The Music Box by Madison Harvey

The man in front of me held a pink box. “I don’t need this anymore.”

“Are you trying to sell me an old box?” I asked, looking at him with an annoyed expression.

“No, but I don’t want it.” He pushed it towards me. I picked it up to look it over. The metal clasp was broken and the paint chipped in my hand. 

“But, why would…” The doorbell rang, and he walked out towards his old, beat up car. “Great. Who would even buy this?”

I placed it back down and opened it. Inside was a pink-fading ballerina. The spring looked broken, but the music still played when it opened. 

Inside there were two drawers. The first one I pulled out contained mismatched earrings. I think I’m more grossed out with the fact there is ear gunk on them. The second one has to contain something better. The little handle had finger indents in it. I pulled it, but it was stuck. I pulled it harder, and it finally came out. It was a paper that made it stuck.

I lifted it up, dirt coating my fingers. The crinkle sound of the paper made me cringe. I slowly opened it. For each time I unfolded it, a small crackle filled my ears. The paper was about the size of a postcard (the ones you can find in any gift shop). In the middle, was scribbled, “Turn the music crank three times, and wish for your deepest desire. But beware, for you must word your wish exactly like you want it, or there will be grave consequences.” 

“Taylor! I don’t pay you to play with toys, go dust the shelves.” I looked up at my manager, Rebecca. 

“I was just looking to see if it was in good condition to resell.”

“Fine, finish up here. But I still need the shelves dusted.” She then walked away, asking customers if they needed help. I placed the paper back into the drawer, saving it for later. I flipped the box around, so I could find where the crank was located. It was a small, silver, bent crank on the right side of the box. I moved it in a clockwise direction. One…Two…

“Hello, I would like to check out now.” The older lady in front of me placed her items on the table.

“Oh, yes, of course. You seemed to have found some good items today.” I picked up the wicker basket and placed it into a bag. 

“Yeah, I just know this stuff will look good on my front porch.”

“I bet it will. Your price today rang up to $11.00 even.” She handed me her credit card. I go over to the card scanner to swipe it.

“That’s a pretty ballerina box.” She tells me. I walk back over to her with the card.

“Yeah, but the odd thing is, it claims to grant a wish.”

“If that was true, I would ask for eternal youth.” She starts to laugh, so I fake laugh to make her feel better. 

“Well, let’s see if that will work.” I grab the box and crank it one more time. “I wish for eternal youth.” I placed the box back down and grabbed a mirror that had yet to have a place on the shelves.  “Huh, nothing happened.”

“That’s too bad. I really need that.” The old lady chuckled. She reached over and tapped my hand. “Thank you for humoring me young man.” 

“Have a good day ma’am.”

“You too.” She walked out the door, the bell ringing again. 

“Taylor, go dust now.” 

“Yes, Rebecca.”

The rest of my shift consisted of dusting and checking out other customers. When it hit 8:30 I gathered up my stuff and walked out the door.

“Taylor! Wait! Take that music box with you, I don’t want it.” I grabbed the box, slipping my phone and car keys in my pocket.

“See ya Rebecca.” My car was just around the corner, which helped a lot on the late days. As I rounded the corner, there was a pile of dirt. Beside the dirt was the SAME wicker basket the old lady bought. I hope nobody hurt her. I guess she dropped it and didn’t realize? Yeah, that doesn’t even make sense. I picked it up and put it in the back seat. Maybe she will come back tomorrow for another one.

I got in the driver’s seat, put my phone on the aux, and drove home. The whole way home I couldn’t stop thinking about that lady. 

A few days passed. I worked again today. Today was my turn to open up the store. When I entered Rebecca was already there, stacking the shelves. 

“Do you remember the older woman who was in here last week? The one that bought the wicker basket?” Rebecca asked.

“Yeah. What about her?”

“She’s missing. And the police said there have been no clues as to where she could have gone. Her family said she hasn’t left town for years, let alone go on a random vacation without telling anyone.”

“That’s really weird. She was telling me how she was decorating her house.”

“I don’t know. But I guess there isn’t really anything we can do about it. Here, take this.” She handed me a rag. “Go dust the shelves again. The weather is getting bad. And you should know that you have an eyelash on your eye.”

“Can you get it for me? My hands are kinda full.”

“Yeah, but this is the first and last time I ever do anything like this.” She reached up to my left cheek and swiped it. “There, now you at least look ok.”

I went to the shelf beside the one she was working on and began to wipe stuff down. I noticed one of the ceramic dolls had an arm broken. “Becca, should I toss this?” I turned to her and held it out. I dropped the doll, and it shattered into small pieces. I rushed to her. “Are you ok? What’s wrong?” I asked her in a panic. Her face was extremely pale, and she was frozen in place.

“It feels like I’m dying.” She croaked.

I touched her arm, trying to console her, but she just screamed in pain.

“YOU! It’s you. I didn’t start to feel bad until I touched you. I even felt more pain when you touched me again.” She started to back away.

“That’s not poss.. I made a wish with that box. I thought it was fake. Oh no, it must have come true. In the worst way possible.”

“You are so dumb.” She told me. The next steps she took left dirt behind where her feet were. The next thing I know. I’m staring at a pile of dirt on the ground. 

I was frozen in shock, I didn’t know what to do. I left my stuff there and walked out. I took the same path to my car and got in. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the wicker basket. “Oh my gods! I killed that old lady too.” I took off driving faster than I should have. I couldn’t stop freaking out. I gripped the steering wheel. I put my foot harder on the gas. I didn’t have time to follow the road curve. The car stalled and rolled over and over down the hill into the river at the end.

The car filled up with water fast and so did my lungs. 

Three years later.

I still sat at the bottom of the river. Drowning over and over again. The sun seemed much brighter, or maybe I was closer to the surface than I realized.

I was back in the store, dusting off the shelves. I looked to my right and saw Rebecca.

“It’s ok. You’re ok. It’s over now.” She told me, smiling at me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile before.

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