Maggie's Hope Chest (short story)
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Maggie settled back on her heels and let out a contented sigh. She could not hide the grin that toyed at her lips. The day had been perfect: the weather breezy and cool, airing the indoors through open windows. At lunch, there had been a small party with Granny, a few uncles, aunts, cousins, and of course, her family. There were gifts, cake, and ice-cream sprinkled amidst laughter and teasing.
"Shall it be sweet sixteen, then?" Aunt Vi had asked.
"Or sour?" Trent ducked as Maggie swatted at him, threatening with a teasing voice, "You'd better remember that you're not sixteen yet and we can turn that around on you."
Maggie smiled at the memories as she waved “goodbye” to the last of her cousins. The day was beautifully complete—waiting only for her pen to recount it in her journal. When she entered her bedroom, she gave a cry of delight and dashed back to the living room, landing Father with a huge hug—whether or not it was appropriate for a sixteen year-old. Ever since she was thirteen, Maggie's heart was set on a hope chest for her sixteenth birthday. But Father had been busy working. She was sure that it had taken him long hours to carve the intricate design on the top of the lid. How did he ever find time?
Now, as she whispered her "thank you," Father held her back at arm's length and a hint of sadness crowded his blue eyes. "For my almost ‘growed’-up daughter," he said softly. Maggie ignored the glimpse of sorrow and instead felt the thrill of "almost growed up." She had already determined that her hope chest would be the keeping place of her treasure for when she was indeed "growed up"—transitioning the items from her hope chest to the home that she one day prayed God would give her.
Maggie spent the next day carefully planning what items she could add to her hope chest, and added to that list continually as the months passed. Between birthdays, Christmas, and her upcoming graduation, Maggie could count on her family members and friends to show their love in gifts. Between the gifts and her own craftsmanship, it did not take long for the hope chest to gain weight as it nestled under her window.
It was several months after Maggie's graduation when Trent burst into the kitchen as Maggie was cutting out biscuits. "Did you hear the news?"
"Good news?" As Maggie lifted her head to meet Trent's eyes, she saw the answer reflected in his furrowed brow and regretted her question. "What's wrong?"
"The Gahin's house burned last night. Everyone's fine, but the smoke destroyed everything that might have survived the fire."