Pandora's Box

This is for the Historical Fiction contest, about a young girl named Pandora who moves to a new state and finds hidden treasures within the attic in boxes.


3. Discovery

               "Yes, yes, yes!" I cried. I hugged my mother and ran towards the house.

               "Be careful, Pandora - the moving men are inside! They'll be up there to bring your things soon!" Mom called after me, but I barely heard her.

               "Sure!" I called back nonetheless, going up the spiral staircase and looking around. Sure enough, a squared hole in the ceiling surrounded by a gilded picture frame shined light into the hallway. A painted-white ladder was bolted to the floor and went up into the attic. I ascended the ladder, careful of my backpack weighing me down from behind.

               Were you expecting an empty room with gleaming sunlight that would make me realize how lovely Virginia is? Wrong, and I'll always be loyal to California. But, I did find things left behind by another person, as if someone was still living there.

               There were two trunks on the floor, a velvety folding screen, and a desk littered with newspaper clippings. A few had bumped off and were fluttering to the floor until I caught them quickly.

               "Carly Wiltshire Hits the Scene of 1913..." I read aloud. The rest of the clips were relevant to her as well; tea with the Queen, her latest movies, and even a possible move for her from Richmond to New York City for a Broadway career. On the desk sat a pair of scissors, more newspapers that hadn't been put up, and a necklace with a pink crystal heart in the middle. Under the necklace, there was a sheet of yellowing loose leaf with purple cursive.

               "Rules of the Centennial Moonstone..." I read aloud. "Remember, Skinny Jeans, you can't go back any farther than me, and you can't go any further into the future than your present. To use the moonstone, twist the stone three times to the right. Do this at a time when nobody is around. If anyone learns of the stone, there will be trouble with the government. That's why there are only five in existence. And remember, you've found this for a reason. Keep it in the house at all times. Tell nobody. Hold the power that humanity has dreamed of for hundreds of years. Just get some decent clothes and you'll be a Centennial Sister in no time."

               What's a Centennial Sister? I wondered, looking at the unreadable signature at the bottom. Was this a letter Carly wrote? I played with the necklace in my free hand. Who could it be for?

               "Excuse me, little miss upstairs?" said a gruff voice from downstairs. "Your mother said to help you get your things upstairs?"

               Instant panic ran through me. The moving guys are going to see all of this and bust me! It'll probably get sold to some museum, and then I'll never be able to look through her things.

               "I'll be right there, give me a minute! I'm, uh... I'm changing clothes! The car trip was exhausting!" I said quickly. Embarrassing, but effective.

               "Oh, of course. I understand how you're feeling. When my family and I moved here from Mexico..." said the moving man downstairs. His gruff voice had a definite Spanish accent, now that I actually paid attention. I ran behind the trunks with light footfalls and pushed them first into the closet. Moving things is harder when you're in a panic, let me tell you. It felt like I was playing Tetris with five spaces left until the blocks hit the top. The bed went to the far right, the trunks next to it almost made a square, the changing screen on top of them both, and the desk to the far left. I ripped the tacks from the walls and tossed them into the closet, too. I threw my sweatshirt hastily inside, put the necklace on top of it all, and slammed the doors shut. They probably hadn't seen me earlier, but if that tie-dyed sweatshirt from Myrtle Beach was off of me I would definitely look different.

               "That sounds pretty exhausting. You can come upstairs, I'm finished." I said, honestly not hearing a word of his life story.

               "Let me see if I can actually climb a ladder with pieces of a bed in my hands, eh?" the guy said. His friends laughed a little from downstairs. Soon, the moving man with the moving story started climbing up the ladder and sat at the top. His friend, a skinnier guy than him, stood on the ladder and handed parts to him. I watched idly for a while, feeling ansty.

               "So... what's your name?" the man with the accent asked in between drills of the screwdriver.

               "Pandora." I replied. Finally; a conversation of sorts to get my mind off of Carly. "What's yours?"

               "Ernesto Luis. I'm curious; what kind of a full name do you have, to have a name like Pandora?" said the moving man, snickering to himself.

               "Pandora Quintessa Westbrook. Nice pun, by the way; not like I've heard that one before Mr. Luis." I laughed, thinking about the curiosity of Pandora in the Greek myth.

               "I figured it was worth a shot. You can just call me Ernesto; no need for formalities. What school will you be going to?" Ernesto grunted as he pulled up the headboard with the help of two people below.

               "I think it's called Rosewood High School? I'll be a freshman." I answered, looking out the window. I could see the school from my window; it wasn't all that close, but it was close enough to see the kids practicing for football season and the last few buses pulling out. It was three houses and two main roads away. I started tomorrow.

               "Really? Rosewood? My son goes there! I'll be sure to tell him to look out for you." Ernesto said. I thanked him and helped to push the parts to the right corner of the room. He screws in one last piece and stands back to look.

               "It fits. Now all we need is the mattress." I giggled. Ernesto groaned and flashed a smile through his thick black moustache.

               "This is going to be difficult..." Ernesto said, adjusting his Red Sox baseball cap. "Which is why I love my job. I'm glad I started something that pays the bills as well as works my mind like this. You might want to leave the room; it's going to get a little crowded."

               "But... wait, I..." I stuttered. What if they nudged the closet open and found all of Carly Wiltshire's old things? What would they say? Would they give them to a museum, find the necklace? Or worse; would they tell my mom?

               "Everything's fine; just put your backpack in the closet and head on down. We'll get your things upstairs muy rapidamente, yes?"

               "I... sure," I said. "I'll go check on Samwise." I picked up my backpack and opened the closet just a little. I slipped the backpack's elastic ties on it, so that if they nudged it by accident it wouldn't budge but when I opened it fully I could pull it apart by reaching inside. I gave a small prayer in my head, hoping it would work, and pocketed the necklace from on top of the boxes.

               "Need help down that ladder?" asked Ernesto.

               "I got it; thanks, anyway." I answered, sitting at the top and jumping down to the floor like ti was from the side of a pool. Ernesto gasped and came to the edge.

               "Oh, good, you aren't hurt. Don't scare me like that! C'mon, guys." One by one, the moving men struggled up the ladder, except the one skinnier one with his hat pulled down that had handed up the parts earlier. It was easier for him, I noticed, and he helped out the others to get upstairs from behind them. I looked at him for a second, then shook it off and walked downstairs, thinking more about Carly's things being discovered than anything else.

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