She stood at the entrance to the family shrine, looking at the jar that was half-buried in the ground. The light from outside threw the ceramic giant into an eerie spotlight, shining new life into its faded patterns.
The jar was an heirloom, passed on for generations, never opened. It was a wedding present from her father, not for her but for her husband. The man she was to marry―the man she loved―was banished. Condemned for helping strangers―outsiders. Her father saw to that. She was promised to his brother instead―given to one brother to punish the other.
As a child she wondered what secrets the jar kept safe. Was it gold, or ivory, or the spirits of ancestors? Their dust and ashes, most likely. It didn’t matter. Whatever was inside, it was trapped―like she a prisoner of her father, of his ways.
For a time she was motionless, standing in spiritual silence. Then she was moving, her hands reaching for the mouth of the jar. She seized a dagger from beneath her robes and forced the lid open.
It was spirits, she thought as a sudden force blew her back, crying wordless curses. Not ashes, but spirits. She lunged forward, trying to push the lid shut again. But she couldn’t―it was too strong.
“NO!” she heard her husband scream. He was outside, running for the doorway. “Pandora,” he shouted. “What have you done?”
BIO: Bojan Ratković is a writer from Serbia, now living in Ontario, Canada. His work appeared in Every Day Fiction, Great Lakes Review, Danforth Review, Fiction Vortex, and on the World SF Blog. He is pursuing a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Western Ontario. When not writing about fictional worlds, or the completely authentic and not-at-all-fictional world of politics, he enjoys challenging people to Japanese Anime-themed trivia contests. On Twitter: @Bojan_Ratkovic.