agog – adjective, adverb
Three sidewalk cracks before Meleah and Emma were in front of Meleah’s house, a squeal escaped from Meleah’s mouth.
“Oooooo, what is that?” Meleah said agog, when she saw the large brown package by her front door.
The two girls ran up on Meleah’s front porch to investigate. In large black typed print was: MELEAH HORTON followed by her address. No return address or label just her name and address.
“Did you order something?” her best friend asked.
“Nope. I think my mom would kill me if I used her credit card to order something.” Meleah replied. “Help me carry it inside Emma.”
Once Meleah unlocked her door, Emma helped her carry the large box inside. The box was neither heavy nor light; right in between. They set the box in the kitchen. Meleah poured a glass of milk for her and Emma and then counted out five Oreo cookies for each of them.
Meleah stared at the box.
Too excited to wait any longer Emma blurted out, “Just open it!” Oreo crumbs spewing from her mouth. She blushed and apologized, “Sorry.”
“I don’t know if I should. My birthday is still two months away but if My parents or big brother ordered something special for my birthday but it came way too early?” Meleah agonized.
Emma swallowed her cookie then drank her milk. “Why would they order something for you for your birthday knowing it’s two months away and knowing that you’re the first one home?”
Meleah thought about it. That made sense. “True. But, what if they wanted me to wait until they got home from work to open it so they could see my face?”
Emma had to admit that that also made sense.
Meleah finished her Oreos, drank her milk and sighed. “Well, I guess I have to wait until they get home. Want to stay over night? You could call your mom and ask if that’s alright. It is Friday. Then we could do our homework before everyone got home and then you would be here to watch me open it.”
Emma finished her Oreos and milk too then called her mom.
Permission granted, the girls quickly got to work on their homework deciding to get Emma’s things after Meleah’s parents came home.
Two hours passed when the back door opened.
“MOM, DAD? Who’s home?” Meleah yelled.
Both of her parents walked into the living room where Meleah and Emma were doing their homework.
“You don’t have to shout Meleah, we’re right here,” her father said.
Looking up Meleah was confused. “How did you two get in here so fast? I just heard the back door open.”
Her mother answered this time, “We saw the large box with your name on it and came right in here to find you. Did you order something?” A suspicious look was sitting on her face.
“Yeah, what’s with the big box?” her father asked, right eyebrow raised.
Meleah squinted her eyes at them both.
“I didn’t order anything. Is this an early birthday present from you two?”
Her parents looked at each other. They returned their gaze to Meleah and slowly shook their heads.
Her mother shrugged. “I can’t imagine your brother ordered something for you since he’s saving his money to buy a car for school.”
Chiming in her father said, “You would think that whoever sent it would have put their name and return address on the box.”
The back door shut with a thud.
“Not if they wanted to surprise me,” Meleah stated.
“Who wants to surprise you squirt?” Meleah’s brother, John shouted from the kitchen. “And, what’s in this big box out here?”
Back in the kitchen, Meleah, her parents and Emma at the same time said, “We don’t know.” They all gathered around the big box.
“Weird there’s not return address on it. Maybe we should call the police. There’s no return address, no delivery information on it, no postage stamp, nothing.” John stated.
Meleah bent closer to the box, listening. “I don’t hear ticking.”
Being the voice of reason her mother said, “Why would anyone send something dangerous to a little girl?”
“I’m not that little Mom. I am eleven you know.” Meleah retorted.
“Not for another two months Meleah,” Emma piped in.
“Close enough,” Meleah said sticking her tongue out at her.
Emma laughed. “Closer to nine I think.”
Meleah turned her attention back to the box. She was a little worried about what John said.
“Is this a trick John? Did you have one of your gross friends drop off the box here?” she asked suspiciously.
“Nope, I swear it on our dog’s life.” John said.
“JOHN! Jackson has been dead for over a year. Now I know you’re lying.” Meleah cried.
“Nope, even if he were alive I would swear it. Honest.” said John.
Her parents picked up the box, carried it out the back door and onto the driveway. Meleah, Emma and John followed.
“Meleah, you can open the box out here. I’ll cut the tape and you can open it the rest of the way.” her father offered.
Carefully, he cut the tape down the center and pulled just enough to loosen the sides for Meleah to finish opening.
Meleah tugged on the flaps of the box until they gave way. She bent the flaps back. Emma held them down. Meleah pulled the bunched paper out of the box and inside was another big box but this one was wooden, black with a shiny and black lacquered lid. She grabbed the shiny box from two sides and tried to lift it out but the box fell back inside the outer box.
John and her father lifted it out for her. Upon seeing the box in the light, everyone’s eyes were agog.
“It’s not heavy but it’s not light either. I wonder what’s inside?” her father said.
Meleah found the copper plated latch on the front of the box. She turned the knob, opened the latch and lifted the lid.
Inside the box was lined with rich, velvety soft, blue fabric. Meleah ran her hands delicately over the blue fabric. “Oh, it’s so soft.” she whispered.
She felt around the box looking for something else within. Nothing was there.
“Mom, can you please help me? There might be a hidden seam somewhere or opening.” she asked.
Together, they searched the box, finding nothing still. Meanwhile, John, her father and Emma were searching the outer box. They too found nothing.
“I guess you have a mystery box Meleah. It looks old but well kept. What a crazy gift.” said her father after looking over the shiny box.
“You might as well keep it in your room. You could probably put all of your stuffed animals in it for safe storage, it’s so big.” he continued.
“Dad, I’ll be eleven in two months, I don’t have my stuffed animals anymore.” she said elbowing Emma to keep quiet.
Emma stifled a giggle.
Meleah and Emma carried the shiny box into Meleah’s room placing it on the floor by her closet.
“I’m not putting anything in this box. It’s too pretty inside.” Meleah stated.
“I think you should look the box up online and see if you find anything out about it.” said Emma.
“Let’s look the box over closely and see if there is any writing on it.” Meleah said.
Together the girls turned the box over and searched for any indication of where it came from. On the bottom of the box, was a faint inscription in the corner. The box being black, made it hard to read so Meleah grabbed a sheet of notebook paper, placed it across the inscription, rubbed pencil lead across it to reveal the letters For: H H in swirled cursive letters. Also was a curved shepherds hook symbol.
Meleah couldn’t think of one single person she knew with the initials HH. “Let’s finish our homework Emma and then we can work on cracking this mystery.”
Having no luck with the internet that night, the girls went to bed.
The next morning, the mail came early and in it was a letter addressed to MELEAH HORTON in big black letters.
to be continued…
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