The Fish’s Box

One day, the Jameson family went fishing. Mr. and Mrs. Jameson set up the chairs and fishing rods and buckets of water for the fish they caught. The children stood next to the car looking displeased.

“I don’t even like fish,” the oldest child whined.   “I don’t like how they smell or move or look or taste.”

“Fishing is so boring,” the middle child picked up where her brother left off. “And I don’t like fish either.”

The youngest child narrowed her eyes.   “I don’t want fish. I want pizza.”

“Me too,” the oldest child said. “I want pizza. Pizza, pizza, pizza…” He began to chant. The other children joined in.

“All right, all right,” Mr. Jameson said. “I’ll take you into town to get pizza. We’ll leave Mom in charge of the fishing rods.   You’ll be jealous when she and I are eating whatever she catches while we’re gone.”

Mr. Jameson loaded the children into the car and drove away. Mrs. Jameson looked at the fishing rods and sighed. This fishing trip wasn’t her idea. Mr. Jameson had told her that it would be a great family bonding experience, but now her family was off bonding without her.

Fortunately, she had come prepared. She had slipped the book she was reading into her purse on the way out the door. She only had two chapters left. She couldn’t wait to find out how the book ended.

But just as she opened her book, one of the fishing poles began to bend and dance. She closed her book, slipped it back into her purse, and grabbed the pole. Within minutes, she unhooked the fish and slid it into a nearby bucket where it began to swim in little circles.

“Let me out,” it called from the bucket in a tiny voice.

Mrs. Jameson looked up from her book. “If I let you go, I won’t have time to catch something else for dinner.”

“If it’s time you need, I could help you with that,” the fish said.

Mrs. Jameson put her book down again. “I don’t really like the taste of fish anyway.” She emptied the bucket back into the river.

The fish swam back up to the surface. “I’ll be right back.”

It returned an hour later with a strange box. It looked like a jewelry box with the rainbow sheen of mother-of-pearl, but it had buttons and dials on one side. “Here it is. I fixed it up just for you. It’s amazing what you can find laying around down there,” the fish said. “I once saw Davy Jones’ locker.”

“That’s not real,” Mrs. Jameson said.

“Believe what you will,” the fish replied.   “Now let me explain how this works.   If you do this and that and this, it will freeze time for everyone else and give you an extra hour in the day, without making you any older. It only works once a day.”

Mrs. Jameson reached for the box, but the fish pulled it back. “Please let me have the box,” she said. “It sounds like just what I need.”

“Listen. This is important. If you open the box, it won’t work anymore, and you’ll age all of the extra hours the box gave you at once.” The fish held out the box.

“Thank you,” Mrs. Jameson said.

“No, thank you,” the fish said, and it disappeared under the water.

Mrs. Jameson put the box into her purse and took out her book again. Just then, Mr. Jameson and the children returned. “No fish?” he said, looking into the buckets. “That’s okay, I ate so much pizza, I couldn’t eat any fish anyway.”

“Did you save me any?” Mrs. Jameson asked.

Mr. Jameson and the children looked at each other.   The youngest held out a half-eaten piece of pizza she’d been nibbling on. She’d already eaten all the toppings. Mrs. Jameson sighed. “I’ll eat when we get home. Let’s pack everything up.”

Once they were all in the car again, Mr. Jameson started driving back to town. “I told the kids we could watch a movie before we went home. It will be a family bonding experience.”

“But we’ll be sitting quietly in the dark,” Mrs. Jameson said.

“Side by side,” Mr. Jameson added.  “And it will give us something to talk about later.”

“Fine,” Mrs. Jameson said. Thanks to the box, she’d still have time to finish her book before bedtime, even if they went to the movie.

So, once they were finally home, Mrs. Jameson pulled out her new box. She began to turn dials and push buttons. Mr. Jameson and the children hurried across the room to get a better look.

“What’s that?” the oldest child asked.

“It’s Mommy’s box. Don’t touch it.”

“What does it do?” the middle child asked.

“It gives Mommy more time. Don’t touch it.”

“How does it work?” the youngest child asked.

“I don’t know. Don’t touch it.”

“I can figure it out,” Mr. Jameson said. And then he picked up the box and opened it up.   “Oh look. It’s empty.”

Mrs. Jameson narrowed her eyes. “It won’t work now.”

Mr. Jameson and the children looked at each other.   “I’ll get the children to bed.   Then I’ll make you something to eat for dinner. Why don’t you sit down and read your book,” he said quickly. Then he rushed the children out of the room.

Mrs. Jameson smiled as she sat down and opened her book. Even if she wasn’t sure if the box would have worked the way it was supposed to, it had given her some extra time after all. Now she could finally finish reading her book.