30 comments

Drama

I stare at the chaos in front of me and clutch the shoebox tighter in my arms.


I’ll admit—I’ve pushed “cleanliness of my bedroom” to the back of my mind lately, right next to “homework” and “college applications.”


Heavy footsteps thump across the hallway and Dawn peeks her head into the room. “What’re you doing?” she asks, rubbing her bulging belly. She’s visiting for the weekend because she “misses us.” Yeah, right. Like Mom and Dad didn’t tell her to hop on the next plane as soon as she could. I know why she’s here.


I’m grateful, really. But she can’t know that, so I snap, “None of your business.”


“Sheesh. You’d think you were the one with a ten-pound weight on your bladder.”


I stick out my tongue and she laughs.


“Don’t forget—we’re leaving in half an hour.” She cocks her head and stares at me with those brown eyes, and maybe this is supposed to be a moment, but I just nod and wave her away. She shrugs and waddles out of the room.


Turning back toward the mayhem, I grab a black marker, some notecards, and tape from my desk before writing “Raven’s Time Capsule” across the top of the shoebox.


Step one: the closet. 


Summer dresses and faded t-shirts hang on the bars. The hamper’s full of sweaters that point toward the leaves changing colors. Shoes litter the ground and stacks of books line the shelves at the top. 


I stand on my tiptoes to glance through the jumble of ridiculous vampire romances and high school dramas. I almost move on before thin books with yellow pages catch my eye: The Chronicles of Narnia.


A warmth flows through me as I remember the afternoons spent curled under the big cottonwood tree in the front yard, reading the daylight away. Once a month, Mom set up a tent filled with lanterns and squishy pillows, and I would read until the stars disappeared with the glow of the morning sun. 


None of my friend’s parents let them stay up that late.


Sometimes, Mom even came out in the morning with a cup of hot chocolate, and we’d rave about the heroes and rant about the villains.


The books are the first items in the shoebox. I scribble on a notecard and tape it inside the cover of the first book.


“For when you’re bored.”


Step two: the trunk.


It’s huge and stained amber, with my name painted on the front in block letters. Dad even brushed on little ravens flying in the corners. He built the trunk as soon as I started crawling around, and I’ve spent the years stuffing it with the echoes of my childhood: the turkey handprint paintings, the dusty photo albums, the old school projects I worked too hard on to throw away.


The trunk creaks as I push the lid open and rummage around. After a few minutes of picking up items and dropping them unceremoniously back into the mess, my fingers wrap around something small and soft: Ellie, the stuffed elephant Dad gave to me not long after he built the trunk.


One of her eyes dangles by a thread, and her tusks hangs crooked after years of being crushed under childhood tokens.


Ellie is the second item in the shoebox, and I stick another note on top of her.


For when you’re lonely.


Step three: under the bed. 


I tense as I kneel on the carpet and peek under, wishing to all the powers of the universe that a spider won’t come scuttling toward me, and they must've heard because there’s only a couple of dusty boxes that greet me. I pull forward the one filled with a sea of photographs.


My photo journal box, as I used to call it.


I don’t have to look far—the photo I’m looking for is on the top left: me and Dawn on the summit of our favorite peak to climb, Mt. Sneffels. Her arm hangs around my shoulders and her head tilts down to touch mine.


It’s a good picture. But I turn it over to the real treasure.


Sister. Best friend. Confidant. Shoulder to cry on. Karaoke partner. 


After I printed the photo a few years ago, I scrawled all the words I felt about Dawn on the back. That started my photo journal, and the box holds over a hundred photos now. I've written on the back of each one.


The photo with Dawn has the smallest handwriting to fit the most words.


My eyes burn as I read through them, and—before I completely lose it—I tape another notecard on top of the photograph.


For when you’re curious.


There. The books, the animal, the picture. I look around my room and sigh. So much junk.


Not in the box, though. That can't be junk. That’s me.


The fourth and final item I leave in the shoebox is one more note.


I’m sorry you won’t get to meet your aunt, baby girl. But hopefully a bit of her heart is enough.


