The Jewel Thief – a short story

Ok, so a quick introduction first. I originally wrote this short story for my English language AS level. It was the first time I had written something properly, and enjoyed it, since junior school. That’s why I thought it was fitting to make it my first real post. 

The Jewel Thief

I found it hidden away in the attic, though it must have been an eternity older than the attic itself. The moment I found it is forever burnt on my memory, not even slightly dulled by the thousands of boisterous moments that followed after. It was a little before my tenth Christmas, and a year since my parents had walked into this house with all their possessions, slamming the door shut behind them. The attic came with the house. Our new home. When we arrived there the smell of newness still clung in the air. They tried to cover it over with layers upon layers of smells, but I can still remember how the it stuck in the back of my throat.

This thing was not new. It had the sort of wisdom which can only be gained from many lifetimes of experiences. Maybe it had stood in that exact spot for centuries, watching as we built our homes. It was more as though the attic had been formed around it; the wooden floorboards had twisted and contorted to reflect its shape, and the walls had slowly leant in to hear its silent secrets.

The old attic had always made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, the blood coursed cold through my veins at just the thought of it. It smelled of a sort of forgotten history, its hidden stories clawed at the back of my throat until I felt like I needed to scream them out. It was the type of pitch dark normally found in horror stories, or at the climax of the murder mysteries my Grandmother had always loved. There were a thousand eyes lurking in every box, watching from behind every tin. I used to rush to the bottom of the rickety step-ladder whenever anyone climbed up to fetch something, my heart racing, calling out, making sure they hadn’t been whisked away to some sort of forgotten world.

Now, however, it was my own secret space. It was a scrapbook room, full of other people’s lives for me to explore, as well as all the dreams and stories of my own invention. It really did seem like a shame for all this magic to go to waste, and so I spent all the time I was allowed to sheltering in the dark of the attic.

It was also where my Grandmother’s things had been hidden away when she left them behind. Smooth, tasseled gowns burst out from the groaning wardrobe sprawled in the corner, and carved boxes were piled in any available space. The boxes were stuffed full with photographs, letters, and the most beautiful jewelry, which flowed through my hands and fell into cold, twisted heaps on the floor whenever I tried to hold it.

I was never allowed near those things before she left. Slippery golden earrings were grabbed from my chubby, jam-stained fingers, and replaced with a row of silvered plastic balls that she had ripped from her own neck to distract me. A scrap of wallpaper and a stub of red crayon replaced black and white photographs of women with feathered headdresses framing their faces.

Not long ago, I was searching through a heavy box cut out from thick, dark wood. I was trying to find an earring I had last seen long ago, surrounded by flowers and lace in my Grandmother’s ear. The earring was almost obscured by her smiling face as she laughed at some joke told by her new husband, but I could see it was beautiful. It amazed me, even in black and white, and I wanted to see the real life version so much. Then something caught my eye.

It was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen, a small heart, twisted from a sort of shining metal which shimmered, even in the dim attic. The heart glittered darkly in the farthest corner of the box. I don’t know how long I stared at if for, but I could feel as time stopped around me. It could have been a second, just as easily as it could have been a lifetime. It was the most amazing thing I had ever found up there in the attic, but this was before I knew of the hole.

Almost before my brain could realize what it was doing, my hand was pulled towards the knotted heart. I let go of my grandmother’s earrings, which I clasped so tightly before, and they fell to the floor, discarded. It’s impossible to say exactly what happened next, but soon one of the earrings was being rocketed, screaming, across the floorboards, towards the hole, and was pulled down, out of my reach.

My hand followed its path closely, trying in vain to catch the earring. I failed. I still persevered though, until long after it was gone from my reach. I scratched at the sides of the hole, frantically trying to save the earring, but it was completely useless. I pressed my eye against the hole to try and see where the earring had been dragged to. What I saw next would change the course of my life forever, and would shape me into a completely different person than the one I thought I was on track to become.

The gap was a full night sky, studded with a thousand pieces of jewelry that I had only ever seen in old photographs. They seemed to smile as the hole glittered darkly.

I hope you liked it. I’m hoping to post more stuff like this, as well as some non-fiction writing. If you have any feedback I’d really appreciate it. (and yes, I know, a magic hole…)

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