I don’t know why my family had such an affinity for handmade wooden boxes of various shapes and sizes, but I inherited the love for them and their backstories.
One of these boxes, a smallish rectangle with a hinged lid and dovetail joints, made its way through the hands of generations of women on my mother’s side, and landed in mine. My great grandmother kept a lock of hair wrapped in tissue and an abandoned cross stitch project inside the box and I became its caretaker.
I never learned whose head the lock of hair belonged to, but the unfinished cross stitch holds images of GG in her pink bedroom, sitting in her white rocking chair, the material draped over her lap, stitching by the glow of a nearby lamp woven into its fabric.
I’ll also never know why she stopped where she did, on the ‘a’ in the word ‘sake’, right before the next line, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
She left the needle, still threaded with navy blue floss, tucked into the canvas, ready for her return. Over the years, it detached from the material and disappeared, a rusty imprint the only evidence it existed.
I’ve thought many times about completing her project, but deep down, in some irrational part of my heart, I think if it’s finished, then she’s done, she’s really gone. But if it remains a work in progress, then it’s simply waiting for her return.
I refold it for the umpteenth time, place it back in the box, and close the lid once more.
This is the 46th story in the Objects as Waypoints Writing Project series.