Adventures in reading, p.9
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       Adventures in Reading, p.9

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  Chapter 4

  The rest of the school year went quickly for Missy. She wore the strange key on a silver chain around her neck as if it were a pendant. She worked on trying to open the puzzle box everyday after her homework was done. After three weeks of getting nowhere with it she went to the public library and started researching puzzle boxes. She found a book on antiques that showed many beautiful examples but no clues on how to open them. The head media specialist helped her search the Internet and they found a site that offered a book of instructions on how to construct your own. The specialist was so intrigued that she ordered a copy for the library and put a hold on it in Missy’s name. Missy had to wait impatiently another three weeks before it came in.

  It was a warm day in early May and Missy had unsuccessfully compared almost all of the construction plans to her father’s box when she came upon one that seemed similar. She looked at the end product and worked backwards through the assembly to visualize the sequence to open the box. She took out a notebook and wrote down the steps as she moved and turned and twisted and lifted the individual pieces. Slowly the box seemed to be opening and she had a dozen pieces spread out on her bedroom floor, but the final piece would not slide or budge. She sat staring at it until it occurred to her that if her crafty great-grandfather had been an inventor he probably would have made this box to be unique. The last piece wouldn’t slide or turn or twist or lift off so she did exactly what you wouldn’t expect: she pushed the piece in hard. Wow, she thought, I got it! Pushing in the last piece triggered a tiny mechanism to release a hinge on the side of the box. It literally fell open like the trapdoor leading to the lodge’s attic.

  She poured the treasured objects out onto the carpet. Her father had thought that these items were precious enough to hide away in a box almost impossible to open and this was a moment that she could feel really connected to him.

  There were seven things. First there was an old photo of a girl about thirteen or fourteen. It was a school picture and on the back was written I’ll never forget how scared we were in the caves! See you next summer, Mary. This was interesting. It was hard to think of her parents ever being her age, having friends, even being scared. She wondered if her dad had liked Mary in a special way and if they had seen each other the next summer.

  The next item answered that question. It was an old newspaper clipping about a drowning. The victim’s name was Mary Gowen and the picture of her was the same school photo. How sad! Her father must have felt really bad. The article said that her body was never recovered.

  The next four items in the puzzle box seemed sentimental: a badminton birdie, a broken wishbone, a perfectly round skipping stone, and a tiny silver hat from a Monopoly game.

  The last thing was a Swiss Army knife full of all sorts of gadgets. She had never held one in her hand before though she had seen her uncle use one to help open packages at Christmas. She turned the knife over and over in her hands and pulled out all the little tools one by one. She couldn’t identify a few of the thingamajigs but she thought that she could ask her great-grandfather all about the knife and about the girl who drowned when she spent the summer at the lodge. It was still a month away but Missy was getting more excited with every passing day.

  She carefully returned all of the articles to the puzzle box and closed the side hatch. She followed the directions she had written out to put the box back together. Every day she practiced opening and closing the box until she could do it without the instructions and do it fast. On the night before the drive up to Big Pine Lodge she took the key from the chain around her neck and added it to the treasures in the puzzle box. She hardly slept a wink that night.

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