Contemporary Fiction

My family and I live in the house that once belonged to my elderly Uncle Arthur. Somehow, it was left to me. I'm not quite sure why. Maybe, my uncle knew that no one else would want this old relic of days gone by. Or maybe he understood that my generation preferred the fast paced excitement of the big city, to the peace and quiet of the country. Maybe he knew that no one would appreciate the sentimental value of the house, and would just sell it for the fortune that it was worth in today’s market. Or maybe my uncle knew me better than I knew myself.  

The house was large, with a second floor and five nice sized bedrooms, each with an adjoining bathroom. The first floor boasted a large parlor area where, in days gone by, many parties and gatherings would be held. The dining room was equally as large. You could actually seat comfortably at least thirty people or more, around the heavy mahogany table. 

The kitchen was a dream for anyone who loved to cook, both in it’s size and layout, provided you updated it first. There was a pantry larger than most people’s dens. Additional rooms filled the back of the house, and could be used as offices, playrooms, etc. The decor was certainly old fashioned. But that was easily remedied with some paint and furnishings. 

While I loved the interior of the house, it was the outside that I really enjoyed the most. There was a large wraparound porch set up with old fashioned rocking chairs and some small tables. The house had been built on a large piece of property. When you sat on the porch, you were looking at a large expanse of front yard, a sea of green, which was enclosed by a wooden fence, hidden by trees all around. The only part of the fence visible, was the front gate. 

Life in the city had been rough for my family, so we decided that since we were given this opportunity, we would move out to the country and test the waters. I have three kids and none of them really wanted to leave their friends. But, after some tough negotiation, and mainly because I thought it would be in the family’s best interest, we packed and moved!

We had worked on renovating the kitchen and most of the bathrooms. We freshened up the lawn and planted some flowers in the back. Since I already had furniture, I removed the old, and brought in my much newer and more modern things. The only remnant, was the wallpaper in the hallways and bedrooms, which I loved. 

We spent days scrubbing and cleaning everything. By the time we were done, the house felt like home and the kids seemed to be more content. They were, however, a little nervous about starting in a new school. I had two in high and the youngest in middle school. The best part is that my kids never had issues making friends, so I thought things would work out for them. They did.  

My husband on the other hand, had looked at this move as an adventure. He would still be able to travel to his office in the city, so in fact, not too much had changed for him. He seemed happy. 

I am a writer, and I was very excited about the office I made for myself, on the second floor, at the back of the house, overlooking the yard. My nook, had windows all around the room, which let in an abundance of natural light. I was looking for peace and I found it here. 


It’s a year later.....

I am struggling to write. I seem to be plagued with writer’s block today. I can’t even put two sentences together. It’s evening and unbelievably, the house is quiet. I guess everyone is busy in their own corners. What to do now?

When my aunt and uncle lived here, we used to visit weekly. We always had a great time. My uncle was very funny and my aunt very elegant. She would always serve us tea out on her “veranda”, as she referred to it. I always laughed. I told her it was a porch. She told me that the word “veranda” made the porch special. So that’s what we called it. But we only used that term with her. After Aunt Sara died, we reverted back to the word, porch. The word “veranda” belonged to my aunt. She was such a classy lady, and no one could replace her. Apparently Uncle Arthur felt the same way. He never remarried.

As I sit here thinking about the past, I remember there is a third floor to this house. An attic. As I recall, there had been a lot of stuff stored up there. I remember a large trunk that was used to store old clothes. When I was little, I would hide in it. It was so big and the clothes stored there were so soft. One day, I fell asleep and Aunt Sara found me. I remember her gently pulling me out of the trunk and giving me her usual warm hugs and kisses. She and Uncle Arthur did not have kids and so she loved having all of us over each weekend. She definitely doted on me. I felt so special. What wonderful memories!

We’ve been so busy since we moved in, that I hadn’t even gone up to the attic once. So far, when we needed storage space, we used the basement. It covered the entire house. Plenty of room down there!

