Pandora’s Box – The story Bill Pierce might tell his grandchildren
(With apologies for screwing with the original story)
by Kate Burden
Imagine a time, many many years ago, when there was no reason to tell an
adoptee they were adopted. A time when no one ever vowed to have their
records opened or needed medical information about their biological
parents. And because no man needed to know he was adopted, all the
secrets were kept and no one’s privacy was infringed upon.
Children and their adoptive parents never quarreled. That was why
Pandora and her adoptive parents were content to always be together –
dancing, feasting, playing games and sleeping in the sunshine of a
An unkind person would have said that Pandora was an ungrateful bastard.
But then, there was no one who knew what a bastard was, and her parents
loved to shower her with presents. Every day they brought her a new
dress or some sandals or jewels or a statue for her garden.
Her parent’s search for presents took him farther and farther away from
the house each day. Pandora was left on her own, wandering the rooms of
the sunny villa.
One day, though, they came home with something large and square, wrapped
in a cloth. It was a dusty old box, fastened with latches and tied round
with a golden cord.
“What is it?” laughed Pandora, dancing round the box. “It’s a present
for me, isn’t it?”
“No Pandora, it isn’t,” said her father firmly. “This box was given to
me by the god Mercury (who works down at the courthouse) for safe
keeping. I promised him I would never open it, whatever happened. He
said I would be sorry forever if I did.”
“Oh, please let me have a look. Just a little look!”
“No, Pandora! It is not for you to see. We must respect Mercury’s
wishes. Now leave it alone.”
But the next day, when her parents went out, Pandora found herself
thinking more and more about the box. Her footsteps took her back to it
over and over again, then her fingertips stroked the dusty latches and
the golden cord.
“I wonder what’s in it,” she thought. “I think my parents must be joking
about Mercury. It is a present for me after all. Besides, they made the
promise, I didn’t. It wouldn’t hurt just to have a little look, surely.”
Her fingers began unfastening the knot in the cord. She stopped herself
just in time. She busied herself with a hundred little jobs around the
villa. But by afternoon, she could bear it no longer. She untied the
cord…and flicked up the catches.
Immediately a small murmuring sound came from the box – like the wings
of a butterfly fluttering against a closed window. “Oh, it’s some dear
little creature! I can’t leave it shut up in there!”
Pandora threw back the lid.
But inside there was only a file folder, sealed with wax along the side
and smothered in dust. Sounds were coming from inside it – and they were
“If I break the seal,” she thought, “my parents are sure to know I’ve
peeped inside.” So, she closed the box and again tried to ignore it.
But oh, how she longed to know what was in the folder! She paced the
room, turning again and again to look at the box. Then as if in a dream,
she found herself beside the open box, brushing the dust off the
“Pandora! Pandora! Please let us out!” whimpered a chorus of tiny voices
from inside the folder.
Pandora burned with curiosity. She bit her lip. “But I mustn’t, I
mustn’t! My parents said…”
“What do your parents know? Please, please let us out. The world needs
us. The world isn’t complete without us!”
The temptation was too strong for Pandora to resist. She quickly
scratched away the wax seal from the folder.
The top flap flew open, forced by a hideous black hornet. It’s stinger
dripped poison. In it’s buzz was the word Truth.
Another leather-winged insect, Equality, with staring eyes, followed it,
murmuring. Then a blistered bug crawled out from the file, and its trail
of slime wrote the words Open Records.
A gnat, the color of frost, flew out of the window and blighted the
garden wherever it settled with thorns and weeds, blacktop and
caterpillars. Its whine seemed to say Activism!
Pandora desperately tried to force the top of the folder down, but a
flying beetle from the pages pricked her wrist with its sharp sting and
cried, “You can’t stop us now, you foolish woman. We are all the evil
things your world has never known – a present from the gods, who envy
your ignorance. I am your truth – Adoption!”
The folder in Pandora’s hand seemed suddenly too heavy to lift, and she
saw within the file curious papers saying that she was born to another
woman. Looking in the bronze mirror, she realized that she looked
nothing like her parents.
The cold blast of Realization escaped from the jar and spat on her until
she was shivering with cold.
With one last great effort, Pandora forced the file closed and slammed
the lid of the box – but not until Strong Voices, Search Support and
Birthparents had swarmed past her. Stinging and biting, they flew out of
the door, down the path and settled on the head of her parents as they
They dragged their daughter to her feet and slapped her furiously. “You
wicked, disobedient, stupid, selfish bastard!” they raged. “We told you
not to open the box. Why can’t you ever do as you’re told? Our natural
daughter would never have disobeyed in this manner!”
And Pandora, who had never known or even imagined that she was adopted,
felt tears well up in her eyes for the very first time. Knowledge too,
had escaped – causing unhappiness.
>From the street outside came the sound of Bastards with their voices
raised in anger, demanding to know the Truth and Equality. The whole
lovely world seemed to have turned horrible, ugly and wicked.
Then Pandora heard a single, tiny voice from inside the terrible file.
“Pandora! Pandora! Don’t leave me in here all alone! The world needs me!
The world is not complete without me!”
“You won’t trick me again!” sobbed Pandora, throwing herself across the
lid of the box.
“But I can help you. Let me out!” Oh, please let me out!” The voice
sounded almost as unhappy as Pandora herself. At last she begged her
parents to stand farther away, threw open the lid of the box, and once
again opened the file folder. Out flew a fragile wisp of white, like the
smallest of moths. The very sight of it cheered Pandora a little. Then
it settled on her face, and her heart seemed to lift. “And what pretty
sort of wickedness are you?” she asked.
“I am Hope – the UAA,” purred the small, winged creature, and away it
blew to do battle with all the hideous evils. It brought the promise of
spring to the wintry garden, and allowed the world to lock away it’s
secrets for 99 years. In going, it brushed against the cheeks of
Pandora’s adoptive parents.
On her knees, Pandora asked her parents through her tears, “Will the
world ever forgive me?”
Her parents looked at her for a long time and then gave the smallest of
smiles. “I hope so,” they said softly. “I hope so.”