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Bitter Ginger This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The sun paused at the meridian, and so did we it seemed. The movers, my dad, and I had reached a summit of success, almost. All of our furniture was finally settled in our new home, and I was ready to reach that coveted position as well. We had been lifting, carrying, and placing furniture since the crack of dawn, and just a few boxes were left in the moving truck.


My sister, Mia, stood on the front porch, ordering the movers where to put everything. Each piece had a precise location in her mind, I assumed. Mia seemed to be an organized person, but it was probably all in her head. Her room was always spotless—because she shoved everything in drawers, and I would know. For twins, nothing could have been different than the two of us.


As Mia gave out directions, I assisted my dad with the unloading.


“Need any help with that?” I asked as he was about to empty a massive box from the truck.


“Sure son,” Dad replied, “You take this side,” He carefully handed me half of it, “and I'll go in backwards.”


As we carried the box down the driveway, I took in the ambiance of our grand home. It seemed too large for our family, especially because I wouldn't be living here long. Since Mia and I would be leaving for college the next year, my parents decided to get a more suitable place to live. They hoped to get a small house, but were hooked on this one's grey stone and shake siding, generous acreage, and spacious kitchen. So much for downsizing.


“Be careful with that,” my sister remarked as we gingerly made our way up to the porch, “Grandma's china is in there. It's got sentimental value.”


“Don't worry, we've got it!” I said, just then noticing a bold “FRAGILE” on the side.


On our way to the kitchen, I guided my dad through the pyramids of packages and fjords of furniture that cluttered our way. When we had arrived at our destination my dad said, “Alright, on three.” I braced myself before we lifted the heavy box onto the breakfast table.


“One, two, three.”


  After placing it down with caution, my dad complimented my efforts with a “Nice job!” and a high five. “I'm gonna go grab us some lunch,” he said, “Do tacos sound good?”


“Sure,” I said, “I'll eat anything right now.” With a smile and a nod, Dad headed out for our food.


As I was on my way back to the truck, I tripped on the step down to the front porch, but gracefully caught myself. Mia noticed and smirked.


“Careful, Ted.”


“Sorry,” I said, “You know how it goes, new city, new house, new steps to trip over!”


My sister laughed. At least my mistake got her to do that. I always love seeing her beautiful smile shine as her auburn hair shakes. I dashed over to the moving truck to grab another box. I lifted my eyes to see the sun still paused at its highest point. It seemed petrified there, like time was frozen, but my watch kept ticking, so I was probably losing my mind. I noticed the movers were taking a lunch break too, so I decided I'd wait around with Mia after I unloaded this box.


“Hey, put that one in the kitchen,” Mia said strolling over to the truck, “The rest of the boxes go in there.”


“Okay.”

 
I maneuvered my way through a maze of furniture, curtains waiting to be hung, and boxes galore. The house was a mess, but at least it wasn't empty. We were worried that the house would look barren with our small furniture. I thought it would work, eventually, but it didn't seem like it was “coming together” as Mia kept saying it was. Setting my box on the table, it made no sense to me that the last things to be unloaded were kitchen items. After all, we were about to eat, and the plates were still in the moving truck. I shrugged my shoulders and started heading for the door when suddenly, I heard,


“CRASH!”


I froze in my steps as a chill ran down my back. Red-faced, I jerked around to see the source of the sound.


“Oh no,” was all that escaped my mouth in a heavy breath.


On the floor behind the table lay a gigantic box, as helpless as a turtle on its back. In upside-down, black letters read a clear-cut “FRAGILE.” My stomach did a back flip. I wasn't so hungry anymore. Only one thought was running through my mind: Grandma's china.


I quickly peeked out the window to see my sister on the curb next to the driveway's apron. She couldn't have heard the crash being so far away. I rushed over to the scene to examine the damage. I carefully lifted the box back onto the table, placing it on the same side it fell on. (Turning it right side up might have worsened whatever had happened inside.) I didn't have time to stare at the depressed box. Dad could have been home any minute, so I needed to think fast.


“No one will realize that Grandma's china is missing,” I thought, “I can hide it after I see what happened to it.”


I snatched out my pocket knife and flipped it open. After dissecting the poorly taped seam, I freed the box from all that ensnared it. I looked up to see if anyone was coming. Luckily there wasn't. I took a deep breath before uncovering the broken porcelain. While slowly lifting the first flap, I peeked in fearfully. My eyes widened. I lost my breath.


Inside were the smithereens of five dozen red Christmas ornaments—no china. The ornaments were carelessly strewn in; not even their plastic cases were in here. The culprit providing all the weight in this box was none other than the faux Christmas tree, also in pieces, also not in it's box. I was perplexed. You can't put Christmas decorations in a box labeled “Kitchen—Grandma's China—FRAGILE.” Whoever packed this was going to get it. This time, only one thought was running through my mind: Mia.






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