This story is dedicated to Kylie on Reedsy Prompts. Please read my author's note in the comments~
The corners of Kylie's mouth slightly moved upwards as she stared at the box, her eyes twinkling with pride. She felt like a pet owner watching their dog do as trained, a mother bird observing her child fly for the first time, an artist finished with their masterpiece.
The creation Kylie had made, this small, carefully chosen box, packed to the top with loved items, it was like a newborn to her. Delicate, a source of her pride.
Kylie picked up her time capsule, fingers light as feathers, and cradled it during the whole journey.
It had taken her months, maybe even over a year, to decide what she would put in this box. After all, it was nothing but the future generations' perceptions of those who had lived before them.
There was no doubt that Kylie would add technology. She wondered how much her phone would be worth in the future, more or less than its current price? How much value would people give to old phones? Would it be valuable due to its time and design? Or would future technology be ten times more developed, and people would regard it as a cheap, lame device? She hoped it would be valuable as she placed the phone into the box with trembling hands.
Food would expire, plants would die, clothes? Her clothes weren't unique. They didn't represent anything, and they could never speak for the world's current fashion.
Kylie snapped her fingers excitedly as an idea flashed into her mind. Photos! Photos of everything!
Her mother's call for her echoed throughout the house with the door left swinging ajar. Kylie had departed on a crucial mission to collect photographs.
Would taking photos of all the buildings be too much, she questioned, as she sunk into the shade, a refuge from the tormenting sun.
What if the buildings had fallen and only ruins remained? What if it would be an inspiration-a vintage inspiration to the future- for architectural design? What if she, Kylie, would become famous in her grave?
You're getting way too ahead of yourself, Kylie, she thought as she snapped a picture of the Reedsy™ building and walked away.
Her camera clicked and flashed for hours on end, until she decided to check her phone and realized it was almost eight. The sky had burnt from its fresh blue to a thick, tar-like black. She dashed home, mentally noting where she'd go for photos the next day.
One windy morning, months after the first day of photo-taking, Kylie dressed in a hurry as she deliberated in her mind what else to add to her capsule.
Toys! Those toys might not exist in the future. It'll be fun for future kids to play with them!
She tucked in a fidget spinner, a few figurines, and as many intact toys she could find in her little brother's closet.
Kylie arranged receipts and restaurant menus, thinking about its use for research on foods they would eat back then.
She slid in jewelry, household items, pens, markers, paper. She placed some of her paintings on top, along with some of her stories. She felt as if she was building a skyscraper, stacking things on top, level by level.
Kylie added an unused cigarette she had found on the street, and a lighter along with it. Who knew which people would come across her time capsule.
Makeup products! I'm sure everyone would appreciate some makeup and skincare items. Goodbye, all of the makeup products that I spent hundreds to get. Goodbye nail polish, goodbye lotion. Goodbye essences.
Her journey to find and choose the items that would determine the future's impression of the past had lasted for months. Kylie was finishing with the final details, and one last idea sprung up.
I'll tuck in some masks and gloves so they can observe what we used to prevent our worldwide pandemic-
Her busy hands froze.
What if there was no future generation, what if the pandemic wiped out everyone, what if the survivors would only die from natural disasters?
What if this sickness was the universe's way of wiping out humanity? They had caused so many problems: merciless killing and cruelty of animals, destroying nature's beauties to slap down gray, dusty buildings, contributing to climate change with vehicle exhaust, Kylie was only getting started.
Humanity had also turned on each other. There was the constant injustice and prejudice, leading to traumatizing deaths based on skin pigmentation or specific beliefs. Betrayal, backbiting, lying. Those had always weightlessly fallen from humans' lips. Racism, stereotypes, lies, falseness, sexism, these were all real. And they happened every day.
What if the universe had concluded humans weren't worthy of living on Earth, the planet of life, after all?
These what-ifs slunk across Kylie's mind, wrapping around and squeezing, a deadly viper ready to take over its prey. They clawed around her head, a sinister darkness beginning to cloud her previously positive mindset about her creation.
She glanced down, sullen, at the time capsule she had spent months creating. A torrent of tears swished over her glazed eyes, and suddenly, Kylie was sobbing. She didn't want to die. Kylie didn't want her family, her friends, her teachers, her neighbors to die. She didn't want anyone to die.
Nobody's going to die.
Kylie's tears sparkled as they fell upon the items she had so lovingly collected and packed, shimmering in the afternoon sun. Kylie stared at them, a caring smile beaming through, as she picked up her stationery saved for special events, and sat at her desk to write a letter.
Crisp labels sat, taped to every item in the time capsule. Kylie had written the name of every object, along with a description.
Her letter sat, the curlicues and swirls of ink drying beside the open window.
Kylie now stood, looking down at her time capsule, an enveloped letter to go along with it, eyes twinkling with happiness. Writing the letter had lifted everything-all of her concerns off her shoulders, and she had decided to bury the time capsule.
Kylie kissed her time capsule and walked to the park.