She began sifting through the mountain of ‘stuff’ in the shed as the rain made swift-moving rivers on the window. Just a few minutes ago the sun shone brightly; she wasn’t sure how this sudden downpour had manifested so assuredly. She was sure though it had stolen her resolve to look through the boxes her dad had stored in this old shed. The pain of her dad’s death was fresh and it was going to be hard enough to open up these old memories, let alone try to do it on a dreary grey day in the rain. She would need the warmth and comfort of a beautiful sunny day to tackle this old shed. Her trek back to the house was slow even though the rain threatened and pelted down hard. In a way it felt like the rain was pounding on her sadness; appeasing it somehow.
Inside the house, after putting the kettle to boil, she picked up a piece of paper that seemed to have fallen from the mantle. It looked quite old & she feared tearing it as she tried to unfold it. As she unfolded it she found it to be just a plain piece of paper wrapped around a photo of what appeared to be a beautiful chest of some kind; the kind of chest that held the treasures stolen by the pirates at sea. On the back of the photo was written ‘heed the hidden place” and it was marked with a little squiggly heart, sort of like a signature of some kind. It didn’t seem to mean anything to her and she was thinking to toss it (heaven knows she already had enough paper to contend with) but something like a slight tap on the shoulder seemed to encourage her to place it back up on the mantle.
The tea kettle called so she headed out to the kitchen in answer. Soon it was singing and as she poured the water over the tea bag she noticed the sun was out again. It seemed the rain had stopped abruptly, the very same way it had begun. With any luck the boxes in the shed could be sorted by dinner time so, steaming hot mug of tea in hand, she headed back out to the shed.
There were boxes of clothes, a couple cartons containing Christmas decorations, several boxes of ornaments her dad had packed up when her mom had died, boxes of old canning jars, a garbage bag full of old shoes, an artificial Christmas tree, several small totes filled with tools, a few large garbage bags filled with returnable cans and bottles, various rakes, shovels and garden tools. Backed up to the shed was the truck she had rented to load up as she sorted then distribute to the goodwill or the garbage dump. She had almost filled the truck box and there was only a few things left in the shed. She was doing really well between moments of sadness and melancholy and small fits of laughter brought on by some of her discoveries. There was only a small pile of items she had segregated for further inspection which she would take into the house to take a closer look at and a few more items to sort through at the back of the shed.
She lifted up a big garbage bag full of miscellaneous items and what she uncovered left her speechless. Staring at the most beautiful chest she had ever seen, she realized it was the chest in the picture she placed back on the mantle in the house.
Lifting the lid slowly she felt another slight tap on the shoulder; her dad’s presence was compelling and tears were close to the surface as she sensed this chest was of particular significance for her. Inside she found nothing; an empty chest. Puzzled, she knelt down on the floor. Examining the chest from top to bottom, all sides, inside, she was ready to walk away when she again felt that slight tap on the shoulder, as if to remind her of something. Ah yes! She remembered the writing on the back of the picture “Heed the hidden space”. There will be a secret space that she must find; she was certain of it now. Over and over she scrutinized every inch of the chest for some sign of a hidden place.
Finally she found it; she noticed the slightest crack along the left side edge. She would need something with which to pry it open. As if meant for the job there was a small blade hanging on the wall just above her head. She slipped the blade alongside the crack, pried up and the whole bottom came up and she was able to see what was hidden underneath the false floor.
Tears fell as she looked at her mom’s and dad’s wedding rings, the beautiful heart shaped locket her dad had given her mom, her dad’s medals and most touching a photo album. Opening it up she found her past staring up at her, from the time her mom and dad met, their wedding, her birth and every little event and occasion following along the journey of her life, with accompanying stories and comments. She was speechless.
She sat for a long time smiling, laughing, weeping. A more beautiful treasure she could not have found. She would keep it forever and pass it on to her daughter as it had been passed along to her, of course with a few added chapters.