Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)
TITLE: Treasured Trinket
By LauraLee Shaw
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The recommendations I had discovered online had been “spot on” for Tom’s Treasure Trunk, but what really convinced me to visit was the advertisement the store printed in the local newspaper:
If you can’t find that special Christmas treasure you’re looking for,
We’ll give you $5.00 to spend at the store of your choice!
How crazy is that? I thought. But I was going to either find what I needed or get $5.00, so it would be worth the trip downtown.
And Tom’s Treasure Trunk was quaint. Original. Perfect.
My son went with me, because he was looking for that something special for his mother, ME. And cha-ching, I had certainly found a gold mine. (The $5.00 guarantee had nothing to do with his coming, I’m sure).
“Mom, how much longer?” he asked, punching the buttons of his texting device faster than a secretary on caffeine.
I’d only made it down the first few rows, and I was already salivating over the wonders on the racks in front of me. “Sweetie, this place is ‘the bomb,’ ya know?”
“Mom, stop trying to talk teen, okay?” he asked, face still in the screen of his gadget.
My quick comeback: “Well…allz I’m sayin’ iz…” I thought that would at least get a smile. Instead, a 360 of the eyes.
(Sigh) “Just a few more minutes, I pro— .” I suddenly caught glimpse of the most original crystal box I’d ever seen. When I picked it up, a quaint melody echoed from it.
“Oh, ma’am, do be careful—that’s a very valuable piece,” a weak voice trembled from a few feet away.
I put it carefully back on the shelf, though the notes continued to play. “I’ve never heard or seen such a perfect…” I paused, realizing I had no idea who I was answering.
“I’m Tom—of Tom’s Treasure Trunk.”
He's older than I thought he would be. “Nice to meet you, Tom. Great place you have here.”
“Thank you, ma’am. My wife and I started this place about forty years ago, and her favorite find was that particular music box.”
“Oh, really? Well, your wife has impeccable taste. I must say—it is striking. I can hardly believe how…”
My son’s texting machine-turned-rocker-ringer interrupted. “Excuse me,” he said to us before he walked away, then “hello?”
Tom hardly missed a beat. “Yup, great boy you have there, sayin’ ‘excuse me’ and all.”
I forced a polite chuckle, ready to respond, but Tom continued to reflect. “Yup, when I’s a boy, we knew our manners. Oh, and my wife, she was…she is the best mother you’ve ever seen.”
“Yup—she loved that music box. Wish she were here to tell you about it…Right now, I mean…”
“She sounds like a wonderful woman.”
“Excuse the interruption, but Mom, are we almost ready? I gotta be at football practice in twenty minutes.”
“Yes, Jacob…just a sec,” my mouth forcing a smile, my eyes darting a look of death.
After Jacob crouched away, Tom said, “My Mary really loved that box. Would you like it? You’re so much like her, I know she’d want you to have it.”
I gasped, finally realizing that Mary was only in Tom’s memories now. “Oh no, I couldn’t take this from you. I’d want to pay for it. It’s um…” I carefully flipped it on each side and couldn’t find a price.
“She didn’t want anyone to pay for it, Ma’am. She wanted someone to have it that would appreciate what it stood for is all.”
“Mom?” Jacob wouldn’t know a Hallmark moment if it clubbed him over the head. “We ready?”
“Just. A. Moment. Jacob,” I whispered with a twang of shout.
Jacob stood bewildered.
Misty-eyed, I said. “Well, Tom, I wouldn’t want to insult your precious wife. You tell her ‘thanks’ for me, will you?” I winked, and a tear spilled out.
The bell at the counter rang, and Tom was jolted to present reality. “Comin'. I ain’t as young as I used to be.”
“Thank you for this, Tom. It’s the most special gift I’ve ever received.”
“You’re welcome, Ma’am. It was my Mary’s too,” Tom said, shuffling toward his next customer.
“Tom?” I interrupted.
“What’s the song on the music box called?”
“OH,” Tom chuckled, “It’s ‘Mary, Did You Know.’”
Jacob asked me out of the side of his mouth, “Mary, did you know what?”
“I dunno, Jacob, but I’m gonna find out.”
*Note* Mary, Did You Know? Lyrics by Mark Lowry
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