I carefully fold the paper into a small triangle and place it on top of all the items before checking my watch.


Right on time.


“Mom and Dad are in the car, Raven. You ready?” calls Dawn from downstairs.


Looking at the box on the bed, I wipe my eyes and hurry to the front door. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess,” I say to Dawn, who’s slipping on her coat.


She suddenly walks forward and wraps her arms around me. I feel a small kick as her stomach presses against mine, and I jump back in surprise.


Dawn laughs. “Looks like baby girl likes you.”


I grin. Dawn puts her arm across my shoulders and steers me out the door.


“Let’s go kick cancer’s ass,” she says, and though the odds make my heart falter, I think of that small kick, and conversations with Mom about Narnia, and Dad tucking Ellie into bed with me all those years ago, and Dawn’s arm hugging me to her side….


The shoebox is ready. But I’m not giving up just yet.

October 05, 2020 04:17

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30 comments

Amy Sutch
23:13 Oct 14, 2020

I really enjoyed your story. Very well written.

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Lani Lane
01:11 Oct 15, 2020

Thank you, Amy! :)

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I.B. Dunn
16:48 Oct 12, 2020

This story proves that length doesn't equal quality. This is short but so full of content and emotion. This is a true storytellers story. It's one of the highest compliments I can pay a writer. You picked only three things to place in the time capsule and yet you put a whole life in it. It's so heartwarming and heart wrenching at the same time. You are so talented. You will be published. You inspire emotion and isn't that what writing is all about? I know my feedback is short. I don't have your gift for detail but it's also becau...

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Lani Lane
18:44 Oct 12, 2020

My goodness, Thom, you just made my entire week!!! And that's saying something, because I'm getting married this Thursday. ;) Thank you so much for your wonderful, wonderful praise, I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I am going to give your story a read right now! Can't wait! :D

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I.B. Dunn
18:53 Oct 12, 2020

Congrats to you. I'm glad to have put a smile on your face, and if by chance, the nuptials surpass my feedback when the time comes, I'll understand. :-)

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Lina Ozz
17:46 Oct 11, 2020

Wow. This story is SO emotional and well done; I didn't see that twist at the end coming! It was intense, but I also appreciate how it ended on a lighter, confident note of the speaker willing to fight the health battle ahead of her. You handled this prompt so wonderfully; excellent work, as always!

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Lani Lane
17:54 Oct 11, 2020

Thank you so much, Lina, I always appreciate your comments!

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Lina Ozz
03:30 Oct 19, 2020

Of course, love reading your stories!

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A.Dot Ram
05:02 Oct 10, 2020

You almost did all the prompts this week! And i enjoyed each one of them-- all so different from each other. I am in awe.

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Lani Lane
05:38 Oct 10, 2020

So close... tried to get the fifth one in and just couldn't get the story together. :( but maybe I can try to do all five this week! Thank you SO MUCH A.dot, that made my whole week!! :')

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A.Dot Ram
05:50 Oct 10, 2020

I wrote the only one you left out. I feel like i'm lucky to squeeze out one story each week. I don't know how you create such complete, imaginitive stories so quickly.

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Lani Lane
15:59 Oct 10, 2020

I am adding your story of my list of stories to read this weekend!!! Oh my gosh, you're too kind. Thank you so much!! For this next week, I'm going to try to do them a little longer I think. I usually do them just barely above 1,000 words so they're a bit easier to crank out. Want to at least do 1,500 though!

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Molly Leasure
00:03 Oct 09, 2020

Literally, break my heart in two. Just have it. Just have my emotions :(. I ADORE this piece. I love the idea of her making a little shoebox for the child to have to remind her of her aunt. I think it's so wonderful and selfless, considering what Raven's going through. There were a couple quick fixes on this one. "...I scribble on notecard and..." just needs an "a" or "the." And, "...puts her arms across my shoulders..." I think you want a singular "arm" here unless she's walking her outside in a hug, which I can't judge. The girls can wa...

