For the Person Who Needs It Most

One day on her afternoon stroll, Amanda Tournier noticed an unattended and unmarked box sitting in the middle of her neighborhood park. She stopped, crossed her arms, and peered at it, wondering what was in it. “It’s probably empty,” she thought, “just like my life.” She sat down on a nearby bench and let her imagination populate the box with things she wished she had: a briefcase full of cash; an envelope containing a passionate letter and picture from a handsome lover who would be returning soon from Paris to remove her from her sleepy life and furnish her with everything she needed so she could write every day without ever having to worry about bills and debt collectors; an iPhone 6 and the key to her own brand new Honda Accord; and some new leggings, a few floral dresses, and a smart pair of sandals. After a while, she rose from the bench and went on her way.

As Amanda disappeared around a corner, Jeb Dixon entered the opposite side of the park, noticed the box, and thought, “Probably full of women’s shit, like those idiot leggings or something. Fuck this town, and fuck these people. Nobody here ever even considered me for a job? Shit. All I wanted was a chance. One, fucking, little, chance, but noooo. Not me. I’m not cool enough for these creepy little hipsters. Screw it. I’m outta here. I hope there’s a bomb in that fucking box. Kaboom! That’d be a righteous farewell.” He stormed off to the bus station, not knowing where he would go next and very much alone in the world.

On the second floor of her townhome that overlooked the park, Marni Appleman watched Amanda and Jeb pass through the park from opposite directions and equidistant from the box, then vanish as if ending separate scenes in a one-act play. She thought of her husband David, who had been killed in the World Trade Center explosions, and her body quivered in quick little spasms. She whispered to herself, “I hope that’s not a bomb,” knowing she was probably overreacting but unable to quiet her fears. No matter how far away she moved from New York City and the only life she had ever known, she couldn’t shake the dark suspicions that haunted her every moment of every day. But she wasn’t about to lose herself in pure cynicism. She still cherished the beauty found in the hearts of the loving, unconditional souls who had layered her past and present with warm affections, and she wasn’t going to let self-pity destroy her. She had too much to give. She said, “Maybe there’s something special in that box, something necessary for the person who needs it most.” She turned and walked back into her living room to make a shopping list for the next day’s errands. She would check on the box later.

As Marni slid her townhome door shut, Nancy Sprague chased her three daughters across the park as they raced each other to see who could reach the box first. They all arrived at about the same time, ripped open the top, peered over the edge, and shrieked with delight. Shelly, the oldest of the three, shouted, “Mommy, Mommy, pick it up! Pick it up!” A winded Nancy reached down and gently lifted a light gray kitten from the box. She studied it for a bit, then handed it to Shelly and said, “Now be gentle, dear. He’s a delicate little thing. Everyone give him some loving.” She looked back into the box and noticed a wrinkled piece of paper with a few scribbled sentences that read, “Please take care of me and love me forever. I’m a good kitty!”

Nancy thought to herself, “Why not? We need a new man in the family.” Then she said, “Girls, let’s take care of this little guy. We’ll need to name him, you know. I’m sure you’ll think of something good.” She grabbed the letter from the box, closed the top, and left it there instead of breaking it down and throwing it away. She figured someone else might need it.

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