There was a number on the box. 13. It was blue, if I have to be precise. And it was wooden. But the wood was peeling from the sides. Old. Dying. Perhaps cardboard. Completely and utterly out of the ordinary. For me. Maybe.
I stepped forward to pick it up, my hands encasing the scratchy wood attacking my poor, little fingers. Let go of it. What if it isn't for you? But the fact that there was that possibility that it couldn't be for me, made me want to open it even more.
Hurrying back into the house I slammed the door shut. I hoped no one had seen me. In case it was their box. I didn't want to get into trouble.
I lay it down on the carpet. I considered opening it with my bare hands. But it wasn't that easy. Not for a seven-year-old. Grabbing a knife from the kitchen drawer I sliced a line down the edge. The raw, cut, edge. Enough to cut my finger on. Dangerous. Very dangerous.
And then I hesitated. Did I want to open it? But before I had made up my mind, I heard a slam. Mum was home. I shut the lid and shoved it under the sofa. There's always later, I thought. I stood up and gave an innocent smile. She believed it. She always believed it.
And then I forgot. I forgot, until now, that the mystery box still lay beneath the sofa. How could I have forgotten? Children never forget an adventure. But I did. And now, after three years, I wonder to myself if it'll be even worth it, looking inside now. But I do anyway. Because the adventure isn't complete. It has to be complete.
Pulling it out, I scan the wood. The wood. Still old. Still peeling on the edges. I carefully lift the lid. And I turn my head to the side. I turn the box to the side. I shuffle round in a circle until I can see the whole entire surface area of the box. And then I shrug. Because what's inside isn't what I'm expecting at all. There's no mystery item. No out of the ordinary space object. Not even a sweet. Or a lost toy.
And it's enough to send me off crying, whining to Mum that my adventure just isn't good enough. But it's a box. A box. I'm not five. C'mon.
So I heave it with my arms down the corridor and out the door, until I'm back in the place I found it. I carefully take a step over the line separating two gardens into my neighbours house and walk up the steps to the porch. One look right. One look left. And I'm clear. Then I drop it right outside their door, before running as fast as my legs can carry me back home.
I don't know.
But why not?