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Recovery - Your Story 60 Finalist

PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:04 pm
by TiffanyLuckey

Jim unlocked the door to his antiques shop and automatically flipped the sign to Open. He stooped to collect the letters, advertisements and magazines scattered haphazardly from the mail drop slot.

He thumbed through the letters and paused at a handwritten envelope. INSTRUCTIONS FOR JIM was scrawled across the front in large printed letters. Jim flicked it to the other side. Sealed. He danced his fingers over the envelope trying to decipher the contents. A key. He was certain he felt a key through the paper. And a letter.

Curiosity nudged him and he tore open the mysterious envelope. Sure enough, his instincts proved right on both counts.

Jim unfolded the paper and stared at the itemized instructions in the same large print. His eyes darted to the bottom of the page and a slight shriek escaped from his lips. His hand trembled as he raised it to his mouth. His eyes darting from one side of the shop to the other as though expecting to find the person—then came back to rest on the letter:

Follow these instructions to reclaim your treasure.
1. Go to your family cottage where we played as kids.
2. Go to the east side of your cottage with a shovel.
3. Pace out 8 steps from the cottage to the edge of the woods.
4. Dig for a metal box. The contents are yours.
Sorry for my misdeed. Congrats on your thriving antiques shop.

Jim let out his breath in a drawn-out whistle. His head shook in disbelief. What in the world? After all these years …

Jim whistled again, staring at the signature, seeping up the images of his best friend from childhood and remembering how badly the friendship ended. He shoved the instructions, key and memories back in the envelope and slid it into his back pocket.
Mondays were always slow at the shop, a few customers scattered throughout the morning. In the lapsed hours, Jim continually pulled out the letter and reread the instructions, perplexed.

In an impetuous decision, he flipped the sign to Closed, jumped into his van and headed north to the family cottage.

His mind traveled back to his childhood—a mix of happy times and argumentative times. He was a loner, content with his card collections, but his parents saw otherwise. They encouraged him to invite his school pal George to their cottage for weeks at a time in the summer. They watched happily as the two boys rough-housed around the property—swimming, paddle boating, canoeing, fishing.

But they didn’t know how often George teased their son about his obsession with hockey, soccer and baseball cards. They especially didn’t know why Jim suddenly refused to invite George over or even talk to him.

The split never repaired. George eventually moved away while Jim became more obsessed with his collections. Now, as a 26-year-old, his niche business was expanding internationally through his website. His reputation as an expert grew both locally and regionally. He deducted this was how George knew his business and location.

Jim entered the rutted driveway to the cottage, turned off the engine and stared at the rustic building, neglected the past several years since his father’s stroke. He retrieved the shovel from the trunk and headed to the east side. He shoveled until he heard a clinking sound, then dropped to his knees and dug with his hands like a squirrel eagerly retrieving its food stored for the winter.

He pulled the metal box from the hole and swiped the dirt from the lid with his shirtsleeve. He sat back on his heels as he stared at the familiar box—the one he thought he had lost—the one he had searched everywhere in his tenth summer.

Placing the red box at his knees, Jim pulled the key from his pocket. He steadied his breath before unlocking it. He smiled for a split second before his chin started to quiver. Tears ran down his cheeks. A sob marred the soundless air. His misplaced cards—his treasured cards collected from childhood—lay in the metal box.

He picked up the note lying on top and, with a sweep of his forearm, brushed the tears smearing his face.

Hiding your cards so you can play with me. Sorry.
Your best friend,

A mix of sobs and laughter intensified until they echoed through the woods—sobs for his recovered collection and laughter for childish means of holding onto friends.