The Memory Box

by J Schumaker



The box is plain, carved from Brazilian Cherry wood, with two bright copper hinges and a bright copper clasp.  It is the size of a tissue box, easily carried and does not take up much room where it is placed.  It is the only thing taken with every move, rescued from the flames of fire, and searched for amidst the wreckage of a tornado. 

“It is a memory box,” he answers when asked.  He’ll stroke his finger over the clasp, but does not open it to share its contents.  “It holds reminders of memories precious to me.”

Years pass, and the box is worn on the edges.  The dark finish is faded and the copper hinges and clasp are tarnished with age.  It is with him in the hospital, and he strokes his finger over the clasp as his children and his children’s children come and go. 

“What’s in the box?” the nurse asks, as she checks the tubes and monitors for what will be the last time.

“It is a memory box,” he answers.  “It holds reminders of memories precious to me.”

“May I see?” she says, with kindness in her smile.

He presses the clasp without hesitation and frail hands open the lid.

“It’s empty,” she gasps in surprise.  Her face creases in worry, but he laughs softly and teaches:

“The only memories worth keeping are the ones we don’t need reminders for.”