A Faint Sad Smell of Violets
Day ten of lockdown and before she had even got out of bed, Stella knew that it was a day of reckoning.
Laptops were set up in various corners of the Edwardian house that was home to the Montgomery family. Emails opened and answered. History notes scanned and frowned upon. A shout came from a corner of the dining room. It was her daughter. “Mum, I need help with my homework!” The attic would have to wait. After answering some questions about the Roman invasion of Wales, she hurried upstairs.
She pushed at an old battered trunk that had belonged to her grandmother, Maisie. It had been stashed up in the attic when the family moved there. Stella brought it closer. The fastening on the trunk was stuck, but after a few choice words, she managed to prise it open. Her heart was thumping; the children working on their history topics downstairs seemed distant. There were faded documents, old photographs, and tiny leather pouches with scraps of paper. These revealed shopping items; “Butter – half a pound, three apples, red.” Some railway timetables caught her eye, but there was no time to study these. Letters, with faded writing and family names she recognised, but Stella, itching to read them, knew that these were not what she was looking for. She put them aside. She saw that the old family bible noted many family members, but her own was not among them.
She tethered her thoughts and pulled out the documents, one at a time, carefully placing them into piles of letters, minutes, reports, old faded newspaper cuttings, and postcards of holiday views. She was not done yet.
Some old deeds caught her eye; the parchment had a faint sad smell of violets reminding her of her grandmother. The words seemed to quiver as she looked at them. She shivered, too.
The documents, fragile in her hand, were for her eyes only.