Chapter 1. The Box in the Cupboard


While he was sifting through the dusty contents of a cupboard in the storage room, he found a rectangular wooden box the size of his palm. It looked very old. He shook the box. No sound.

It had a key placed inside the keyhole. He turned the key, opened the lid and looked inside. A pair of curious brown eyes were looking back at him. They were his own. The bottom surface inside the box was a mirror. “It is just an ordinary box”, he thought, “I’d better get back to searching for the thing I’ve come here for.”

He turned the key to lock the box. The key turned but there was no audible ‘click’ that indicated the lock falling in place. “It’s probably broken”, he muttered to himself, while trying to see if he could still lift the lid. The lid opened without resistance and he peered inside. He staggered back while letting out a cry of surprise that was halfway between a scream and a gasp.

A pair of eyes were staring back at him. This time, they weren’t his. These eyes were green, there were tears running down them. He realised that there was a faint noise coming from the box. In a second, the noise became loud and clear as his momentarily panicked heart slowed and the blood thumping in his ears quietened.

The sound that was coming from the box was no noise. It was a song. The voice sounded weak and melancholic. Like those watery green eyes staring back at him.

“…. and I surrendered my heart,
When you said I was the inspiration behind your art,
The glorious murals you painted,
The marvelous sculptures you wrought.

You said it was my unrelenting love for you
That kept you from the addiction of draught,
The artist that you truly are in your heart,
You said only I saw it when no one else spared you a thought.

I’ve always revelled in your creations,
The knife that bled in your paintings,
I marvelled at the colour of blood and the glint in the steel,
While never realising it was a weapon you’d later use on me.
…”

Hands shaking, he shut the box. He could no longer hear the song. He was not sure what just happened. Was it some sort of a music box? But what about those eyes? They were not his! How could a mirror show eyes that do not belong to the person looking into it?

He put the box back on the cupboard and wiped the sweat off his forehead. But curiosity is a peculiar thing. “Men have given in to curiosity in far more perilous situations than this”, he thought, giving in to curiosity. He picked the box up and turned the key to the left, trying to see if the lock would work the second time. There was no audible sound again. He gently lifted the top, preparing to see those green eyes and hear their sad song. Instead, he found a pair of bright, brown eyes of a little girl staring at him. There was innocent merriment in them. The song from the box felt different too. It was sweet and cheerful.

“… round and round and round he ran,
Chasing his own curly tail,
His ears majestically flapping,
His feet left the fallen autumn leaves rustling.

I called to him, “You cute stupid dog,
It’s your own tail you are running after,”
He stopped and looked at me as if he meant to say,
“You are just jealous because you don’t have a tail yourself.”

I fell down laughing,
As it got back to chasing its tail,
I think he had run around himself for a mile.
Aaah! What incredibly innocent and adorable creatures dogs are.
…”

The soothing voice went on with its song. He stared into the eyes in the box. “How very different from the sorrowful eyes he saw earlier”, he mused, lifting the box up to examine it more closely.

He hadn’t seen any markings on the top or on the front of the box. He closed it, shutting out the song and turned it over.

On the bottom surface of the box were etched the following words:
“Vault of Unsung Songs”

Below these words were two letters:
“SJ”

It might be the signature of the box’s creator. The letters were so faintly carved that it was as if he or she was reluctant to claim this strange, magical box as their own creation.

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