If you missed the first post for “The Box” you can click here to get caught up from last week!
I slowly opened the scissors and slid one blade between Oswin’s wrist and the thin leather band that kept the key tied close to him. As I closed the blades around the band, my hand started to shake and the blunt end of one blade tapped against his arm. I took in a sharp breath and held the arm steady between my knee and my chest. I readied my left hand to catch the key and I clipped.
The key fell into my waiting hand and I paused – breathing shallowly – while I waited to see if Oswin had woken up from the accidental bump.
His eyes did not open, so I quickly stood up and, unfortunately, smacked my head so hard on the bottom of my desk that it lifted off the floor. The vibrations from the impact rattled my teeth. I cringed as several students in the class stared and then glanced back up at Oswin who I realized had woken up and was staring at me in confusion.
In a fraction of a second, my mind raced through questions and possibilities. I knew I was being selfish and crazy, but I needed to know what he had been keeping from me and why it was so important. I panicked and ran.
I tore out of the classroom and down the hall knowing that there would be consequences. I would have to answer to my professor for disrupting the class, and then there was Oswin whose trust I was betraying. I heard his pounding footsteps behind me as he called my name and I threw myself into running. I could feel my legs burning as I turned the corner and locked myself into the single-person faculty restroom.
I took a moment to catch my breath and stood with my back against the wall and my head spinning with adrenaline. Oswin had caught up to me and began banging on the door.
“Dara, what are you doing? Open the door and give the box back,” he pleaded. He was out of breath too and his voice was muffled by the door. I could tell he was resting his head against it.
“I just need to know,” I bit my lip and looked down at my shoes.
I took the key and blocked out Oswin’s voice as he yelled for me not to open it. His voice was cracking and guilt was gathering in my chest. I turned the key and opened the box.
It took me several seconds to register what I saw inside. Floating in the box, inside of a liquid orb, was an amazing little otherworldly tree growing in a pile of moist soil. I walked to the door and put my hand on the knob where I imagined Oswin had his resting. I stood so close to the door, I thought I could hear his breathing.
“Oswin, where did you get this?”