A Veil Lifted

This week's Fiction Friday challenge has us sitting down to Christmas (actually it was Thanksgiving but seeing as I'm not American I've changed it to Christmas) dinner when an unexpected guest bursts in upon the scene. I've coupled this with a recent interest I've taken in dedications which we find at the front of so many books.

Janet felt a little overwhelmed as she looked around the oversized room that had served both as living and dining room. How on earth was she going to get everything ready before they arrived. She began to wish Scott was there to help her. He had offered, of course. But he'd been on the road so much these last few months, she'd not wanted to impose another eight hour drive on him. Besides, all she'd have to do was tidy the place up and make room for the bed. The ambulance people would carry the bed down from the bedroom when they arrived with her mother.

Four hours later she put the kettle on to afford herself a small break. The room had been cleaned out and a place made where the bed could go. She had even found a little corner for the bedside cabinet. This was the one secret in her mother's life. It always remained locked and Janet had never succeeded in bringing her mother to talk about whatever it contained. But she knew her mother would not want to be without it.

Some thirty minutes later the ambulance men arrived and not long after her mother was comfortably installed in her new surroundings. Janet sat down on a stool beside her. The time had come for a serious talk. This time things had turned out well. But next time... Janet braced herself. She knew her mother would never leave Scarborough to come and live with them. But if she didn't want that, then they'd have to get someone in. Janet braced herself and was just about to begin when she saw her mother holding out a little key. Janet stared then followed her mother's gaze to the little bedside cabinet. She took the key and placed it in the lock, glancing up to check this was really what her mother intended her to do. She opened it up and drew out a white metal document box. Her mother's eyes brightened as the box was placed on her lap. Her hands trembled as she opened it up and drew out a faded photo album of yesteryear. She looked her daughter in the eyes, inviting her, no entreating her to take a trip into a past which no one had ever talked about.

Yet, all the album contained were photographs of a Christmas party. Christmas 1925 the front cover announced. Her mother had been seventeen, just months before she had broken all contact with her family. Janet studied the photos carefully. It must have been a big party. There were well over fifty people present, and the table spreads must have taken days to prepare. All done by servants, of course.

Janet turned the pages slowly keeping one eye on her mother so as not to miss out on any reaction. Yet, nothing happened. Janet couldn't help feeling that all this was just the preliminary to something greater. It was not until she turned over the final page that she came to a photo she recognised.

"It's..." She hesitated. Only now did she realise she never knew the name of this boy. All she knew was that his appearance at that Christmas party so many years ago had been as unexpected as it was short-lived. She now saw her mother holding a book out to her which she had kept in the box. Janet glanced at the title and turned over the first page. The inscription caught her eye:

To Rose
With love

Her mother's eyes gleamed as they began to reflect one picture after another, telling the events of that far-off Christmas day about which Janet understood but little. Yet fingering the paper of this mysterious book she felt at last this veil was about to be lifted.


Newer Post Older Post Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds