This was one of my first creative writing submissions for university. I really enjoyed writing it (plus it got a decent mark too!). The story is about a young boy coping with the loss of his mum and a fascination with her mahogany box. Please tell me what you think (all criticism is good criticism).
The Mahogany Box
I am not bored with life, if anything life is bored with me.
So much so, that it doesn’t even try to make me miserable, or happy, or sad, or whatever any more. In fact life was happy to just let me float through it. I did try to be like those people who always had a smile on their face and looked at everything positively, but to be honest smiling is overrated and complete optimists need to be slapped repeatedly with the dictionary of disappointment entitled life.
“What are you doing with that?!”
“I thought you were thirsty so I wanted to make you tea mummy”
“You know how dangerous the kettle is!”
“I’m sorry mummy, I won’t touch it again, I promise!”
“You could’ve burned yourself!”
“I look away for one moment, just one second, and you go and almost give me a reason to drive you to the hospital! What am I going to with you?”
“I’m really sorry mummy, I’m really REALLY sorry.”
“Well at least you were trying to do something nice for me, thank you for the consideration”
“What’s considation mummy?”
“Consideration, it’s when you think of something or someone, in this case you were thinking of me.”
“Oh, You’re welcome mummy, I always con-considating you.”
Although, there is one thing I can be happy about and that’s my box, mahogany and smells like I got it straight out of an antique store. Near each corner is decorated with a shape emulating the human ribcage and clavicle, stopping to leave a gap where the skull connects with the neck.
“Mummy did you hurt yourself?”
“My back is killing me, been sitting in the same position too long I guess, this is why I tell you to never watch telly for so long. I don’t want you to end up like mummy with a bad back and I don’t think you do either.”
“Miss Tomlinson says she has a bad back, she says she’s goes to a massage shop every week.”
“Good for Miss Tomlinson”.
The ends of the clavicle shape are twisted up like one of those handlebar moustaches. Above it there is a solid triangle, about the length of a thumb, right in the corners of my box. All made of brass inlay, the pattern changes to a single line running down the edges, ceasing only at the junctions where the top splits allowing my box to open. To open and expose to life the one thing that will cause me to unravel …The one thing that could entertain life for the rest of my existence.
I never open the box.
I carry it around with me on my walks in the fields, a habit I picked up over the years, was never comfortable sitting at home for too long. I stroll through the mud and stones, feeling the cold air hit against my skin sometimes gives me the energy to take in the scenery. The untrimmed grass beneath my shoes, the sound pebbles make when you kick them aside, the leaves on the tree that signalled the end of my journey. I would always sit under the same tree in the same position, take out the box and just stare at it. How long for I don’t know, but however long for I never open the lid.
Sometimes I turn it around; sometimes I trace a finger over the patterns, most of the time I just tap each corner lightly to a certain rhythm. I don’t know why but It calms me, not that I was angry or anything, but it calms me.
“Who said you can go into mummy’s room?”
“I just wanted to see what’s inside the box.”
“How many times have I told you not to touch it?!”
“A gazillion time’s mummy.”
“And I’ll keep telling you until you listen now leave the room and play with your toys or something! Never touch that! Never again understand?!”
I’ve always had a fondness for nursery rhymes, my favourite as a kid was ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’. It was this that I used to tap on the box when I sat under the tree.
“What is it?”
“A boat! Right there, do you see it?”
“Oh yes I see it, it’s very pretty.”
“It’s huge! Miss Parker made us sing the nursery rhyme today, I told her I was too big now to sing nursery rhymes but I had to sing it anyway.”
“I guess you’re too big to listen to mummy singing it now, aren’t you?”
“I’m not THAT big yet.”
After a while I get up and head to the book store in town. I like to read, mostly books about the body, never fiction or fantasy novels, if I did then my imagination would run away with me and that’s the way to get caught into life’s trap. Imagination leads to belief, belief imagination and both, the components to kill you. There are many ways to die without actually dying. So many ways to –
“Sorry about that mate, I didn’t see you there.”
… the box.
“Damn, sorry about the box mate.”
… it’s broken broken it’s in pieces smashed completely what am I going to do can it be fixed will it be fixed what would she think?
“What have you done!”
“I’m really sorry mummy.”
“Let me hel-”
“Get out of my sight; I’m very angry with you right now, look at the mess you’ve made!”
“I can help fix it mummy, we can put it back together and it’ll be okay ag-”
“I’m sure it’ll be okay, I can fix it”