A writing prompt, tonight, from writersdigest.com:
You're cleaning out your garage and, hidden away in a back corner, you find an old shoebox. The box is heavier than it should be. When you open it up, you find cash—$40,000, to be exact. Where did the cash come from, who hid it there and why?
"My garage could only be cleaned out with a shovel" I think, standing in the middle of the chaos. We were getting our home ready to sell after 6 years of living, and the garage had, somehow, become the overflow for every homeless thing. I knew that it needed to be tackled, and yet my energy and ambition was seeping rapidly away as I looked around me. Besides, there might be spiders. Black widow spiders. And those were creepy.
With a sigh, I turned to the most benign objects first, loading the Goodwill bags of shoes, toys, and clothes into the car to drop off that afternoon. Throwing away deflated pink, plastic pool toys from last summer and non-working strings of lights from Christmas. Rearranging gardening tools on the utility shelf to make it look nice. Sweeping out corners where autumn leaves had collected. It felt useful. It felt exciting. Slowly, I was making progress.
Picking up a seldom used croquet set and placing it on the giveaway pile, I noticed a dusty, dented shoebox on the garage floor. Reaching for it, I wondered if it was another Christmas present, purchased early, hidden, and forgotten. The box was heavy. I inspected it to make sure that no spiders were going to go darting across my hand, then pulled off the black lid.
Gasping, I dropped the lid on the floor. The box was filled with money. Hundred dollar bills. Filled. My mind spun, whose could it be?! How much money was in here?! It was carefully divided into piles of 100. 40 piles of 100 bills. Forty thousand dollars.
I placed the lid back on the box, and sat down on the lawn mower. Resting my head on one hand, I felt a sudden fear. Had someone hidden it here, when we'd left the garage door open one day? How long had it been there, for goodness sake? I shook my head, trying to clear it. It was almost time to pick up the kids from school, so I shoved the box back against the wall where I'd found it. Turning suddenly and walking back inside the house, I leaned against the wall for a moment. One thing was certain: it was a lot of money, and it certainly wasn't mine.
For a brief moment, as I picked up the phone, I imagined what I could do with $40,000. I imagined a car that was less than 10 years old. I imagined graduate school. I imagined a dining room set that hadn't been purchased, on sale, from Salvation Army. Dialing, I held the phone to my ear and waited. I dreamed of sending my parents on their Alaskan dream cruise. I dreamed of getting all my siblings and their kids together at a house on the Outer Banks for a week.
The local deputy at the sheriff's office picked up the phone, and I sheepishly explained what I'd found. He said he'd be over. He arrived even faster than the paramedics when I'd delivered my third baby on the couch, and asked to see the money. I took him out to the garage and showed him the box. His eyes lit up slightly, and I felt a flash of irritation. It wasn't my money, but it wasn't his either.
After he drove away with the box, promising to keep me updated on the investigation of where it had come from and who it belonged to, I wondered if I would ever find out, if I would ever know, where it had come from and what became of it.