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Hereditary Memories This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By Em_the_Beat, Natick, MA

The box sits on top of his bureau, emitting a mysterious magnetism. Its thick wooden sides are covered with carved scenes from Vietnam, and its dirty clasp is creaky. While I was never told not to look inside, the box seemed to hold the exact weight of secrecy needed to intrigue an 11-year-old girl. My father owns this box, and once I realized he wouldn't know whether or not I had pawed through it, I dove in with greedy hands.

My father had never appeared to be an anomaly to me before I opened it, never a person with a “way back when” of any consequence. He has gnarled, crimson hands that swap newspapers with my pale ones every Sunday morning. He has wiry gray hair that I never got to see in its original black. He has thick bifocals which he squints through at a Howard Zinn piece, and a thick goatee that quivers when he tries to convince me that my Doris Kearns Goodwin is no match for it.

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