The trunk sat in my workshop for about six months. A combination of other work and a fear of ruining the beauty of the box made me keep my distance. That was until the letter came.
Sitting at my work bench, sanding a reproduction of an African fertility statue, I heard the familiar thump of mail being delivered. I wiped the wood dust from my hands, covered the statue with a rag, and headed to the door.
The usual mix of packages, bills, and catalogs was sitting by my front door. I sat down in my porch swing to sort out the junk from the useful. A new package of sandpaper, the newest issue of my favorite antiquity magazine, the electric bill, a pile of advertisements for local businesses, and one hand addressed letter that seemed heavier than it should.
The script on the envelope was large with swooping letters, a style straight out of an Elizabethian novel. I had seen similar handwriting in extremely old original manuscripts and correspondence in my work. Seeing it on what looked to be a fairly modern envelope with my own name on it was disconcerting to say the least. I decided it might be best to take special care with this particular piece of post and went inside the house for a better look.
In my study, I stared at the back of the envelope. “To be mailed January 2026 only” was written in large bold letters. I picked up my pearl-handled letter opener, a gift from my father many years ago, and carefully slid the tip under the edge of the flap, slowly slicing open the top fold. As I pulled the stiff papyrus from its jacket, something heavy fell to my desk with a loud clink. A small, old-fashioned, and somewhat odd-loooking, key lay before me. I opened the letter with increasing curiousity. The words inside did not give me the insight I was seeking. In the same calligraphy as on the cover I read:
August 16, 1943
Dear Miss Wavers,
My life is coming to a close. I can no longer follow the clues laid out before me. The camera is now yours. Use it well, Miss Wavers.
PS…Do take good care of my trunk. It means a great deal to me.
I picked up the key from the desk. It was the beginning of everything.
(to be continued)
©2020 Nancy Lehmann