The challenge this week was to tell a story of lost treasure found in your own house. Is it luck or a curse? Fortune or failure? Heart warming or heart wrenching? Is it an object or some truth? What is it that we discover? The genre was open and the word limit is 1414. I hope you enjoy my story of family and secrets hidden and shared.
I’ve never understood my Aunt Delores. I’m not sure anyone could ever understand my Aunt Delores. I still find it difficult to believe she’s actually part of this family. While it’s true she’s my father’s biological sister, she couldn’t be more different from us all if she were from another planet. Now, there’s an interesting thought.
A bit of an explanation is probably due about now. Everyone in my family is supportive and caring, with the exception of my aunt, who is quite possibly the most hateful, disrespectful, cynical, and suspicious individual I have ever known. Going back a bit, we do have a black sheep in the lineage though. I asked my mother if that was the reason why Aunt Delores was the way she was, but mom said that was only part of it. Mom told me Delores was just born mean and left it at that. Nowhere you can really go with that…
I do know that Great Grandfather Daniel’s misdeed, as it is referred to, made Delores bitter as hell. All the ladies in her Bridge Club are descendants of accomplished and well-respected families, while hers had one really black mark. Daniel had brutally murdered his wife, Cora, while their firstborn son was in his infancy. He readily confessed, and was hanged. But that’s not the worst part.
The house in which he killed her still stands today. After Daniel was buried, his brother brought his family into the murder house and raised his children, along with Daniel’s orphaned boy. The house was kept in the family, and I was raised there too. I have a husband and my own family now, and we live in the next county over. After mom and dad passed away, the house became mine, and I decided to rent it out and pull in some extra income. I thought that was a great idea, but then Aunt Delores injected herself into the picture.
Before I seek tenants for the place, she informed me that she hired contractors to tear down the wall between these two rooms, and put up a new one between those two rooms, and so on and so on. She’s decided that the entire house needs to be renovated and redecorated and in so doing, cleansed of all the evil it has possessed all these years. I grew up in that house and have nothing but delightful memories. I think she’s the only evil that house has ever known.
Before they begin destroying that which has stood solid and proud for all these years, I decided to pay it one last visit. I wanted to walk its halls and climb its stairs and remember all the love I knew there. One last time.
As I was leaving the back room that had been set up as a playroom, I noticed one of the wallboards was loose--again. How many times had I pushed it back in place without a moment’s curiosity as to why it was the only one in the house that buckled every now and then. Not today though. Today, I pulled, and to my great surprise, behind it on the bottom boards was a small metal box. I tilted it sideways and removed it from its grave, knowing it contained stolen diamonds, or the secret diary of a woman who had been kidnapped and held captive until one dark and stormy night, she made her daring escape. I’m very fond of mysteries and old movies, by the way. Just in case you were wondering.
The box had a latch, but no lock, so I took a peek inside. There were no diamonds, stolen or otherwise, and no diary--only an envelope with our family surname written on it (Hollister), that contained a letter. I took it out to the backyard and sat under my favorite tree to read it.
I hope a member of my beloved family finds this note so they can know the truth about my dear wife, Cora. I had loved her always, and had never been happier in my entire life than after we married. We went about our daily routines with joy and unending devotion to each other, until she gave birth to our only son.
Shortly after William joined our family, Cora became quite the different person. She no longer arose in the morning to prepare my breakfast and some sandwiches to carry along to the workplace. When I arrived home at suppertime, I found her still in her nightclothes, hair uncombed, face unwashed, sitting on the front porch, simply staring. When I suggested contacting the doctor, she would begin to cry, and would lock herself in the bedroom. I had difficulty getting her to eat, and after awhile, she hardly spoke to me at all. Little by little, day by day, I was losing the woman I had married, and I felt powerless to help her.
Today when I returned home, I found her lying on the kitchen floor, covered in blood, her throat cut, and a carving knife close to her hand. She had written a note and placed it on the counter. It detailed her deep despair and fear for the safety of her child that she now despised. She blamed the infant for her state of mind, and insisted if she allowed herself to continue living, she was certain she would murder him before he reached his first birthday. She stated that taking her own life was the only way to alleviate her pain, and begged my forgiveness. She was also very clear that a wound to the throat would guarantee her demise. Apparently, she had obtained some information in that regard.
I have burned her note and removed the knife from her hand and placed it on the table. After I complete this accounting, I shall notify the local police of her death and claim responsibility for two reasons. One, without my Cora, all hope is lost. I shall be arrested and incarcerated, and shall be content, because I no longer have purpose. And two, William must never know his own mother wished him dead and named him responsible for her suicide.
I plan to put this entry in my document box and place it behind a wallboard in the den. Hopefully, several generations will have come and gone before it is discovered.
Please do not think ill of me for tarnishing our good name by associating murder with it. At this moment, all I can think of is how to protect her--even in death, and my infant son. I know the court will permit my brother, Ronald, to raise him, and William will be well cared for and loved. It is the only hope I have left.
I shall close now, dear one. Please remember me always in your prayers. And Cora, too. Please.
It was signed Daniel Hollister. Unbelievable. All I’ve ever heard was what a disgrace he was, how the family name was forever tainted, and how we all had the potential for insanity showing up when we least expected it. I’m going to send Aunt Delores’ contractors away, and put a for rent sign out on the front lawn. I’d like to rent it out to a young family--a dad and a mom with a new baby. I think Daniel would be very pleased with that.