The Picture by Seorin Kae at

The Picture

The Picture

written by: Seorin Kae



She was carrying a box uphill and downhill, feeling very tempted to throw it in a lake. It was a big gray box with no ribbon or card on it. It was not the only gift she was carrying. She knew the contents of each one of them and carried them very carefully.

At first she kept the box level in case the contents were breakable. But after a few minutes of torture, she held it in whichever way she found convenient. She considered carrying it on her head. She tried balancing it on her back. On the bus she held it between her legs while trying to cling onto one of the handles.

When she finally sat down, placing the box on her knees, she took a deep breath and tried to focus her eyes. A tiny girl was standing a meter away from her. She could not say no to those eyes. She beckoned to the girl and told her to take her place. Again she was forced to put the box between her legs.

The little girl smiled at her. She smiled back weakly. The little girl called her mother who was squashed between a window and an old man. With much trouble the mother put the child on her lap. She smiled. Then she noticed the box.

Memories of her childhood swept through the dreamy-eyed lady’s mind who was still trying to keep her balance. The box was almost touching the ground. She held the other gifts close to her chest, like a hen protecting her chicks.

Finally in front of the door of her humble home, she fumbled with the keys and stumbled inside. She put everything on her desk and collapsed on her bed. She covered her head with her blanket and tried to forget all the crazy events.

Curiosity crept under her blanket and looked her straight in the eyes. She felt resentment toward herself. All that she longed for was a peaceful night’s sleep.

She stood up and grabbed the gray box. She quickly took off the wrapping paper. There was a picture of the original cake on the box. She shrieked in disappointment. She could not bring herself to peek inside the box knowing how her heart would sink at the sight.

If she had known the beauty. If she had only known the value of the contents when she carried it so carelessly.

Perhaps that was the value of her childhood wonder- the smiles of loved ones so near her. Now they were only beautiful memories. Painful memories.

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