Buried Memories

Posted: December 22, 2009 in Fictional stories

Buried Memories

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Stanley had been digging around his lawn for more than an hour. His landscaping project was turning out to be far bigger than he had envisioned. There was mud everywhere and an upturned garden lay in front of him as if a Dinosaur had stomped on his front lawn. The sun had just set in the horizon and he intended to call it a day. With beads of sweat lining his brows and the rest running down his back, his body was craving for a bath and cold lemonade. He decided on a last few digs and he would give it a rest. This is where he wanted to plant his Japanese maple tree with its fiery red leaves. The thought of a beautiful garden with shady trees and fountain kept him going. That was when he heard a clank, a small one at first and a bigger resounding one as he dug further.

He threw down the shovel and dug around the metal box that started emerging from the sand. His excitement suffused face glowed in the light of the setting sun. What was a metal box doing here, he pondered. He couldn’t wait to fish it out and look at the contents. The rectangular box found its way to his living room table and he sat next to it staring at the padlock and the embellishments on the box. There were engravings on it along with some chipped paint and the year 1871 engraved on it at the right corner.

After several unsuccessful attempts he sawed open the lock and with a thumping heart he opened the box with a creak. Inside bundled in layers of taffeta silk were a few objects some bundled in more silk. By the color of the silk he assumed it belonged to a lady. He unfurled the layer and slowly retrieved a jewel box with several necklaces and ruby earrings. A half broken mirror reflected his face and he was thinking about the lady who must have used that mirror so many times to deck herself up. Who was she? A couple of old fashioned pens from that era, a hand-held fan, a blue bonnet, a hair-brush, a metal wine goblet with beautiful engravings and  rolled up pieces of paper tucked away inside a metal pipe as if it were meant to hide there for ever.

His excitement knew no bounds as he gently retrieved the rolls of paper from the pipe. Being a writer by profession in addition to a landscape artist, this appeared to him like a story from his book. With trembling hands he opened the sheaf of papers and laid them on the table besides the lamp. He sniffed the paper to catch any whiffs left over time. There wasn’t anything; just a journal from a lady who had written her stories for over a month and for some reason had hidden it all away and buried it too.

Monday, July 21, 1871

I met John again today. Papa will be furious if he knows about it. John was looking handsome in his dark coat and hat. His blue eyes reflected the sky and as he held my hand and walked me through the garden. He promised me the stars and the moon. He said we would be able to do it. He was just waiting for an order confirmation from his army captain and they would be moving soon.

Jean is being difficult again. She is always preening to the high society crowd and flirting with Malcolm. I am so tired of being a prisoner at home. Papa is leaving for the railroad inspection soon. Mama is off to Paris to select gowns for the debutante performance. I don’t want attend the ball. I hate it.

Thursday, July 25, 1871

Today is the happiest day of my life. John informed me today of his posting. He got down on his knees and proposed to me. I was crying. I love him but I am scared what papa will say. I am so tired of living this way in fear. I know papa will never agree. He has Neville Lodgers in mind. Neville is so boring and pretentious. Papa is only interested in his oil wealth and connections. John asked me to think about it and let him know soon. He is leaving in a few days. I am terrified. I trust John and know he will perfect for me.

August 2nd, 1871

I was bored with the ball. I hated all the pretension and the hollowness of it. Jean was having so much fun dancing away with everyone and so did Rosemary and Maria. I excused myself claiming a headache when Neville took my hand to dance. I cannot live like this anymore. John is leaving tomorrow. Papa suspects something. He has been questioning me a lot lately.  He has his informers. I feel like a caged bird here. I have to do something…

There were no more letters after that. Stanley walked to the window and stared out into the garden lost in thought. He hoped the story had a happy ending. Maybe it did or would she have buried it there? Was it she who buried it there? Did she run away or her father found out? Did John leave without her? Did she end up as Mrs. Lodgers?

 The questions played around in his mind. He reminded himself to go the library the next day looking for the archives and the history of the mansion. The story for his next book was already forming in his head as he headed up the sweeping staircase.

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