17 Shoe Box of Memories

Andrea gazed out the window as the first snow fell, blanketing the ground with its grace. It was Christmas Eve and any other year she would be jumping for joy at this wondrous sight. Andrea and her Dad would try to build a snowman or sprinkle reindeer food with dashes of glitter scattered about so that Santa’s sleigh could find the food easily.

Those moments were only memories now. Her father had passed away the day after Christmas one year ago. As she cried herself to sleep many times in the past year, she tried to hold on to his embrace and the image of his gentle face. Her loneliness had continued to grow rather than subside.

Especially now.

Andrea wanted to stop the arrival of Christmas Day unless it could bring her father back to life! No other gift could be greater than his self-assuring presence and constant love for her.

Her mother tried to create the excitement of past holidays by continuing family traditions. Beautifully wrapped packages sat under a balsam tree decorated with favorite ornaments and twinkling lights. Homemade dressing was being prepared for a feast of all feasts.

Yet, none of these holiday trimmings seemed to fill the gap and make Andrea whole once more.

Fortunately, she had her shoebox. It was neatly decorated with hearts of many colors and golden stars. Beneath the cover, photographs, travel brochures, post cards including a trip to Niagara Falls, a broken wrist watch, a tie clip and other treasures symbolizing her father’s life filled the container as well as the barren spot in her heart.

Tonight, it was time, time for Andrea to feel safe, secure and loved. So, she went to her dresser drawer and carefully pulled the box from it’s’ place, cradling it like a baby in her arms. After many minutes, she spread the contents of the box on the floor to be touched, read and admired.
She felt close to him now.

But on the floor nestled in her collection was an advertising card that Andrea had not seen before. It was a rectangle in blue and advertised the top automobile glass companies with their phone numbers and addresses on it.

The third company on the card was her father’s “Glass Sales and Service” and beside the name, his familiar phone number. Andrea couldn’t even begin to count the number of times that she had dialed that number, anxious to share her accomplishments at school or simply to tell him “yes, it had been a good day.”

After he passed away, her mother had sold the business and the new owners changed its name, requesting a new phone number. Had that number which offered Andrea private words of concern with her father been disconnected forever? Maybe it had been issued to another business or home for those to share similar conversations as Andrea had experienced
A voice, deep within, had prompted Andrea to find out. Why, she didn’t know, but, still the whisper of the unknown urged her on.

Cautiously, she picked up the receiver and dialed the number…

There seemed to be a connection! The number had not been discontinued after all!

After two rings, a voice responded.

“Good evening, Glass Sales and Service,” followed by a brief pause, “Hello, Andrea.”

The voice was distant and almost inaudible due to crackling on the line but there was no question whom the voice belonged to.

“Dad?” she stammered, her throat parched, her heart throbbing as she shut her eyes quickly, hoping to hear a response over the pounding in her chest.

“Yes, Sweetheart,” her father said calmly and deliberately.

Andrea could not believe what was happening or how and why. All she knew is that her father was finally here. Tears of joy began to flow freely down her face, “Dad, are you really alive?” she asked. There was a pause that seemed endless.

“Andrea, I cannot come back to the life as you know it. But…..”

“No! It wasn’t true! Andrea had been dreaming, a long and dreadful dream this year. He was really coming home soon and……..

“What you are hearing, Andrea is the voice of your heart, my spirit that will always be there.” She was so confused and at a complete loss for words. Though buried within her soul, Andrea knew he was right. His funeral had been too vivid, too horribly real and that indistinguishable voice inside of her convinced her that death was final, final in the physical way.

He did not wait for her reaction because he knew it would be too difficult for her to understand. So, he continued.

“Regardless of where I am today, death cannot tear us apart. If you believe in the importance of your life and look inside your heart, you will always find me waiting. Waiting to guide you through problems and loving you as you are and will be. Don’t ever lose hope for what is hidden in your heart. Just open it, Andrea, like you do with your shoebox of memories and you know what, if you listen carefully, you can hear the angels……………..”

Static drowned his words.

“Dad, I love you…….” Her voice suddenly dropped dramatically, “Dad, are you there?”

Within seconds, she heard a click followed by a dial tone. He was gone.

Instantly, Andrea dialed the number again. It began to ring and suddenly she heard, “I am sorry, that number has been disconnected.”

As she hung up the phone, Andrea slumped to her knees, shaking with emotional exhaustion. Shock trembled through her, but somehow, she felt a peace that she had not experienced for a long time. The peace found a place in her heart that had been barren. She truly believed her father’s words and she knew life could go on in her world as well as his.

She heard her Mom call so she made her way to the bathroom to wash her tear-stained face. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror above the sink and smiled. She not only saw her her own features but the wonderful love of her father standing behind her. And as her Mom called once again, she thought she heard other voices as well.

“If you listen carefully, you can hear the angels……..sing.

Critique: I like the idea of Christmas being a time of spiritual reunion with those who have gone before, but this was a little too magical for my tastes. I’d probably put the phone call in a dream sequence and also have her dad reference Christmas and that we celebrate the birth of Christ, who will make their reunion in the future possible. Need a little more personality for Andrea and more time exploring the change that just happened. Also, I have no idea how old she is—and I need an indication of it. I’m guessing around 12?

What I liked best: Her box of memories.

Publication ready: No. It has potential, but it needs some work.

1 comment:

Thoughtful Reader said...

I just have to confess how I love the name Andrea in a Christmas story because of "The Christmas Box" by Richard Paul Evans! :)

This is a neat story. The emotion in it is very vivid and real. Sometimes I felt like it could be revised for some "show not tell" (like the beginning tells exactly how Andrea feels about her dad more than shows it), but overall the story is well done.

I'm also a fan of thinking of the past and loved ones gone by in Christmas stories. Its a huge theme throughout classic Christmas stories, if you can consider that there's a genre there, and this story certainly carries that charm.