The original paraphernalia for the Flash Fiction Contest had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Stuart, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Lieberman spoke frequently to the forum members about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here.
Mr. Garrett and his oldest daughter, Victoria, hold the black box securely on the stool until Mr. Lieberman can stir the papers thoroughly with his hand. Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Lieberman had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of wood, Mr. Lieberman had argued, had been all very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three hundred and likely to keep on growing, it was necessary to use something that would fit more easily into the black box.