Advent Train Stories: Lost and Found

Welcome to the Advent Calendar Story Train, where you can read through 24 stories under the theme “The Gift”.  Thank you for reading today’s story.  The next one will be available to read on December 2nd, titled “Hero

This link will be active tomorrow when the post goes live.

Lost and Found

Ian Gough

 

He’d spent days scouring the internet, followed by hours of battling through chaotic London traffic in order to track down a pendant of a similar likeness. It’d looked close to the original in the photograph, but up close, would it come anywhere near his expectations?

A pompous jeweler rested the white gold, ruby cluster upon the glass, and Henry leaned over the counter for a closer inspection. Ignoring the assistant’s unconcealed sneer, Henry’s eyes lit up. Practically identical in every way, it would be the perfect replacement. Overjoyed, his debit card practically jumped into his hand, seconds before he balked at the three-figure price tag.

“How much?!”

“It is eighteen-carat gold sir, exceptional quality. You cannot put a price on excellence.” They had, and it was extortionate. “But of course, if it is beyond sir’s price range, I do have a few budget pieces I can show you.”

An image of his grandma’s sweet, wrinkled features, surfaced in his mind. Her sobs the day the original went missing came close to breaking his heart. Not solely due to the loss, but because of the dawning recognition of her aging frailties. The choke in his throat prompted by the tremble of her voice, and the touch of her frail, trembling hands, cupped between his own, pushed Henry near the brink of tears.

An abundance of treasured memories attached themselves to the wartime memento, gifted to her by his late grandfather. Henry knew, without it, the memories of her darling Archie would eventually wither, fading into nothingness. Old age could be the cruelest of companions. Apart from a few grainy black and white photographs on the mantlepiece, she had so little left to hold on to. It wouldn’t be long before elderly deterioration stole all recognition of her beloved, along with everything else she held dear.

“I’ll take it.”

Paying for the pendant, Henry started for home, devising a way he could get it to her without raising suspicion. Grandma deserved all the joy in the world and seeing the sparkle return to those watery blue eyes, basking in the warmth of her golden smile once more, would be priceless.

Concocting a plan, Henry set the alarm for two in the morning, woke, dressed, and cupped the pendant into his coat pocket. The short drive through empty streets didn’t take long and he wished every journey could be this peaceful.

Parking across the street, Henry used the spare key he kept in case of emergencies, opened the door, and stepped delicately into the hallway. Overwhelmed with the tiptoeing discomfort of being in the house while his grandma slept, he moved swiftly, working by the light of his phone so as not to wake her. Placing the pendant in plain sight, Henry retraced his steps, locking up before making the return journey under the watchful gaze of amber streetlights.

Thankful to be home again, tension gave way to the satisfaction his underhanded tactics would be well worth the payoff when she awoke.

Close to exhaustion, Henry fell into bed.

 

* * *

 

A repetitive buzz jolted Henry out of his slumber. Flailing blindly for the bedside cabinet, his fingertips found the culprit. Blinking at the name on his phone’s display screen, he prepared to act out a grand performance of fake surprise.

“Hello, grandma?”

“Henry, you won’t believe it!”

A smile touched his weary lips, the thrill in her voice the perfect wake-up call.

“What is it?”

“I found my pendant.”

“Wow, that’s great. Where did you find it?” as if he didn’t know.

“Well, I decided to rearrange the bottom drawer of the kitchen cabinet, and there it was! Hidden behind a tin of chicken and vegetable soup. It must’ve slipped off my neck, the last time I cleaned up.”

“Wh…what?” He sat bolt upright, knuckling sleep dust out of each eye.

“Even better than that,” her voice jubilant beyond measure. “I put it on straight away, sat down in the living room with a nice cup of tea, and you’ll never guess what I saw.”

Oh yes, he could. Henry let his head fall back against the headboard. Struggling to repress a pained expression, he fought not to let it seep into his response.

“What did you see, grandma?”

“Only a second pendant, exactly the same as my original one! Isn’t it wonderful?”

“It’s a miracle,” he managed, taking a brief moment to mourn his evaporating bank balance.

“Isn’t it just! Your grandfather must’ve been looking down on me, saw how upset I was at losing his present, and left me another. He’d always promised me he’d be there when I needed him,” she sounded like a giddy, romantic teenager. “Anyway, I thought it best to let you know, just in case you decided to go and do something silly like buying me a replacement. I know how good you are, but now I’ve got two, you’ve no need to worry.”

“That’s…great.” He rubbed his temple, the beginnings of a stress migraine lurking above the fringes of his forehead.

“Isn’t it? Well, I’d best be getting on. I’ve decided to bake you a cake for when you next visit. I thought we could celebrate together.”

“Thanks, grandma. I’ll be round to see you later this evening,” He sucked in a pained breath. “I’m really glad you found the pendant. Love you.”

“Me too sweetie, see you tonight.”

The second the phone went dead, Henry let it slip from his hand. It bounced atop the bed, slid over the duvet, and thumped onto the laminated flooring. All that searching. The time, let alone the money he’d wasted. It wouldn’t be long before the bank posted one of their less than friendly ‘we want a word with you’ letters and then where would he be?

Exhaling, Henry let the weight of it all sink in.

Grandma sounded happier than he’d heard her in ages. So bright and joyful. Pulling back the bed cover Henry sat up, shaking his head. Walking to the bathroom he splashed a handful of ice-cold water over his face, allowing an uncomfortable chuckle to escape his lips.

At least there was a silver lining. He’d had a tasty slice of delicious chocolate cake to look forward to.

 

The End

10 thoughts on “Advent Train Stories: Lost and Found”

  1. Henry’s dedication to getting a replacement/making his grandmother happy is so commendable. Not many would do that. I cracked a smile as I read the bit about grandma finding the old pendant. Sometimes things just disappear in the oddest of places… Chocolate cake will definitely sweeten any deal.

    Thanks for participating in the Train and opening up the season of fun stories~

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