Ray & Gen & The Box of Hope™
The Journey Begins
By Chris Gurnick
“I’m scared Mom,” Lexy cried. “I don’t want anything bad to us or
Raymond and Genevieve.” Sydney walked to Lexy and gave her daughter a hug.
Fiona tried to calm them all, “Lexy, your whole family and your cousins’
family are very special people. Nobody else in the whole, wide world is better
equipped to take on this important mission, except for your families. You should
be very proud of yourself and everyone now sitting right in front of you.”
“Your families are unique because, even though you are not yet aware of
this, you’re gifted with very special powers. These powers might seem common,
even ordinary. However, when you combine them, they’re unbeatable-great courage,
immeasurable confidence, and faith. Gen and Ray have been chosen because they
match the description of the ancient prophecy, and because they are blood
relatives of another brother and sister that lived four thousand years ago in
“Wait,” Ray spoke up rather loudly, “Fiona--If our cousins also have this
Egyptian bloodline in their background that means the relationship goes through
our Grandma Smith’s side of the family. So, if Gen and I have an additional
Egyptian connection, then it has to be from our father’s side of the family. We
are connected on both sides of the family to the Egyptians-that’s crazy!”
“Ray, yes, that seems to be the case,” Fiona said. “Let’s review the
history; I’m sure that it will all make sense to you soon.”
“OK,” Ray said and sat back down on the floor.
Fiona cleared her throat, and resumed, “The boy’s name was Imhotep and his
sister’s name was Serena. They were related to a priest named Zar who built The
Box of Hope. He and his fellow priests saw their culture and civilization fall
into moral and social decay,” Fiona shared with a dry voice. She swallowed some
water and continued, “their civilization and culture were growing and improving
so quickly that humans did not know how to cope with the sudden burdens and
changes that came to rule their lives. Improved technological advances began to
simplify everyday tasks; farmers used new, improved implements with their
animals. Every segment of society enjoyed fewer hours working, and more hours
playing, and getting into trouble. Family structures broke down, and the
solidarity once felt between men dissolved into conflict and hatred.”
“Fiona, do you know the prophecy?” Gen asked.
“Yes, I do but hold on there-be patient now,” Fiona said.
“Zar and the other priests held a private ceremony one evening after The
Box of Hope was assembled; in fact, it still smelled of the oil that he had used
to seal the wood. Zar and the other priests prayed,
“Oh, Dear Creator, we love you so.
Please be with us, especially now.
The people are lost.
They have given up all hope.”
“Zar himself believed that hope was the greatest of all the Creator’s many
gifts. Without hope, he wrote, “this lost soul dares not believe that he or she
is deserving of love or respect. Without hope, people are prisoners of darkness;
they want to care but believe that caring is futile.” The priests joined hands,
prayed and made oaths and offered their lives for the betterment of all
mankind,” Fiona finished and sat down.
“It is believed that The Creator blessed them again, this time, by filling
the humble, hand-made wooden box with enough Hope for all people, until the end
of time,” Fiona finished and drank water from a glass that Sydney handed to her.
Ray and Gen looked at each other. Gen said, “I really want to call Mom and
Sydney went in the house and brought out the portable phone and handed it
to Ray. He dialed the home phone number. Chris and Lowell Bickerton were waiting
for the call. They knew that Fiona, Chadwick and the kids would have arrived at
Sydney’s by now. Strangely, neither was worried—until they heard the fear in
“Mom, Dad, we want to come home, or you come down here to Sydney’s, and
we’ll have a break together like we did last Easter down here,” pleaded Ray.
“Ray, you and Gen are going to be fine,” Chris said, holding back her own
tears. “Here, please talk to your Father. Hold on just a minute, let me go get
him,” Chris lied. Her husband was sitting right beside her on the brown leather
sofa in the family room. She stalled for time to ask Lowell to say something
inspiring and cheerful to the kids.
“Scared to death-huh kids?” Lowell asked as Chris hit him on the head with
a burgundy-colored pillow.
