“Come on.” Taylor braided her strawberry-blonde hair before grabbing Addison’s arm, and tugging her from the kitchen chair. “Three weeks is long enough, we need to go through grandma’s things.”
“It hasn’t even a month yet! Are you seriously so desperate to find what valuables Grandma hid in the attic?” Addison snapped, wiping her eyes. Gathering all her blonde hair into a bun on her head, she snapped a hair tie around it, her movements rough. “You weren’t even around when her health took a nose dive. Instead, you went off to do whatever it is you do.”
“Please excuse me for having a life.” Sarcasm dripped from her voice as she rolled her eyes.
Heat flushed down Addison’s body from head to toe, her face blood red. Taylor only ever showed up when she wanted to. Concerning herself with parties, traveling, and being anywhere she did not need to be. Being her only sibling and little sister sucked.
“Will you pull yourself out of your ass? Cheer up. Today is a beautiful sunny day and you know Gram would not want you mopomg around.” The ladder crashed down as Taylor pulled on the string. “Now, up you go.”
She boosted Addison up the rungs first, ensuring she went up. Grudgingly Addison climbed the rickety old steps, pulling herself on to the creaky floor. Taylor followed close behind, carefully removing the folded-up Will from her back pocket.
“May I see that?” Addison requested, nodding her head towards the Will. Reaching out for the paper, Taylor slapped her hand away before unfolding it and skimming over their grandmother’s neat handwriting.
“Gram left this to me with instructions for no one else to read this.” Taylor, already distracted, pulled boxes out and peeked through the lids. They didn’t have any other immediate family. So, the idea of nobody else viewing the Will seemed odd but the old woman had her quirks.
Addison stood in disbelief; her arms crossed over her chest like a petulant child with an attitude. With a ‘get over it’ look from Taylor, she finally took a seat in an old chair and pulled a box in front of her. Inside, old dresses and shoes from the early 1900’s lay neatly. Some of the garments would’ve been breathtaking in their prime, but now they were faded and ripped in spots. What once was creamy white fabric, yellowed with time. Addison lifted a lavender colored dress out from the box and held it up. The garment fell past her feet, hanging limp.
“That would’ve looked beautiful on you, “Taylor commented, glancing up. The bodice was trimmed in black lace, the skirt soft silk. Simple but elegant. “It’ll probably need to go in the trash though. All the clothes and shoes will.”
These things held history, something she loved very much. Addison’s face fell as she let the dress fall back into the box, the moment of fascination ruined. What felt like several hours went by as box after box got tossed down to the second floor. All of them full of old clothes, moth-bitten and too worn to do anything with. A few boxes contained old bills, while others, full of junk had just been pushed to the back, lost in time amidst the clutter.
The sun had started to set when Addison grabbed a box from against the wall and moved it. The box weighed less than the rest. As she took a step back the wallpaper peeled back revealing a small cubby.
“What did you find?” Taylor asked, standing up she brushed her hands against the butt of her pants.
Dropping the box with a small thud, Addison knelt in front of the exposed wall and peered into the dark little cavity. She squinted to see the shape of a small box made of wood. Excitement filled her as she pulled the small ornate box out.
“What did you find, Addy?” Taylor repeated, this time using a nickname which hadn’t been used since her grandmother’s passing. Not much time had passed, but to Addison, bit could’ve been an eternity. Reaching into the hole, Addison pulled out the wooden box and sat it on her lap. “Go turn on the light, it’s getting too dark in here.”
Taylor let out a breath before getting up and doing as her sister asked. Dim fluorescent light filled the small room. “Better?”
Plopping down beside her sister, together they studied the box as Addison blew away the dust which had collected on top. Intricate little roses with thorny vines decorated the sides and top of the box. Both girls stared at the box intently, thoughts running through their minds. What was in it? Could the hinges be rusted shut? Questions swirled inside her mind about just how long the box had been hidden away. Did she hide the box away recently? How could she have known they’d find the precious heirloom? Were they supposed to find it?
“Are you going to open the box or just stare at it?” Taylor asked, impatient. Curiosity was eating at her as much as it was Addison.
“I’m afraid I’m going break it,” Addison admitted, running her hand lightly over the smooth wood.
“Grandma wanted us to find this box.” Taylor insisted. “Now we need to find out what’s inside.”
Butterflies fluttered in Addison’s belly. Taking a deep breath, the box opened with a creak as Addison gently opened the lid. Inside they found old pictures of their grandmother standing beside an almost identical version of herself and beneath those, two matching necklaces and a letter.
