I wrote this for one of Sue Vincent’s Write Photo challenges in May 2016. It’s a work of fiction, but I think ties in well with Michael’s prompt today.
The original post is here, and I am also using the photo Sue provided for the prompt.
Photo © Sue Vincent.
Sara could remember seeing The Chest in her aunt’s hallway for years.
It had never moved, and now here it was in her own bedroom having been bequeathed to her at her passing.
It was ancient, battered and gouged, with a rusted lock that looked as if it might disintegrate altogether in the wind. It didn’t match any of her decor, and looked totally out of place, yet it was achingly familiar.
She fingered the envelope in her hand, feeling the shape of a key inside.
Sara couldn’t remember anyone having opened the chest, or even a discussion of what lay within. Was it a mish mash of tweeds, twinsets and pearls, clumpy shoes from yesteryear, or just piles of paper or books?
Nothing had rattled when the delivery guys had carried it in, and now sitting on the bed rubbing the key through the envelope, she thought about her late aunt.
Aunt Cissy had never married, and was her mother’s younger sister. Always a shy and quiet woman, she seemed to be the wallflower of the family, always there in the background, but nondescript in her manner and appearance. Gran had always favoured Sara’s mother, a red-haired devilish firecracker and the life and soul of any party or family gathering, yet it was the solemn Cissy who Sara confided in growing up. Aunt Cissy never laughed at her hopes and dreams, never ridiculed her if she made a mistake dating the wrong guy, and never lectured when things went belly up.
It was also Aunt Cissy who had taken her in when her parents and grandparents had been killed in a car accident when she was 17.
Sara broke the waxed seal and unfolded the inexpensive but quality single sheet of paper.
If you are reading this, then I am no longer of this earth and everything I held most precious has been delivered to you.
This letter accompanies the key to my Hope Chest, the one you nearly always fell over in my hallway on your visits, and the only thing I own of value.
I want you to have it dear Sara. Believe in your dreams as I did mine, and live a wonderful life.
I love you.
Sara carefully put the key in the rusted lock, which surprisingly turned with ease.
What was even more surprising was what she found inside.
A beautiful ball gown and pressed flowers, a memory of a school prom.
Intricate and delicate embroideries, silk and satin bed linens, dainty shoes, fine filigree jewellery, lace tablecloths, an empty wedding album, an old unframed black and white photograph, and right at the bottom wrapped with obvious care in the lightest of tissue paper, a wedding dress.
Sara stared at the photograph.
It was her father, standing tall and alone in her grandparents front parlour.
She suddenly remembered an angry heated exchange between her father, Aunt and mother when she was a young child. One thing leapt to the forefront of her mind and she knew she’d find something else in this chest of Hope and Secrets.
Sure enough, there it was tucked into the lace trimmed bodice of the wedding dress.
A birth certificate.
The fresh tears running down her cheeks were for her mother, and what might have been.