The Money Box - Chapter 1
I opened the box to find another stack of money in it. How is this possible? My brain is telling my hand to grab the money but it won’t. Can’t. It’s confused. I’m confused. Where is this money coming from? I’m dreaming. That must be it. No way could this box have this money in it. Again.
Yes, again. Yesterday it was five thousand dollars. The day before it was five thousand dollars. Now today. Another five thousand. Again. Just 2 days ago I barely had $5. Now I have fifteen thousand. FIFTEEN THOUSAND! All from this plain brown box. A box I found in the parking lot of the supermarket. A box that was empty when I found it. Empty. Now….not so empty. Now don’t get me wrong. This is a great thing. Cause I really need the money. But not really how I thought I would get it. And definitely not this much. In three days. Three.
I finally convince my hands to grab the money. I count it. Yup, five thousand. In hundreds. All brand-new crisp one hundred dollar bills. Even smells new. Yes. I smelled them. Each time. I take the money and add it to the rest in the old duffel bag I have in the back of the closet. Yes, I know. First place most people look for hidden money. I don’t have a safe. Don’t have the money for one. And no way am I ready to spend this money.
I put the bag back in the closet then sit back on the bed with the box on my lap. I stare at it. Almost expecting the answers to my millions of questions to just appear somewhere in the box. They don’t. They didn’t yesterday. Or the day before.
It’s not that big. The box. Reminds me of those cigar boxes. But not shiny. I’ve only seen one and it was shiny. This one isn’t. It’s a dull dark brown. Maybe like a cherry wood. Or mahogany. Inside is a lighter wood. It’s not stained. But smooth like the rest of the box. There are no markings of any kind. No scratches or nicks. It looks new. Almost smells new. Yes, I smelled that too. I have no idea how this box ended up in the parking lot of Superfresh. I found it leaning against a light pole that I had parked next to. Wasn’t there when I went into the store. But was there when I came out. I almost just left it there. Wasn’t my box. Plus, I didn’t want the owner to just show up and think that I was stealing their box or anything. Even though if it was theirs they should have taken better care of it and they wouldn’t have lost it in the first place. I stood staring at it for a couple of minutes. Didn’t know what to do. Then I just said screw it, picked it up and opened it. I was actually disappointed that it was empty. For some reason I was sure I was going to find something in it. Nope. Then I realized that I now had some stupid box in my hand, that was empty, that I needed to get rid of. I couldn’t just put it back. What if someone saw me put it down? Then it would look like I was littering. And I don’t do that. Well, for the most part I don’t. I looked around for a trash can and the closest one was up by the front doors and I didn’t feel like walking all the way back up there. It was a Saturday afternoon and the store was packed. So, I had to park all the way at the other end.
Yeah, no way I was walking back to the store. So, I just tossed the box next to the bags on the back seat and left. I had pretty much forgotten about the box until I opened the back door to get the bags and saw it sitting there. As soon as I saw it I knew that I shouldn’t have grabbed it. Like I ever listen to myself.
I grabbed the bags and the stupid box and walked to the front door. After nearly dropping everything as I fumbled to find my keys in a purse that was barely able to hold anything, I made my way into the kitchen to deposit the grocery bags that held that night’s dinner and my new mysterious wooden box. Once again, I contemplated tossing the assumingly worthless box. But was again filled with a bunch of reasons not to. None of which made any sense. So, I just left it on the counter and unloaded the contents of the bags which included lasagna noodles, four types of cheeses and spaghetti sauce. I even splurged and got some peanut butter swirl ice cream for dessert. Yum!
It was only recently I started cooking. It had been an inner passion for years, but which had never fully come to fruition. I had collected several recipes and cookbooks but for some reason had never used them. Then one day I just pulled one out and made the first dish that looked edible and easy. And it turned out to be easy. So, I kept going. I bought more recipe books and found several recipe websites from which I printed dozens of recipes.
With the lasagna in the oven I found myself drawn to the dark wooden box. I grabbed it off the counter along with some homemade lemonade and plopped down on the couch. “What is so special about you?” I thought as I sat staring it. My head started to fill with ideas of some uses for it. It could be used as a jewelry box. But I didn’t really have much since I wore the same sterling silver necklace every day and had only a couple pairs of earrings. Or maybe I could just use it as a junk box. Goodness knows I have plenty of that. I could throw receipts in there. Or use it to hold all the recipe clippings that I cut out of various magazines. I opened it to take a better look at the inside. Maybe I could come up with better ideas.
As soon as I lifted the lid the air seemed to get thicker. Or it could have been that my breath caught in my chest. The box was no longer empty. Sitting there in the space that had been previously unoccupied was a stack of money. Money. A stack of it. Hundred dollar bills wrapped in those paper wrappers that identify the denomination of that bundle. This one said five thousand. Five thousand. Where had this money come from? I closed the lid, counted to ten and then opened it again. It was still there. I looked around and waited for someone to jump out with a camera crew and tell me this is some crazy hidden camera show. Nothing. No goofy guy. No cameras. What now? What do you do in these situations? I sure didn’t know. This was a first for me. It’s not every day that you find a box with money in it.
So, I just sat there. Staring at the box. At the money. I lifted my hand to touch it and then quickly pulled it back. As if it was going to bite or something. Which to be honest, probably wouldn’t surprise me because I was convinced this was some crazy Stephen King type of dream. Woman finds box filled with money. Women tries to grab money out of the box and the box eats her. That actually seemed to make sense to me at the moment. Goodness! I smelled my lemonade to make sure I didn’t absent-mindedly throw some vodka in there or something. Because goodness knows my brain felt very hazy at the moment.
I shook my head a couple times and looked back at the box. Which at some point I had closed. At least I hope it was me that closed it. I opened it. Yup, still there. Five thousand dollars in crisp one hundred dollar bills. Without even thinking I grabbed the money, took it out of the box and shut the lid. I was now sweating and breathing heavy. Thousands of thoughts swirled in my head. What do I do with this money? Is it mine? If I keep it will some crazy alien show up at my door demanding it back? So, I took the money and the box and threw them both in an old duffel bag that I found on the floor in my closet.
© 2019 Tanya Hoff