Saturday Short: Inside The Curio Case by @isobelpoe

Title: Inside The Curio Case

Author: Jill Albright
Twitter: @isobelpoe

Check out her book here: The Black Boot History of Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth was a very pretty little girl whose parents wanted to provide all the best for her. As she grew up her parents began to feel that she was too beautiful, too special for the fellows who lived in her small town. They convinced Elizabeth that this was a fact.

“Look there, see Hansel with his dirty jeans? He will never care how he presents himself.”


“Look at what a loud little monster Derrick is! He is going to grow up to be a musician and leave a trail of broken-hearted women crying everywhere he goes.”

Hansel was dirty and Derrick was loud and they were the two best boys from Elizabeth's school.

Inside a tall curio case, in the family room of Elizabeth's house, there was a ventriloquist's doll, a man with dark hair, blue eyes, a suit and a top hat. She wasn't allowed to take him down out of the case, but she would sit and talk to Charles (Charles Van Du Lac was the name on a tag just inside the lapel of his suit) many hours each day. She sat before the curio case on the plush beige carpet and played with the inexpensive baby dolls from the 5 & 10 that she was allowed to damage. Charles said watching Elizabeth mother their children filled his heart with joy.

Of course, when Elizabeth grew older and went off to college, Charles Van Du Lac and their babies somewhat slipped her mind. She had, in fact, thrown the babies out years earlier.

Elizabeth was so taken with beauty and perfection, all she wanted to do was be a photographer.

Charles, still inside the curio case, was very lonely and quite dismayed about the babies. But what could he do? He was locked inside the glass and Elizabeth's parents were getting older and older.

He knew that any day now they would notice the curio case and decide to throw the entire thing out, with him inside!

What if they died or moved away or God forbid the house caught on fire? Surely no one would remember to save him in such a dire situation!

Some days, Charles spent the entire day crying, but behind the glass, behind his tiny wire-rimmed glasses, no one would've seen his tears, even if they'd looked at him.

Eventually there was a layer of dust on the curio case. During the holidays and in the summer Elizabeth would return and she would clean the glass so Charles could once again see out clearly.

A couple of times she snuck him out of the case and would take pictures. She even took him out back once. His wooden heart beat like a drum in his chest.

Charles Van Du Lac became very sad the next Christmas though, because Elizabeth brought home a date. The young man was most definitely a loser and not good enough for Elizabeth. After a few days it became apparent that everyone else in the family agreed, most especially Elizabeth, as the guy was sent away, never to return.

Elizabeth was not at all sad about becoming an old maid; She still had her parents to care for and she had found no man who was good enough.

Soon she moved back home and ran a photography business right out of her house.

Charles didn't cry anymore now that she had returned home and he could see her every day.

Things were almost perfect.

Still, he wanted Elizabeth for his bride and since even human men were not good enough and he was merely all wood, he just didn't know how he could change things for the better.

He would sit and daydream about the day when Elizabeth would take him out of the glass and hold him again. He heard her voice, saw her clients, even felt that if he truly needed to, he could protect her.

One day Elizabeth unlocked the curio case. She looked Charles directly in his eyes and spoke to him, “Well, my old friend, it looks like we are going to have to relocate you. The children are afraid of you.”

“What?! Kids are never afraid of me!”

He was caught off guard and had spoken without thinking.

“It's a different day and time, dahlink,” she said. “I'll take you to my room. Every night will be like a slumber party.”

Charles Van Du Lac was so surprised he didn't know what to say. He was quite speechless. And because he lived with Elizabeth forever, in her room, he never cried again and stayed so happy that he never spoke another word.