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The Mystery Heart

Camille Alfred

I made the first payment on the house. I moved in on Sunday afternoon. All of my belongings were being delivered on Monday, but I was anxious to get settled before my new job started. I was alone for the first time in my life, no family, no boyfriend and no husband. A widow, with no children. 

I checked out the kitchen, the counters needed to be cleaned and one of the drawers was ajar. It wasn’t that way when I looked at the house a month ago. I opened the drawer and realized it was stuck fast. I opened the drawer beneath it and pulled it completely out. I reached my hand into the open area and got hold of the drawer above, I jiggled it for a minute and it came loose. I pulled it out carefully and looked inside. A red, velvet covered heart shaped box. The ribbon around it was securely fastened, but frayed. 

I shook the box, something was in there. 

I carefully moved the ribbon aside, it seemed that it had never been opened, but it had to be! As I moved it, the ribbon frayed more and finally broke near the edge of the box. I carefully lifted the lid. Pieces of foil and shredded paper were covering the bottom of the box. I pulled them out one at a time, underneath was a single sheet of old paper, worn around the edges and some very light writing. 

I picked it up and held it in the light coming from the window. 

January 27, 1942

Dear Charley, 

How we miss you today. Our hearts are saddened by your death. I know that you are at peace, but your leaving us has left a hole that cannot be filled. 

Our new home has finally been finished and we have left the islands for good. Tomorrow we will start new jobs and Sissy will start at her new High School. This war seems to be going on forever, even here on the mainland we have to blacken our windows at night and our ration cards will only go so far. 

I can hear the ocean from our house, the waves hit the shore and I think about you and the ship that went down. Is this the same water that flows by you? Am I getting an echo from you? 

Sissy is scared and nervous, she has always gone to school with the same kids, this new school is bigger than she is used to and she doesn’t know anyone. I keep telling her that it will be ok, but I’m really not as sure as I sound. 

I am pouring out my heart in the only way I know, to someone who is not here except in my heart, we miss you. 

Love, Mom

I have read it over and over. My Grandmother was called Sissy when she was young, she had a brother who was lost in Hawaii on December 7, and here I am in an old house in Santa Monica, near the beach. I can hear the waves on the sand. I have never been to this house before, I don’t remember visiting anyone here. There’s no one who can help me with this new mystery. 

I search the box again, maybe there is another sheet of paper. I hold the box upside down and the heart shaped bottom loosens and I pry it up with my fingernail. 

Nothing, then I look at the piece of cardboard that I have removed. More writing. This time in pen, and different handwriting. 

My Name is Cecelia, my family called me Sissy when I was young. I lost my brother in the war and now we are leaving our house. My parents had this house built when they knew that they were moving to the mainland. When Pearl Harbor was attacked my brother was on board the Arizona as a cook. He never had a chance to get off the ship because he was down below in the kitchen. I would assume he was making breakfast. 

Mother never recovered, and only my father and I live here. He was offered a job in the old fields in Texas, so we are leaving. I am going to college in New York and will probably never see this place again. If you find this, know that this house was loved. 

The candy box was a gift from my brother to my mother for Valentine’s Day in 1941.

Cecelia Bowen

My heart is breaking for Cecelia. My grandmother went to college in New York where she met and married my grandfather. I never met my great grandfather, but I heard he was a roughneck. 

I had no idea they lived in Santa Monica or owned a house in California. How did I end up here? How many people saw that box and put it back? Why did I find it now?

I am starting my teaching job on Monday. But I need to start some research on this house. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my spare time, I thought I would be lonely, but now I have a goal. 

I am going to walk on the beach with the dog, she will love the waves. Yesterday, I was trying to figure out my life, I felt alone and sad. Today, I am excited for my future.

I am not old, I have a lot of living to do before I leave this earth. My dog is young and needs a lot of training, so I will look for a puppy school for her and maybe there I can meet new people. Dog lovers like me.

I have no desire to meet a man. I am done with them.

The Heart shaped box is a mystery, I have no idea how I ended up in my grandmother's house. Cecelia's story is my story too. I would like to know more about her. I don't even know why she went to New York for college.

February 11, 2022 18:43

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1 comment

13:42 Feb 19, 2022

I liked the story, good suspense there.


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