Tag: mystery

Charlie’s Room: A Mysterious Package

There was a box on the front steps when Isaac got home from work. The mailing label clearly had their last name and address, but Isaac didn’t remember ordering anything. Perhaps Marianne was expecting a package. He picked it up and carried it inside.

Charlie met him in the entryway. “Dad! You’re home. What’s that?”

Isaac held out the box. “I think it’s for your mother. Do you want to take it to her?”

“Mom!” Charlie ran into the kitchen with the box.

Isaac changed his shoes and followed Charlie into the kitchen. He went a little more slowly and quietly, but that happens as you get older. You learn to save your energy for other things, like late night movie marathons or long days at the office.

Marianne held up the box when he came in. “What’s this?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t order anything.”

“Neither did I.” Marianne frowned. They both looked at Charlie.

“It wasn’t me! I’m not allowed to order things.”

They looked back at the box. Marianne shook it gently. “Maybe someone sent us something. Let’s open it and see what’s inside.”

Inside the box, there was a single shoe. The left side was bright red, and the right side was bright blue. Marianne picked up the shoe and turned the box upside down. A packing slip drifted gently to the floor.

Isaac picked it up. “It looks like there’s only supposed to be one shoe. Someone ordered a left shoe, but it doesn’t say who.”

“What kind of shoe is it?” Charlie asked.

“It’s a bowling shoe.” Marianne smiled. “We haven’t taken you bowling, have we? I can’t remember the last time I went bowling.”

“Is it fun? When can we go? Tomorrow? Next week?”

“We’ll have to see when they’re open,” Marianne said. She set the shoe back in the box and set it on the counter.

“I’ll email the company and let them know that we didn’t order this. I imagine someone is really disappointed they didn’t get their shoe today.” Isaac checked the packing slip for contact information.

He sent the email and forgot about it as they got ready for dinner. After dinner, they started a movie marathon. Charlie fell asleep before the first movie was over.

The next morning, the box was empty. Isaac noticed, and wondered where the shoe went. He moved the box to the edge of his desk so that he’d remember to ask, and then started going through the bills and balancing the budget. An hour later, the box was completely forgotten.

Two days later, Isaac received an email, telling him that the information appeared to be correct, the shoe was paid for, and so the company wasn’t worried about a single misplaced shoe. Isaac put the box in the recycling and forgot all about it.

A month later, in the middle of the night, Isaac woke up and went to the kitchen for a drink of water. The moon was nearly full, and the kitchen was brightly lit. He didn’t need to turn on the light. Just as he stepped into the kitchen, something growled.

He froze. The growling grew louder and louder. Something emerged from the wall next to the stove and raced across the kitchen floor. It was the bowling shoe, on wheels, with a little man inside clutching a steering wheel and cackling with glee. There were nice seats and all the appropriate bumpers and mirrors and such, as far as Isaac could tell.

The car disappeared into the opposite wall, and the growling sound faded away. Isaac waited a few moments longer. When nothing happened, he got his drink of water and went to bed.

At dinner the next day, he asked. “Do you remember the bowling shoe?”

“Whatever happened with that? Marianne asked. “Did you send it back?”

“No, they said to keep it,” Isaac said. “But then it disappeared.”

“A mouse stole it to live in like the old woman in the shoe,” Charlie said. “There’s a picture like that in one of my books.”

“I wonder if it ended up in the recycling by accident?” Marianne looked concerned. “Did they charge us extra on our last bill?”

Isaac leaned forward. “Actually, a tiny person made it into a car. I saw him driving around the kitchen last night.”

Marianne and Charlie laughed.

“I wish I remembered my dreams,” Charlie said. “I bet I dream of really funny things, too.”

“I don’t really remember my dreams either.” Marianne sighed. “I guess you get that from me. Sorry, kiddo. Luckily, you are good at using your imagination when you’re awake, so I don’t think you’re missing out. Right?” She turned to Isaac and smiled.

“Right,” he said. And the conversation moved on. They never mentioned the shoe again. But sometimes at night, when Isaac heard the growling sound of a nearby car, he wondered if the sound was coming from outside or inside. He was never sure.