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Lani Lane
02:05 Oct 09, 2020

MOLLY YOU'RE AMAZING. What would I do without you???? Once again you're saving me, THANK YOU for catching all these!!!! If my appreciation for you could heal your hand, it'd be fixed in a jiffy. :) <3

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Lani Lane
02:16 Oct 09, 2020

Also now I'm laughing at that trunk sentence... you're completely right, it sounds absurd. XD

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Molly Leasure
06:02 Oct 09, 2020

Haha! At your service ;). To be fair, when I read things I just naturally notice mistakes even if I don't want to ...xD I mean, I think it's definitely helping the healing process a little!!! <3

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Lani Lane
05:35 Oct 10, 2020

That's the mark of a great editor!! :)

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Ray Dyer
20:39 Oct 08, 2020

The put real tears in my eyes. I have too many friends who have dealt with this with their own children, and I've seen this sort of selflessness, and caring, and love in every child it's impacted. It's like they soak up all the love they would have had in their full lifetimes, and they spend it all in the time they're given. There's nothing as beautiful, or as tragic. I was getting emotional just reading the notes she was writing, before I realized why she was making the time capsule, so it wasn't just the twist that was powerful. And ...

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Lani Lane
01:58 Oct 09, 2020

Oh my gosh!! First of all, THANK YOU for teaching me something new!!! That is my new favorite fun fact for the week. :) You're the best!! Secondly, thank you so much for your kind comment. I'm glad to know the twist worked for you, and that you felt the emotion--something I always struggle with getting across! Even your comments are well-written, Ray!! Always a pleasure chatting with you. :)

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Lani Lane
17:27 Oct 10, 2020

I just realized that I forgot to apply your edit before the contest ended and now I'm upset lol. Grrrrr. Next time, I'll edit well in advance!

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Maggie Deese
23:33 Oct 06, 2020

Beautiful storytelling, Leilani! Heartbreaking and powerful, leaving me longing to know more by the end. Well done :)

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Lani Lane
03:46 Oct 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Maggie!! :) Always appreciate your comments!

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A.G. Scott
06:34 Oct 05, 2020

'That’s can't be junk.' -- That can't be junk or That's not junk My favorite bit is when you used the line 'I know why she’s here.' -- At the time I assumed it was referring to the pregnancy, but obviously the last couple of paragraphs change our understanding of everything before it. And like I said about the yellow thing last week, this feels like a Pixar short in pacing and content--though maybe this time it's just the first two acts of one. :) Good work!

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Lani Lane
15:05 Oct 05, 2020

Awesome catch, thank you!!! :D It's so helpful to have people catch the mistakes. I so appreciate your comment, as usual! I'm glad you enjoyed the story and the pacing. Thanks, A.g. :) Hoping to read your new story sometime today!!

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Iris Silverman
05:23 Oct 05, 2020

This story is both heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. I liked that the narrator's motives for creating the time capsule were not revealed until the end; I think this helped create a sense of curiosity and urgency for the reader. It also really hit hard at the end, since my curiosity was building up, and my heart dropped when I realized why the narrator was doing all of the preparing. Awesome job.

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Lani Lane
15:03 Oct 05, 2020

Thank you so much, Iris! I'm glad it all made sense. :) I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!

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Maya W.
13:20 Oct 05, 2020

Hey Leilani! You did a really good job on this one! I was a little bit confused about the ending, if you could explain that to me, but in general I think that you kept this story very grounded and well written! Nice job! I wrote another myth retelling, if you want to read it! It's called The Seed and the Sickle, and it's Hades and Persephone.

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Lani Lane
15:02 Oct 05, 2020

Thanks, Maya! The narrator, Raven, has cancer, and the time capsule is for her niece (Dawn's baby) because Raven believes she'll die and won't get to see the baby grow up. I'll try to find time to read your new story!

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Maya W.
16:18 Oct 05, 2020

Ah, I see! That adds a whole new layer to it! Of course, take your time :)

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Lani Lane
03:46 Oct 08, 2020

I'm once again falling behind on stories due to work... but I'll get there, I promise! :)

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