You wake up one morning to find a beautifully wrapped package next to your bed. Attached to it is a note: “Open me, if you dare.” What’s inside the mystery box? Do you open it?
The morning sun began to peek in through a gap of the curtain, shining directly into Laura’s eyes. She clenched her eyelids, let out a small groan and rolled over. In doing so, she felt something at the end of the bed. Still half asleep and with her eyes still closed, she moved her feet around under the doona, unsure of what it was, but it was certainly heavy. ‘It must just be the washing I folded last night and forgot to put away’, Laura thought to herself, before nudging the weight with her foot in an attempt to knock it off the bed.
She gave it one last kick, which was soon followed by a small crash. In her sleepy state, Laura lifted her head slightly, confused by the sound that echoed from the end of the bed, but didn’t concern herself enough to warrant actually getting up to investigate. She propped herself up on her side, re-fluffed her pillow, and lay back down, enjoying the warmth of the sun on the back of her head.
Soon, the room was illuminated with a blinding light, as the breeze picked up and opened the curtains. The light was simply too bright for her to continue to doze, so she rolled over again, facing the blinding sunshine, and as she grunted and groaned trying to shield herself from the sunlight, she kicked her legs wildly, forcing the doona off herself, and squirmed over to the edge of the bed. As the sheet began to gather underneath her, she sat up on the edge of the bed, and stumbled across the floor to the window. She closed the window, and drew the blinds, letting out a large sigh of relief at the instant darkness and coolness around her. She walked back over to the bed, falling face down onto the sheet, letting out another groan at the thought of having to move again to pick the doona up from off the floor.
Crawling across the mattress to the foot of the bed, she began pulling the closest edge of the doona up towards her, eventually revealing the box that she kicked off earlier. Laura sat there perplexed as to how it came to be in her room. She certainly didn’t bring it home with her, nor did anybody visit her to drop it off. She climbed off the bed to check the door to her apartment – it was still locked, and the chain was on, so nobody could have gotten in, or out for that matter. Laura walked over to the balcony, and discovered that the balcony door was locked as well. ‘Curiouser and curiouser!’, she murmured to herself.
Returning to the bedroom, she saw the large black box sitting there. It was immaculately presented. The box was quite glossy and had been wrapped with three different width ribbons. White, black and white, all nestled atop each other to create a stripe effect. The ribbons were tied in a elaborate and intricate series of bows, and we’re all perfectly shaped. There wasn’t one crease in any of the bows or the tails. Laura almost didn’t want to undo them, because it just looked so pretty, but the suspense was just too much for her. As she pulled the tail of one of the ribbons, the bows began to collapse and unravel, gently falling down around the sides of the box, and just as she was about to lift the lid, she quickly stopped herself, leaning in to place an ear close to the lid. As she listened cautiously for any ticking sounds, she let out a sigh of relief when she heard silence.
Slowly lifting the lid off the box, she was greeted by a small envelope and some precisely folded tissue paper. On the front of the envelope was ‘Laura’ which was hand-written, but wasn’t any handwriting she immediately recognised. Laura opened the envelope and pulled out a small card, the embossed message read:
For years you’ve asked questions and received no answers. Now is the time to know the truth. Love, always.
Underneath was a small ‘X’, in the same handwriting as the front of the envelope. Placing the card by her side, Laura carefully unfolded the tissue paper, revealing more scrunched-up tissue paper. As she removed it from the box, discarding it onto the bedroom floor, her fingers suddenly felt something different. Something small and metallic. The cold metal surprised her fingertips, and she pulled out a small bronze spoon. Quickly glancing at it, Laura placed it beside her on the bed, before reaching back into the box. With each venture into the box she retrieved more small objects; booties, baby bracelets, photographs, and they were all nearly laid out around her on the bed, on her final grab within the box, Laura removed another envelope. This was larger than the first one, and considerably thicker, and as she studied all the small trinkets around her, she opened the envelope, removing the folded papers inside.
