The Red Chest

So John and I went to our town’s thrift shop, as we habitually do on the weekends. This Saturday they were having a Christmas sale: ornaments and decorations galore. Best place to shop for anything. You can always find something. I snapped up a Hess race car for the grandson and a brand new cellophane wrapped notebook for one of the Bad Girl’s Bags that I periodically offer in my contest on my website. John wandered around looking for luggage and ties. I felt we’d already struck gold.

And then I saw it. It was on a lower endcap shelf right opposite the check-out counter. About a foot and a little tall, antique red with incised gold decorations that looked Asian, domed lid, decorative keylock and feet. Inside, a green felt lined compartment. Twenty dollars.

I wanted it. Like, right then. I saw it in my house, a point of color on a table, or the hearth. People, you will be glad to know I exercised extreme restraint. I consulted with John. He liked it too, but “what would we do with it?” We’re at the stage now that anything coming into the house has to have a definable function. We couldn’t think of any. We left without the chest. I felt very mature.

An hour after returning home, I was still trying to think of some practical purpose for “my” chest. Not easy — I hadn’t taken measurements (and I carry a mini-measuring tape in my pocketbook too), so what was the point? Research? Then it struck me: it could house our favorite CDs — the go-to music we never get tired of listening to. Genius! I posited my idea to John who sighed and said, “If you really want it that much –”

People, he went back to the thrift store and bought the chest. He is soooo one of the good guys. Once it was in our living room, we discovered CDs would not fit into the chest the way we thought. At that point, we had no clue what else the chest could be used for.

A while later, John had a super thought: the chest was a tantalus: a container for decanters. Immediately we hopped to, and brought out several decanters and tried to fit them into the chest. No luck. One was too wide, the other too tall, another too round.

Well, after some consideration we shifted a few things around and my lovely chest now sits on a table right where you enter the living room, the shot of color and exoticism I’d initially envisioned. And maybe that’s all it ever needed to be.

Have you ever forgone buying something on impulse and regretted it? Or bought something that you didn’t know what it was and what to use it for? How did you solve that problem?

Thea Devine runs a monthly contest at She’s the author of 27 historical and contemporary romances, and is a Romantic Times Booklovers’ Romance Pioneer honoree. Look for “Beyond the Night,” the sequel to “The Darkest Heart,” in 2014.


10 thoughts on “The Red Chest”

  1. I love flea markets and thrift stores, but I have to be careful because my house is small and clutter has a way of taking over. I can’t think of anything offhand that I passed up and regretted (though I’m sure there’ve been many things along the way)–but now I kind of want an empty, fancy red box full of possibilities…

  2. I’m an anti-clutter bug so anything coming into the house these days must have a place or a purpose. I often see “pretty” things I think I’d like to have, but then I think about how much I hate to dust and suddenly…I’m cured:-)

  3. I am addicted to boxes, all kinds, all shapes, all designs and empty of course. How can anyone function without boxes? In it I keep lists, phone numbers, my fireplace ignitor, kaleidoscope (a small one), special pictures, coasters, my cell phone, my little Panasonic camera, anything you want handy, but not on a table or counter, and money, what about all that change, in the box it goes. In fact, like Paula, I see ‘things’ as dust collectors, but love them. My boxes can help with those accessories. Put them out, put them away, in the box, fun to change. I buy boxes to give as gifts, who doesn’t need a box, or want a box? Then when you visit whoever you gave your box to, you get to enjoy your gift box again. I sometimes make a box to organize my closets. Let’s say when you can’t find the perfect fit for a drawer or closet, why not make one. It’s in my DNA, my mother was OCD. I learned from the best. Thea, I am so glad you got your box. Thank John for me too. Merry Christmas!

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