Our house is Victorian – over a hundred and thirty years old. It’s hard to heat, and we are spending most of these winter days in the living room with a single convector heater. Our television set is located on a fixed stand in front of the bricked up old fire-place. Often I wonder what this house would be like if we could afford to knock through and restore the original fire-place.
The chimney was taken away for reasons unknown long before we moved in. Times are harder than ever with both of us out of work and this Christmas coming in three nights feels as if it will be bare and empty of the things we used to afford and love. But Jenna, bless her, says we’ll have each other, and she is right.
It’s eleven o’clock and we are watching a thriller on the television. That’s when the house rumbles, just for a single second. The thirty-two inch set lists forward and I reach out to grab it, as it crashes onto the wooden floor and I hear the screen glass smash. Jenna screams and our eldest daughter, Maeve, starts to cry.
As I get up to examine the irreparable damage, I notice a small hole has appear in the covered up grate of the fire-place.
There’s no rational reason for what we do next. Jenna gets an old fire poker that we found when we moved in and forces it through the hole, wiggling it about and the hole gets bigger. There is a second rumble as the whole covered front of the grate crumbles. Dust and soot fly everywhere covering our TV dinners.
I see it first. A box. A wooden box. I pull it out with much difficulty as it is so very heavy. A stiff, dead rook lies next to it, Maeve screams.
It takes nearly an hour to prize open the rusted box.
And there they are. Spilling over the edges of this who knows how old, walnut chest.
Coins. Silver, gold and bronze. A tiara and a necklace – pearls and diamonds by the look of them.
I look at Jenna. Maeve looks at me. Jenna looks at us both.