“Quite often people with too much value on material things. It’s essential every once in a while to look within you and see what is truly valuable to you.”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Sue Vincent – Write Photo – Photo above
FOWC with Fandango — Given
Ragtag Daily Word — Tiptoe
Mindlovemisery’s menagerie – Tale Weaver — Finding Something Forgotten
“It’s no good, Burt. That old tree has to go,” complained Edna for the twelfth day in a row.
Burt gazed over his garden and nodded. The trees were all beautifully green except that one old alder. It served solely as a perch for the crows these days. There was one of the cunning black birds there now. By his tilting head movements, he was scheming ways to get his beak on the last sandwich upon the table. Burt sighed, there was no way to tiptoe around it, the sharp frosts of winter had finally killed the alder. “Yup, time it’s laid to rest before it falls on somebody,” he conceded.
“Glad you agree. You get the chainsaw. I’ll make a cup of tea.” Edna crunched her knees as she rose from her patio chair and went indoors.
“That’s it, go on! You do the easy bit — I’ll do the hard work as usual!” Burt grumbled after her as he disappeared into the shed.
It wasn’t long before the staccato roaring of the chainsaw echoed around the village. Under Burt’s guidance, it bit into and sawed a notch into the old trunk. The crow cawed his displeasure from atop a neighbouring tree.
“I know, fella. You don’t have to listen to my missus every day if I leave this tree here,” Burt told the black-feathered bird as he repositioned his saw.
A final cut saw the tree drop neatly onto the lawn. There was one casualty the tree had swiped the bird table on the way down.
“Bloody hell, Burt! You broke my sodding birdfeeder. Can’t you do anything right!” Edna nagged having brought out the tea.
“Tell you what, I’ll go watch the horseracing. You finish up out here,” he replied.
“No — no, you started, so you can finish it, now.” Edna scooped up the broken feeder and headed back to the house.
Burt stood and sipped his tea. “You see, crow. I can never do anything right.”
The crow seemed to nod as it cawed back to him.
“Yeah, you understand. Smart, fella.” Burt toiled for the next hour chopping the tree into movable pieces and stacking them by the back gate. Next, he set to work with his pickaxe and shovel, chopping the roots out. One such thrust of the pickaxe struck with a metallic thud.
“Hallo, that sounded funny,“ remarked Edna coming out with fresh tea.
“Yup, reckon I hit something then,” Burt switched to his shovel and began to carefully excavate around the pickaxe hit. After a time, he revealed an old metal box. It used to be painted red, but rust had claimed much of it.
“Well, look at that!” Edna had grown wide-eyed with excitement. “Who do you suppose buried that in the garden?”
“I’d bet it was my old, grandfather.” Burt levered it from the ground. “Father, once told me; he hid something out here. I’d quite forgotten until now.”
“Why would he do that?” Edna made a grab for the box. “Let me have it. I’ll open it and we can see.”
“Hold your horses, dear. Given that this is my granddad’s box, I’d rather like to open it myself —if you don’t mind!” Burt waved her off and took the box to the patio table. Sitting down with his tea, he knocked the rust off the latch and teased it open.
“Well, what’s in there?” Edna asked desperate to know.
“I recognise this box. They used to make these for all-butter biscuits. The latches made them great biscuit tins to keep.” Burt took a deep breath and swung it open. At once tears flooded his eyes. There on the top, peeking through a waterproof lining bag was a photo of his family. The centre of the scene was his grandfather a World War I veteran. Around him his brothers and sisters. Burts mum and dad – a World War II veteran in his own right were also present. There were even a few people Burt didn’t know.
“That’s nice, but why bury a photo? What else is in there?” Edna hurried him.
Burt wouldn’t be rushed. He carefully set the photo aside. Beneath it were his grandfather’s war medals in all their grandeur. “So, that’s where they went.” Burt lifted some out with shaky hands. He finally had the proof of his grandfather’s heroism in World War I.
“Is that all there is?” Edna questioned as if dismissing the medals as worthless.
“No.” Burt smiled through teary eyes as he laid each medal carefully on the table. Beneath them, he discovered a silver double-hunter pocket watch. There was a pouch of ancient photographs. All it seemed taken on c1912 Vest Pocket Kodak camera sitting alongside them in the box. The photos all showed scenes during the war. The final item Burt removed from the box was a pendant on a simple silver chain. The pendant was made from .303 bullet which was likely made for a Lee Enfield bolt action service rifle. “This’ll be the bullet which lodged in the insignia badge on my grandfather’s beret when he was fighting on the frontline. My father told me he’d kept it as a symbol of good luck as it failed to kill him. I didn’t believe him because there is no proof.” Burt took a shaky breath. “Now, I’m holding it in my hand.”
“And there’s me hoping for some treasures. Things to sell and pay off the mortgage, you know.” Edna grumbled.
“These are treasures to me, love.” Burt smiled at her. “I don’t care about gold or money. These things tell the story of my grandfather. Family and their history are more valuable than anything else in the world. That includes you, Edna.”
“You better not be calling me old. I’ll belt you one!” Edna scowled at him.
“No, Love. I’m saying, you’re more valuable to me than anything else in the world. We’ve been married for forty years. And I still love you as much as when we first met, Edna.” Burt reached over and hugged her. She might not like the war memorabilia, but for him, the once-forgotten relics were a true treasure.
Have a great day!