Most people cannot stand the trudge to the mailbox because it rarely holds surprises and nearly always holds demands. A box on the doorstep is the complete opposite.
Veruca looked at herself in the rear view mirror. Today had been an unmitigated disaster.
By 10:45, she was unemployed. She cleared out her desk only to find ten years’ worth of memorabilia and personalization fit with room to spare in a shoe box. She waited longer for the HR manager to get to her than she spent filling out her exit interview and gathering the paperwork for her retirement fund.
At the light a block from the office, she saw the sign for the German restaurant she had been meaning to try for lunch for the last year. A quick glance over her shoulder assured her there were no police around before she made the illegal U-turn into the empty parking lot. I hope they have not closed down before I managed to pull myself away from work long enough.
When she drove past the front door, the sign flatly proclaimed she would have to come back at suppertime if she was going to eat. Her belly growled its objection. Veruca licked her lips and wondered what she really wanted to eat. Sushi. Definitely sushi.
She eased out into traffic heading toward the bar near her home. As often as she ate there, the car was on autopilot while she mulled over how she could have been fired over a mistake she did not make.
Ever since that good-for-nothing twit arrived, no one but Veruca could see the boss’ son-in-law was a womanizing, inept, mooching leech. When he hit on every woman in the secretaries’ pool, she had feigned a bladder dysfunction to stay in the one room where she felt safe from him. It had worked until the company anniversary party, where he had cornered her. Just as he reached toward her top button…
“Where the hell did you come from?” The driver whose bumper was under the bed of her truck could not hear her. She dug in her purse for her cell. “Well, of course I pay $100 a month for no bars.” She let her head fall onto the steering wheel and began to count. Ten probably would not be enough for this.
When she got to 21, the car door whipped open and a man jerked her out of the car onto the pavement. Before she could even focus on his face, he was straddling her, screaming for someone to dial 911 and crushing the breath out of her with chest compressions. She could not get any air in her lungs until he blew in her mouth. Before he could resume she screamed.
“Hallelujah! She is alive!” a woman in the crowd praised.
“I wasn’t dead! And get off me!”
Over the next hour and a half, Veruca endured the paramedics who thought she was fatally injured, the police who were trying to complicate what was a simple matter of an inattentive driver and six witnesses who had seen six entirely different scenes. When she finally climbed back in her truck, her hair was matted, and she was drenched to the bone. How is getting my umbrella tampering with evidence?
When she drove past the sushi bar, she would not have stopped for love nor money. She stopped at the mailbox before she pulled into the driveway. Against her better judgment, she did not stuff the envelopes into her purse. She turned them into her lap one at a time until she got to the one from the insurance company. Red letters on the envelope angrily announced CANCELLATION. Her day was complete. She looked in the rear view mirror to see if she was really sitting here or in her bed having the mother of all nightmares. Her disheveled reflection confirmed her fears.
With a sigh, she stepped out of the truck, scattering envelopes on the wet concrete. She stepped over them on the way to the door. The key slid into the lock with just a little jiggling. When she turned it to the right, the base snapped off in her hand. Veruca sank to the stoop, not even caring she was sitting in a puddle. She covered her face and began to cry.
She lifted her head from her hands to spy a little box, slightly damp, on the doorstep beside her. There was no return address, and her name was printed in block letters on the label. She wondered what carrier would deliver a package with nothing more than her name. A smile crossed her face when she thought of the florist.
The tape strip pulled off easily, and she pulled the brightly wrapped present from inside. What is it, I wonder? I hope there is a card inside, so I know who sent it. She gingerly pulled at the bow and the paper, careful not to tear it. Underneath she found a jewelry box. I don’t know anybody who would send me jewelry. Before the thought of a maniacal stalker could sully her moment, she pulled the top off the box. Indeed, it was a complete surprise. She jumped up and ran into the street in front of the minivan the next-door-neighbor soccer mom drove.
When the detective arrived, all she could think was her suspect was the most diabolical perpetrator she had ever encountered. The bloody ear inside the jewelry box had scared Veruca enough to run screaming to her death. She turned to the technician at the foot of the stoop and asked, “How many is he going to kill? And where is he getting the ears?”
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What is your favorite box to find on the doorstep?
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