I'll try to relate this story, just as it came to me.
William, or Billy as he was called, was 8 years old. His sister Charlotte was 17. Charlotte was growing up. It seemed like just a few weeks before that she was a playmate for Billy and a tomboy, scuffing her shoes and tearing her petticoats while climbing trees. Now she dressed like a lady, in pretty dresses and uncomfortable shoes, and hats with feathers, of all the impractical things. Tonight she was preparing to go with Mama and Papa to the opera. She didn't want to climb trees anymore and she suddenly ran from the frogs that were constantly in residence in Billy's pockets.
And, Billy didn't like it. Not at all. He missed having his sister to play with. He wanted her attention and was not above pulling a prank to get it. And, tonight, he had a plan.
Charlotte had a new dress and new shoes and new silver hair combs for the opera that night. She was so proud of how she looked. Billy saw her velvet cape and and the fancy new kidskin gloves waiting on the bed next to the special gardenia corsage, as she finished dressing.
Billy took one glove and slid it into the box that Charlotte's corsage was delivered in, laying it on top of the small tuft of wadded tissue paper. He knew she would find it again when she got home and returned the flowers to their box. But in the meantime, Billy would get to enjoy watching the frantic hunt.
Charlotte was beside herself. She searched. She dug. She tossed hankies and stockings and undies all over as she searched through drawers and boxes and shelves. No glove. None to be found.
Papa and Mama were waiting in the carriage and sent the maid up for Charlotte. "Hurry, Miss Charlotte. Your Papa is waiting", the maid said in a hushed voice.
Charlotte squealed in frustration and threw the one glove she had on the bed and ran down the stairs and out of the house, her skirts flying behind her and her cape crushing the gardenias. The carriage was waiting on the street and she had to cross to get to the open door. As she rushed into the street, another carriage came careening toward her, much too fast. The horse knocked her aside with his massive black shoulder and the carriage wheel struck the side of her head as she fell to the ground.
They carried her into the house and laid her on the sofa in the drawing room and sent for Doctor Sheffield up the street. Charlotte never regained consciousness. Her labored breathing stopped, just after the clock chimed 8:00, and a peaceful look stole over her face.
Billy was heart broken. No matter what anyone said. He would not be consoled and he would not speak. The next day, he sneaked into Charlotte's room and took the corsage box containing the hidden glove. He kept it on the desk in his room.
Once, his mother found it, and opening it, saw the glove inside. She thought it a momento and never thought that it was the lost glove; the glove that caused Charlotte to be late; the glove that caused her to rush into the street. She shed a single tear for the dear boy Billy was and the sentiment of keeping Charlotte's glove in the box her final corsage came in.
Over the years, Billy grew into a man. He was a quiet man, keeping his own counsel. No one knew why he stopped being rambunctious. No one questionned why he stopped playing pranks. Nor did they question why he studied so hard or did such good work on everything he put his hand to. They said "Still waters run deep" but had no idea of the burden Billy lived his life under. And, the box moved to ever less important places, finally ending up on the back of a shelf in Billy's armoire.
Billy never moved from Mama and Papa's house. Eventually Mama and Papa took their turns being laid out in the old drawing room and when Billy was a grown man and able to afford a family, he married and he and his wife raised two children there.
On his last day of life, Billy lay in bed thinking of Charlotte. He wondered what kind of mother she would have been; what kind of man she would have married; whether she would have been happy, or changed the world. His life had been quiet; devoted to making up for the loss of the beautiful girl who died when he was 8. He had established scholarships in her name and had sponsored art showings devoted to her memory. Always, he tried to make the world a better place. But, with all that he had done, his own wonderful wife and children included, he lived wondering how different the world might have been had Charlotte survived. If only he had not played that one little prank.
After his death, Billy's daughter, Joy, and his daughter in law, Sadie, were emptying the armoire. They came across the box, and though the tissue paper had disintegrated to a fine powder, the glove was still in perfect condition; as soft as the day it went into the box.
"I wonder what this is about?" asked Joy.
"I smell a secret romance" replied Sadie.
"From Papa? I doubt it. He never did enough to keep anything a secret. And, he certainly never talked to any woman other than Mama, much less have a secret romance with one."
"I want it! I want it!" cried out Anna, Joy's 8 year old daughter. And, Joy handed her the box.
Anna knew there was something magical about the box and the glove it contained. Joy thought her daughter would play with them both and that she would soon find them dirty and broken. What difference if they went to the trash today or in a week.
But Anna didn't play with them. She put the box on a shelf in her room beside a picture of her grandfather and over the years, it moved to increasingly less important places, as Anna lived her life and raised her children.
When Anna was old, and moving out of the house she had shared for a lifetime with her husband, her children came across the box and wondered what their mother was doing with an old box and a single glove. They didn't dare to ask because they knew their mother would want to add this box to the huge pile of things she "couldn't live without." So, they stamped it with a price and put it in the pile of things to sell.
I found it on a table with a $5 price tag on it. A high price for an old corsage box and a single glove.
Now, isn't that a better story than "I bought it at an estate sale and no one knew anything about it"?
Take care and have a great Way Back Wednesday. Not every good memory has to be true, does it? Lane