Grandmother’s Trunk was a store on the edge between the artsy district and the part of town where nobody had much money. Although, nobody in the artsy district had as much money as the people who bought the art from the galleries, either, so money wasn’t really the divide. According to Selby’s Great Uncle Tim, the only real difference was that the people in the tie-dye and high-necked sweaters could probably have money if they just wore suits and got jobs. Selby didn’t think that was really how the world worked, and if it was, it shouldn’t be. She was very focused on how things should be, since an intelligent twelve year old was just young enough to be unable to change things, and just smart enough to know someday she would have to, because Great Uncle Tim wouldn’t be around to snort about change forever.
That was part of why Selby loved Grandmother’s Trunk. They supported the idea of kids wanting to change things, and they did their best to package up the good parts of Before so that people could carry them into After, without dragging along all the junk that nobody wanted. Selby liked to go in on weekends and work in their Community Trade. It was a fun program, do some work cleaning or sorting the new things that came in that week, then get store credit to buy something small, or save it up for something big. Even kids could do it, since they weren’t paying cash and you didn’t have to keep working if you didn’t want to or the dust was too much. Selby had been saving up for a new bike, one that wasn’t pink. Pink was an okay color, she didn’t hate it like some girls, but it was just okay. It wasn’t her favorite and quite a lot of adults seemed to think it was. She liked yellow best, but nobody listened, so she was going to buy a yellow bike herself.
One Saturday, while working in Community trade, Selby found a locked trunk. It was the old fashioned kind with the round top so nobody could smash it under other people’s things. The heavy padlock felt like the mugs that Mr. Olsen put on the display shelf above the counter because they had lead in them and he didn’t want to sell them. Pewter, she thought it was called. There was no key, and when she went looking through the records in the repurposed card catalog, she didn’t find a name. It was as if it had just appeared in the store in time for Community Trade, which it shouldn’t, Miss Kelsi kept very good records and wouldn’t accept anything without a contact number in case they found your passport or something in pocket.
“Miss Kelsi!” she called. “Where did this come from? What do you think is in it?”
“I don’t know,” Miss Kelsi said, blinking at the trunk. “Let’s find out.”
So Miss Kelsi pulled out the tray of dentist tools, the little curved picks that stopped seeming scary to Selby after the third time she got one caught in a sweater. Miss Kelsi was good at lockpicking, she helped Selby’s mom get back in the house when Selby’s little brother tried to climb the door and accidentally locked the broken lock that didn’t work with any key. She shifted the tumblers and the click click sound made Selby’s heart race. It was like a scene in a book, where some magical artefact would be revealed and they’d go on a big adventure. She leaned in over the trunk as Miss Kelsi pulled the lock off and opened it. A cloud of dust puffed into the air and Selby sneezed.
“You alright?” Miss Kelsi asked.
“Yes,” Selby said. “What’s in the trunk?”
“Looks like… a bike helmet!”
“SURPRISE!” shouted her friends.
“Happy birthday, Selby,” Miss Kelsi said, and handed the gold and daisy yellow helmet to Selby. “With the special event discount, I think you can afford your new bike.”
Selby hugged Miss Kelsi. It was a wonderful birthday surprise and a wonderful birthday party at Grandmother's Trunk