It seemed like an awful shame. A cheap, broken locket was all that was left. All that represented the deep and true affection between two people. Now they were both gone and all Katrina had to show of her parent’s love was part of a locket her father had given to her mother almost thirty years ago. She studied the tarnished heart-shaped frame that held her father’s picture. Was this what love was all about? - A simple trinket that cost less than a dollar? She pushed her glasses back onto her nose and swung the locket in front of her eyes with a hypnotic tempo. She had just finished packing up their room. The clothes would be donated to the charity store, and the other items would go into storage until she could find the time to decide what to do with it all. It wasn’t as though there was anyone else that would care where it went. Katrina was the only child of Richard and Grace Demille- and now she was alone.
Her parents were both in their late thirties when they had finally found each other- they always said it was a love that was worth the wait. Richard and Grace claimed it was destiny that they found each other. Katrina wished she could believe in all that, but she knew it would take much more than destiny for her to find true love. At thirty-five she knew the odds of finding love were worse than being struck by lightening. At times, she would have opted for either just for some excitement.
She placed the locket in the tiny velvet box, and sighed, as she stood alone in the room. For the last two years Katrina had cared for her mother while working toward her doctorate in English literature. It was Pancreatic Cancer that took Grace, and Richard went just a month later. The doctors didn’t know what it was that killed him, but Katrina did- it was a broken heart that took her father. He never did recover from losing Grace and one night he went to be with her. That was the reason Katrina had no tears. She knew they were together again.
She picked up a box Grace had given her just weeks before she died. “I want you to be happy,” she had said, handing it to her. “The key inside this box will open up a New World for you-if you let it.” This intrigued Katrina, but it wasn’t until Richard passed away that she searched for the box and went through the items inside. It was there that she discovered the velvet box and the locket, and next to it was the key to a safe deposit box. What could be hidden inside? She wondered. She had seen her parent’s will, and it was nothing that would alter her life. She took the key and turned it over in her hand. The letters inscribed were 1023. Tomorrow she would go to the bank and unlock what Grace believed would change her life.
It was a snowy, March morning and Katrina almost decided a trip out in the cold wasn’t worth it. However, her curiosity got the best of her, so she grabbed her books and decided to combine the trip to the bank with one to the library. She walked up the granite steps and tripped on the mat as she swung open the heavy glass doors of the bank. Inside, she found the vault and after spending several minutes wondering how to go about getting to the box, she finally drummed up the courage to ask a teller for help.
The teller led her inside the vault then left her alone with the key. She located number 1023 and pulled out the small box. Inside she found an envelope with a letter in her mother’s handwriting.
For years you gave up your life to take care of me, now I want to take care of you. I have given the key to another safe deposit box to Mr. Kane- it is number 1024. You must find him to get the key. Inside you will find our will, the deed to our house, and the life insurance policy. You will also find the other half of the locket you now have and hopefully the other half of what you need to be happy. I love you.
Katrina read the letter again, and then looked over to box 1024. Why was her mother doing this to her? She peered up at the tellers as they busily punched numbers into their computers. With the letter still clutched in her hand, she pushed her red mass of curls from her eyes and reluctantly walked to them. “Is there a Mr. Kane who works here,” she asked meekly.
The teller looked at her oddly but smiled. “Yes, he’s in our upstairs office. Would you like me to call him for you?”
Katrina shrugged, hating the thought of inconveniencing anyone.
“Your name?” The young woman asked, as she dialed.
The woman repeated her name into the receiver. She smiled, hung up the phone, and turned to Katrina. “He said he’d be right down.”
Katrina nodded and stood feeling uneasy as she waited.
Soon a tall, thin man walked up to the counter. The teller pointed him toward Katrina. He adjusted his glasses and smiled shyly. “I’m Darin Kane. I’ve been waiting for you.”
He was soft spoken and handsome with bashful blue eyes and an awkwardness that Katrina found appealing. Katrina felt her back tingle at his comment. “Really?”
The teller smiled to herself at the exchange and walked back to her chair.
“Yes,” Darin continued. “I’ve known your mother for years. I helped her with some investments. I’m so sorry to hear about her and your father.”
Katrina smiled and nodded. She couldn’t help notice the curve of his jaw and the shape of his nose.
He stood and then looked down at the awkward silence. He scratched his neck and motioned toward the hallway. He touched her arm, while leading her toward the stairs. “She gave me an envelope and asked that I keep it until you came. I wouldn’t normally do this, but she was a nice lady. It’s in my office. She spoke about you often. Why haven’t you been in before?” he asked.
She shrugged, but now Katrina wondered that herself. She remembered her mother talking about the nice man at the bank, but Katrina ignored her mother’s persistence at finding her a mate. She had become accepting of her lot in life and didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her, especially her mother.
Katrina followed him up the stairs and into a room piled high with books and papers. Large windows framed the snow flurries outside, making the inside seem especially warm and secure.
He smiled. “Here’s the envelope,” he said, handing it to her.
She took it from him, noticing the warmth of his palm. Katrina stood for a moment with the envelope in her hand. She wanted to stay, but there was no reason, and in time she would say something silly or odd, so she shifted her books and began to leave. “Thank you for your help.”
“No problem,” Darin said, quietly.
Katrina paused at the door and gave him another smile. Inside she was screaming at herself for not being more smooth, more alluring, less her. He looked ready to speak, but just nodded, so she left. When she reached the vault, she located the other box and began to open it.
“You forgot your heart,” Darin called to her from behind.
Startled, Katrina turned back. “What did you say?” she asked.
He held up the locket. “Your heart necklace? You left it on my desk.”
“Oh,” Katrina answered, walking toward him. “I’m sorry you had to come all the way back down here.”
Darin shuffled shyly, as she retrieved her heart from his hand. “I’m not,” he answered quietly. He looked at her and smiled at the fact that her coat collar was turned the wrong way and a strand of red curl was looped through her glasses. “Do you have plans for dinner?” he asked, clumsily.
“It’s ten in the morning,” she answered. Then she realized what he meant and her face went red.
Katrina cringed. “I’m sorry,” she said, horrified. “I thought…” she didn’t even know how to answer.
The tellers all looked over, which made Katrina squirm even worse.
“Can I take you to dinner tonight, at say seven?” Darin asked. He gave a smile as punctuation.
Katrina looked up at him surprised. She wanted to blurt out- Yes! But instead she restrained herself to a simple- “That would be nice.”
Darin grinned in relief. “Great, I’ll call you.” He then turned and began to walk out of the vault.
“Wait!” Katrina called. “Don’t you need my phone number?”
Darin stopped and smiled, “No. Actually, your mother gave me your phone number in case you didn’t come for the envelope. She wanted to make sure I could find you.”
Katrina smiled; knowing Darin had no idea the volumes he spoke with just a few words. She watched him walk away, then turned back to the box, feeling giddy as she opened it. Inside was the other half of the broken locket. It held a picture of Grace- her beautiful smiling face beaming up at her daughter. “You sneaky old woman,” Katrina said, as she admired her mother. She snapped the other half of the locket- the half that held the picture of her father- together with it, realizing then that it was never really broken. “It just needed some help to find it’s other half,” she whispered, holding it tightly. “Maybe for some, destiny just needs a little push.”
Brenda Stanley is a former television news anchor and investigative reporter for the NBC affiliate in Eastern Idaho. She has been recognized for her writing by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Hearst Journalism Awards, The Idaho Press Club and the Society for Professional Journalists. Brenda is the author of three novels and three cookbooks. She is a weekly food and cooking columnist for two newspapers.
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