Hunter and his sister, Susan, walk up the steep, archaic, spiral staircase together. They had spent so much of their childhood in this house. Eating cookies and receiving uninvited but welcome kisses from Grandma. The smell of dust and mold fill the air, the house was over 100 years old.
“Careful, these steps are really steep.” Susan warns her brother.
“If you trip you might crack your nose on one of these corners.” She nervously giggles, she’d just relived one of many repressed-but-hilarious childhood memories.
“Yeah, yeah…” He replies, rolling his eyes at the recollection.
“What do you think we’ll find up there?” He asks.
“Well, Grandma was 102 when she died, I’m sure we’ll find some really cool, old stuff.”
“It just doesn’t feel right; you know? Going through her stuff when she’s not here anymore.”
“Well, legally someone has to divide up her stuff, it might as well be you and me.”
Hunter and Susan were the only relatives left that could go through her possessions. Everyone else was too old and fragile. Hunter and Susan both knew that t heir Grandma wanted them to do it anyway. They reach the top of the staircase and they both look up at the entry to the attic.
“Wait here.” says Susan.
Hunter waits under the manhole. Staring at the cobwebs surrounding the opening. His imagination soars as he thinks of all the things they could find. Jewels, old letters, photographs. He smiles at the thought and becomes excited, he did study antiques for several years after all. Susan comes back carrying a ladder and sets it up under the hole. She climbs up and pushes the little door open. She turns back towards Hunter, “Wait till I’m completely off it before climbing up.”
He nods. The ladder is metal, but it’s ancient, the creaking makes him nervous, it’s a miracle if it can hold one person let alone two. She climbs up and he follows, entering the complete darkness. Susan feels around for a light switch but instead feels a thread hanging from the roof.
She yanks the thread and an old light above them flashes on, still flickering now and then. The two of them jump as they see two rats scatter away behind the boxes. The small room is overlaid with dust, cobwebs and rat excrement from top to bottom. There are old cardboard boxes all over the floor.
“Let’s get to work.” Susan says.
“I call this box.” says Hunter, pointing to a small, cardboard box sitting on the floor.
He sits down next to it, diving right into its contents, pulling them all out and placing them on the floor next to him. Susan has a good look around before choosing her first box. She sees the twinkling handle of an old sword poking out of a box. Intrigued, she goes back to investigate.
She hurries over the creaky floorboards. Lifting the flaps; she retries the sword and slides off the case. Hunter hears the noise and stands, curious.
“What’s that?” he asks.
“Not your box.” Replies Susan, Hunter smiles and walks over.
“Wow, that’s beautiful.”
The cutlass is about 80cm long and rusted all over. Susan blows the dust off the beautiful gold handle. Both see that it’s encrusted with jewels and glistens in the dimly lit room.
“You know this stuff, right?” Asks Susan. “How old do you reckon this sword is?”
Hunter takes the sword and turns it in his hand.
“Hmmmm…” He ponders, “This… Could be 17, maybe 1800s. I’ve never seen one this old before.” They both stare at the sword with amazement.
“What else is in here?” Hunter digs through the box as he speaks. Susan gently puts down the sword and joins. Inside, they find old books, a compass, maps and more. When they reach the bottom, they spot a very faded, dusty leather bound book. Hunter glances at Susan before reaching down, picking it up and brushing off the dust.
Memoirs of Abigail Brimley
He looks back at Susan, “You don’t write a memoir unless you’ve got something interesting to write about.”
“Hold on” replies Susan, “Abigail Brimley, wasn’t she the convict?” Hunter’s thinking face comes on.
“No. Her parents were convicts; she ran away from home when she was like… 7. I think.”
“Let’s read it.” Susan replies, excitedly.
They both sit down on the weak, dusty floor while Hunter carefully opens the book.