A Note from the Past…
Playing in the hallway one day, your kids accidentally bump into your grandfather clock, which has been in the family for years. As it smashes into the ground, you find a note hidden inside from your great grandfather, who died two months after you were born. Strangely enough, the note is addressed to you….
As the sound of the crash echoed throughout the quietness of the house, my stomach knotted with fear. I rushed down the hallway to discover my boys standing silently beside the wreckage of what had been my family heirloom: a grandfather clock. My knees went weak at the sight of the splinters of wood and the cracked clock face and I crumpled to the floor.
“I’m sorry, Mommy,” my eldest, William, said softly.
I shook my head and reached out my hands to gather the shards in a feeble attempt to repair the damage. Words escaped my mind and all I could manage was a quiet, “Go to your room,” before the lump in my throat swelled and ended all attempts at speaking.
The boys shuffled off quickly to their rooms and though I could faintly hear their words of placed blame, my mind was preoccupied at the sight of the destroyed clock. I swiped furiously at the tears that fell before I forced myself to stand. I retrieved the trash can from the kitchen and began throwing away the pieces of wood and metal that had been only moments ago the grand clock that had filled our home with song as it chimed every hour.
Where the clock had originated, I couldn’t say for sure. Only that it had once stood in my parents home, and before that, it had been my grandparents. I could vaguely remember hearing my grandmother scornfully say that the clock had been a wedding present, but to who and from whom, I knew not.
As I mindlessly threw handful after handful of broken bits into the trash, my eyes caught on a yellowed bit of paper. My hand paused momentarily over the can as I contemplated the origin of the note. I released the broken chips into the trash and stretched my arm forward.
It was a folded piece of aged stationary, and my name had been scrawled across the front in a hand I didn’t recognize. I opened the page and a faded photograph fell into my lap. I gingerly picked up the picture and the face I saw startled me. The shock of the woman’s face singed my fingertips and I nearly dropped the photo. It was as if I had looked into a mirror, and yet I knew I had never seen her face before in any of our family albums.
I physically shook myself and carefully set the picture aside. Quickly, I skimmed the words in the note and discovered my great-grandfather’s signature at the bottom. Interesting, I thought to myself. My great-grandfather had died only months after I had been born. What could he possibly have had to say to me? Curious, I eagerly began to read.
My darling little girl, the note began, how proud I am today, to have been able to see the birth of a new generation, to see my first great-grandchild. It warms my heart to know that even with all the wrongs that I have committed, there is still one thing I managed to do right.
I know now that I’m running out of time. I won’t be able to right the wrongs from my past. But I see in you the spark that I once saw in her, and it’s my hope that one day you’ll be able to finish what I started so many years ago.
I’ve hidden this note inside her clock, in the hopes that one day your fates will cross. I shall rest easy, knowing that the secrets you will uncover will set us free. I wish you luck, my beautiful girl.
Confused, I reached for the photo once more, and gazed upon the woman’s face. I turned the picture over, and on the back my great-grandfather had scrawled, Mary Virginia, 1927
Who was this woman? I wondered, as I stared at the picture, her features so frighteningly similar to my own. And who, exactly, was she to my great-grandfather?