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The Most Valuable Thing In The World
The Most Valuable Thing In The World
Uncle Cliff managed to burp a polite, “No thanks,” and put his stockinged feet up on the coffee table. A couple of the younger cousins were up for it as was Uncle Bob, a portly banker with a booming voice and a ready laugh. Bob struggled to his feet and boomed, “Why sure, lad. Who wouldn’t want to see the most valuable thing in the world, hey?” Bob ruffled Jack’s hair and followed the boy out of the room.
Two of the older cousins, Ralph and Flo, also followed Jack through the large foyer, up the sweeping staircase and through the long hallway to Jack’s bedroom. Jack was known to the family, if he was known at all, as a bright boy with an active imagination. His mother often referred to him as “a real story teller.” Jack’s parents had Jack’s life all planned. After an expensive private school education, Jack would attend an Ivy League college and eventually take over the family banking business.
Jack led the small troop down the hallway to his room. The room was a hectic mixture of ten year old junk and museum quality bric-a-brac. Beautifully preserved fossils shared shelf space with childhood stuffed animals. Expensive microscopes and telescopes sat side by side with cheap plastic action figures. Sci-fi movie posters adorned the walls. The room was abnormally neat and clean. Uncle Bob and the cousins wandered around examining the various artifacts and curiosities. Jack, meanwhile, rummaged around under his bed finally extracting a shoe box. He placed the box on the bed and sat down beside it.
“Is that where you keep the most valuable thing in the world,” boomed Uncle Bob, “in a shoe box? Wouldn’t a bank vault be more suitable?” When Jack began to look crestfallen, Bob quickly added, “I’m just teasing you, boy. I can’t help it, I’m a banker.”
“Sometimes the most obvious places make the best hiding places,” said cousin Flo who had a sweet nature.
Jack opened the box and took out an object. Whatever they were expecting, this wasn’t it. What Jack held in his hand was a rectangular object that resembled nothing more than a piece of plate glass. It was about the size and thickness of a pack of cigarettes, perfectly clear and completely blank. Uncle Bob took it and looked at it examining it from all sides. “Very nice, Jack,” Uncle Bob said. “What the hell is it?”
Bob handed the object to Flo who shrugged and handed it to Ralph. Ralph looked through it and made funny faces at Jack. Flo giggled at his antics. “Looks like a piece of glass to me,” Ralph said.
“It’s not glass,” said Jack a little petulantly, “it’s a diamond and it comes from an asteroid made from a gigantic diamond.”
“I don’t think so, cousin,” said Ralph who was majoring in geology and fancied himself an authority on all things mineral. “First of all diamonds don’t come from asteroids, they come from deep inside the Earth and second of all, even if it was a real diamond, nobody would ever cut a diamond into this shape. You’d make it into jewels like a ring or a necklace, you know, sparkly things.”
“I’m afraid Ralph’s right,” chimed in Flo. “I would never wear a diamond like that.”
“Who told you it was a diamond?” asked Uncle Bob. “One of your friends? What a lot of nonsense, I’m afraid he’s played you for a fool.” Bob tossed the object back on the bed. Jack picked it up and put it back in the shoe box with his other treasures: his baseball card collection, the cub scout medal he got for story telling, his foreign coin collection. “I hate to be the one to tell you, my boy, but whoever said that this was valuable was pulling your leg. The thing’s worthless.” And with that remark, Uncle Bob stood up and left the room mumbling something about dessert.
“Don’t listen to him,” said Flo. “Sometimes grown ups forget what it’s like being a kid. It’s valuable if you think it’s valuable. At least it’s valuable to you and that’s worth something.”
“Thanks for showing us your stuff,” said Ralph. “It was cool.” The cousins followed Bob out of the room and down the stairs leaving jack alone with his treasures.
Jack retrieved the object and examined it closely. He felt along the edges with his fingers until he felt the spot he was looking for. He pressed until his finger turned white from the pressure. After a while the rectangle glowed and a face appeared on its surface. It was not a human face. “I told you no one would believe you,” it said in heavily accented English. “Now what can I do for you?”
esullivan240 - You got me just long enough that the reveal caught me slightly off guard. Good one! Thanks for writing this. I enjoyed it.
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