The Box Sat Unopened on the Table

Johnathon Mathew was not an unusual man. He worked every day from nine o’clock in to morning to five o’clock in the evening for five days a week. He was a little soft around the stomach and loved to read mystery novels. That’s all there is to know about him, really.

Johnathon lived alone. Of course, he didn’t feel like he was alone. Every morning the birds were singing just for him, it seemed. Every evening he would make himself a lovely meal. Yes, Johnathon lived alone. But some might say he was the happiest a man could be.

One gray Saturday evening, just after Johnathon had finished his dinner, there was a ringing at the door of his small, peach colored home. “Visitors!” Johnathon thought excitedly (he didn’t have too many visitors these days). He wiped his mouth, got out of his chair, and scurried to the front door. Instead of a visitor, Johnathon found a box lying on his very clean poch. It was around the size of his head, with blue and yellow string sitting in a bow on top. “How odd…” He thought out loud. Johnathon had not ordered a package. “A mystery! I love mysteries!” Johnathon was very excited now. He grabbed the box and rushed inside, heaving the cumbersome package onto the spotless table. Johnathon thought it would be fun to leave it until tomorrow morning, just like Christmas when he was a boy. What Johnathon hadn’t noticed was the label on the package. It read: “For whomever it sees fit.”

The next morning Johnathon woke up in a delightful mood. He jumped out of bed and rushed to the dining table as though he was a child on Christmas morning. Johnathon pulled out a pair of scissors and cut all the string. Then he opened the lid. Empty. It was an empty box. “How could an empty box be so heavy?” Johnathon wondered. He picked up the box again, and it was light as a feather. ”AH HA! Another layer to an already thrilling mystery!” he said out loud to absolutely no one. “I will solve it. But first, breakfast!” Johnathon made himself a cup of coffee and scrambled two eggs. As he was sitting down, he heard the tea kettle start to whistle. There was no tea kettle in his house.

Johnathon grabbed a kitchen knife. He wasn’t excited anymore. “Wh—who’s there? If you don’t show yourself I’ll call the police!” Johnathon slowly walked forward towards his bedroom. He gripped the knife so tightly his knuckles turned white. He heard himself chuckle. A sweat bead ran down Johnathon’s forehead. The chuckle turned into a laugh. Johnathon’s lips weren’t moving. In fact there were pursed. And that’s when he knew what was in the house.

He ran outside, down the street and into the police station. “Excuse me, sir,” he panted, “someone has broken into my house.”

“How do you know?” The officer inquired.

“Well, I don’t have a tea kettle but I heard a tea kettle going off,” Johnathon explained. “Please sir, I need your help.”

“Go home,” the police officer said in a voice that sounded extremely similar to Johnathon’s. “I’m waiting for you.”

Johnathon screamed at the top of his lungs and ran as fast as his legs could carry him down the street in the opposite direction of his small, peach-colored house. But no matter how far Johnathon ran, he landed right back at his front door. He felt his head start to spin. “What is happening to me?” he sobbed. He flung open the door, only to find the person he’d least expect to meet face to face: Himself.

No one ever saw either of the two Johnathon Matthews again; and no one ever questioned his absence. Not for a year. And when the police finally checked his house in search of him, all that they found was one box. The box sat unopened on the table.


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