by Kiera McCue
“And if you turn to your left you’ll see the jewelry box of Lucia Verlow.” The tour guide says as we stop in front of an exhibit. “Lucia Verlow was once a very famous person in the little town of Banff, Alberta. Born in 1885, Lucia was born into a very wealthy family. She got everything she wished for no matter what it was. She got this little box for her fifteenth birthday. She filled it with all her precious treasures and a blank piece of paper, which you can see there.” She points to a tiny piece of paper beside the box.
“Why is it blank?” A kid in my class raises their hand.
“No one really knows why. But it’s said in Alberta that only certain people that the spirit of Lucia chooses can see the words she wrote. Anyway, Lucia buried the box in her front yard and there it stayed until three years ago, when the new owner of the house dug it up and gave it to us, along with everything inside. Unfortunately, Lucia was found dead in her home on September sixteenth, 1906. Historians have said she killed herself that night. but there are still people who say that she in fact was murdered and that’s why she stays on earth, haunting her box, waiting for someone to open it and let her out.” The kids in my class all pull out their phones and start to snap pictures. “Shall we move along then? Lots to see and so little time.” The guide walks away from the exhibit with everyone else following. Everyone except me, that is. I stay behind, staring at my reflection in the glass case that’s surrounding the artifacts.
I focus on myself for a bit, making eye contact with myself, the air conditioning blowing my jet black hair around my head. Then I focus on the people behind me. In the reflection, the museum guests look funny. Their heads are more square than they should be and their torsos more blocklike. Then, after a short period of time, I move my attention back to the little jewelry box that sits on a small, marble pedestal. It is such a pretty box. The stains on the wood make it look like fire is consuming it, engulfing it in warm orange flames. The little trinkets surrounding it are kind of cute. There is a necklace, a ring, a little dagger, three pictures of a young girl, whom I assume is Luica herself, and the little note the tour guide pointed out earlier.
I get lower so I can read the writing. Wait, the writing? There isn’t supposed to be writing.
It looks like it’s faded over the years so it’s hard to make out, but it’s good enough to read. It says,
To whomever is reading this letter, just know, I am not who they say. Whatever they have told you, it is not true. I did not kill myself, I was murdered by my own father. Or rather, I will be. You see, I’m not normal and neither are you. I can dream of the future. Let me out of the box and I will show you wonders. Places, things you never thought you’d see. All you have to do is lift the lid and I’ll do the rest.
“Is everything alright, miss?” A man now stands behind me.
“Oh, yes. I’m fine. I was just reading the note, that’s all.” He offers me his hand, but I ignore it and get up by myself.
“But, there are no words on that paper. How can you read it?” He pauses. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yes. Positive.” I turn my head to look at the note again. There, clear as day, is the writing.
“Are you here alone?” He asks.
“No. I’m here with my class. We’re on a field trip.” I reply. “I’m sorry. I should find them actually. I’m not supposed to be anywhere without a buddy. Good day, sir.” He hesitates before tipping his hat off to me. I turn to go and he does the same. The only difference is I’m not actually going anywhere.
When I know for sure he’s out of eyeshot, I turn back around and go back to Lucia’s exhibit. My fingertips go numb and cold and a chill runs through my entire body as I run my fingers along the glass surface. I pull my hand away quickly, grabbing it as the colour and warmth comes back. The feeling was a horrible experience, but something about me wants to do it again. It’s calling me.
I place my hand back on the glass, this time for longer. This time, my entire hand goes numb. It soon crawls up my arm like a grape vine.
I take the glass cover off of the stand and place it on the floor. Then, the alarm goes off. I quickly take the note and shove it in my pocket and open the jewelry box. The coldness from before fills the area before targeting me. It enters my body, nearly knocking me over. I start to feel nauseous. The last thing I see before falling to the ground is six security guards running toward me.
I open my eyes, but right away I know I’m not awake. It’s all black and white. I’m in a dream, but it looks so real. How can that be?
“Father! Father, where are you?” The girl from the pictures runs past me, calling up the stairs of the house I’m in. “Mother? Is anyone home?” She calls.
“I’m home, Lucia.” A young boy, I would say about six years old, walks into the room.
“Oh, Theo. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.” The girl says. She walks over to him and picks him up. “Here, let’s get you back to bed.” She walks up the stairs with Theo in her arms as I follow. She turns left and I do the same. She finally gets to a wooden door painted a light colour. She opens the door and places the boy in a small bed, tucks him in and kisses him on his forehead. I smile. It brings back flashbacks of my own of when I was a child and my older sister used to tuck me in when my parents weren’t home.
Lucia extinguishes the candle on Theo’s bedside table, walks out of the room and closes the door behind her. Then, she stops.
“You know, I ought to thank you.” She says without turning her head. “Do you know how long I’ve been trapped here? Watching, waiting for someone to come along and open the box?” She turns to face me, locking eye contact with me. “One hundred and sixteen years, living the same day over, and over, and over again. Feeling what I felt that day. Everything. It has been torture. So thank you, you’ve put an end to my misery, and now, I’ll put an end to yours.” She steps closer to me and sticks her hand out. “Take it. Take my hand and you’ll be free. Free from everything. And you’ll be happy. Happier than you’ve ever been. Just… take my hand.” I hesitate for a few seconds before reaching out and grabbing her hand. She smirks and disappears into thin air.
“Lucia! We’re home!” A soft voice calls from downstairs. I follow it and there, standing at the front door, is a man and a woman, dressed in all dark clothes.
“There you are. Would you be a dear and help your mother get the laundry?” The woman smiles. “I’ll make dinner.” The man says with a smirk, before quickly putting his face into a neutral tone. I try to run out the door, but it won’t budge.
“Oh, honey. Make yourself at home. You’ll be staying here a while.” The woman smiles nicely. “Now come, I need a little help.” My jaw drops a bit as I realize. I’m trapped.
It’s been exactly eighty seven years since I was first here. And just like Lucia described, it’s been torture. I’ve lived the day Lucia died for 31,755 consecutive days in a row. I’ve felt the pain of poison going down my throat every night we have dinner. I’ve felt my mind go black every night I go upstairs. I’ve felt what it’s like to die. Constantly.
“Mother? Is anyone home?” I yell. Then, at that moment, I feel him. The presence of a living human soul. I smile. “And so, the cycle begins again.” I whisper. I’m finally free.