The Old Red Lunchbox: A Short Story Attempt

I want to one day write short stories, so I thought I would try to pen one here. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Sophia picked up the old red lunchbox and was disappointed to see that it looked quite ordinary for an object with supposedly special powers. As she listened to her mother’s instructions regarding how she must take extra care of the lunchbox that was now her responsibility, she tried to hide her distress at finding nothing very special about it.

Since she was a child, Sophia had heard stories of objects appearing in the lunchbox, like magic, just when they were needed by her great-grandmother, her grandmother, and her mother as they carried the old red lunchbox. She had dreamed of the day when it would be passed down to her. But now seeing how old and dented it was, she thought, “What a bummer! It’s just an old, dented piece of metal! The other children are going to tease me if I take it to school!”

She started to say aloud what she was thinking, but when she saw the joy and pride on her mother’s face, she just couldn’t hurt her mother’s feelings. So, she smiled her most beautiful smile and thanked her mother, promising to take very good care of it.

Then she went to her room and tried to think of ways to avoid taking the lunchbox to school with her, or, at least, how to not let other children see it. But, sitting in her bed that night, she remembered one particular story about the old lunchbox that had always enchanted her.

Nana Jean, her grandmother, had loved to read, but there wasn’t much money for books in her farm family. One day, there was a book sale at her school, and Jean worked hard doing extra chores to earn a dime to buy her own book. She was so excited at the thought of writing her name in her own book!

But, on the way to school the day of the book fair, some big boys knocked her down, reached into the pockets of her coat, and took the dime that she had saved for her book. The only thing they didn’t take was her red lunchbox, because it was old.

Jean was so heartbroken because the book fair was only for the one day and she had no other way to get money in such a short time. She walked on to school, and when her best friend, Leah, asked her if she were going to buy a book, she sadly told her what had happened and that she didn’t have anything left but her old red lunchbox.

At noon, as she and Leah walked to the lunchroom, they heard a rattling in Jean’s lunchbox. When Leah asked about the noise coming from her lunchbox, Jean said that she didn’t know what it was. She opened the lunchbox, and when she saw what was making the noise, she nearly fainted!

Two quarters were lying in the corner of her lunchbox, just next to her sandwich. “How did they get there?” she wondered. When Leah saw the quarters, she said, “Oh, good. Now you can buy FIVE books!” And that is just what Jean did!

Arriving home, she hugged and thanked her mother for the two quarters in her lunchbox, for only her mother could have put them there. But her mother said that she hadn’t placed the quarters in her lunchbox, and that she must not tell anyone else about the quarters, because people may think the lunchbox was haunted or that her mother was a witch!

Jean never found out where the quarters came from, but from that day, she carried her old red lunchbox with pride. As an adult, she became the head librarian at her old school, and she owed it all to the old red lunchbox. Eventually she passed it down to her daughter, Sophia’s mother, along with the story of the quarters.

As Sophia continued to sit on her bed, she remembered the other stories of odd happenings with the old red lunchbox, like the love letter her mother found one day in the lunchbox that led to her marrying Sophia’s father. With these memories in her head, Sophia realized that each generation of woman passed the lunchbox down to the next generation as an act of love and with a hope that their dreams would be realized, too.

Sophia decided not to worry about being teased by the other children. She just knew that someday she would open the old red lunchbox and there would be a surprise for her that would change her life, just as had happened to the women in her family before her. She would carry that old, rusted, dented lunchbox without being embarrassed, knowing that all of the brave women that had preceded her would be proud of her.

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