Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 27 - The Shoebox

The prompt this week was the following scenario: “You’ve bought an old chest of drawers and discover a piece of paper stuck inside. What is written on that piece of paper?” I’m not sure why I had a hard time with this one, but each time I rewrote it, it became more and more sappy. Hopefully, this version rises far above that.

The Shoebox

“Have you figured out those numbers on that paper yet?”

“Yes. These coordinates are so specific, I can narrow the location down to a small area in a little town not far from here. This is so exciting. I can’t wait to see what’s there.”

“You’re kidding, right? You don’t really plan on actually going there, do you? Ridiculous.”

“Why is everything ridiculous to you? I pick up a chest of drawers at an estate sale, and there’s a piece of paper stuck between the base and the bottom drawer. On that paper are detailed map coordinates that lead to a real place. I am curious about the reasons behind it since it hints at a possible adventure.”

“Grow up, Daniel. If you keep going on about it, I won’t drive you there. Why can’t you just wait until the cast is off your leg and then drive yourself?”

“’Danny’, and my cast won’t be off for another five weeks, Marci, and I don’t want to wait that long. This will also give us a chance to get to know each other a little more. After all, we haven’t seen each other in over 20 years. I would like to get to know my little sister.”

“All right, we’ll go, but I still say the whole thing is ridiculous.”

My sister, Marceline. Not a bad person really; she’s just cold and cynical. There’s reasons though. When our parents split, I went with Dad and Marci went with Mom. I loved my parents, but that was the worst decision any couple could ever make. Dad filled my life with love and hope. Mom filled Marci’s life with suspicion and bitterness. Our parents have both passed now, and sis and I reconnected. It’s a struggle, but I’ll turn her around – fingers crossed.


“Here we are at 34 degrees, 57 minutes, and 42 seconds North, and 89 degrees, 49 minutes, and 46 seconds West. Isn’t this fantastic?”

“Yes. Wow. Here we are. We’re in a nowhere town, in a field behind a nowhere diner, standing in front of a tree. Again. Wow.”

“Marci, look. There’s an old treehouse up there. I bet kids had fun in there.”

“My grandfather built it for my father and his friends. There were three of them that were always together. There was Billy, Ada, and my dad, Jack. I’m sorry you don’t like my restaurant, Miss, but my grandfather built this too, my dad ran it after he died, and now I run the place. I have a son who will take over after I…”

“Sorry. I meant no harm. It’s just that…”

“It’s okay, Miss. It’s quite a mystery about the coordinates. My father had a note with the same coordinates taped to the bottom of his dresser. When I found it, I thought it meant the treehouse, but I couldn’t figure out why he’d hide it. Plus, this tree is in our backyard where he grew up so why figure out the coordinates. Just a kid thing?”

“I’m not sure either. This is so weird because the estate sale was for a lady named Adelaide Cooper, and she was your dad’s friend, Ada. She married and moved away, but still kept the note.”

“Yes, and even crazier, Billy Sandridge’s daughter contacted me after he died. She found the same note in his papers, and since he grew up here, she wanted to understand what it meant. Of course, the coordinates led her here, but we found no answers at that time. She left the note with me, and I still have his and Dad’s.”

“What if it’s not the treehouse, but something buried near the tree? The ground all looks flat, but maybe right under the ladder at the base? May I, Mr. Jansen?”

“It’s Ray, Danny, and please do.”

“What is that?”

“A shoebox, Marci, and there’s writing on the lid. It says ‘We were here’ and it’s signed Billy, Jack, and Ada. Inside there’s a bracelet, a baseball card, and a GI Joe wristwatch.”

“What does it all mean, Daniel?”

“’Danny’, and it looks like the kids made a kind of time capsule; you know, for someone in the future to find. It signifies their friendship and their strong bond with each other. They even put a favorite item of theirs in here too. Always friends, always together, always…”

“They must have been very close. I’ll bet they were never lonely. I’ll bet they felt… Put it all back the way it was. It’s important that it go back. It’s…”

“Don’t cry, Marci. I’ll put it back, and someday maybe other kids will find it. I believe that’s what Billy, Jack, and Ada would want. Other kids would understand what it all means. Kids know what it means to be so…”

“Is it too late for us, Daniel? Too late for us to try to be close like those kids?”

“’Danny’. Of course not, Marci. It’s never too late to try. You know what? I’ve got a shoebox and a football.”

“And I’ve got a high school class ring.”

“It’s a start, sis. It’s a start. Ray, are you still serving breakfast? What do you think, Marci?”

“I think breakfast at this charming diner would be perfect, Danny.”


  1. Good story - it can be hard to be sentimental without being sappy. Nice to see the siblings getting back together.

    1. This was tough. I used map coordinates in several different ways and they all turned out badly. Sounds like this one worked as well as it could. Thanks, Mike.

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