Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: A Visit To Grandma
After several attempts of searching in the hot, stuffy loft, I finally found the old, worn shoe box. Carefully, I wiped off the thin layer of dust, studying the box but despite my curiosity it wasn’t mine to open.
It was another two days before I was sitting on the bus to visit grandma at her retirement home, the box nestled in a bag since its discovery, mainly to stop me from being nosy. It was just a passing comment from grandma in wondering about the box but a veil of melancholy descended as she spoke.
“Hi Grandma,” I beamed as I gave her a gentle hug and a kiss on the top of her head; her grey hair soft and thick like cotton wool. “Guess what? I found your box, it took some time but here it is.” I watched as grandma took the plastic bag and lifted out the box, holding it secure on her lap.
“Family history is important Maia. There’s a lot you don’t know about me and it’s time to tell you.” I tingled; largely with excitement but a faint finality knocking at the door. “Don’t worry, there’s plenty of mileage left in me yet.” She smiled, resting her pale, hand on mine; it was surprisingly strong despite its fragility. “You know I was born in France?”
“Yes, but I’d never have guessed. You don’t sound French.”
“I sometimes slip into it but, no, my accent died a long time ago.” Again that mask of melancholy appeared. “Here, look in the box,” she handed the box to me, encouraging me to open it, sitting silently as she watched. First the letters from another life where she was young, vivacious with what looked like an army of admirers. A few black and white photographs showed her looking every inch the stereotypical French Resistance heroine with her dark clothing, standing just on the outskirts of a wood and a rifle leaning up against the trunk of a tree. “Your thoughts are correct Maia. I was part of the French Resistance.
My eyes widened, “but why haven’t we heard about this?”
“Now is not the time. I had my reasons. Look more.” Eagerly, I took out the piles of letters and at the bottom was a beautiful silk coloured cloth; bright blue with deep oranges. I picked it up and to my surprise, it opened up. A gleeful chuckle came from grandma; from her fond memories or the look of bewilderment etched on my face? “Ah, those fancy French drawers.” And I heard the faint traces of a French accent in what was now a young voice. “Do you know why those drawers are important to me and probably quite a few men?” I didn’t know what to say. Was my grandma going to announce to me that she was a prostitute? A woman of the night, entertaining French and German men? A dark thought crossed my mind. If she was, then was it because it was a life she chose or one she was forced into? Dark times during the war making people do anything to survive? I shuddered.
“See these?” Grandma held up a small bundle of letters tied with a faded blue ribbon. “These are all ‘thank you’ letters Maia. From service men I helped rescue. You may read them in your own time.” My curiosity was eating away at me but I daren’t ask about the knickers. What a funny thing to keep. “There is a story behind those,” she continued. “These helped save so many lives.”
“What, your knickers?”
“Yes. It was a signal Maia. If they were hanging on the line, I had information to give. Simple really. No one suspected.” I looked in awe at my grandma, wondering what other tales she had to tell. “Of course, there is another story about those drawers,” she said thoughtfully with a wicked grin on her face, “but I shall save that for your next visit.”
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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/ for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x