When Isaac got home from work, there was a package waiting on the table. “Who’s that from?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” Marianne said. “It doesn’t say. Why don’t you open it and see what it is?”
“Huh, I didn’t order anything,” Isaac said. He rummaged around on his desk and found some scissors.
“Can I open it, Dad?” Charlie asked.
“Let your Dad do it,” Marianne said. “It’s addressed to him. Come help me set the table.”
“But I want to see what’s in the package first,” Charlie said. “Then I’ll set the table.”
“I’d better hurry and open it then,” Isaac said. Using one leg of the scissors, he sliced through the tape across the top of the box. Then he turned the scissors sideways and cut the tape still holding the box flaps down.
He opened the box and pushed aside the bubble wrap. “It’s an egg timer,” he said.
He lifted out the little blue owl-shaped timer. Charlie reached for it. “Can I see it?” he asked.
“Sure.” Isaac handed it over and watched Charlie twist the owl so that it was looking over its shoulder. “I don’t remember ordering this,” he said.
“I didn’t order it either,” Marianne said. “Maybe it was a gift. Is there a card?”
Isaac pulled out the bubble wrap. “Nope, it’s just bubble wrap,” he said.
“Well, maybe the card will come later,” she said.
“But it’s not your birthday,” Charlie said. “Why do you get the cool owl timer?”
“I don’t know. Why don’t you keep it?” Isaac asked.
“Yay! Thanks, Dad,” Charlie said. He gave Isaac a hug just as the timer rang.
“Sounds like it’s time to set the table,” Marianne said. “Give Dad the timer, and he can put it in your room.”
“Okay,” Charlie said and handed over the timer. He dashed off to the kitchen.
“I’d better go drain the noodles,” Marianne said.
Isaac took the timer to Charlie’s room and left it on his desk. He was still holding the box. He set it down on Charlie’s desk and took out the bubble wrap. Pop, pop, pop, pop. He quickly popped all the bubbles.
There was another piece of bubble wrap in the box. He took it out. Right in the center, there was a bright red bubble. How unusual. Isaac popped it right away.
It started ticking. It took Isaac a second to realize it wasn’t the timer. He dropped it, prepared to back up. What if it was a bomb?
No, he couldn’t leave it here in Charlie’s room. He picked it up again and rushed out of the house and dropped it on the driveway. It ticked a few more times and then disappeared in a puff of smoke. When the smoke cleared away, there was nothing left.
Isaac hurried inside and checked in Charlie’s room. Everything was just like he left it. The box, used-up bubble wrap, and timer looked completely normal.
He checked the bubble wrap. No red dots. He didn’t see any wires or anything. He held it up to the light. Nothing. But then, he hadn’t seen anything in the other sheet of bubble wrap, either. He looked suspiciously at the timer and the box. The timer had worked all right before, but that was no guarantee it was safe. And if bubble wrap could explode? What could a box do?
He slipped the timer into his pocket, then took the box and bubble wrap and closed them in the tall metal trash can they kept outside. If they were safe, he’d recycle them later. He looked at the timer and turned it all the way around. Then he set it in the driveway and stepped back. Five minutes later, it rang. He tried it again and again. Nothing changed.
Marianne came out the front door. “There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s time for dinner,” she said.
“The bubble wrap exploded when I popped it,” Isaac said.
“Were you hurt?” Marianne asked. “I didn’t know bubble wrap exploded.”
“I didn’t either,” Isaac said. “I’m fine. It was just loud.”
“Well, that’s okay then,” Marianne said. “Come inside for dinner. I thought you were going to leaver the timer in Charlie’s room.”
“I need to make sure it’s safe first,” Isaac said.
“If you wanted to keep it, you should have just said so. I’ll go tell Charlie. He’ll understand.” Marianne hurried back inside. The door closed and then opened again. “Are you coming?” she asked.
“I’m right behind you,” Isaac said. He picked up the egg timer and followed her inside.