In the introduction to “Your Story,” having recently lost her mother, Olivia Dunquist went to the family home to clean it out and get it ready to be sold.
The loss was especially difficult since the Christmas holiday was right around the corner.
Olivia’s only consolation was in the house’s attic. It was her mother’s most-beloved possession – a necklace originally belonging to Olivia’s grandmother.
Olivia’s mother often told her stories about how, as a child, she would put the necklace on and model it in front of the mirror, watching how it sparkled in the light.
As Olivia got older, she was able to wear the family heirloom on special occasions. She always made sure to take great care of it and was at ease once it was back in her mother’s jewelry box. Her mother always told her it would someday be hers – and she knew she would someday pass it on to her own oldest daughter.
So, in the wake of her mother’s death, she knew that the treasured necklace would keep her memories of her mother alive.
But when she entered the home, Olivia saw that it was in disarray. Boxes were everywhere. Papers were strewn across the floor.
Olivia’s younger brother, Steven Hamilton, had already started cleaning the house out.
He had sent some boxes to various charity organizations and thrown others into the trash.
Olivia went into a panic and began to search the house for the necklace, but it was nowhere to be found. She asked Steven if he had seen it, but he hadn’t. Quite a few people had already been in and out of the house, hauling items away, so anything might have happened to it.
Olivia was devastated. That necklace meant everything to her and her mother, and now it was gone.
All she knew was that she had to get it back, but she had no idea how.
Suddenly, she had a thought.
“Yes,” she said aloud. “That’s what I need to do.”
And then ...
Olivia remembered that her mother had a safe deposit box.
After finding the key in the kitchen, she drove to the bank to see if the necklace might be inside.
She recalled that James, a man she dated the year she moved back home after college, worked there and she dreaded seeing him.
Upon entering the bank, Olivia went up to James and, skipping the formalities, told him she needed access to safe deposit box 136. James showed her to the safe deposit box, and she hurriedly thanked him and took it to the desk behind the privacy curtain.
Olivia remembered wearing the necklace on her wedding day. She cherished her memories of the pre-ceremony talk her mother gave her – a talk she hoped to someday give to her own daughter.
But she didn’t have time to reminisce and opened the safe deposit box.
It contained birth certificates, tax documents, legal documents and the deed to the house.
As Olivia sifted through the documents, she felt a hard object underneath the last few pieces of paper. She recognized it immediately – it was the case of the necklace she had been searching for.
Thrilled, she opened it without any hesitation, but the necklace was not inside.
All that was inside was one piece of paper. On the back was a note scribbled in her mother’s handwriting.
“Call her. 555-0854.” ...
By Nicole Fratrich
“Call who?” Olivia heard herself ask out loud as her mind started racing. The relief of finding the necklace case mixed with the panic of finding a note instead of the precious piece of jewelry made her stomach twist.
When she was able to once again take steady breaths, Olivia gathered up the necklace case and a few other documents that she knew they would need to close her mother’s estate, such as the deed to the house.
“Olivia, is everything OK?” James asked as she handed the safe deposit box key back to him.
“Um…” Her mind had wandered off again, trying to figure out who the mysterious “her” mentioned in the note was. “Oh, yeah, everything’s fine. It’s just been a hectic day.”
“I was sorry to hear of your mom’s passing,” James said, hoping he wouldn’t make the situation more awkward. “She was a wonderful woman. She always made me welcome in her home.”
Olivia smiled weakly as painful memories flooded her brain.
“She always took care of everyone,” Olivia murmured as she turned to leave.
As she hurried out of the bank and to her car, she tried to hold back her anxiety. On one hand, she couldn’t wait to dial the number written in her mother’s scrawl – but, on the other hand, she had no clue who she was calling. How do you even start such a conversation? she wondered, half-thinking that she had gone crazy. Oh, how she would have loved to just go home and find the necklace safe in her dresser drawer.
When she plopped herself down in the driver’s seat, she emitted a huge sigh and dug into her coat pocket for her phone. Carefully, she dialed the number, meticulously checking with each digit that the number on the paper and the one on her screen were identical.
She’d thought she had rehearsed a decent conversation in her mind, but all of her words became jumbled when the line started to ring.
Before she knew it, the call switched over to voicemail. The familiar mechanical voice recited the phone number back to her, and she was disappointed that there wasn’t a name to indicate whom she was even calling.
As calmly as she could, she left a brief voice message: “Hi, this is Olivia Dunquist, Elaine Hamilton’s daughter. I’m looking for a necklace of my mother’s, and I found a note in the empty case that told me to call this number. If you know anything about this necklace, would you please call me as soon as possible?”
Realizing that there was nothing else she could do at this point but wait for the mysterious person to call her back, she decided to go back to her parents’ house and help Steven pack a few boxes. After all, she hadn’t been much help all day.
“Oh, look who came back,” Steven joked as Olivia walked through the door, shivering from the cold.
“I’m sorry. This necklace means so much to me, and it’s driving me crazy that I can’t find it.”
“I know. I’m telling you, it will turn up.” He smiled and went back to sorting through a box of kitchenware.
Olivia helped her brother, putting the necklace out of her mind for as long as possible.
Yet, she couldn’t help wondering why her call hadn’t been returned yet. Had her mother steered her in the wrong direction?
“I didn’t know one woman could own so many soup spoons!” she joked to ease the tension.
Just as she started to close the box she was working on, her phone started vibrating. She nearly dropped the phone as she hurried to pick it up.
“Hello?” she asked frantically.
“Olivia?” said a woman on the other end.
“My name is Alice, and I knew your mother years back, when we both had cancer. We were good friends. I may be able to help you.
“But would you like the good news or the bad news?”...