Daphne sat looking down at the box in her lap. She'd found the box two days ago, when organizing her uncle's studio after his death the week before last. It had been tucked away in a locked cabinet built beneath the room's main workbench. The cabinet door had no handle and the edges blended into the wood joins of the workbench.
After cleaning up and organizing most of his things, she decided to inspect the room carefully. She was aware of his love of secrecy and building skills. It was just like him to build a hidden cabinet, two actually. Only one, to her disappointment, contained a treasure. She waited until her co-workers had left the studio, before she retrieved it from its hiding place to bring it home. She considered the compelling possibility that it might illuminate something about him she didn't know already. It must be something special by all accounts, otherwise why stow it away?
Her thoughts turned to her aunt, the widow, and a pang of guilt bloomed in her stomach. Aunt Rose would also be interested in this discovery and its mystery. Of course she'd share what she found. But, while her aunt had been closer to her uncle as a person, as a husband, Daphne was closer to his work, to him as an engineer and inventor.
The box was surprisingly light. It was constructed out of maple wood, with its striking pattern; the varnish brought out the rich browns and auburn colors. She ran her hand over its surface; it was smooth as glass with just a touch of drag from the varnish. From the condition of the box, she estimated that the box was not more than a few years old or if older, it had been taken very good care of. She wanted to draw out this moment of discovery, although she'd already stalled by cooking herself dinner, then making some tea, and finally, having a glass of her favorite brandy, to steel herself for whatever the outcome.
She contemplated the probability that the box may contain nothing of note or perhaps nothing at all. The box could have been made for an item never completed. She opened her palm to look at the key she'd been holding. It was a small yet solidly made bass key, topped by a flat circular spiral design. The working end of the key was of an unusual pattern, but one she'd seen her uncle design before. He had been obsessed with locks for a time and always passionate about the details. He had been a restless man, who always needed a challenge.
She listened to her breath move in and out while she moved her hands over the top of the box. She opened her hand again to contemplate the key. After a brief moment, she inserted the key into the small lock and gave it a twist. She felt the tell tail click, it sounded like a drum roll.
She lifted the top. As the top lifted, it revealed a red velvet interior. There was a slight circular depression molded into the box's lining and it was empty. Her brows came together in a knot and she felt the swell of tears threatening to trickle forth. A swell of grief and loneliness swept over her. As her eye just started to be blurred by the first of her tears, she noticed an almost invisible line around the top of the depression. She picked up the box to look at its side. It certainly was deeper than necessary for the slight depression in the lining. She reached into the box and put the fingers of one hand on the either side inside the depression and tried to move the lining. It shifted slightly. With a slight tug, she lifted a separate piece out of the box to reveal a larger space beneath.
The lining in the larger space molded around a monocle. A monocle. This elaborate box for one piece of glass? She stared at the box and the monocle and worked through a mix of disappointment and curiosity. A monocle, she said to herself a second time. She pursed her lips, squinted her eyes, and glanced at the ceiling. A monocle. Why a monocle? Her mouth and forehead relaxed and she moved her gaze back to the open box.
She placed the box aside and moved to a side board. She picked up a small, fragile glass and slowly poured herself a second, small brandy. She stood while sipping from the glass. With a hand on her hip she stared at the open box sitting on the couch. She tapped a finger on the glass. What does it mean? More precisely, what would it be used for? He wouldn't have created such lovely packaging for a plain old eyeglass. She stopped her tapping and finished the drink. She walked to the couch and lifted the glass out of its receptacle.
She held it up to her eye. Looking through the glass, she saw that the image of the room about her was slightly distorted, but only slightly. She moved the monocle to the side and then back in front of her eye a few times. The glass didn't seem to have any correction ground into it, or if it did it was minimal. She held it before her face and inspected it carefully. The rim was of thin brass with a small ring on one side, through which was looped a thin leather lanyard. What could its purpose possibly be?
© 2012 and continuing. No written content may be reproduced or used in any form without permission from A. Pavy [wooo, sounds so serious!].