The Alabaster Box
Eula sat on the sofa next to Francesco staring at the box in front of them that she’d placed on the coffee table. Francesco, whom Eula called Cesco, had pulled her close to him; her head lay on the left side of his chest, as she snuggled close to him.
“What do you think is in it, Cesco?” She murmured.
“I don’t know, Eula,” Cesco said. He caressed her arms with his fingertips. He didn’t like it when he came home and found her confused and devastated from situations suddenly thrust upon her. His job gave her enough reason to worry. He needed her to be happy when he held her in his arms. “What did the people at customs say when you picked it up? Did you have to open it and pay tax?”
“They said the weight was five pounds,” Eula said and sighed deeply. “Because it took twelve years to get here, I guess they winked an eye and just gave me the box.” She shivered. The only time she ever trembled was when she felt Cesco was in danger. Other than that, she never trembled. So, why was she shaking now?
Lying with her head against his chest, Eula’s mind went back to the conversation she’d had with her aunt two years before she died. Her aunt had told her, she’d sent her a box but had not told her what was in it. It was supposed to be a surprise, but the box never showed up. Eula thought her aunt had put the wrong address on the box, and it had just disappeared. Now, her aunt had been dead for ten years. How could a box get lost for twelve years and then show up she asked herself? “One thing for sure, I won’t know if it's the surprise package that I should have received from my aunt twelve years ago until I open it,” she said.
She felt Cesco’s chest shake. He was always the one with humor. Cesco could find laughter in everything even though he faced death every time he left their home to carry out the job that he loved so dear. “What’s so funny, Cesco?”
“The situation. Your aunt has sprung another surprise on you. I never met her, but I’m quite sure she planned for the box to be delivered twelve years later.” His chest continued to shake as he said, “From what you’ve told me she was quite a character.”
“You’re too funny, Francesco Abramo.”
Eula removed her head from his chest and sat up straight. She leaned toward the table before them and picked up the mysterious box.
Francesco handed her the scissors. “Open it, Tresore mio,” he said. “That’s the only way we will solve this mystery.”
“I can’t believe that a box from my aunt takes twelve years to get to me,” Eula said, taking the scissors. “It’s unreal.”
“Eula, since I’ve known you, I can believe anything. So, open the box. If it is the package from your aunt there is a reason why she wanted to surprise you, and it’s in that box, and maybe it came at the right, appointed time like you say to me all the time. “
Eula cut along the sides of the box carton and lifted the lid upward. Twelve-year-old newspaper greeted her. Looking at the date of the publication in astonishment, memories of her childhood danced before her eyes. She could see herself as the little dark-skinned Eula with a broom in her hand, not quite five years of age trying to sweep her aunt’s porch. She pulled back the paper wrapping and handed it to Cesco. “It’s news from my aunt’s country village.”
“Eula,” Cesco said, reading the headlines. “A lot was going on when you were little.”
“There was always a lot going on Cesco. My aunt kept the most of it hidden from me. I only got bit and pieces that a child my age couldn’t understand.” She smiled at the memory of her aunt’s thwarted attempts to stop her from asking too many questions; her smiled widened as she took an alabaster box out of the carton. As she turned the box slightly sideways, light sounds like balls rolled inside the box. Why in the world would her aunt send her an alabaster box? Nothing made sense.
“Tresore mio, open it. I’m getting impatient,” Francesco said.
“Cesco, I’ve never seen you impatient. You’re so patient with me.”
Francesco chuckled. “I’ve got to take care of my little old lady. After all, you’re older than I, and I want to have you around me forever.”
“Ha, ha, ha,” Eula said and opened the Alabaster box. Five beautifully colored alabaster eggs laid loosely within. She shook her head totally perplexed. Why did her aunt send her five beautifully colored alabaster eggs? Picking one up Eula noticed that it had an incision all around the middle. Taking the egg in her hand, she lifted the top part of the egg. Eula’s eyes widened. She turned to Francesco. “This is amazing,” she mumbled. “Where did she get the money?”
“She probably saved it up all her life,” Francesco said, “See if the other eggs have slits.”
They did, and Eula lifted the top part of each egg. Each had a sparkling surprise.
Francesco let out a hearty laugh at the puzzled look on Eula’s face. “If customs had known what was in the box, they would have called an inspector to judge the value of those sparkling babies. Your aunt was quite a character.”
“I always knew she was a clever fox, but I never thought something like this would ever cross her mind,” Eula said, chuckling.
“Tresore,” Francesco said. “She was one smart lady.”
“Yes, she was,” Eula said. “An idea to send me an alabaster box filled with alabaster eggs stuffed with emeralds could only come from aunt Hattie. A clever fox she was.”
Thank you for reading The Alabaster Box and have a lovely Easter.