They couldn't hold back their gasps when they decided to open it after all those years. They had dreaded opening the box ever since they got it. Sometimes they wondered, with a morbid fascination, what it may contain, and they always imagined the worst.
But nothing in the world could have prepared them for what they discovered inside the box. It was far worse than what they could have ever pictured.
A Problem For Them
James and Liz's relationship had been anything but easy. They put in a lot of effort and work to get to where they are now - married, enjoying each other's company, and unaffected by any threat from the outside. There was just one thing.
They had buried that box at the bottom of their wardrobe almost ten years ago. It had been an uncomfortable presence in their lives for a long time. An unsettling feeling overcame them every time they remembered it was there.
Remnants Of The Past
Besides, it was a reminder of their past, and that's where it should stay - in the past. They never had the courage to open it, yet they couldn't bring themselves to throw it away either.
But they couldn't fight their curiosity forever. They convinced themselves that it might be fun to open it and made a joke of it. But when they finally managed to open it, they felt appalled by what they saw inside.
It has been ten years since James and Liz got married. This hadn't been the first marriage for either of them; each was in the midst of being divorced from their prior spouses when they met.
Some claim that it is difficult for a relationship to thrive if one of the partners has recently ended a previous relationship. This is because they usually carry a lot of baggage and stress from the last relationship, which can complicate matters. But James and Liz had prevailed despite the hardships they encountered.
A Difficult Divorce
Liz had already separated from her ex-husband and had her own place by the time they met. James, on the other hand, didn't. He was actually in the thick of his divorce's most challenging phase.
It wasn't a pretty ordeal: his now ex-wife had begged and pleaded with him to stay. She was so desperate to keep him with her that she used all kinds of cruel tactics, mind games, and emotional blackmail. And just for a moment, James hesitated.
No Going Back
But his mind was made up. The relationship had been hell, and he couldn't go back to it. Even the children would benefit from getting as far away from her as possible. He couldn't believe he had thought she was his soulmate.
The box had come from her. In fact, it was their wedding gift from her. They hadn't even invited her, but the word had spread, and the news eventually reached her. James thought his ears were failing him when it happened.
Time To Move On
For years, that woman had made his life miserable with constant lying, deceit, and unending mental and emotional abuse.
Things hadn't always been this way, though. When James recollects the memories from when he first met his now ex-wife, it all seems like a dream. She had worked hard to maintain her facade, but eventually, her mask came down.
A Toxic Relationship
When she showed her true colors, it was like she had flipped a switch. The mother of James' two children—the sweet, loving woman he thought he knew—had turned into a bottomless hole of misery and resentment. All she wanted to do was drag everyone down with her.
James was on the verge of losing hope and feared he would never be able to love again after that experience. But then he met Liz.
Taking It Slow
Liz faced a similar situation: she had just gone through a divorce after her marriage failed and lost hope of finding love again. When they first met, they took their time to sort their feelings out and realized that they weren't ready to start a new relationship so soon after a divorce.
They dated casually for some time, and eventually, things seemed as good as they could get. James and Liz were both taken aback by each other's level of understanding, emotional maturity, and ability to navigate their disagreements and conflicts as a couple without much trouble. It didn't end there, though.
Made For One Another
They appeared to be a perfect match in every way. Not only did they have a lot in common, but they were also very compatible, and their differences seemed to complement each other.
As time went by, James realized that his past marriage had formed out of lust. He was young and naive, and this caused him to marry a person he didn't know very well. But what he had with Liz felt like real love. So they made the decision to get married.
She Won't Let Go
But James' ex-wife didn't seem ready to let go of the past and allow them to begin their new life together. Even after everything that happened, she would still occasionally creep into their lives and try to contact James with the most absurd excuses.
James got a call from her days after his wedding to Liz, during their honeymoon, to be exact. He was confused as he picked up the phone. Little did he know how much he would regret it later.
A Creepy Call
James' ex-wife was obviously trying her best to sound polite over the call. But it sounded forced, and her tone and words were tinged with hatred and disdain. She congratulated them on their new marriage and said she had been too busy to attend their wedding, but it all sounded very fake.
She hadn't even been invited! A chill traveled down James' smile when she told him she had sent them a wedding present to their new house. How had she known where they lived?
Forgetting About It
When they came home from their honeymoon, they found the box there just as they expected. They refused to open it. They wanted to leave the past behind them. They didn't want any shadows from their past relationships creeping into their new lives.
So for years, they pushed the box to the back of their wardrobe. Ten years passed until that fateful day they decided to open it and look inside. Years had gone by, and James hadn't heard from his ex-wife since. What's the worst that could happen?
What They Found Inside
They couldn't believe their eyes when they finally opened it. What had made his ex-wife think this would be a good idea?
Her wedding present turned out to be an album of photos from when James and his ex-wife were still together. It included trips they had taken, pictures of their wedding day, and their home. Why would she do such a thing?
He Had Moved On
She made it all about her, and it was a perfect example of how toxic Jame's ex-wife was. She didn't want James to forget her, not even when he had moved on and married someone else.
James had long since moved past that time in his life, and now he just remembered it as a series of mistakes. He and Liz laughed at his ex-wife's puzzling thought processes, closed the album, threw it away, and returned to their own happy lives.