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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)

TITLE: The Chest in the Attic
By Jeanette Oestermyer


We are finally selling the house and no one will answer our questions about that chest and how we can unlock it. The metal chest was found in our attic when we first moved in to this house. No one asked the seller if they wanted the chest and we never talked about it. Now we are anxious to know what lies within it. We also would like to know if we can keep the contents, or must we give them to the new owner. This is a secret I and my brother, Ron, have been pondering about through the years in this house. My name is Joseph and my twin brother is Ron and we both graduated from high school a few weeks ago.

We decided to ask our Mom and Dad about the secret metal box in the attic. Since our parents did not think the chest held anything significant, they both said, “let’s all go up and see if we can get it open. There may be a specific way to open that chest. Does anyone here have any keys they never used for doors or other locks.”

Joseph and Ron looked at each other and shook their heads as they also searched their pockets and turned them inside out. Then Dad called his real estate broker and asked if they could do what they want with the box. He said the box would be legally their property.

“We will each look through our rooms and where we may have a catch of items with no meaning or use for us,” Mom and Dad agreed.

So Don and Joseph and Mom and Dad hurried to each separate room and checked drawers and any other place they may have such treasures. After almost an hour Dad was the last one to appear from his room. “I hope all of you made a good search for any sort of opening tool or device and let us all show what we found, if anything, and then we will pray. Ron and Joseph had found nothing, Mom had a large rusty lock with no way to open it and Dad found a heavy pole just about two feet long with a narrowed end such as an instrument used to pry a lid from a box or some kind of chest.

“It is time for our prayers,” Dad said. We all got into a circle on the floor as Dad began to pray. “Dear Heavenly Father,” he began; “we are not sure how we should handle an old metal chest found in our attic now that we are selling the house and we do not know who left this box in the attic. Should we open it somehow and see what is inside or just leave it here?.”

After a short time, Dad said, “I believe God wants us to do whatever we wish, so who would like to find what is in the chest, and does anyone want to open it now or take it with us?

All four of them wanted to find what was in the chest, so Dad began to pry at the top of it and worked at it for several minutes when all at once the lid came off. Dad quickly said, “this chest is full of 100 dollar bills, and I am going to turn it over to the right authorities so they can find the owner. If no one claims it, the chest will probably be returned to us or as the authorities decide.

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This article has been read 369 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 02/22/13
Wow - good story, nicely done. God bless~
Virgil Youngblood 02/23/13
The title captured my attention and I really enjoyed the suspense you built throughout the story. The ending worked well enough, but I think I would have enjoyed it even more if you had left me guessing what was discovered. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/24/13
I think you did a nice job on this little mini-mystery. You introduced the conflict right away which intrigues the reader to keep reading.

I did notice you started out in first person and then switched to third person. You also have some tiny errors like missing end quotes that a good proofreader could help you catch.

The ending felt too abrupt. I wanted to know what happened next. That's always a good sign if the reader wants to keep reading. Because of the word limit, it can be hard to get that satisfying ending. I'd encourage you to write the story and don't pay attention to the count. When you feel satisfied with it, then you can go back and cut out the parts not vital to the story. I've cut as many as a thousand words before. Things like searching the house for tools, calling the real at or, and even having the house up for sale are all things that can be clipped to allow you to do more with the ending--like have the family disagree over what to do next, have the box have a secret hidden inside the bills and so on.

I do think you have a great start on an interesting novel perhaps. You may want to consider expanding this into a kids book. I also really liked how the family prayed together. I think you covered the topic. The underlying message of without a key, a box is just a hunk of metal and without a lock the key is just a hunk of metal. It's vital to have both to avoid damaging the box (which represents our heart or soul) That is a powerful message for sure and it's one that kids need to learn and adults might need reminding. I think you have some powerful things in this story and I'm eager to read more of your work.
Bonnie Bowden 02/25/13
Very suspenseful! It left me wondering who and why the previous owners would leave something so valuable behind.

I agree with the other comments about leaving some of the other sentences out and strengthing the ending, but with a little editing it could be made into a great children's book.