“Why would you say that to them?” She whispered, greatly annoyed, and
frustrated for the kids, sitting in fear two thousand miles away in Florida.
“Ray, Gen, I love you both very much. You both know that!” Lowell said to
his children over the phone.
Sydney led both the children into the house so that they could each use a
phone freely to their parents. Gen used the phone in her aunt’s bedroom. Ray
walked out onto Sydney’s lanai and sat down at the edge of the pool. He took off
his shoes and dangled his feet in the cool water. He picked up the portable
phone. From separate rooms, they both said, “Hi Mom. Hi Dad.”
“Hi guys—what’s going on?” Lowell asked the kids.
“I want to come home. Please?” Gen asked her parents. Ray heard his sister
crying softly into her phone, left the lanai and walked into Sydney’s bedroom to
check on her.
When she heard her only daughter in distress, Chris teared up. She and her
husband sat beside each other on the sofa, each with their own cordless phone.
“Will you two stop?” Lowell kidded. “We can’t hear if you two keep on
“Dad, did you and Mom hear about everything that’s going on with us since
we finished at camp?” Ray asked.
“Yes,” Lowell said. “It’s a weird situation. It’s a lot to absorb- it’s
hard to believe but we’ll be there to help you—don’t worry.”
“But, it’s really scary and really dangerous,” Gen blurted. “And, what
about school? We’re supposed to be there next week!” Gen asked.
“Calm down. Everything will be all right. Your mom and I reviewed all the
information that Fiona shared with us and we believe that this will be good for
the two of you. How many times in your lives do you think you’ll have this
opportunity again? -Huh?” Lowell asked.
Both teens were quiet as they thought about their Father’s comments.
Ray spoke first, “Dad, I don’t think I’m ready for this. I…”
“Ray, Genevieve- listen. We love you very much. We really missed you both
this summer. You’re growing up very quickly and we’ve tried to do our very best
to give you all that we could. Both your mother and I know that you two can do
anything you set your minds to-anything. And I think that because this sort of
fell into your lap, that you should take advantage of the opportunity. If
nothing else, you’ll both have one hell of an entry on your resumes,” Lowell
Chris added, “Look how well you both handled six weeks of canoeing-that was
a lot of hard work! You’ve both become very strong and very independent. As you
get older, you’ll both have a lot of life skills and hard-earned experience to
call upon. Hey, at least you’re both considering the adventure! Most people
would’ve run away from Fiona the first time they saw her.”
“Mom, when are we going to see you guys?” Gen asked?
“Quit changing the subject. We’ll meet both of you, Fiona and Chadwick in
Culford. I’ve thought and prayed about this and I know that you’ll find that
box.” Chris said.
“Ray, Gen- we know that this mission is important, but you both still need
to give your best effort to Culford; Fiona knows that you’ll be working and
researching where to find the piece of The Box while you’re in school. We love
you very much. We’re very proud of you.” Lowell told his children.
“OK Dad, Ray said.
“Mom, will you guys please come up to school early and see us soon?” Gen
“Of course! We’ll visit the two of you soon. I promise,” Chris answered.
The call ended.
To Ray and Gen, the mention of school--even homework was now somehow
refreshing; reminding them that life does go on. Even if they were the only ones
who could find The Box of Hope, they needed to do well at school. This year Ray
would be a junior in the Culford marching band. It was Gen’s freshman year; she
wanted to participate in Culford’s Equestrienne program.
After speaking with their parents, both kids felt their spirits renewed.
Despite his nervousness, Ray was excited and wanted to get started on their
secret mission. Ray, Gen and Sydney walked back into the garage.
“Fiona, Mom said that we’d be looking for a piece of The Box, and you said
we’d be looking for a whole Box of Hope. What’s going on with that?” Ray
“Thanks for bringing me back to the task at hand, Ray. Your Aunt Sydney
found this box, so let’s have a look inside, shall we?” she asked the excited
group sitting before her. Sydney carried the dusty box and sat down on the floor
beside the others. She brushed some excess dust off the top, and opened the