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The Music Box

A Story About a Girl We All Know

This is a story about someone who is always there. She’s rarely late, rarely absent. We all know this girl; we all love this girl. There are others like her, but the others we don’t know. So we love this one. She’ll always allow us to rest our aches on her shoulders for a few hours, use her synapses to solve our conundrums. She’s always open to entertain our musings and let our woes spill out onto her kitchen floor. We always leave the mess upon her insistence, and without our knowing she’ll tend to the floor and catch each flying piece of our broken mirrors. She’ll never tell us that she places them in little tea tins and sets them all next to each other. And we each assume we’re unique in our confidings.

When we’ve left, usually exhausted and much more confident, we’ll not return to her pleasant home, her comfortable shoulder, her enchanting brain. We’ll think little, or possibly nothing, of the mirror dust we left in the particles of her broom. We’ll take her literature on the subject of our confidences, hardly glancing at the material. It will sit quietly gathering dead skin cells and spider carcasses, spilled crumbs and stray coffee drippings. Eventually our recollection of having any such material will fade into the netters, forgetting almost entirely the mug we left sitting on her table.

Though, the day will come when our problems which are not problems—much more like conflicting blessings in disguise—or our tragedies, which are true tragedies, will have us knocking on her door pleading meekly to finish the liquid we left out. Better, she’ll swing the door open with gusto and plant a mile-wide hug on our belly (considering her small build hardly reaches our shoulders). She’ll laugh and say she’d been waiting for us, the kettle screaming—perfectly timed for our arrival.

She’ll offer a plethora of herbal teas, warm water and lemon, a hot toddy, or a pour-over. We always ask for Earl Grey or reach for beer a long-since disappeared lover of hers left cooling in her fridge. We’ll sit, the two of us —her with her feet in the chair next to her, reclining with her fuzzy green slippers, us hanging our shoulders over the comfort drink of choice, leaning on the support of her wooden table and careful ears. At this moment, we’ll commence with our confessions, concessions, confidings, letting our cracked mirrors collapse to the floor once more.

This visit will be twin to the last and each before, though this time our stomach will begin asking after snacks. She’ll say she doesn’t have much but that we should rummage and see what we might take to quiet our chattering organ. We’ll search the cupboards and inspect the pantry, but just as we reach for the cereal we’ll catch a glimpse of something.

Our double-take will reveal her library of tea tins, stacked neatly one upon another and each stacked side by side. We’ll recognize our uniqueness existing in the crowd—how careful she is with each, and look, ours are all grouped together with dates on them and names of her tea partner and a small note about each visit. As we go to reminisce another small gleam will catch our eye. The glint has come from behind the broom and dustpan, behind the empty tins awaiting contents, covered by an old tablecloth.

It’s a music box similarly labeled as the tea tins, but this box holds only dates. There are no names marked and no notes about any visitors. We’ll knock the broom over and create a ruckus which she’ll inquire after. Our investigation is hindered as we give our excuses, returning to the table and her careful ears to finish our outpour of shining puzzle pieces.

This time we’ll finish the contents of our mug and place it in the sink, begging forgiveness of our mess and hurrying out the door lest we realize the contents of that music box, the reason it has no names and no notes. We’ll watch through the window under the guise of darkness as she retrieves the broom and another empty tin, but we’ll leave before we can see her rest the music box gently on the sturdy table. We will have been long gone before she opens that singing metal container, and we’ll never see her spill the contents of her own eyes into the crevices of the jewelry moldings. We’ll never watch as she scribbles out another date to place on the outside of that case which holds her personal sorrows.

The next time we visit we’ll be sure to bring her a joke, something to smile at before we hemorrhage. We’ll be sure to hug her tiny body as tightly as she holds our own. And we’ll bring our own mug with us so as to leave less for her to tidy.

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The Music Box
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