Charlie’s Room: Shoelaces

Isaac waited by the front door for Charlie. He waited and waited. “Charlie? Are you coming?”

“I’ll be there in a moment,” Charlie called down the hall.

Isaac continued waiting. “How long is a moment?”

“Just a little bit longer,” Charlie called.

Isaac waited. “How long is a little bit?”

“Just a second.”

Isaac counted one-one-thousand-two and decided to go check on Charlie. He found him sitting on his bedroom floor tying his new sneakers. “Are you sure you want to wear your new sneakers to the park?”

Charlie tied his shoelaces in a triple bow. He looked up. “It would be a great way to break them in. All that running and climbing and jumping would be perfect.”

That made sense. Isaac smiled. “Great idea! Let’s go.”

“There’s only one problem,” Charlie said.

“What’s that?”

“Look.” Charlie lifted one of his feet. The shoelaces dangled to the sides of the shoe untied.

That didn’t make sense. Isaac thought back over the last two minutes. “I didn’t see you untie your shoes.”

“That’s because I didn’t untie them. The shoelaces keep untying themselves.” Charlie let his foot fall back to the floor with a thump.

“But you tied a triple bow!”

“I know.” Charlie sighed. “I’ve tried knots and giant bows and shoving the ends inside my shoes and tying the ends around my ankle, but they just won’t stay tied at all.”

Isaac sat down next to Charlie. “This is a puzzle. Can I try?”

“Sure.” Charlie stretched out his foot so that Isaac could reach the laces.

Isaac rubbed a shoelace between his fingers. It felt like a normal shoelace. It wasn’t waxy or slippery or oily.

He tied the laces in a double bow. As soon as he let go of the shoelaces, they slowly fell out of the bow somehow. It didn’t make any sense. He tried other knots and bows. When the laces fell out of a series of eight knots, Isaac knew there was something wrong with the laces.

“Do you think they’re unlucky shoelaces?” Charlie asked.

“Have you tried wearing your lucky socks to cancel out any bad luck?”

Charlie frowned. “I thought about it, but what if it works? If I had to wear my lucky socks every day to keep my shoes tied, I’d wear out my lucky socks.”

Isaac smiled and patted Charlie’s shoe. “I think it would be better to know either way. If it’s bad luck, maybe we can find a way to make them lucky. How did your lucky socks get lucky?”

“I don’t know.” Charlie thought for a moment. “I think I just noticed that good things happened when I wore them. Do you think having good things happen can make things lucky? Or maybe doing good things like helping people?”

“That’s a great idea. Maybe we can test that later. Do you want to try your lucky socks now to see if they’ll help you shoelaces?”

“Okay.” Charlie took off his shoes and walked to his dresser. He changed socks and returned to put his new sneakers back on. He tied the laces in a double bow. The laces fell out of the bow as soon as he let go. “I guess they’re not unlucky.” Charlie changed his socks and put his lucky socks away.

“Maybe they’re just really, really stubborn.” Isaac looked at the shoelaces. “Do you think it would help if we asked them nicely to stay tied?”

“It’s worth a try,” Charlie said. He sat next to Isaac and put his shoes back on. He looked down at his shoelaces. “Hello, new shoelaces. I’m Charlie. I’d like you to stay tied, please, until I’m ready to take my shoes off. If my shoes don’t stay tied, my shoes could fall off or I could trip over you and fall.”

Charlie tied the laces into a bow. The shoelaces stayed tied. Charlie and Isaac waited. One-one-thousand-two. The shoelaces were still tied.

“It worked,” Isaac said at last.

“Thank you, shoelaces,” Charlie said. He stood up and walked in a circle. “They’re still tied. I think we can go to the park now.”

Isaac stood up with a smile. “I’ve never seen polite shoelaces before.”

Charlie shrugged. “Maybe the shoelaces are polite, or maybe please and thank you really are magic words. I don’t know. I’m just glad my shoes are staying tied.”

“Me too,” Isaac said. “Let’s go to the park.”