The Tribune-Democrat is seeking writers to bring another “Your Story” to the region’s readers.

You are invited to read the introduction below, then write a 500- to 700-word next chapter and send it by noon Thursday.

The goal is a five-chapter, holiday-themed story, ending on Christmas Day.

Entries can be emailed to Renée Carthew, news editor, at rcarthew@tribdem.com; sent by facsimile to 814-539-1409; or mailed to The Tribune-Democrat, 425 Locust St., P.O. Box 340, Johnstown, Pa. 15907.

The winning chapter and a short story about the author will be published on Oct. 27 and then the process will begin again.

The ongoing story will appear on The Tribune-Democrat’s website – www.tribdem.com.

•••

Olivia Dunquist had been dreading this moment.

Having recently lost her mother, the time had come to clean out the family home to get it ready to be sold.

It was especially difficult since the Christmas holiday was right around the corner.

The holidays were a special time of year for Olivia and her mother. They enjoyed getting together to plan the family dinner and would spend hours baking cookies that they would often give away to neighbors and friends.

But this year, everything would be different.

Olivia had her husband and children, but the holiday wouldn’t be the same without her mother’s warm presence.

The only consolation was in the house’s attic. It was her mother’s beloved possession – a necklace originally belonging to Olivia’s grandmother – and it would be Olivia’s to pass on to her oldest daughter as a keepsake of her 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 necklace on special occasions. She made sure to take great care of it and was always at ease once it was back in her mother’s jewelry box.

So when Olivia’s mother told her the necklace would one day be hers, she knew she would treasure it and the heirloom would keep the memory of her mother alive.

As Olivia drove closer to her mother’s house, the anxiety started to build.

It was a cold day and she could hear the snow crunching under the car’s tires as she pulled into the driveway.

After turning off the car, she couldn’t bring herself to get out.

Instead, she sat there staring at the small home wondering how a family of five ever was able to live together in such a tiny space.

Olivia thought about how hard it was on her mother when her father died a few years ago. Olivia was her mother’s rock, but now who would be hers?

Taking a last deep breath, Olivia made her way to the front door and walked inside.

To her surprise, the home was in disarray. Boxes were everywhere. Papers were strewn across the floor. Olivia wondered if the place had been burglarized.

Just then, Olivia’s younger brother, Steven Hamilton, appeared and said he had gotten a head start cleaning the house out and had already sent some boxes to various charity organizations while others went in the trash.

Olivia immediately 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. He said there were quite a few people coming in and out of the house all day, hauling items away, so who knows what might have happened to it.

Olivia was devastated. That necklace meant everything to her mother and her, and now it was gone.

All she knew was she had to get it back, but she had no idea how.

Suddenly, she had a thought.

“Yes,” Olivia said out loud. “That’s what I need to do.” ...

Recommended for you