Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Lock (03/06/06)
TITLE: Remembering Mother
By Deanna Wessel
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Her hand slowly traveled across the varnished surface and lovingly traced the fancy bronze plate surrounding the lock. She hesitantly placed the key into the keyhole and gently turned until it clicked. Taking a deep breath, her reddened eyes squeezed shut; Angela put both hands under the edge of the lid and lifted.
The smell of cedar, lavender and her grandmother’s perfume all mixed together and floated through the air, pricking Angela’s heart. She was transported back in time to one of those lazy summer days when she played dress-up in Grandma Annie’s attic. She saw herself dragging a satin and lace flapper dress from the old cedar-lined armoire, pulling it over her head, and donning a beribboned felt hat. With a long bead necklace draped on her chest and a cloud of perfume spritzed on her throat, she recalled her little-girl attempts to dance the Charleston on the bare wood floor and smiled.
The heavy wooden lid squeaked, calling Angela from her dream. She longingly peeked into the chest and beheld a varied array of memories. She saw the sterling silver tea service that always sat—polished and ready to go—on Grandma Annie’s buffet. Its former glow tarnished and clouded now, unused and suffering from years of neglect. Just beneath the service was an old leather photo album, tied shut with a dry rotted ribbon. Inside were portraits of all the people Grandma Annie had loved. There was an elegant wedding pose from 1932 with Grandpa Joe and formal photographs taken to memorialize the christening of each of her four children…John, Paul, William, and Virginia.
Tucked near the back of the album was a small, once-white envelope sealed shut with cracked and yellowed cellophane tape. A faded pink ribbon was tied through the end and the front bore a handwritten note that read, “Ginny—June 11, 1938”
Ginny, Angela’s mother, would have been three years old then. She carefully peeled back the brittle tape and opened the little package. A single curled lock of strawberry blonde hair fell onto her lap. Apparently, Grandma Annie had tucked it away to keep the memory of her daughter’s first haircut fresh and alive.
Angela gasped as she realized what she’d found. Her mind was once again swept away in a swirl of emotion and remembrance.
She closed her eyes and thought of an August day many, many years before. It was the week before she was to go to first grade. She and her mother walked hand in hand to SUE’S DO’S on the corner of Fifth and Market Streets. She’d sat tall and proud in the striped pink swivel chair and Sue herself had cut her blonde hair into a perfect page boy. Mother had taken a picture of the grand event and had collected a single lock to tuck away in a little white envelope tied up with a pink ribbon…”Angela—August 28, 1968.”
The picture show in Angela’s mind changed channels again. She allowed herself to relive the time she placed her own daughter, Anne Marie, in a kitchen chair. She’d used her sewing scissors to trim a straight row of bangs across her daughter’s freckled forehead. Following an unspoken tradition, she had rescued a solitary lock of auburn hair from the trash pile…tucked it away in a small white envelope…secured it with a fresh pink ribbon…and wrote ”Anne Marie—May 5, 1998.”
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