"Your Story," Chapter 1

In Chapter 1 of "Your Story," an ongoing serial written by Tribune-Democrat readers, Olivia Dunquist examines contents of a safe deposit box.

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 ...

Chapter 1

By Vince Matey

Olivia let out an audible gasp as she slouched in her chair.

She folded her arms and felt goosebumps ripple up her fingers to her chest. It was bitterly cold in the house, and it smelled like decaying leaves. The house was unrecognizable. The air was heavy. This was the first time Olivia felt like a stranger in her childhood home.

Olivia suddenly remembered that her mom had a safe deposit box. But where was the key?

She got out of the chair and hurried into the kitchen to see if there were any keys on the key hook. The relief she felt immediately took away the bitter cold.

Hanging on the key chain was a set of keys that she recognized due to the small, pink Breast Cancer Awareness keychain, and on that keychain was the key to the safe deposit box.

It was already late in the afternoon, but it was only a 15-minute drive downtown. If she left now, she could get to the bank before 5, she thought. She said goodbye to her brother, never mentioning the key, and headed to the bank.

As Olivia drove to the bank, she tried to shake off any negative thoughts – thoughts of the house, the kids, money, work, life.

Her only focus was retrieving the necklace.

James, she suddenly thought to herself.

Oh, no. Did he work at the downtown branch?

She and James had briefly dated the year she moved back home after college, she dreaded seeing him.

As she entered the bank, there were only two tellers working and, sure enough, one of them was James.

He immediately noticed her. To avoid the awkwardness of going to the other teller, Olivia went up to James and skipped the formalities.

“James,” she said, striving to project an air of authority, “I need access to safe deposit box 136. Can you please show me to it?”

James had seen Olivia a few times over the years since they’d broken up, but never in this state.

She seemed to be panicked. Her hair was pulled back, no makeup was applied and her blouse didn’t match her trousers.

James could tell she was in a rush, so he promptly showed her to the safe deposit box.

“Here you go, Olivia,” he said. “136.”

She hurriedly thanked him and took the safe deposit box to the desk behind the privacy curtain.

Olivia remembered wearing the necklace on her wedding day – a day she cherished. She fondly remembered the pre-ceremony talk her mother gave her, a talk she hoped to someday give to her own daughter.

I don’t have time to reminisce, she thought to herself, feeling a bit nauseous. Any thoughts of the good times shared between her and her mother made her want to cry. She fought back the tears.

Olivia opened the safe deposit box and started going through its contents – birth certificates, tax documents, legal documents and the deed to the house. She pulled out the documents one by one, glancing at the title of each piece of paper. Many of them were more than 20 years old.

As Olivia sifted through the documents, she felt a hard object underneath the last few pieces of paper.

She tossed the last few papers aside to reveal a rectangular case with red felt and gold trim. She recognized it immediately – it was the case of the necklace she had been searching for. Thrilled, she opened it without any hesitation.

The case did not contain a necklace.

All that was inside was one solitary piece of paper. More paper, Olivia thought to herself.

Examining the piece of paper carefully, she turned it over. On the back was a note scribbled in her mother’s handwriting.

“Call her. 555-0854.” ...

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

Recommended for you