There was a pull down staircase to the attic, at the end of the hallway, on the second floor, on the opposite side of my office. I wondered if maybe my daughter wanted to go up there with me and explore. I was about to call for her. I changed my mind. I hadn’t been up there in decades. Who knew what I would find. I also wanted to keep some of my memories to myself, for just a little while longer. Just one last moment up there by myself. Then I would be ready to share.


I am standing in the middle of the attic. I can’t believe how many memories there are up here. There is a pull, deep in the middle of my heart, for those long ago days that I shared with my aunt and uncle; that I shared with my parents and siblings. Wow! The feelings are so strong!

The attic is somewhat gray. There is minimal light coming in through the dust covered windows. I peek out one window, and can see the front yard from here. I can even see beyond the fence, to the front walk.

I turn away from the window. There is a bulb hanging in the middle of the room and I turn it on. There is not too much light, but I can see well enough. I turn around in a full circle, as I survey the entire room. I can’t believe my eyes! I see something shiny, a faint sparkle in the dull light. Can it be? I move closer and squint my eyes a bit. There is no doubt. I can’t believe I found it! I move closer and am standing over it now. The silver has tarnished, but there is still a dull shine. How is it possible that Aunt Sara’s heart shaped box is here after all these years?!

I quickly clear off a table with old fabric swatches on it. I watch momentarily as the colorful fabric drops to the floor, remembering how much Aunt Sara loved to sew. When she became ill, her sewing machine and all of her fabric and thread was moved up here. I shed a tear for the old days. Good times.

I pick up the silver box. It is a big box, and, I need both hands to lift it. I gently place it on the table. I take a moment to really look at the box that I remember so well. It was magical, Aunt Sara had said. I believed her, because I wanted to. I thought my aunt was magical. She always made these sparkly dresses for my dolls, and as she sewed the dresses, the sparkle would land in her hair, and on her hands and her clothes. She sparkled! Yes, my aunt was magical!

The box is heart shaped, and it is big. It is silver, with hearts and flowers scattered all over the lid. The rest of the box is smooth and shiny. Now it was tarnished. Aunt Sara had said that, because the box was such a big heart, it was filled with a lot of love! When I asked my aunt where it had come from, she told me that my uncle had given it to her as an anniversary gift. It had been filled with all kinds of treats, and a beautiful porcelain doll. I remember the doll. Aunt Sara had let me look at her, and touch her. But that was all. She was too delicate to play with, otherwise. When we moved into this house, I looked for the doll but I never found her.

I stare at the box, wondering, if I should open it. When I had lifted it up, I felt something move inside. Was the doll in there? I am eager to find out. Slowly, gently, I pull at the lid. But it doesn’t budge. Not surprising that it is stuck, since it lay here for so long. I don’t want to use anything to pry it open for fear of damaging the box. I try pulling the lid again and I still can’t open it. I look at the box more closely, and notice that there is a lock. It is very tiny and tucked in between the hearts and flowers. I don’t remember a lock. But if there’s a lock then hopefully, there would be a key.

I feel the bottom of the box and find a tiny key taped there. It’s a wonder that it still stuck! I slowly peel the tape off and hold the little key in my hand tightly. I certainly don’t want to drop it. 

Very carefully, I put the key into the tiny lock and turn. I unlock the box. Slowly, I open it.  


I stare into the open box in wonder. Wrapped in silver tissue paper lay Aunt Sara’s porcelain doll, as beautiful as ever. Miraculously, she still looks brand new, almost as though someone has taken her out of the box periodically, to clean her up. 

Every part of the doll, except for her clothes, is painted. She is as delicate as I remember. I am afraid to pull her out of the box. I would never forgive myself if she broke.

The doll has beautifully painted bright blue eyes surrounded by dark lashes. She has blond hair that is curled all the way down to her waist. Her hair is tied with a silver ribbon dotted with soft pink velvet hearts. Her lips are painted pink, as are her nails. Her dress is long and silver and it twinkles in the dim light. She has soft silver slippers made of velvet. She is more beautiful than I remember!

