoke started rolling from the hood of my car. I was thankful Grandpa paid for the extended warranty. I pulled over to the side of the road and opened my hood to see what the problem was. Grandpa taught me basic mechanics for emergencies like this. I kept a roadside kit in my trunk that held everything, including duct tape in case I needed to wrap a hose as a temporary fix.
I couldn’t see anything. Cara sat in the car while I tried to figure out the problem. Black smoke continued to roll from my engine. “Cara, can you start the car and see if it’s overheating?”
After she started it, she yelled, “No, it’s fine.”
I walked around and grabbed my phone from the console. I looked up the tow truck company phone number and called them. As we waited, the smoke stopped coming from my engine.
“You should have listened to your grandparents,” Cara said as she leaned her head against the window.
“This has nothing to do with the cedar box. This kind of stuff happens to a lot of people all the time. It’s fixable.”
“Your car is only a year old. This doesn’t happen to car a that is only a year old. It’s that box.”
“Don’t you read on the internet Cara that our thoughts can turn into reality? What you believe is what happens. If you think that cedar box is evil, then yeah, it might be evil to you. I don’t believe that it is.”
“Evil things happen all the time. I wish you would take that stupid box back to your grandparents. It’s going to us and anyone who enters our dorm room.”
Getting tired of waiting on the tow truck company, I started my car. It ran just fine. “Cara, while I drive, can you get my phone and cancel the tow company?”
On the drive back, I questioned if maybe my grandparents and Cara were right. I tried to push the thoughts out of my head. I rolled down my window to see if I could smell something funny with my car or hear something that may have caused the smoke, but I didn’t.
“Raven, remember, you’re opening the box to the past. Once you go there, you can never return.”
What she said sent chills down my spine. I knew she was right. What I was about to learn couldn’t be undone. I was scared, but on the same note, I wanted to know why the family kept her a secret.
I pulled into the store to pick up a couple of frames for the pictures. I wanted to have them on my desk for when I worked on my paper.
We walked through the aisle, looking at different frames. “Cara should I get one frame that holds both of the pictures or should I get two frames?”
“Get two frames so you can place the pictures on either side of your laptop. They will surround you that way.”
“Oh, good idea!” I replied with excitement. “I need snacks. I have to have junk food to keep me going.”
“We just had breakfast. I wish I could eat like you and stay thin. I don’t know how you do it.”
“Get out and exercise. Come on. Let’s get out of here. I’m ready to look through this.”
“I’m going to go to Todd’s while you look through that. I don’t want to be anywhere around when you open that thing.”
We struggled to find my car when we walked out to the parking lot. I swore I parked in section C, but my car wasn’t there. My mind had to be playing tricks on me. I turned around in a circle in the middle of lanes looking. I walked over to Section E and found it parked there. I swore I parked it closer to the store also.
“I’m walking to Todd’s.”
“That’s two miles.”
“Well, you told me to get exercise. Walking is exercise,” she said as she walked off.
Watching her walk across the parking lot, I pulled the keys out of my pocket and placed the bag in the back seat. When I started the car and turned on 1970’s rock, I started hearing humming. I looked around and I didn’t see anyone around me. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.
I turned off the music and the humming stopped. I turned it back on and the humming started again. It was a soft humming that was pleasant to hear.
When I got back to my dorm room, I put the pictures in the frames and set them on my desk. I put the box on my desk in front of my mom’s picture. As I pulled the key out of my pocket to unlock the box, it opened on its own.