Taylor reached around and pulled out the old photos, yellowed with age. Twenty pictures lay heaped in a pile. She examined them slowly in amazement as Addison peered over her shoulder in equal excitement. They all were of their grandma and the mystery woman. Most were active shots taken during adventures and activities. Horseback riding and dancing appeared to be a favorite.
“Who is she?” Addison wondered. “She looks like grandma.”
“Open the letter and find out. The paper is new.” Taylor said, bewildered as she continued to examine and study the old black and white images.
The college ruled paper was fresh like she had added it to the box in the last few months, but she never saw her grandmother come up here. And the ladder squeaked when you pulled it down. I guess she brought the letter up one of the few times I went out, Addy thought to herself.
“My Dear Granddaughters,” Addison read out aloud.
If you are reading this, then I am no longer among the living. Thank Jesus! The two of you are extraordinary and it has killed me over the years to see the two of you at such odds that you couldn’t stand to speak to one another, to be in the same room together let alone in the same Country. I wanted you two to come together and I hope you honored my wishes. Knowing the two of you I am sure you have. Pride aside you are honorable.
In this box are photos of my twin sister and I accompanied by the necklaces that we both wore. I never spoke of her because it was too painful. We were thick as thieves up until the day my sweet sister passed away. We were a mere twenty-two years old on the day that she died. She was shot and killed by her fiancé. She had discovered him in an unforgivable act with one of her best friends. When she refused to forgive him and broke off their engagement, he shot her before shooting himself.
I was with them the day she died. She went to be with the lord in my arms and I never quite got over it. Your mother was also unaware that she had an aunt. For over seventy years I kept her to myself. But now you need to know, you need to realize how wonderful it is to have a sister be there for you. You are all each other have now that I am gone. I will say hello to your mother and father for you and know that we will always be watching over you both. Don’t get rid of everything. I’m sure you both will find things you will wish to keep.
Please wear the necklaces and hold on to each other.
I love you more than life itself,
Addison stared at the piece of paper, tears pockmarking it as they dripped down her cheeks. Quickly she folded it back up and sat it back down in the box. Taylor laid the photos back down in the box and folded her arms around her sister. They held each other tightly, tears falling heavily as they grieved together not only for their grandmother but for the years lost in separation, the loss of their parents, and for their great aunt whom they never knew they had.
The full moon shone through the window as the girls wiped their red, swollen eyes. A change occurred, and both women felt the healing over taking them. Addison and Taylor both smiled and then laughed. It was a silly notion but in the heat of the depressing moment, it was a welcome feeling.
“Mom and dad would be so disappointed in us, Addy.” Taylor mumbled, tucking a strand of loose hair behind her ear.
“Grandma was disappointed though she never said it directly. She asked when you’d be coming to visit often. Especially in the weeks leading up to her death.” Addison cried, wiping fresh tears from her eyes. “But you are here now. Grandma would have been happy. She wanted us to have each other. To realize what we denied ourselves.”
Taylor glanced at the necklaces, picking one up to inspect it. It was an infinity necklace with a pearl attached to the chain as the chain passed through a loop. The necklace shined bright as if it had been cleaned not long ago. Addison picked up the other necklace and inspected it as well.
“They are stunning,” Addison sighed as she unhooked the clasp and placed the thin chain around her neck. The pearls glinted in the dull yellow light. “Look, there is an engraving on the back. Sisters forever was engraved in small script on the back of a loop.
“It’s on this one too,” Taylor whispered in wonder as she placed the necklace around her neck as well. “I will wear mine every day as a reminder that having a sister is a special bond. I needed this.”
The two sisters smiled and looked around, their grandmother had always been clever and had a knack for bringing people together. Even in death she still managed to work her magic.
“Will you keep or sell the house?” Taylor asked genuinely curious.
“Grandma and Grandpa built this house.” Addison said, sitting back down. “Honestly, I would like to keep the house in the family. Anything else feels wrong.”
Addison and Taylor spent the next three weeks together going through the attic. They found old knickknacks, journals, still pristine china, and more photographs from their mom; from childhood to adulthood, and their grandmother through the years. There were also a bunch of other relatives they either knew distantly or not at all. In those three weeks, the girls grew closer to each other, mending the distance emotionally that had driven them apart.
Late nights filled with wine while a fire flickered warmly, they shared their grandmother’s journals, and laughs. They found themselves pleasantly not surprised about the troublemaker their grandmother was and took comfort and delight in reading about their grandmother’s antics.