Fiction Teens & Young Adult

“Okay! Open it up!” 

“Are you sure? You’ve been teasing me about it all week.” 

“Yes, yes! Open it!” 


I peeked inside the brightly wrapped gift box. It’s pink and green color almost sang happy birthday to me as I opened it. Mom had been telling me all week long about how excited she was to give it to me, but of course I had no clue. 

I carefully took off the box lid, anxious now to see what it was… only to find another box inside. 

“What is this mom, a Russian doll box?” I asked. 

Her face lit up “Just keep going!” 

I smiled at her remark, now a bit excited myself. As I looked down at the second box again, I saw that it was actually a jewelry box. I lifted up the top, and gasped at the shimmering light. A wonderful diamond necklace laid gently on the black satin box. I felt my mouth hanging slightly open at the sight. It must have cost a fortune for her to buy, and it was stunning. 

“Oh my goodness mom. It’s- It’s breathtaking.” I exclaimed. 

My mothers face glowed as she saw my expression. 

“I thought you’d like it honey.” 

I smiled at her “Oh I love it! Thank you so much.” 

I was a bit taken aback by the gruff voice that spoke next. I completely forgot my whole family was watching me during the sentimental moment. Of course I couldn’t expect to be alone on my birthday. Naturally, my grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles would all want to be here. 

“Well, let's get a move on Anna. Your mother’s not the only one who’s gotta gift for you.” My grandfather's distinct voice said. 

“Oh right, sorry.” I snapped back into the present as my other family members passed their gifts around to me. 

I got a Polaroid camera from my aunt and uncle, a headband from my little cousins who scrapped their allowances together, and a pocket knife from my dad for camping. As my aunt finished explaining how to use the camera, my grandfather announced that he had a gift for me as well. I was a bit surprised, as usually every year my grandparents just wrote me a card with a check inside. My grandfather's face was thin and wrinkled, and he pushed his rimmed glasses up onto his nose as he dug something out of his pocket. 

It was a small box, similar to the one mom had given me, except it was a dull brown color that wasn’t quite as appealing. He handed it to me, and motioned for me to open it up. 

I wasn’t sure as to what was inside, but didn’t think it could be that good for how old the box was. I lifted the lid off the tiny box, and looked inside. In the bottom of the old dusty box, was a circular object. It was made of rusty metal and had a long chain attached to it. I picked it up, still not knowing what it was and quietly inspected it. I saw that on the side of the object, was a clasp. I suddenly understood that this was a locket. I opened up the ancient necklace, to find a small picture of my grandparents inside. In this picture though, their faces were young and bright. I could tell it was from many years ago, quite possibly when they were first married. Even though I was grateful for the gift, it didn’t really impress me like mom’s necklace. It’s rusty metal just didn’t suit me, and besides... I see my grandparents almost every week. It’s not like anything’s going to happen to them. 

“That necklace is very important to me Anna.” My grandpa explained. “When I was in the war, I took that picture of your grandmother and I everywhere I went. It comforted me when we were training and in battle. It reminded me that I always had a home with her, no matter what happened.” 

The two shared an affectionate look at each other, before my grandma finished the story. 

“You see darling, your grandpa never lost hope every time he looked in that necklace, and sure enough, he came home safe and sound.” 

I felt kinda bad, but was still not interested. Frankly I didn’t really care about the war, actually I didn’t even know which one it was. It was all just pretty cheesy anyways. 

When the family left our house, I went to put my gifts upstairs. I set the new camera and pocket knife on my dresser, I put the headband in the bathroom, and gently laid my diamond necklace from mom next to my bedside table. When it came to the rusty locket though, I simply tossed it on my desk. 

*    *    * 

To speed things up a bit, years passed after that birthday. Okay, maybe speed things up a lot. By this time, I was eighteen. Nothing had really changed much since then, of course besides the usual stuff… getting my driver's license, applying for colleges, all that jazz. Unfortunately, even as I grew older, the locket grandpa had given me still had no meaning. It still sat on my desk, and I passed it every day not giving it as much as a glance. 

Whenever grandpa came over, he’d ask about it though. I made up little white lies, saying how much I loved it and all. Although, every time he left, I felt terribly guilty. 

The weekend wasn’t very exciting so far. My family went about our daily tasks, doing our chores and running errands. I was sweeping the kitchen while my siblings played outside. My dad was at work, and my mom was doing the dishes. As I was just dumping the dust pan in the trash, the phone rang. 

“I’ll get it!” I called out. 

I hurried to the living room wondering who would be calling. Maybe it was a call from a family member? Or a message for mom about work? As I picked up the receiver though, I knew at once my guesses were all wrong. 

“Hello?” I asked. 

A professional female voice came from the other end. “Is this the Woods family residence? This is the Bay Side family hospital.” 


My stomach felt like an empty pit, as I took in the caller's location. 

“Uh, yes.”

“Unfortunately I’m calling with some bad news from a family member. Are your parents around?” 

“Uh, yes… just a second.” 

I gently laid my hand over the receiver, and turned my back against the wall. I breathed deeply until my shaking hands calmed down. Who was in trouble? Did someone get hurt? Who was hurt? Was it grandma and grandpa? Aunt Mary and Uncle Jay? 

The questions raced through my head as my mother walked over seeing my pale face, and took the phone from me. 

“Hello? Who’s this?” 

Who was hurt? 

“Oh I see..” 

Did someone die?

“No, I didn’t.” 

What would happen?

“Yes, George Woods.” 


“Anna, put your shoes on and get in the car.” 

*       *       *

The drive to the hospital was as silent as a stone. I didn’t dare ask what happened, for fear that it would be worse than I expected. And why did mom tell me to go with her, and not the rest of the kids? After we pulled into the giant parking lot, we walked up to the big sliding glass doors. The lobby was white with a few green plants and couches. I always despised hospitals, they made me feel sick. I vaguely heard my mom talking to the receptionist, and thought maybe I should listen up so I could hear what’s going on. 

“Hello, we’re here to see George Woods.”

“Of course.” The receptionist's voice came. “He’s in room 307 on the fourth floor. His wife is up there with him. You’ll need to check in with the floor receptionist though and bring your licence. 

Mom and I took the elevator up to the fourth floor, and wandered down the wide hall. We got to the floor receptionist, and mom asked for the room number. She showed the man at the desk her drivers license, to prove she was family, and I did the same. Before the man led us down the hallway though, I caught a glimpse of the words printed on the wall behind the desk. 


Instinctive Care Unit 

My body went numb as I thought of grandpa. I blindly stumbled behind my mom and the receptionist leading us to room 307.

As we walked, I dug inside my pocket, and pulled out the rusty metal locket from grandpa, which I had brought along with me. I didn’t know why, but I thought it should come too. Suddenly, the locket looked like the most comforting, beautiful thing I could ever imagine. It’s rusty corners now shone to me in the light. The warm image of grandpa and grandma gave me hope. The locket almost called out ‘It will be alright.’ I held it firmly in my hand feeling stronger than when I had walked in. I now fully understood grandpa’s story of the locket. This must have been what it was like to feel hope for him and his wife. I now knew what that was like, and appreciated the locket more dearly than ever. I couldn’t let anything happen to grandpa. 

*       *       *

Ever since that day, I wore my locket everywhere I went. Looking inside at the happy photo of my grandparents, it had become the best gift I had ever received, even if it took me a while to realize it. No birthday present ever had such a beautiful meaning like the locket of Grandpa Woods, and even though the rust spread day by day, it only shone brighter and brighter to me.

August 08, 2021 18:27

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