The Treasure Box

I put them in a box.

It was a small box, so small I was both amazed and relieved when it all fit. So perfectly the arched wooden lid shut, no pushing or shoving to get the carved wood shut and the clasp locked into place.

My fingers were small, and they easily wrapped around the small box as I pulled it into my chest, cradling it there. I clutched it there in the darkness of my room for a while before deciding it was time and walking down the flight of stairs that felt more like a mountain. The hem of my hand-me-down nightgown trailed behind on each step. I trotted out and into the yard, out the metal link fence, across the concrete parking lot careful not to step on the starry night pieces of broken glass sparkling in the light of the moon.

Across the street that was always dead, and cars always seemed to ignore, I walked through the muddy field to the perfect spot before dropping down to my knobby knees.

The ground was soft, the dirt loose. My small fingers dug easily, reaching deep down into the earth for the perfect spot. Satisfied as the yellow eyes glowed, staring at me from the bushes, I placed the box into the hole and slowly covered it. I packed the dirt tightly, knowing just how precious its contents were.

What a treasure it was.

This treasure would have no maps. It was a treasure meant to stay buried.

I stared down at the buried treasure, at the dirt beneath my feet that looked slightly out of place, and the similar dirt caked onto the front of my pale lavender nightgown.

Squaring my jaw and stiffening my upper lip, I said a silent goodbye and made my way home.

Back at the front door of my house, I stood there on my porch. The screen door seemed like it would weigh a thousand pounds when I tried to pull it open, my heart ached at the thought. Pursing my lips, I tried to keep them from quivering as a whimper caught in my throat.

Desperation clawed at me, like an animal in a cage that could see the latch to the door but had no idea how to open it.

Letting out a sigh, she slowly pulled the screen door open, careful not to make any noise as I stepped back inside and closed the door behind me. Turning the lock, I let out a sigh. I could get back up to my room before anyone knew-

The thought was knocked from my mind as I slid across the floor and into the kitchen. Lightning exploded behind my eyes as agony filled me to the brim. I didn’t call out, I knew better by now. There was no one in this world that would hear me, no one that would admit to it anyway.

On my side I tried to fill my lungs with air. No matter how I gasped, I couldn’t get enough air in to breathe. I couldn’t get enough breath to push myself to my feet and run from him.

The air above her reeked of whiskey and body odor as her hair was pulled up. Her scalp was on fire as she winced, pushing herself up to minimize the torture she felt. On her knees, she felt the thick tears rolling down her cheeks, but she said nothing. There was nothing she could say to him. She knew that by now.

Fire erupted in her cheek as she was knocked back down to the floor. He mumbled something angrily at her, incoherent ramblings of a drunk. She no longer tried to make sense of his words anymore.

Her body lurched as his foot connected with her side. She could taste the sour metallic taste of her blood in her mouth as she rolled onto her back and looked up at the ceiling. Stars dotted the ceiling as she lay there and let her mind wander.

In her mind she was in that field across the road looking down at the mound of dirt that now buried her treasures. She could feel the cool air kiss her skin, the breeze wrapped around her like an embrace she welcomed. In her mind, she turned and looked at her house for only a moment before walking into the field. She would walk further and further until her house couldn’t even be seen anymore and then she would keep walking.

The rich soil went up between her toes, caking the bottom of her nightgown.

Holding her arms open, she let the feeling of freedom carry her to a different life.

Gasping, the ceiling shot before her eyes. It spun and spun, around and around. Her father appeared before her for a moment before she heard his heavy steps retreat. He was stumbling, back into the living room. He would collapse on the couch like he always did and she would lie here until she could summon the strength to get to her feet.

But her lungs were still empty, her mind was coming and going and she found herself stop struggling, stop fighting.

Closing her eyes, she could feel the worn out photograph of her mother in her hands. Her mother had been so beautiful, so loving, and so wonderful. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the soft, songbird voice of her mother, still feel the warm lips on her forehead as she tucked her into bed.

Would they find that worn picture, the only one she had left of her mother in her treasure box? Would they find her journal, the one that told the story of her hell? Would they read it with tears in her eyes for the little girl who had been unlucky enough to end up within reach of a violent father, who’s judgement was clouded by alcohol, who’s humanity had been buried along with his late wife?

Her leg was twisted painfully at an unnatural angle, her tears burning her swollen eyelids. She could feel the hot trickle of her blood dripping down from her hairline. She was broken, physically now as much as she had felt emotionally all this time. Her heart had broken completely so long ago.

Taking in her final shaking breath, she wished she could have put herself in that box. Buried herself in that ground where he could never hurt her again. If only her little feet could have taken her far enough, she would have buried that box right next to her mother. Had she fit inside that box, she would have been exactly where she belonged.

I put them in a box, hoping with all that was left of me, that he couldn’t destroy the last bit of my heart.

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