Authoresses' Note: Man oh man, this is one rebellious story. I've had a very hard time getting this right, and I'm still not sure if I've managed that - though at least give me credit for trying. The spacing of paragraphs in this one was particularly difficult, which was odd, because I usually have no problem with that. Anyway, hopefully it will be enjoyable regardless. I heart reviews!
My grandmother collects minutes, and she keeps them in a shoebox she's had since second grade. There is concrete reasoning for this act, and if you ask, she'll explain. "Never hide something in a secret vault or hidden account – they'll figure it out." Grandmother is perpetually winking, not only with her eyelids, but also with her stance, her lips and the flexing movement of her fingers. "The only thing that ever works," She'll pause for dramatic effect here, "is the veil of illusion."
And that, according to my grandmother, is the essence of the shoebox – because the star stickers still haven't peeled off, and red marker choppily outline multiple scribbled hearts, their chaotic forms spiraling around words like 'love' and 'mama'. After all, who would believe that this sophomoric attempt at self-expression could possibly hold her greatest gift? Everyone usually assumes that the contents, if anything, are that of old baseball cards or even older bottle caps. No, the minutes will not be stolen, even though my grandmother believes she used to be a spy and that people are after her.
The real problem is that the minutes, being of such an ornery and tenacious nature, are always plotting – and constantly in the process of – stealing away themselves.
I've never opened my grandmother's shoebox. To do that would be such a huge breach of trust, I'm not sure our relationship could ever recover. But I have seen the minutes, because they are everywhere. They march through the kitchen and get stuck in the sofa, until, once more, my grandmother must perform the laborious duty of locating, retrieving, and then shutting them back into the shoebox. Sometimes she'll show me certain ones, especially those containing fonder memories of that elusive yesteryear: moonlight on gravel roads, immature hands clumsily catching fireflies, shadow and sunlight moving in flowing ebbs across a pitcher of lemonade, the winter wind breathing on her childhood farm.
My grandmother cannot catch them all. They are too clever, and have been doing this for too long. They outsmart even her – as my grandmother sleeps in her bed, the picture of peace, except for occasional wheezy and ragged breaths, they casually sneak to the window.
I've done everything within my power to block their means of escape, not the least of which involved locking the window tight. I've also used glue. But they still find cracks, corners, through which to slip out. So in the end, I can do nothing but watch them slip out into the deep night and, on their eternal march, file past the summer stars.
And I wonder – even though I have promised, over and over, that I will never look – how many more minutes my grandmother has left, in her second grade shoebox.
Because, every time I pick it up, it seems a little bit lighter.