by Howie Amourscow
originally published at 07:14PM on Monday, May 07, 2007

“Would you like a box?” she said.

I started to say no, it didn’t want to be put away again, when I stopped myself. Of course I wanted a box. It was a gift for my wife. If I’d thought the store would wrap it, I would’ve asked for that, too. Yet, even as I thought this, I couldn’t help thinking it didn’t want to be hidden.

What didn’t want to be hidden?

“Do you have one?” I stammered. The clerk smiled and vanished into the back. She was gone for several minutes.

“Here we-” she said, and stopped. I turned to look at her; I was halfway to the door, clutching the object, my credit card still on the counter. I think if the clerk hadn’t seen it there, she would’ve assumed the worst and called the police. But my name was there, along with a platinum credit limit in excess of the treasure’s price. Some thief I’d be.

I made an excuse about taking a closer look at a – I don’t even know what it was – some kind of Victorian clothes-washing device, I think. She rang me up, but the suspicious look never left her eyes.