Writing 101: Third Time’s the Charm

Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

As I pulled the old envelope, yellowed and tattered, out of the box, I shivered with a sudden frisson and wondered. I slipped open the overflap, and gently tipped the contents on the floor. Three rings, five strange coins, two old airmail envelopes with whisper thin paper inside, and a small pocketknife fell onto the rug. This box contained memorabilia from the old lady’s estate, and it was my job to find treasure, divine the nature of any oddities, and preserve anything not understood for wiser minds.

The three rings were heavy and ornate. Two were gold, and I did not know the metal in the third. One gold ring had a ruby the size of a melon ball surrounded by swirls of cloth-like gold. The only one of my fingers big enough to wear it was my thumb, and even then it was loose. The second gold ring was as delicate as the first was robust. A small but brilliant emerald lay between two hands of gold, crossed at the wrist. It was for a very dainty hand, and would not even fit my pinky past the first knuckle, although it weighed a surprising amount The third ring had something of silver or platinum in the metal, although it was neither of these. It carried, in place of a stone, a carved shield with arcane writing on it. This ring was the most curious for it fit any finger I tried to put it on, from the largest to the smallest. On each finger, the weight was the same, and it was difficult to remove.

The five coins were unlike any I have seen. Two were larger than even the silver dollars we had found in another box. Both were gold, and had a portrait in silhouette on the back. On the front of one was a tall, thin tower with words around the edge in some language I did not know. The second one had a many turreted castle, with different words but of the same apparent alphabet around its edge. One of the others was about the size of our quarters, but much heavier and of a nearly black metal. It had a different portrait in silhouette on one side and on the other a bucket with a rake leaned against it. It had no insignia of any kind. The last two were like tiny foreign coins, thin silvery metal, much writing, and an idolized god figure on the front.

I was reluctant to open the letters. This old paper was thin and fragile, not having been used for decades. However, I slipped one of the letters out, and carefully unfolded it to see spidery writing in sepia ink. I strained to make out the writing, looking over the greeting and first line multiple times before finally discerning the salutation as “Your Serene Highness.” I was gobsmacked. I pulled out the other letter to see if it held the same salutation. It was addressed to “My dearest imposter” and was in a completely different hand.

To be continued….


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