“If I Die” by Jean Nicole Rivers
It was the perfect day for a yard sale, the kind of day where the sun mesmerized its audience by providing a magical glow to every object it touched. Jaime loved going to yard sales with her good friend Lana and was excited that they had picked such a flawless day to indulge in their shared hobby.
While others she knew would have preferred to be shopping the luxurious department stores, Jaime favored pouring over old books and antique lamps each touched by real people and their families, touched by their triumphs and tragedies. These used things brought more character to Jaime’s home unlike the factory produced junk one could snap up at any home store.
This particular event had not been in their original plans but crept into their schedule when they spotted a man at a lazy intersection enthusiastically twirling a sign that boasted of the spectacular sale.
Jaime was perusing over some nicely framed old world maps with Lana at her side when she spotted a silver jewelry box, one that she knew well.
“Amazing. I used to have a jewelry box just like this when I was in high school.” Jaime said running her fingers along the slightly unclean salmon colored velvet interior. She noticed a small school photograph of a striking teenage girl.
“Really?” Lana responded.
“Yes, I used to love it because I hid notes from James in it.” She said as she fiddled with the bottom of the box.
“Sneaky girl,” Lana mumbled as she made her way to another table that displayed a colorful quilt.
“If you pull this compartment up here in the bottom there is a little space, perfect for hiding little not-” Jaime stopped when she noticed a folded piece of paper in the hiding space. With a careful hand, she unfolded the note and read the words that caused her suddenly unruly breath to choke up her throat.
“Twenty dollars for the jewelry box.” A man’s voice startled Jaime, who quickly balled the crumbling piece of paper in her hand. She looked up to see a man and woman standing behind the table.
The woman looked down at the jewelry box and removed the picture, “I didn’t even realize that this was still in here.”
“Is that your daughter?” Jaime stuttered.
The man took the picture and fell deep into his thoughts. “Yes, her name was Ashlyn. She died in an accident last year. Her mother has finally convinced me that we have to let these things go. Excuse me.” He said, walking away as the tears begin to well in his eyes.
“Would you like the jewelry box? I’ll cut you a deal…eight dollars.” The woman insisted.
“No, no thank you.”
“Is something wrong?” The woman asked a flushed Jaime.
“No, I’m ok, it’s just a little warm out today.” She lied as she turned away taking a few steps from the table. Jaime unfolded the note once again as she had to be sure of what she had seen and there she reread the same frightening message, If I die, my mother killed me. –Ashlyn.
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