First a note:  This isn’t in scene order.  I’m working on the scene that follows The Memory Painting but wanted to get up a post today.  I got this idea as I was hunting through things in our house looking for missing things for our sons.

Sue blew in the door and stomped her feet.  She thrust a large bottle of Merlot at Ivy and began shedding scarves, gloves, coat and boots.

Ivy raised her eyebrows at the size of the bottle.  “Are you planning on having a party later?”

Sue snorted.  “Not unless you have more people coming to help.  I thought after a day of going through things and packing up, we might want to chill out with a glass or three.”

“Once you see the amount of stuff stashed away in here, you’ll probably wish you brought a case,” Ivy said.  “I think my mother saved every margarine tub they emptied in the last fifteen years.  And that’s in addition to owning every kitchen storage container ever invented.  I’ve filled four bags for recycling and six boxes for charity and I haven’t even started on the bottom cabinets in the kitchen.”

“Is that where you want to work today?”  Sue dropped her hobo bag on top of the clothes she’d piled on a chair.  Ivy hid a grin.  It was nice to see that becoming a hot shot lawyer hadn’t changed her friend’s basic nature.

“No.  I can do a cabinet or drawer when I break from working or while I’m watching TV.  I’d really like company tackling my dad’s study and my parents’ room.  It feels wrong to go through their things and I need you to push me if I stall out.”

Sue rubbed her hands together.  “Goodie.  You know I love looking into other people’s private spaces.  It’s one of the reasons, I love being a lawyer.  I know all the secrets even though I can never tell anyone else about them.”

Ivy laughed.  “You always were nosy.”

“Hey, nosy is a good character trait for a lawyer.”  She tucked her arm through Ivy’s.  “So where shall we start–the study or the bedroom.”

“The study.  There are shelves of books to go through and all my father’s files.”

“Dibs on the files,” Sue said.

“I was hoping you’d say that.”  Ivy led the way into the darkly paneled room.

An hour later, Sue slammed the last file drawer.  “I don’t think I’ve ever gone through a more boring office.  Or a more organized one.  He has every receipt filed and cross referenced.”

Ivy shrugged her shoulders.  “What did you expect?  He was an accountant.  And a little obsessive compulsive about keeping things in order.”

“Do you want me to start on the bedroom or help you finish with the books?”

“The bedroom, I’m almost–” Ivy bumped into a stack of the boxes she’d already packed.  She grabbed for the teetering boxes and dropped the books in her arms.  They fell and as she lunged for them, the boxes crashed down.  She groaned.  “Nothing like making more work for myself.”

Sue grinned as she walked out of the door.  “Have fun.”

Ivy huffed out a breath and settled down on the floor beside the pile of books and boxes.  “Not my idea of fun.  Fun is getting out of the house and building a snowman.  Fun is…” she moved a box and stared at the edge of a fifty dollar bill hanging out of one of the books.  She pulled it out and held it up to the light.  It looked real.  She rubbed it between her fingers.  Felt real too.  But what was it doing in a book.  Ivy looked at the spine.  A biography of FDR.  She riffled through the pages and she held the book upside down.  A twenty dollar bill floated out.

She laid the two bills to the side and picked up another book.  No money fell from that one or the next but three twenties and a ten fell out of the fourth book.  She sat back and looked at the two shelves of remaining books and all the boxes she’d already packed.  If her father had been hiding money in books…she shook her head.  When had he started doing that?  And why?  She doubted she’d find the answers to those questions, but she was going to shake every book in this house to see what else he’d squirreled away.

She started to call Sue and then smiled.  No, she’d go through at least the boxes on the floor and see how much she found.  Sue would be sorry she’d called dibs on the files then.

She was almost finished with all the books from the fallen boxes when Sue called her name.  Ivy glanced at the neat piles of bills beside her.  Most were fives, tens and twenties, but she’d found a couple more fifties and even one hundred dollar bill.  Time to let Sue in on the treasure hunt.

“Ivy, I found something you should see,” Sue said walking into the room.  She stopped short and her eyes widened.  “Where did all that money come from?  Did you find a safe?”

“It was in the books.  Not every book but a lot of them so I’m rechecking all the ones I’ve already packed.  Want to join me on my treasure hunt?”

“Oh, yeah.  I love treasure hunts even more than finding secrets, but I found something in the bedroom I think you need to see.”

“More hidden money?”  Ivy stood and stretched the kinks out of her back.

“No.”  She took Ivy’s hand and pulled her out of the room.  “I’d gone through the dressers and bedside tables.  Nothing very interesting, but I separated things I thought you might want and packed up all the clothes.  Then I looked under the bed.”

“Don’t tell me you found the monster that hides under beds,” Ivy joked.

Sue didn’t laugh and Ivy frowned.  “Is it bad?”

“I don’t think so.”  Sue pulled lifted the lid off the long clear box.

Ivy stared at the papers in it.  Papers and pictures.  She dropped to her knees and lifted some out.  There were pictures she’d drawn in school from preschool on.  Cards she’d made for her mother and father for holidays and special occasions.  Notes from teachers praising her artistic efforts.  Tears filled her eyes.  She hadn’t thought her parents cared about her drawings.  They’d always tried to steer her toward a more practical career.  Like accounting or nursing.

“This was on top.” Sue said and held out a heavy piece of drawing paper.  It had been torn in half and carefully repaired.  “It’s the one you did in tenth grade isn’t it?  The picture of your brother.”

Ivy took the portrait she’d drawn from pictures and memories.  “I gave it to my mother for her birthday.  She yelled at me.  Said it wasn’t him, nothing like him.  Then she tore it in half and ran to her room crying.  That’s when I decided to leave as soon as I finished school.  All I did was make them unhappy.  She ran her fingers over the softened edges.  It looked like it had been handled many times over the years.  Handled with care.  Her chest ached.

“She cherished it, Ivy.  And not just because it was a picture of Donny.  I think she loved it because it came from you.  That and every other picture here.”

Ivy stared at the ugly plastic box.  It had been fun finding money hidden in her father’s books, but Sue had found the real treasure.  At least for her.  Proof that her mother had cared about her, at least a little.  She was barely aware of Sue leaving the room as she sat on the floor with the picture in her arms and cried for the parents and the closeness they had never been able to achieve.

Don’t miss Keziah Fenton’s beautiful and thought provoking blog.








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