A short story featuring characters from The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries. In this story, we backtrack to the time of the box pyramid.
The box pyramid needed to go. While it made a statement as the first thing you saw in the carriage house, the arrangement of cardboard boxes, piled to the ceiling in back, had made finding anything to wear an absolute ordeal. And Belinda was done with ordeals.
She balanced on top of the ladder next to the pyramid, reaching out for the top box. Poseidon and Aria, two of the kittens Belinda rescued from the roadside, watched with keen interest from the sofa. The kittens had turned the pyramid into their personal Mt. Everest, only venturing about halfway and then meowing pathetically until finally taking the plunge and jumping down. Belinda did want to see one of them on the top box as a good photo op, but she was also convinced they’d manage to bring down the entire structure. And that would be very, very bad.
The door slammed and Belinda gripped the top of the ladder, her heart jumping out of her chest. Poseidon, the white one with a light-gray blanket of color on top, leaped off the couch and squeezed behind the TV cabinet.
“I told you to wait for me,” Bennett said from the floor. Belinda opened her brown eyes, her arms wrapped firmly around the ladder.
“Yes. Yes, you did.” Bennett held the ladder as she controlled her shaking enough to climb down. “I thought I could go ahead and get started.” The plan was to reorganize where necessary and then set up the boxes so they could access anything they needed easily. Well, that was the original plan from a hundred years ago, before the move, but now it was the new plan.
“I don’t like you near anything more than a couple feet off the ground.” Bennett tossed his keys and wallet on the kitchen island–feet away from the pyramid.
Belinda pushed a piece of blonde hair behind her ear. “You know, your allusions to the tree incident are starting to get old.”
“But the memory of you swinging from that limb never does.”
Belinda stuck out her tongue. Jerk. “So how do you want to do this? I’m assuming you have a master plan.”
“I go to the top of the ladder and you stay on the ground.” He started to climb. “I’ll hand the boxes down to you.”
Simple. Easy to remember. No hovering on top of the ladder. She liked it.
Once they got all the boxes down, Belinda understood why they piled them up to begin with. They took over the entire place. She plucked Aria out of the box with the kitchen knives and wove through the path to the door where she’d seen some other sharp kitchen utensils that could be combined. Bennett sat by the TV and marked the box with the mixer and accessories.
“Can this go on the bottom?” he said.
“No.” Belinda peered into the box she thought held the other sharp things, but Poseidon’s head popped out instead, scaring her half to death. They’d both been doing that as some sort of weird game since they took all the boxes down. Bennett smirked while Poseidon jumped into another box to escape Belinda’s glare.
“That’s the tenth time he’s scared you.”
“You and keeping count.” She peeked in another box. Nope. Not it either.
Bennett aimed his marker at the box in front of him. “Why can’t this box go on the bottom?”
“Because I’ve been living without the mixer for weeks now.”
Bennett sighed, leaning on the sides of the box. “We have a problem.”
“Something has to go on the bottom.” He looked up at her from his bent-over position. “But you say no to every box I ask you about. So you have to either deal with something being hard to reach for a while, or live with all the boxes like this.” He waved his hand toward the sea of cardboard covering the bottom floor of the loft.
Belinda resisted the urge to pout. She didn’t like either option, but her decision-making abilities were spent after all the really, really bad ones she’d made in recent history. Even planning dinners had been painful. She set Aria down, who immediately hopped in one of the boxes and just sat there, staring out at them.
“How ’bout this?” Bennett said. “We make a mini pile of the boxes holding kitchen supplies and set them to the side of the fridge.” He pointed in that direction with the marker. “We categorize everything else and try and do the same. Smaller piles of like things placed where they’ll be used when possible.”
“Like my clothes?” She was failing and her lips were pouting against her will.
She could see the glint in his gray eyes from across the room. “Like your clothes. We can put those up in the loft.”
The despair that they might have to climb over all these things for the next two months was drifting away. They got to work categorizing and clearly marking all the boxes, the kittens bounding from box to box as they moved things and carried them to their new residences. Belinda adjusted one box on the site of the original pyramid. Aria mewed down at her from the top landing after hitching a ride up to the loft bedroom in a box with Bennett. They were both still unsure about the whole climbing-down-the-stairs business.
“Done!” Belinda raised up both arms. “Time for a peanut butter cupcake.”
Bennett’s lip curled up as she opened a white pastry box. Leftovers from the weekend. Though her mobile cupcake boutique–Cake Diva–never had many of those. The peanut butter cupcakes were especially rare. Bennett accepted her offering without hesitation. He’d admitted to her that those were quickly replacing sugar cookies as his favorite dessert.
Belinda plucked a piece of Styrofoam from Bennett’s dark brown hair. “Box pyramid: gone. Cupcakes: eaten. What now?”
Belinda smiled. “I knew there was a reason I liked you.”
~ * ~
See more of Belinda and Bennett in The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries.