I opened the front door at five-thirty in the morning. Ungodly hour for someone to go about, ringing doorbells. I was all set to sell them a whole big world of hurtin’ what, but no one was there.
But I heard a sound.
A very subtle.
I turned on my porch light.
And I saw it.
A box unlike any other box I’d ever seen.
A box made out of interlocking white and purple lilac petals.
Oh! Well. This was a surprise indeed.
I carefully picked it up.
It was so soft and beautiful in my hands. I almost cried.
But then I heard that sound again.
Oh, but it was a strange sound.
Yet, it was a familiar sound.
It was a sound that I’ve missed hearing in my many years of city life.
It was the soft, hopeful sound of life trying to break free, trying so hard to break out of its cold hard shell.
But this shell was unlike any eggshell I had ever seen.
I took it into my house. Over to the kitchen table.
I was careful.
So very gentle with it.
I set it on the table and watched it through the rest of the early morning.
I’d been alone for so long. No one came to visit me. No phone calls. Never any letters.
Now, I had a guest.
Maybe it was something evil disguised as beauty.
Maybe it was a bomb.
Maybe it was death come to steal me away as he had stolen my family and friends.
I didn’t want to finish that thought. It was too hurtful.
But maybe it was only a prank. A pie would launch out in a few minutes, hitting me in the face. Or some other cruel trick.
But who would trick an old lady like me at this time in the morning? It didn’t make any sense to me.
Oh, but those mean-spirited jokes never did make sense to me. Not even when I was young enough to play them. I never did play them, though. I didn’t understand the humor in hurting someone’s feelings.
Suddenly, ten forty-five.
I opened my eyes and raised my head.
I watched in wonder as a thin line ruptured the lilacs. Petals fluttered and soft fell.
I suppose I should have been frightened. But my curiosity…well. It always was stronger than my fears.
The line widened into a fissure, into a deep crevice. More and more petals fell.
Something small and lizard-like slithered out of the box. Really, it made me think of the skinks my brothers used to catch when we were all so very young.
Fluid shaped body.
Short, delicate legs.
Four thin fingers on each leg.
Cherry-wood brown body with bumps right on the shoulders. Well. The skinks in my youth hadn’t quite looked like that. They had been a smooth walnut color with white racer stripes along their sides. And no shoulder bumps. I certainly would have remembered that detail.
Then, it looked up at me. Its eyes were wide and innocent. So like a child’s.
And I heard a voice in my head say, “Mama?”
My heart melted. I had no idea what sort of creature it was or even how it wound up on my doorstep. Such details didn’t matter.
It looked at the mess of petals and ate them one at a time.
I stroked the top of its warm, bare head.
It squinched its eyes and seemed to smile.
“Mama.” Its voice sounded happy and relieved.
“Yes. Mama.” After so many years of loneliness, I finally had someone to love and care for.