© 2015 Caroline Raggett
It began with a sincere request from her brother after her father’s passing. They hadn’t seen each other in ten years but even now as they whispered a prayer over the wooden box that cradled their father; it felt like little had changed.
Johnathan had lived a life of freedom and fancy. Leaving home at 17 to travel and indulge his childish imagination with equally childish behaviour. The last time they had spoken was over a year prior when he had called from someone’s mobile phone amidst a street party in some faraway Asian country.
Marie was glad he had his comforts. He wasn’t just alive but living. Also she secretly envied him a small amount. She had never really gone off anywhere or explored anything further than Spain. But Marie did not think she would change it. She was happy with her plain and simple life, with her plain home and her plain job and her simple ambition. Her parents were pleased to have her still so near and she had felt a degree of responsibility to them at the time.
On hearing of his father’s death, he had dashed back home to be with his mother. Time was a relative thing. So the 36 hour journey was comparable to a drop of rain in an ocean of water.
He sat with his mother for days, and when the time came to visit the funeral home, he assured her she needn’t worry. That he could make all the arrangements and mother wouldn’t need to do it if she couldn’t face it.
And so this was how they came to be sitting, holding hands, praying over the coffin.
In the preceding days, they had talked. Quite a lot actually, catching up, worrying about their mother and discussing all to do with the funeral. Her brother had asked what would happen to their mother and the house. He was worried that she wouldn’t be cared for, or that mum would lose the house. Practical things that Marie hadn’t even considered, which spoke volumes to her about how much he had matured in his absence. Marie resigned herself to defer thinking until after the funeral.
This came sooner than she thought.
It passed in a tear filled haze, and after the funeral her brother had one request. To see a pocket watch that father had been gifted from his father. Johnathan had described to her the wooden box it was kept in, and insisted that he merely wanted to look at it and remember.
Marie was charged with helping her mother sort through his things which was a long, heart breaking task but after a time they soon came upon the little wooden box, stuffed in a larger shoebox, with many little pieces of broken jewellery and trinkets. Marie held it in her hands, feeling the smoothness of the wood and inhaling the scent of musk and tobacco. Gingerly she opened the box, un-fastening the small latch and lifting the lid. There nestled in a soft bed of crushed velvet was the silver pocket watch. The long chain was tucked underneath untidily, and the watch face shone in the centre of its filigree casing. The silver had lost some of its lustre but it was heavy and beautifully decorated.
Marie closed the box and went downstairs to her brother. Johnathan sat at the dining table with a small pile of paperwork, trying to figure out how much the insurance would take care of. Marie was still surprised to see her hitchhiking, free-spirited brother sitting with a pair of glasses perched on his nose and a cup of tea next to him. He looked so much like father. She said nothing, but handed the box to him.
He opened it and lifted the watch out, wrapping the chain around his fingers and staring at it. The memory of it seemed pale in comparison to holding it and seeing it in its unfortunate splendour. Johnathan turned it over, saying to Marie that he remembered there was an engraving on the back of the casing, which was smooth and untouched.
Marie watched as he read. He read for a long time. Reading it over and over before placing it back in the box, handing it back and asking Marie to ensure it did not get lost or sold. He stood and left the kitchen.
Marie’s curiosity was piqued. She picked up the watch to read what Johnathan had so intensely studied. On the back of the case, read the inscription in very small curved letters
treasure is not
Mum and Dad”