Orcella Moss sat at his kitchen table with a small box of bones in front of him. Every once and awhile he’d reach out and jiggle the box around and then he’d look down into the top of it and sometimes he’d start to reach into it and then he’d stop.
Then he moved the box back to the center of the table and he wondered.
He wondered where his 13-year-old daughter could have found a human jawbone and other broken little pieces of bone and how it all ended up in an old fashion hatbox mixed up with the bits and pieces of her day-to-day life.
Orcella could hear her up in her room; a little while ago he had heard her TV go on, then he heard a beep and whine and then a hum as her computer came to life and he wondered how that little monster could do anything as normal as hit on and off switches when she’d been living in the same room with a busted human jaw bone, a mummified finger and little bits of bone in a hatbox she had left on her desk top.
Earlier that morning Orcella had gone up to Kirsten’s room to liberate the batteries from the remote control for the TV in the living room that somehow always found their way upstairs to Kirsten’s room and into her remote control.
That’s when he saw the old box with the faded candy pink stripes sitting on her desk and almost as an after thought looked down into it.
The box was right next to her California Cutie doll and her makeup (cotton candy flavored lipstick and some blush-on) and her hairbrush and a little bottle of perfume she’d mixed herself at Scent By You at the Mall.
And in the middle of all of that junk was the hatbox with the jawbone that was on the table in front of him now. He looked into the box one more time and that’s when he noticed the nail on the finger was manicured and polished and had a tiny rainbow decal near it’s tip.
“ Kirsten,” he called up to her “ come on down here for a second, would you?”
He heard the sound go down on the TV and she called back, “ What?”
“ I want to talk to you.”
“ Busy.” She called back in her best little girl in the world voice.
Then not only did the TV go back on it went up.
“ Kirsten get down here.”
“ This better be important Dad,” she snapped back from over the racket “ cause I’m…”
“ Missing something from off your desk. So get down here NOW.”
The TV clicked off and the computer hummed and shut down. He could hear Kirsten walking across her bedroom floor. He heard the door open and then close and then the sound of her footsteps at the top of the stairs.
“ This is very serious Dad.” He heard her walking down the steps “ You need to respect me and my privacy.”
She was standing in the kitchen now. Her mouth was a hard straight line and her chin was tilted up and she looked down her nose at him, “ That box is mine and what’s in it is mine and I want it back.”
“ I want to know where you found this Kirsten, for heaven’s sake Kid, this is a human jaw bone and what are these? “ he held the box up and shook it at her.
“ Finger bones, “ she held her hand up ‘ fingertip bones, I don’t know exactly but they’re mine Daddy and I want them back.”
“ Just answer me, where did you find this stuff?’ she was looking at him with a dull flat expression and he knew very well by the look on her face she hadn’t ‘found’ anything. Not in this condition anyway.
He tried another tact.
“ Kirsten these are human remains and you had them mixed in with your makeup, some CD’s and a half eaten candy bar and a stale bagel. Do you know how abnormal that is?”
It was very clear by the way she was still looking down her nose that she did know and that she also didn’t care.
“ Give me back my things Daddy.” She said in her best schoolmarm voice. “ Or else.”
“ Or what Kirsten? Am I going to end up in a box on your desk with candy bar wrappers and a half eaten bagel?”
“ No, but you know that thing you have hidden in the basement? If you want it back Daddy you’ll hand that box over right now.”
“ You didn’t…”
“ I mean it Daddy, hand the box over right now.”
He practically threw it at her and as she bent over to pick up some of the little bones that had fallen out she said, “ you’re gross Daddy “ she said with disgust “ I can’t believe you brought that into our house and hid it in a trunk with the Christmas ornaments. That’s twisted.”
She was looking into the box and then she looked around on the floor and came back up with the finger with the nail still attached and she dropped it into the box. “ You’re sick Daddy, you need help.”
Orcella watched Kirsten stomp up the stairs, he heard the door slam shut and the music go on full blast. It was loud; loud enough to shake the pictures on the wall, loud enough to attract attention, loud enough to maybe force the neighbors to call the police and complain.
Orcella didn’t go up the stairs, he went back into his kitchen and down the steps to the basement…and then he started to clear the Christmas ornaments out of the trunk.