“Fred, it’s high time you packed your room. Time is running out. We are moving to the new house next month, and if you don’t want me to get rid of all your stuff, you need to sort through it yourself,” Mom said while standing in the doorway.
As any other teenager would, I groaned at her, rolled my eyes, and rolled off the bed onto the floor near my desk.
“Thank you,” she added as she exited the room, pulling the door shut behind her.
My head was bopping to the sound of the music coming through the headphones as I opened the first drawer, which I knew would be the easiest to sort. Aside from a few empty wrappers and packages, which I threw into the trash can, I dumped everything else into a box next to my closet.
“Fred’s stuff” was written on all four walls of the box as well as on the cover.
“Like anyone would think those are Mom or Dad’s,” I snickered, already tired of the work.
It was Saturday, which usually meant I was slaving away doing my homework, but the move was a great excuse to skip all that nonsense for a little while.
“How’s it going? Do you need any more boxes?” Mom asked, appearing at the door.
“Mooooooom, if you want me to get things done, go AWAY and leave me ALONE,” I growled, closed the door, and opened the drawer I have not looked in for ages.
Crumpled shreds of paper appeared in front of my eyes.
“Hmmm…” I murmured, picking up the slivers of red, green, and gold wrapping paper.
Gliding my fingers through the glossy array of colors, I tried to remember where it came from.
“Ah, yes! Wednesday, December 25th. Last year. 3019. Christmas Day,” I recalled with satisfaction.
Under a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, I found the weirdest gift of all.
“Open it,” my mother said with uncontained excitement in her voice, pointing towards a gift with my name on it.
I picked up the perfectly wrapped package from the ground and turned it around in my hands in hopes of guessing what it was before opening it. I put the rectangular box to my ear and jiggled it a little. Something was rattling inside, but it did so in a uniformed fashion.
“I wonder what device it is,” I said cockily and looked at my mom, who only smiled.
As much as I didn’t want to wreck the perfect packaging, I could not wait any longer to see what was inside, and so I tore the paper to reveal its contents. The box was white with a black lid that looked less than new. Doubt crept into my head. I looked to my mom for a clue but received nothing.
“What is this?” I asked, holding the contents of the box in my hand.
“It’s a book,” Mom replied.
“A book?” I asked, confused.
“Yes, it’s a book. It’s been in the family for generations, apparently. I found it in the attic as I was cleaning it out the other day,” Mom added, looking pleased with her explanation.
“A book? A book! Ha! What am I supposed to do with THAT?” I asked, hoping it was some sort of a joke.
Once a sufficient amount of time had passed, and I realized that it was not a prank, I took the peculiar Christmas present and tossed it into a desk drawer that I never opened.
“Thanks a lot,” I scoffed to myself.
Back then, I had better things to do than read a book. But now, it was a different story. I could either pack or lay in bed, moving only my eyes and a single finger. The choice was obvious.
“My name is Ashley Jones, and I hope that you take me seriously.”
“Ashley Jones? So much for only moving my eyeballs and a finger,” I muttered, getting up from the bed.
The computer screen was dark, but it came to life with a simple push of a button.
“Search for Ashley Jones,” I ordered the machine.
“Your ancestor,” the response came sooner than I had expected it to.
“Expand result,” I requested.
“Access denied. A file of an enemy of the state,” the computer read to me.
“Enemy of the state?” I asked with interest.
Maybe the book was worth reading after all.
“Fred, dinner is ready!” Dad announced from the hallway.
For a split second, I wondered if he could have already gotten alerted about the restricted search from my computer, but figured that he would have barged into my room by now if that was the case.
I wasn’t very talkative at dinner and asked permission to get back to my room as soon as my appetite was satisfied.
“What’s the rush?” Dad asked.
“He’s finally sorting out his room, Mom jumped in before I could answer.
“Really?” Dad was surprised but seemed pleased with that answer.
I bowed slightly and withdrew to my room.
Today, my doctor said I was overweight. He suggested I eat more veggies…
I paused, confused for a moment, wondering what kind of book it was supposed to be, but decided to see how the story would unfold.
… and exercise multiple times a week. He said all that with a sense of superiority as if I had no idea how to take care of myself. I walked out of the exam room, tucking on the bottom hem of my shirt, subconsciously worried that someone was going to see my fat stomach. The waiting area was full of people coughing and sneezing. They reminded me why I came in to see the doctor in the first place. The Kleenex in my pocket had been used one too many times, so I asked the receptionist if she had a tissue.
“I ordered a whole bunch. It’s the season. It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” the young lady behind the desk said with laughter, handing me a box of Kleenex.
I grabbed two tissues for good measure, thanked her, and walked outside.
On my way from the pharmacy, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a tub of chocolate caramel ice cream. Normally, I would have stuck to my ¼ plate of protein, ¼ plate of rice, and half a plate of veggies, but today, since I was told I was fat already, there was no point in curbing my cravings.
“Ice cream?” I wondered as I scratched my head.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
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