Yellowed paper

“Shit.”

That was all she could say as she looked at the old lock on the jewelry box. She didn’t have the key and the lock was older than dirt. She had to get into the box. It had to be there. It was the last place she could look, she had literally torn her apartment apart.

The box had been handed down to her from her grandmother. It contained bits and pieces of her past – important things, “well, they were important at the time,” she said to herself.

The box and its contents were the only things from the past that she had left.

The box was ornately carved and hinged. When opened, there was no pretty velvet, no dancing ballerina. It was just a box with a mirror and a lock she couldn’t open. The lock wasn’t a typical lock, the keyhole was in the middle, not the bottom. She hated to break it, but without the key, she had no choice.

She got up from her kitchen table and went to the junk drawer to search for something with which to pry the lock open. Finding only a nut picker, she went back to the table and started digging at the lock. It took some doing but she finally managed to break the lock. Tossing the old and now broken lock aside, she unlatched the hasp and opened the box.

There, staring back at her, was part of her past life. She marveled at an old faded corsage from some dance she couldn’t remember. The flower was crispy with the fragility of age, but the netting and ribbon still retained their greenish blue color.

She felt a pain in her chest as she mentally reminisced at the black and white picture strips of her and Jonas; taken in one of those old photo booths at the pier just before they married. She remembered that day as if it was yesterday. They had walked along the water, talking about their future and decided to walk up to the pier. They strolled through all the shops and carnival rides, and on a whim, did what kids do in those photo booths. They made all kinds of funny faces, took one serious shot, and made out, all while the camera snapped away. She looked at the three strips of photo’s and sighed. She still missed him, even after all these years.

She turned her attention back to the jewelry box staring at the assorted papers, jewelry, and other flotsam from her past. She dug through the box looking for that one thing…the paper. The paper that put her where she was today.

She dumped the box on the table and sorted through the papers…her old birth certificate, her original marriage license, her and Jonas’ death certificates. She stared at the death certificates and could feel the tears rising in the back of her throat. Only one of the certificates was real. She swallowed a few times to stifle the tears and stuffed the certificates under the other papers continuing to search through the rest of the dumped contents. “It has to be here,” she thought.

Finally…she found the paper she was hunting for, the paper that had made her fake her death, and live the life she had led all these years. A life without Jonas and on the run…courtesy of the government.

Staring at the yellowed newspaper clipping, she thought back to the day Jonas was killed. He had stepped out of the coffee-house and right into gunfire happening in the middle of a busy street full of people. He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. That didn’t matter to the man who was responsible for the shooting. The man didn’t even know who Jonas was, only that he was on trial for his death.

The subject in the article on that yellowed piece of newspaper had haunted her for years.

Drug lord found guilty of the death of Dr. Jonas Walker, vows revenge.”

The article went on to detail how they had hunted down and caught the drug lord, the long trial and how after all the guilty verdict’s were delivered (there were many), the drug lord promised to have his men hunt down the family of the doctor and kill them all. He said as long as he lived he would seek his revenge. That was the day her life changed.

As she had done countless times over the years, she thought about the “if only’s, and what if’s.” Nothing had changed, the past was what it was. Until now. She could stop running and looking over her shoulder. She could finally exhale.

She had been notified by her “handler” that it was over. The drug lord had died in prison. Ironically (or karmically, if you believed in those things), he didn’t die from old age. He had been killed by a member of a rival gang…for revenge.

She put the yellowed clipping down and smiled. Then she laughed until she cried.

Photo credit: Growing Muses

****

This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Irish Gumbo, who gave me this prompt: ” The past was where it was, up to its hubs in rock and mud, and there was no going back to try a different road.”  I challenged Brad MacDonald with the prompt: “The reading of a will from a loved one (who that is, is up to you), reveals the surprise of your life.

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