The last thing she expected to find when she woke up was a timber box sitting neatly on her bedside table as if it had always been there. It was quite a small box and there was a pattern engraved across the top on over the sides that she found intriguing.
Without realizing what she was doing, she had taken a step forwards and placed her finger on the beginning of one of the grooves, following it along and around in the vacant swirls it formed.
She ran her tongue across her lips.
Who had placed the box there?
Why had they?
None of the answers became any clearer as she stared at it and it seemed there was only option left. She took a hold of the box and slowly raised the lid to reveal its contents.
There was nothing in it.
Why give her an empty box?
River appeared by her side then - she jumped at the unexpectedness of seeing her - and smiled eerily. "Beauty on the outside, nothing within."
She stared at the girl in wonder. "River? What do you mean?"
Lifting her shoulder in a one-armed shrug, River grinned brightly at her. The strange look on her face gone, she looked just like any other girl of her age rather than the psychic she truly was.
"Kaylee's got apples," River said.
"Yes," she agreed. There was no point in trying to get River to make any more sense out of what she had said. She'd have to think about what she'd said when she was alone again, when River was gone from her shuttle. "How about we go through and see if she'll give you one?"
She smiled when River bounded happily to the door and looked back to her, waiting.
As she prepared herself to push thoughts of the box out of her mind for the time being and to enjoy the next little while with River and Kaylee, River spoke again. Her voice was low and quiet.
"The box is a metaphor."
River skipped away, presumably to find Kaylee. The girl was clearly oblivious to the impact of her words.
She took the box in her hands and studied it again as if merely looking at it would give her the answer. "Beauty on the outside, nothing within," she pondered. She put the box down.
"A metaphor for what?"