Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 38

slow steps she carried in two boxes and a roll of newsprint and began wrapping the pieces, transforming each into a shapeless lump that no longer reminded her of what it once had been.

When she got to the first picture frame – the one of Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey – she had to fetch a screwdriver to ease open the little metal catches, it had been so long since the backing had been removed. She succeeded at last and was startled when she turned the frame over and two folded pieces of paper fell out along with the photo. She picked up the first, a yellowed square of stationary, and recognized Mr. Dempsey’s old-fashioned handwriting.

‘My dear Clarissa,’ he had written to his wife, ‘I leave these three to your safe-keeping in case of emergency. I’ve kept them long past the bounds of common sense because the engraving makes me think of Thunder Canyon and the plans we made to build a home in the West. We never found our own valley, but these should still be redeemable if you ever need them. With love from your own X-Bar-X Boy, Carl.’

Mary Elizabeth unfolded the other paper and found herself looking at an ornately engraved certificate. ‘Bearer Bond’ was printed at the top, and below it ‘American Telephone and Telegraph.’ The pen-and-ink picture in the middle showed a jagged mountain valley, a man on horseback, and, in the distance, a neat line of telephone poles marking civilization’s incursion into the wilderness. To the right of the picture were two long columns of little squares, each with a date from the 1950’s. Coupons, she thought they were called, to be clipped and redeemed at intervals. To the left were the words ‘Twenty Thousand US Dollars.’

Mary Elizabeth set the paper down with shaking hands and took a