The Most Amazing Person Alive
Janet Taylor-Perry – Ridgeland, MS
The box covered in black paper sat in the center of the table. The class seated around the table squirmed, having been instructed not to touch the box.
The teacher took her place and began her talk. “Have y’all ever noticed how the media always promotes someone in the superlative? For example, People Magazine has ‘The Sexiest Man Alive.’ Time touts their ‘Person of the Year.'”
She took an exaggerated breath. “Well, I recently saw a new one—’The Most Amazing Person Alive.’ Does anyone have an idea who was chosen? Who would you choose?”
Comments ranged from the President to star athletes to the Pope. Some choose musicians; others, actors.
The teacher shook her head. “I was so impressed with this selection that I made up a box of memorabilia about this person. I just could not believe what I found out. I want each of you to take turns looking inside the box now. Don’t tell anyone else what you see. Think. Do you agree with the selection?”
Each student carefully peeked into the box, almost with fear that a snake might jump out and bite them. My turn came, and I looked in. I could hardly sit still, waiting to shout out the answer.
Finally, the teacher said, “Do you agree?”
There were yeas and nays. I shouted, “Yes!”
“Good,” the teacher approved. “Because it’s absolutely true.”
She smiled. “Who’s the most amazing person alive?”
“I am!” I replied.
The bottom of the box contained a mirror.
Vivian W .Newkirk – Madison, MS
Sis and I never knew what Mother kept inside her carved wood chest. When she opened its lid to add to or view its content, we asked no questions. This was her special box.
As Mother grew older and her mind weaker, the chest opened often. She’d finger through the items as though to familiarize herself with its contents. With the ancient brass key she’d lock the peeling faux-mahogany box. She told us the chest had been her mother’s. When Mother turned eighteen, the chest was hers.
When she was in her eighties and living with me, so was her chest. Often she mislaid the chest’s key and wailed, ”Help me find the key,” as though it were made of a precious metal. Daddy solved her problem by attaching the key to a small nail on one side of the chest.
A short time after Mother’s death Sis and I opened her beloved possession. What seemed, at first invasive, became a tour of our Mother’s youth. Among her keepsakes were Grandmother’s tissue-wrapped carnival glass, her high school boyfriend smiling through a filigreed frame, her 1920’s diary written in pencil.
The real prize hugging underneath were a stack of telegrams from our daddy. Unique notes of adoration sent to Mother dating from his first sighting of her. Perfectly preserved, the messages remain legible. Humorous and poetic, they reveal what a love-struck young man our daddy was.
Inside the Mystery Box
Henry Heitmann – Ft. Myers Beach, FL
The steel gray sky and the steady drizzle provided the perfect atmosphere for the funeral. A burial did not require sunshine. Darkness and sorrow seemed to go well together. The raindrops mixed with the tears running down his cheeks. His mother was dead.
He knew that he had to go to the apartment to clean out the few remaining things. It did not take him long to fill a carton with small leftovers. As he looked back at the empty rooms, a flat box sitting on the hall closet shelf caught his eye. He went back to open the mystery box and found a folder of legal looking documents inside. His first glance stunned him. It was an adoption record for a Brian Donovan, with the same birth date as his own. The reality struck him like a bolt of lightning. He knew immediately what these papers meant. He was not a Jewish kid from the Bronx, but a Catholic boy from who knows where. He stood frozen for a moment, stared at the box and left it on the shelf. His mother, the one he knew, was gone. The mystery box would remain.
Originally available here