Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about keepsakes you (or someone) left behind, whether it was intentional or not.
Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A new homeowner discovers a keepsake box hidden in one of the air vents. What’s in the box? Does it matter?
by Carol R. Ward
The box came from Egypt
made of some kind of exotic wood
inlaid with tiny mosaics,
mother-of-pearl and ivory,
lined with purple velvet.
It hasn’t aged well –
the finish is flaked
the design faded away
the piece of wood on the left side
I never knew
what she used it for –
jewelry? mementos? photos?
It’s been mine since she died
and though I’ve had it for years
it holds nothing
but the memory.
by Carol R. Ward
Lanie sat at her desk staring at the manila envelope in front of her. She promised her friend Cass she’d at least look at the contents. Never mind the fact that Cass was convinced Lanie’s fixer upper of a Victorian house was cursed, a promise was a promise.
With a sigh she dumped the contents onto her desk. It was a mixture of newspaper clippings and photo copies of newspaper clippings. Some of them had stick notes attached to them, others had highlights and notes. One of them had “Original Owner” printed across it in bright pink ink.
Despite herself, Lanie was intrigued. The original owner of this house was a widow who was accused of murdering seven people. The bodies were found buried in the garden. But the intriguing part was the side article that accused Rose Wildman of being a witch.
“She has the ability to possess a person and force them to enact all manner of evil deeds,” she read. “She should be burned at the stake, just like the witches of old.”
There were several articles of that ilk, accusing Rose of creating potions and poisons from the herbs she grew, to singing My Wild Irish Rose as she disemboweled her victims. Another article attributed her powers to a large ruby pendent Rose wore, which mysteriously disappeared upon her death.
Lanie sat back with a snort. “What a bunch of superstitious twaddle,” she said. She loved Cass like a sister but sometimes her penchant for the supernatural was downright annoying.
The articles and envelope went into the trash can and Lanie buckled down to work. She wrote historical romance, and did well enough that she was able to buy the house outright. It was the kind of home she’d always dreamed of owning, a Victorian with a wrought iron fence around it and a large garden out back.
After working steadily for two hours, Lanie sat back in her chair and stretched. The writing was going well for a change, she gotten a lot accomplished. The virgin bride was in a coach headed for Scotland and was about to meet up with the laird disguised as a highway man. It was a good place to leave it for now – she needed a break.
Padding out to the kitchen, she made herself a cup of tea and carried it into the living room, formerly the front parlour, and sat in the wing back chair near the fireplace. This room was next on her list. She’d already pulled the panelling that went halfway up the wall off and was ready to start on the crown molding. Once it was all off she could start stripping the wall paper.
Setting her empty cup on the mantle, Lanie pulled the step ladder over to the corner of the room and picked up the wonderbar. The crown molding came off easier than she expected and she made good progress. As she repositioned the ladder next to the fireplace, it knocked against the brick and some of the mortar fell off.
Lanie ran her hand over the brick, feeling for damage. One of the bricks was definitely loose. Frowning, she gave it an experimental wiggle.
“Either I hit this harder than I thought, or this brick was already loose,” she muttered. “I think there’s something behind here.”
Carefully she worked the brick out then reached into the hole, pulling out a small leather pouch. Excitedly she opened it and a pendant dropped into her hand. It was gold filigree, set with a large red stone.
“It’s beautiful!” Lanie said breathlessly. It must have been the pendant belonging to Rose Wildman that was mentioned in the article. “No wonder she hid it.”
On impulse, she slipped the chain over her head and went over to the mirror. The stone rested just where her cleavage started. As she stared at it in the mirror it seemed to pulse with light. Raising her gaze, she stared into her eyes and gasped. It was as though someone else was staring back. Lanie did something then that she’d never done before in her life. She fainted.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Hours later she awoke, groaning as she pushed herself up off the floor. Brushing off her clothes she glanced in the mirror again and smirked.
“You look beautiful, darling, and that pendant was just made for you.”
With a laugh she turned and went into the kitchen, picking up the cell phone to scroll through the contact list for the right number.
“Cass? You were right. There is something strange about this house.”
“I knew it!”
“Do you think…” Lanie gulped. “Do you think you could come over and help me pack? I…I really don’t want to be alone.”
“I’ll be right there,” Cass assured her.
A smile curved Lanie’s lips as she hung up the phone. Only seven bodies were found? Obviously they never thought to check the dirt floor of the basement. She flexed her fingers, a red glint in her eyes as she checked out the knives in the butcher block. Oh, she was going to have fun this evening. It had been too long!
As she waited for Lanie’s friend to arrive she began to hum My Wild Irish Rose.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!