Caroline awoke at 4 a.m., as was her habit. As she drank her coffee and walked around her home, she made a mental checklist of everything she needed to accomplish that day. Caroline knew it was a list of ‘shoulds,’ but that didn’t always mean it would get done. In the last few months, she had been feeling lost, wondering what her life was about, why she didn’t have natural talents, and why she wasn’t happy.
She was a writer with nothing published.
An artist with 100 half-finished projects.
A mother whose kids were grown and at the age that they didn’t like her.
A gardener who forgot to pick the vegetables before they wilted.
A wife who was tired of laundry, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and most of all, doing the dishes.
Caroline headed outside to sneak in a smoke on the front porch before anyone was awake. She’d watch Tic-Tok videos and drink her coffee in peace, wondering how the hell one made videos for Tic-Tok.
She noticed a small brown paper box sitting at the driveway’s edge when she stepped outside. Initially, Caroline thought it was an Amazon box. What did she order this time? An official Game of Thrones coloring book? A China Pet Gremlin? Maybe the lifelike elephant inflatable she had found a couple of days ago. Doesn’t every neighborhood need a realistic elephant inflatable? It might be of interest to those who are dedicated walkers/runners. Surely that would add some excitement to her life!
Caroline picked up the box and carried it to her porch, and looked for some type of address. Nothing! Just a note on top.
‘To Caroline. May the world open up to you!’
Now, Caroline had devoted many hours to Netflix crime documentaries. She knew that random brown paper boxes that showed up at a suburban home might not invoke a feeling of safety. According to her hours of research on various crime lords, mob kings, and serial killers- she should put the box back where she found it and call someone. Ever watched the movie ‘Seven’? Never open a brown paper bag.
However, Caroline was on the cusp of a middle-aged woman’s breakdown. She was tittering on the ledge of selling her home and everything in it to head to New Orleans and reinventing herself as a burlesque producer. Or maybe heading to New York to become a fortune cookie writer- heaven knows the cookies need some updating. Though the last one she received was insightful- ‘If you think nobody cares if you are alive, try missing a couple of car payments.’
Caroline set the box down next to her and lit her cigarette. Her mind wondered what the likelihood was that money was in the box. Enough money to pay off her debt! She would be free to travel wherever she wanted! She could go to Europe! She would walk the Great Wall of China. She would swim with the sharks off the coast of some island! She would have something to blog about finally! Her whole world could change in a matter of seconds!
Caroline put out her cigarette and gently placed the box in her lap. As she peeled off the tape, she closed her mouth and stopped breathing- just in case something was dead. Safety first! After a few seconds, she confirmed that there was no decaying smell coming from inside, and she happily continued on her quest for financial freedom.
Caroline peered into the box. There was a small folded piece of paper at the bottom. Maybe a check? A check from a mystery person who felt sorry for her as she walked circles around Barnes and Noble last week looking for a book to inspire her? Or maybe the pleasant lady at the Fred Meyers checkout line. This person quickly became Caroline’s new best friend due to the number of times she went into the store to ‘window shop’?
Caroline took out the note, feeling at that moment that her whole world was going to change for the better! She gingerly unfolded her destiny and read:
How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
After staring at the handwritten sentence, Caroline put the note back into the box and set it next to her again. She lit another cigarette and took a drink of her coffee. She stared into the neighborhood, listening to the soft sounds of morning. She didn’t feel let down! It was pleasant to have a dream for 2.3 seconds. And like all dreams, you have to wake up at some point. However, there was one nagging thought that would not stop running through her mind- how much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?