As Laura unfolded the paper, it opened to reveal a smaller and fragile piece of paper. It had holes in the creases and some of the edges were bent or ripped, but as she gently opened it out, her eyes were immediately drawn to the thick black font at the top, ‘Certificate of Birth’. feeling confused by this, Laura scanned all the object around her, and returned her gaze to the fragile birth certificate. She studied it intently, instantly looking for the actual date of birth, “Huh! Who’s Mabel? …she has the same date of birth as mine… Maybe I have a sister? Oh my god, what if I had a sister?” a smile washed over her face, and with excitement she read and re-read every single word on that page at least four or five times. Nothing made sense to her, except the birthdate, so she decided to give herself a moment to clear her head.
She packed up everything into the box, and carried it out to the coffee table in the living room. Standing in the kitchen, pouring herself a warm cup of yesterday’s coffee from her percolator, Laura stood there staring at the glossy ebony box, completely baffled as to where it came from or what it meant.
Sitting cross-legged on floor in front of the coffee table, she brought the box down to the ground, and carefully unpacked all the contents and laid it out on the glass top. She got to the letter and the birth certificate, and decided to take some time to slowly read this letter.
I’m hoping that this finds you safe and well. I know that it must be a very confusing time for you, and you’re probably wondering what all of this means. I know that you’ve had a lot of questions growing up as to who you are, and your family etc., and it’s now time for you to know the TRUTH, not all the lies you’ve been continually fed over the years.
First of all, as you can tell by the birth certificate I’ve enclosed, you’re REAL name, your birth name was Maybelle Lauranne Smithson. It was then changed by deed-poll to Laura Smith, when you were put up for adoption.
Continuing to read the letter, it wasn’t long before Laura was reaching for a tissue, as the first of countless tears slowly tumbled down over her cheek. The letter explained in quite a lot of detail about how she ended up being put into foster care and then adoption when she was only a toddler, which explained why she had so many strange and unexplainable memories from her early childhood. It detailed the issues of her (then) drug addict father, and her psychotic, gun wielding mother. It also went on to explain that both of them had since passed away. Her father from a heroin overdose in the early nineties and her mother ended up shooting herself, her then boyfriend, his ex wife, and their three kids in a murder-suicide, also in the early nineties. Laura discovered that she also has two siblings: a younger sister who was born three years after Laura, and who was put up for adoption from birth, who is still with the same family, and lives in another state; and a younger brother, who was born six years after Laura, who unfortunately died at seven months old. He was beaten with a telephone book, wrapped up in a shopping bag, and left under a pile of wet mouldy towels in the bathroom. His body was discovered during a drug raid on the premises, but the parents had already abandoned the property.
Overcome with emotion and grief, Laura broke down uncontrollably on the carpet of the living room, crying herself to sleep from the shock of these revelations. She awoke to darkness. Small tear-soaked patches of carpet remained underneath her face, whilst the letter was still in her hand.
What she couldn’t determine was the origin of this box. Who had sent it? Who was this person with all the answers, and how the hell did it appear in Laura’s apartment? If her parents were both dead, and had been for quite some time, then who was this mystery person?
Laura heard a small rustle echo down the hallway, and sprung to her feet to race towards the door. Pausing momentarily to look through the peephole, she saw nobody and quickly unlocked and unchained the door, flinging the door open and bursting into the building corridor. It was empty. She ran down towards the lift, pressing the button, and the doors opened in front of her revealing an empty lift. Maybe they took the stairs? she flung open the fire door to the stairwell, listening intently to any footsteps, but heard nothing.
Confused and frustrated, Laura walked back down the corridor to the entrance to her apartment, stopping to look at the envelope on the floor of her hallway. She stood there staring at the front of this envelope, staring at the word ‘Laura’ written on the front in the same handwriting as the letter that was in the box. Feeling somewhat spooked by this, she cautiously bent down to pick it up, slowly flipping it over in her hands. Laura took a deep breath as she meticulously opened the envelope and pulled out the piece of paper inside.
I can imagine that you’re feeling quite unsettled by all the news, and overwhelmed with emotion. I apologise for all the mystery, but you need time to process all of this information properly. I look forward to meeting you soon. X.
Hmmm, maybe this person lives in the building? But if they did, how do they know who I am? How did they disappear so quickly? Oh shit, what if it’s one of the neighbours? But how did they get in with the box? Laura’s thoughts began spiralling out of control at a rapid rate, and the more she thought about it, the more questions she began asking herself. Deciding that she needed a distraction, she dressed herself and grabbed her handbag, the letter and the birth certificate from the box, and headed out the door to go do some research on her own.