There was no reason to open the present. There was no good reason to throw it away, either. So, it just sat there. On the small coffee table. Beside the bookshelf. In the living room. What else could be done with it? It couldn’t be re-gifted because there was no way of knowing what was inside without opening it and shaking it would be considered inappropriate. No card had been attached and there was no name or salutation written anywhere, making it impossible to tell who the present was for in the first place. It wasn’t anybody’s birthday the day it appeared, nor was it any of those annual celebrations where people exchanged gifts. There was a knock at the front door and, simply put, there it was, sitting comfortably between the two concrete walls creating a walkway to and from the house. The present had been meticulously wrapped in what looked to be high-quality wrapping paper with each of the thick diagonal white and green stripes lined with narrower gold trimmings. Golden ribbon divided the outside of the box into quarters and a handmade golden bow perched itself where the ribbon intersected at the top of the box. The wrapping job was all the more impressive as two hands were needed to lift the present whenever it needed moving. Whoever wrapped and then delivered this present knew what they were doing.
There was some speculation that the present was meant for another house, but that idea was eventually laid to rest following an hour of shameful door knocking from one side of the neighbourhood to the other. When the embarrassment subsided, the present was placed on the coffee table so that it could be the centre of attention during an emergency meeting to brainstorm what should happen next. Disposing of it had been discussed several times but, with an unknown value attached to the gift, it seemed reckless and unnecessary to just throw it away. What if it was worth something? What if it was worth A LOT of somethings? Of course, there was always the risk that the present was worth very little as well, but the mystery of its value played in its favour when it came to avoiding being thrown in a dumpster. Though it was not possible to pinpoint the source of the discomfort, the idea of the present being placed in any one of the bedrooms was swiftly discarded. Having thrown every conceivable solution at the problem, the present was left to sit in the living room until an appropriate course of action could be agreed upon.
Though it was never completely ignored, the present held its place in the living room long enough for it to shift from being the focus of attention to never being discussed at all. This did not mean that its presence never factored into the decision to leave the house. On the contrary, any meetings discussing the move, or any other serious venture for that matter, were now held in a separate room. Most of the packing boxes were stored at the back of the house, well out of sight of the present, with the household items being secretly packed away one by one over the course of two months. Gradually, every desired memory was tucked neatly into boxes while the present went untouched. Emptiness filled the house on the day of the move and yet every space was crowded with a growing unease. During the final tour, the present became the centre of attention for one last time. Just as a chorus of silent farewells was spoken there was a knock at the door that would forever go unanswered, heard only by a coffee table and a green, white and gold present neatly wrapped with a handmade bow at the top.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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