Shelly’s Invisible Treasure Box

Known in class as the Quiet One, Shelly is given to wandering away from her desk for no reason. Mostly, she is good natured and easy to get along with, and as her teacher, I can tell you she is quite bright. What most don’t know is that she is a collector, somewhat reminiscent of The Borrowers. I discovered it one day after school, when Shelly’s books, as usual, were strewn all over the floor instead of in her desk.

“The maintenance staff will not like this,” I mumbled to myself, gathering up the stray books. “Why can’t Shelly learn to put things away? Lifting the lid to her desk, I noticed plenty of room. It was only when I tried to deposit the books that I encountered resistance.

I looked again, thinking I must have missed something, but her desk appeared, for the most part, empty, so I tried anew to put away her stash. No luck.

“What is going on?” I wondered aloud. “How can this be? Am I that overtired?”

Setting the books on her chair, I reached into the desk and was surprised to encounter something solid. Not visible to my eye, but definitely present to the touch. I pulled back. Was this possible?

I sat back and considered my options. Should I explore this conundrum further, or just leave the books where they lay and ask Shelly for an explanation tomorrow?

Curiosity won out.

My hands explored the outline of the invisible obstruction. It felt like a rectangular box with a lid. I lifted it out and gingerly placed it on a desk. Taking a few deep breaths – for I somehow felt that if I lost my concentration, the box would indeed disappear – I began to imagine that I could actually see it…and guess what! I could!

Naturally, I had to open it. (I hope you can appreciate that I did so with utmost respect for its owner, and not just out of curiosity.)

I can barely describe what I found inside, but know that when I started breathing again, I had goosebumps. Within that box lay all the things that make life wonderful and worth living – the wings of a butterfly, a sunbeam, a dewdrop, rose petals, and these were just the visuals. Terms of endearment floated from its depths, carrying with them a melody of love, and the sweet smell of caramel apples. It was as if the contents of the box leaped out at me with joy and embraced me. In awe, I quickly replaced the lid, not wanting to disturb this treasure any further.

I had not seen this magic in Shelly before.

Gently setting the unseen thing back in her desk, I left the pile of books on her chair and respectfully closed the desktop.

This girl, I understood with renewed reverence, understood what was truly meaningful in life.

I share this story with you, not that you will pilfer her belongings, but that you will remember, the next time you interact with Shelly, that she is a quiet, gentle soul, who holds sacred awareness.

(The challenge this week was: “What’s in the box?” After I set the prompt, I remembered a book of stories I had written for my first ever class of grade 7/8’s. It was a French Immersion class and after discovering that the students were averse to reading in English, I decided to write a book that would surely engage them. I called it, Myths, Magic, and Legacy, and it contained twenty-four short stories – one for each student. Shelly (named changed) was a tiny girl, shy as mentioned, who was wise beyond her years. She was also shuffled between foster homes, so knew a little of life that many of the others did not.)

Thanks for all who participated. I love where your creative sparks lead you.

Fortunate?, I Write Her
Usually a cat., Pictures without film.
Yesterday’s tokens, Eugi’s Causerie II
The cat and the drawer, Shilpa Nairy
So Many Shot Glasses, one letter UP
The Junk Drawer, Sgeoil

See you tomorrow for a new challenge!

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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