“Ouch!” The word came out in a whisper, even though Maggie knew no one would hear her.
“No blood,” she said out loud, examining her finger.
“Mags,” a voice called up the attic stairs. “You almost done? We gotta get going.”
“You go on if you want,” she called back. “I have to get this thing open.”
“Why don’t you just get it shipped back home and open it there.”
“I wish you wouldn’t sneak up on me like that.”
“I didn’t sneak,” said David, now standing beside her. “Come on, I gotta date. Don’t want to be late.”
“I’ll walk back to town,” Maggie said.
“Walk,” David laughed. “You gotta be kidding. Its three miles back to town.”
“Look David. I will have the trunk shipped, but I want to know what’s in it first. If you don’t want me to walk, send someone back for me in a couple hours.”
“A couple hours,” he said. “Why would you want to hang out in this old attic for that long?”
Maggie sighed. “David, I know you don’t understand, but you don’t have to.”
“Okay, I’ll send Uncle Tom back in a few hours. No guarantees though. If he doesn’t come by 6:00 you better start walking. You don’t want to be out here alone after dark.”
Maggie and David had been raised by Uncle Tom and Aunt Margaret after their parents died. Maggie had been seven and David ten. Living close to Grandma had been a treat and Maggie spent a lot of time out at the farm.
There was not much of the farm left. Most of the land had been sold off by then, but it had been Maggie’s sanctuary. Walking the three miles to town was not new to her. She had done it many times growing up.
Grandma had been her champion. When no one else believed in her dreams, Grandma had. She had supported her, not with money, but with hope and prayer.
Maggie sat on the attic floor, tears running down her cheeks and dripping off the end of her nose. She thanked God for such a wonderful mentor. Memories continued to flood her mind: making cookies, sweeping the floor, playing games, standing at the window watching it rain. She remembered one time, when she had slept over; Grandma woke her up at 3:00 am, just to see the northern lights.
She looked down at the trunk. Its mysteries still silent. Grandma’s special trunk. It was always locked and they were told to stay out of the attic. The trunk had intrigued her then and it still did today. When she asked about it, Grandma had said, “Some secrets are better left locked up.”
“It would have been better if you had left a key, Grandma.” Maggie said as she worked the screw driver in the old-fashioned lock one more time.
Maggie sat back on her heals as the lock fell in pieces before her. Setting the tool down, she lifted the latch. She held her breath as she opened the lid.
The tray on top held many papers. Underneath it she found a wedding dress, yellowed with age, dried flowers, disintegrating in their wrappings, and baby booties with pink bows. Why was this a secret? She picked up a few papers: a marriage certificate, birth certificates, and another marriage certificate. Grandma was married twice? Once in London, before the war and then again after she came to this country. Did Uncle Tom know?
Carefully, she packed the contents back into the trunk. She would need time to go through them and contemplate their meaning. There was more here than just two marriages, she was sure of it, but she could not wait much longer. It was getting cold and it would be dark soon. She had to get back to town. A white envelope fell out of the lid as she started to close it. Her name was written on the front in Grandma’s writing. Grandma knew her curiosity needed satisfaction. Maggie smiled and put the letter in her pocket, and closed the trunk.
She stood and looked around her. “Gram,” she said. “I love you. Thanks for making me a better person.” She turned and walked down the stairs. A horn honked in the drive. Uncle Tom had come after all. Maggie sighed, taking one last look at the familiar surroundings, then walked out the front door.
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