Can of Worms

Chapter 1

Behind the Basement Wall

"Ten, nine, eight....."

Brianna scurried down the stairs, and through the maze that was her basement. She needed to find a hiding place, a good one, so that her little sister wouldn't call her the worst hide-and-seek player again. Finding a little cubbyhole between the wall and an ancient couch covered in filmy cobwebs, she dashed to safety. She could hear her sister's voice winding down with a tired "three, two, one....," and was glad to have found a spot.

Trying to fit into this snug place, however, was more difficult than it looked. Brianna had to scrunch her knees to her chest, and rest her head on the wall. Her dark hair immediately became covered in spiderwebs, which made her emit a muffled squeal. Trying to move away from the cobweb-infested wall, Brianna's body betrayed her. Instead of moving away from it, Brianna's hair, which had become caught in the wall's cracks, kept her anchored to it. Her head, like a slinky, bounced back into the wall. Instead of feeling a painful crack, she slammed against something that felt much softer than a wall. Peeling away at this substance with her fingernail, Brianna discovered that it was simply cardboard that had been used to cover a hole in the wall.

Although it seemed like nothing more than an amateur construction job, Brianna's curiosity got the best of her. She tore away at the wall, trying to see what was on the other side. After successfully making a hole in the wall, she caught a glimpse of dull silver. Reaching into the hole, Brianna grabbed hold of a simple coffee can. Bringing it closer to her, she stared quizzically at it.

'This is really weird,' she thought. 'I mean, why would someone leave a dirty old coffee can behind a wall, and seal the wall up to keep me from seeing it?' On sudden thought, she shook it. Brianna heard a soft noise coming from inside. She gingerly opened the can, and extracted a pile of papers. Scanning the first, she realized that it was a poem.

For a long time I have been,
Pining away for you,
In my mind I have seen,
Your eyes, a clear-cut blue.

Looking into my own green eyes,
With a wistful look that mirrors my own,
Your love for me will never die,
Or so I hope.

On this Valentine's Day,
I wonder if our love is fate,
But for now,
Will you go to prom as my date?

The sweet, if not slightly lovesick poem, was attached to the other papers by a single paperclip. Although the papers varied in appearance, some being the simple looseleaf that one would find in a school, and others being the type that one would use for a typical love note, Brianna did not examine them. She did no more than read the first. After realizing that it was a profession of love and a poem wrapped into one, she slowly began to smile. Hoping to discover the identity of the poet, or, as she thought about it, the person who so enamored the poet, Brianna quickly scanned the paper. Maybe it was a love letter to her younger sister, Hope, or maybe it was just an old letter that had been in existence for decades. Musing over it, she realized that the latter must be true. After all, her sister was much too young for a serious profession of love. She was also too young to go to the prom. Resuming her search, Brianna found no signatures. She sighed. Something that had seemed so juicy and interesting had suddenly become trivial.

Brianna had no time to feel disappointed, as she began to hear the pitter-patter of her little sister's footsteps coming down the stairs. She stuffed the papers back into the coffee can, and hastily put it back into the wall. She immediately assumed her uncomfortable hiding position, and forgot all about the poem.

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