I don’t want to remove the doll from the box. But I change my mind. I have never held the doll before, and I am an adult now, and I am very careful. I push back the paper that surrounds the doll, and gently lift her out. 

All of a sudden, I start to feel very light headed. I am surrounded by a very colorful mist. As suddenly as the mist appears, it disappears and I start feeling better. And then....


“Aunt Sara?!”

My aunt is sitting in a chair next to me, smiling! She looks great! And young, and beautiful. She’s wearing jeans and a short sleeve silk blouse, her favorite outfit. I definitely, must have hit my head. Sadly, my aunt had died years ago.

“Hi, honey! You look like you have seen a ghost!”

“I think I’m looking at one! What are you doing here?”

“I’m working on that dress for the doll. You wanted to help me, remember?”

“What doll?” I still can’t believe I am sitting here with my aunt.

“The one your uncle gave me, you know, from the heart shaped box.”

“But, wasn’t she wearing a dress when Uncle Arthur gave her to you?” I ask, still in shock.

“She was. But you wanted her to be dressed in silver. Here, look.”

Aunt Sara proudly holds out the doll wearing the silver dress. I now, clearly, remember making that dress with her. My aunt had shown me how to use her sewing machine, and I had put stitches on the hair ribbon. Together we had made the doll’s silver slippers. 

That was the last time I had seen my aunt. No one knew then, that she was terminally ill and would die a short time later.

“Well, honey, do you like the dress?”

“I love it,” I say. Tears filling my eyes.

“Don’t cry, little one. Just be happy. One day, you will come back to this house when you are married and have your own family. I will leave this doll here for you, in the big heart box. It’s my gift to you, my precious niece. Cherish her, and all the memories we have made together and those that you will make with your husband and children in the future.” 

Aunt Sara must have known at that point that this would be our last goodbye. 


I now find myself alone and crying, missing my aunt with all of my heart and feeling as though she just died.

I finally pull myself together and look at the beautiful doll in my hands. She was given to my aunt, by my uncle, with a heart full of love. My aunt spent time pouring her love on me. She left the doll for me in that big heart shaped silver box. A gift from the heart, filled with love. This house, that I am living in, is exactly that, passed down to me with love, to raise a family that I love.

I put the doll back in her heart shaped box and tuck her away for another time. I will bring my children up here and tell them all about my Aunt Sara and Uncle Arthur and their love.

I wipe my tears and walk downstairs in search of my family. I think I will make something special for dinner tonight.

February 16, 2022 02:42

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McCampbell Molly
14:06 Feb 28, 2022

Such a beautiful story, sad and poignant. Loved the descriptions.


15:30 Feb 28, 2022

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I am so glad you enjoyed it. This story had the potential of going so many different ways, but I decided to write it this way. I was able to pour my heart into it. Thank you again!


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J.C. Lovero
02:32 Feb 24, 2022

Hi Rebecca, Such a nice story. Your descriptions of the house were great - I felt as though I was in that house with the protagonist. Something that I thought was distracting for me was the use of the exclamation point (!). I'm not sure if that was a stylistic choice or something else, but I did notice it. Keep on writing!


02:48 Feb 24, 2022

Thank you so much for reading my story. I am so glad you enjoyed it. I am not sure which exclamation point you are talking about since there are several throughout the story. Please let me know. It means a lot to me when a reader tells me that they feel as though they are somehow a part of the story. It makes me feel as though I have done my job!


J.C. Lovero
02:57 Feb 24, 2022

Hi Rebecca, Always happy to give feedback! I think it wasn't one specific exclamation point but maybe I feel it was slightly overused, if that makes sense? It could just be a stylistic preference for me, but I felt I should call it out just in case you get that same feedback from others. Again - great story!


03:26 Feb 24, 2022

It was a preference. I feel that the exclamation point emphasizes the statement I am making. I love getting feedback. I feel that you can always learn from others. Thanks again!!!


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