Short Story - The Necklace

She sat bolt upright, her heart pounding in her chest, not knowing what had awoken her. The alien surroundings added to her disorientation. Millicent sat on the pillow next to her, licking her paw demurely whilst oozing innocence. The memories of the last few days crowded in on Bronwyn as the fog of sleep faded, slowly replaced by light from a single naked bulb next to her bed.

The letter that came in the Saturday post telling her that she had inherited a house on Bodmin moor. The journey to the house, the last part up a dirt track to the middle of nowhere. The gruff taxi driver taking his fee, turning around and leaving her standing alone in front of the old farm house. Turning the key in the lock and standing in the hallway, giving time for her eyes to adjust to the gloom.

The last of the farmland had been sold off a year ago to pay for badly needed maintenance. Although the building was now habitable it desperately needed a woman’s touch. Bronwyn’s Uncle Blyth lived alone after his wife Ailla had died and it seemed that he had been marking time since she passed away. Blyth let the house fade in to maleness, the feminine touches disappearing year upon year until it became a functional shelter allowing him to keep his routine of getting up, working and going to bed.

Millicent resumed batting Bronwyn, impatient to be out.

“Oh Milly!” Bronwyn exhaled sliding off the bed, “you woke me, didn't you?”

“Meow” Millicent retorted.

“Pfft, don't you give me that, have you seen the time? … Silly question you don't give two figs do you?”

“Meeewwwww”. Millicent wrapped herself around Bronwyn’s legs almost causing her to fall.

“Away with you puss!” she chided, negotiating her way simultaneously down the stairs and around Millicent's furry body.

Bronwyn opened the back door and Millicent darted off into the greyness of the pre-dawn. Instead of going back upstairs to bed, Bronwyn turned to the stove and picked up an antiquated kettle complete with a whistle to announce the arrival of the boiled water.

Having filled the kettle she put it on the hob, thankful that she had managed to light the aga the day before. She grabbed a cup off the side but, still not fully acquainted with the new kitchen, the tea took a little longer to locate. Teabag found, she brewed in the cup. Sitting down at the old oak kitchen table Bronwyn thought through her life changing options. Sell her flat in Llanelli, keep it, live in it, rent it out … sell this place, live here, rent it out. Decisions to make but what to do? As she sat thinking, Bronwyn absent-mindedly began to toy with the oak leafed pattern that adorned the side of the table. There was an inaudible click as a panel glided out.

“A hidden drawer” Bronwyn whispered to herself in awe.

Taking a closer look inside, she found a folded piece of velvet. Parts of the aged material disintegrated between her fingers as she gently began to open it. Mesmerised by the most beautiful necklace she had ever seen, Bronwyn almost missed the parchment that it sat upon. The words inside read …

“My darling Araminta, I love you. To be without you is more pain than I can bear. I gave you these stones at Christmas and you wore them for me that night, the firelight dancing in your eyes as I held you close. I will be with you again, please wait for me …”

Bronwyn sat with the necklace draped between her fingers, scrutinizing each vibrant colour in turn. The love and heartbreak she felt emanating from the fine cut brilliant stones made her heart ache, and tears trickled down her cheeks as she vowed to uncover the mystery of the two lovers.