TREASURE CHEST

Anderson lifted the treasure chest and brought it into the kitchen, craving for a freshly baked chocolate muffin. His wife was washing up the dishes when he placed the chest on the table.

“Well, here it is,” Anderson pointed out, taking a seat.

“Have you opened it?” his wife asked drying her hands on a kitchen towel before placing a muffin on a plate for him.

“Nope,” Anderson shook his head. “I am contemplating whether to open it or throw it away.”

“I wish I could make the decision for you but you need to handle this in your own,” she squeezed his tense shoulders. “Whatever you decide I’ll stand by you.”

Early this week, Anderson received a call from his father’s landlord regarding a chest left in the storage room. It was odd that the landlord called Anderson as he left Anderson at a young age. Growing up, his mother encouraged him to spend time with his father, but he despised his father too much to do so. They became strangers when his father remarried and had another family. When he was a teenager, his father invited him over on special occasions, but Anderson ignored him. He wrote a long and nasty letter to his father and made sure he stayed away from him. In his mind, his father was never really a father because he left.

During his university years, he tried contacting his father to find him divorced and living alone in an apartment. When his mother asked him to visit his father, he chose to ignore it. Years went on, and Anderson got married and soon had his own family. Unexpectedly they met one day when he was grocery shopping.

“Anderson, is that you?” his father asked.

Anderson studied the older looking man with stripped shirt and short pants, knowing he was his father. His familiar downturned eyes and thick lips confirmed that.

“Yeah,” he managed to reply but was surprised to see him. His father was the last person he wanted to meet.

“How are you doing, son? I’ve always asked about you. All these years your mother kept you away from me. I’ve sent cards and gifts for your birthdays, but I guess you never received it.”

Listening to the man who was practically a stranger, blamed his mother made Anderson angry as it still hurt after all these years.

“First of all, don’t call me son because you don’t know me. My mother never kept me away from you. I don’t want to know you because you left us,” Anderson explained trying to keep his cool.

“Even now?”

“Even now,” Anderson replied ready to leave.

“I’m sorry, Anderson. I made a mistake. It will haunt me for the rest of my life,” he admitted.

“Good,” Anderson showed no sympathy.

“Can we start over?” Anderson didn’t reply. “I’m dying, son.”

Although Anderson was hard-hearted, at those words, everything felt unreal. He was put in a position he thought he would never be in. After meeting his father, it took him a few days to decide his next step. His father gave him an address, and Anderson visited him a week later. They were strangers starting a relationship which might or might not last. They met every weekend and soon a friendship was formed.

There were still so many questions Anderson needed to ask. There were answers he was looking for when he received a phone call from the landlord, informing him of his father’s condition. His father passed away right after he brought him to the hospital. The next time the landlord called, he told Anderson about the treasure chest.

“I think I’ll open it,” Anderson made up his mind as he twisted the gold hook to one side. He pushed the top part of the chest and exposed its contents.

“What’s in it?” his wife asked.

“I don’t get it,” Anderson shook his head when he saw countless of buttons, two books and envelopes in the chest. He chose the book to see sketches and descriptions of each and every buttons. “I don’t understand.”

His wife took a button and examined it. They studied different types of buttons, some were oddly shaped, and others looked ordinary.

“There’s a compartment at the bottom of the box,” his wife informed him.

Anderson took out a piece of board and sure enough, there was a secret compartment with a long list and a letter. He started reading it and shook his head.

“What does it say?”

“All these buttons are from the clothes I wore on special occasions like my first pyjamas, my school uniform, my birthday and so on,” Anderson replied.

“How did he get all these buttons?”

“Based on the letter, he was still in contact with my mother. Those are her letters. She sent the buttons to him when my clothes were worn out. All these years, I thought my father didn’t care about me.”

At that moment, Anderson wished he had more time with his father. After reading the book, he counted about hundreds of buttons in the treasure chest.

Carina Lim bears different messages through her fiction. These messages could be useful in life. She can be contacted at mermaidgal103@yahoo.com