Was a bit blah and tired this morning when I checked the prompts for the day and this is what I came up with...
Creative Original or Derivative Fiction: Derivative
Disclaimer: All copyrighted, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without their express written authorization.
Prompt: Idea Completion: You find a box of old photographs in your attic. Who or what is in the photographs? Do the images have personal meaning for you, or are they someone else's? Do they bring up any particular emotions, thoughts, or memories? Write about it.
The moment Charlie's cruiser pulled out of the driveway, Bella darted off the couch and ran up the stairs to his room, grabbing the step stool from behind his bedroom door. Dragging it out to the hall, she set it below the hatch door in the ceiling, climbing up to reach the rope to pull it down.
As it dropped and the ladder from inside followed, she waved her hand in front of her face against the onslaught of dust that fell with it. Once the cloud dissipated, she gazed up into the darkness above, resting her hand over her racing heart.
Charlie had forbidden her to go up there, saying too many memories lay there that's better left alone, but she needed to know. What was up there? What was he hiding or protecting her from?
Setting her foot on the first rung, she drew in a deep breath and began her ascent. Stepping up onto the attic floor, her eyes searched frantically around the small area and quickly spotted the shuttered windows across the room. The moment she opened them, she gazed around in wonder at all the relics from the past hidden away up there.
Tears formed in her eyes as her fingers grazed over the yellowed lace of her mother's wedding gown, still hanging there on the mannequin after nearly fifteen years since she'd left. Behind it was a box of old glass Christmas ornaments, with one that read 'Bella's first Christmas, 1987' sitting on top in a clear plastic box.
She'd never seen it before.
Turning around, she spotted an old black footlocker on the other side of the room. She walked across the old creaking wood floor, waving away the tiny particles floating around me in the streaming light from the window. As she knelt in front of it, she took the padlock in her hand, her brow furrowing when she saw it was unlocked.
Why bother having a lock on it at all if you weren't going to use it? she thought, shaking her head as she removed it and unhooked the latches on the side.
Lifting the top, she gazed at the photos and newspaper clippings creating a collage on the inside of the lid. Pictures of her mom and dad when they were younger, along with their engagement and wedding announcements. She gazed into the contents of the chest itself and lifted out a folded letter.
She carefully opened the fragile piece of paper that had obviously been opened and closed many times, her eyes flickering over the words as she read.
Charlie, I'm scared. I don't know what to do. I can't do this alone.
Down at the bottom was another message, in a more familiar script.
You won't be alone, Renee. I'll take care of you and the baby, I promise.
It was difficult to imagine her father as this openly compassionate man, before Renee had left with his little girl and scarred his heart almost irreparably. They'd obviously just found out they were having her, yet even Bella knew the kind of man her father was, both past and present; he'd never have left Renee alone and pregnant with his child.
Refolding the letter, she set it back inside and her fingers brushed against a small shoebox. She sat back on the floor and folded her legs, placing the box in her lap and lifting off the top.
Inside lay a small pair of white baby shoes, the laces tied together and underneath, was a stack of old photographs.
She flipped through them and began shaking her head. They were more pictures from her parents' wedding… with her in them. And finally, one of her mother in the hospital with a baby in her arms, but the man beside her was not Charles Swan.
Bella felt her stomach drop as she stood with the photo still in her hand, backing away from the chest without bothering to close it. She raced down the ladder and into her room to grab her cell phone off her desk and quickly dialed the station.
"Hi, it's Bella. Can I please talk to my dad?" she said shakily, still staring at the picture.
"Bella, what's wrong?" Charlie's voice came through, sounding tense and worried.
"Dad, could you please come home?" Bella cried in barely above a whisper.
"Baby, you know I can't. Can this wait until I get home tonight?"
"Dad, please," she begged, her voice coming out in a body-wracking sob.
"I'll be right there, Bella. Sit tight."
She hung up and let the phone fall from her hand onto the bed, lowering herself onto the floor and hugging around her legs.
Within five minutes, she heard the crunching of the gravel outside and her face lowered to her knees, sobbing into them.
"Bella?!" she heard Charlie's voice from the front door and his heavy footsteps as he ran up the stairs. "Honey, what's wrong?"
Her bloodshot eyes rose as he now sat crouched beside her, brushing aside the damp strands of hair clinging to her face. "You're not my dad?"
"What's brought this on, sweetheart? Of course I am," he replied, attempting to appear calm but a flicker of strange emotion crossed his face that she'd never seen before.
"Then who's this with Mom?"
He took the old photograph from her hand as she held it out to him, drawing in a deep breath and shaking his head. "Bella, where did you get this?"
"Does it matter? Is that, or is that not another man there with Mom and me?" she demanded, her body shaking with emotion.
"Yes, that's another man, and that is your mother. But that's not you," Charlie nodded and looked back to her, flipping over the picture and handing it back.
Bella looked down to see her mother's handwriting on the back. Renee, Alan and Katherine, March 27, 1984.
"That was your sister, Kate."