Diamond in the Rough
Lisa entered the attic of her new old house. She bought it together with Jonas and planned to fix it. Jonas, a contractor, would turn this run-down building into their forever home.
Then, Jonas announced a change. He changed his mind about fixing the house, and his life partner too. He was out the door in a flash and stuck a bewildered and hurt Lisa with the decrepit house and its mortgage.
Lisa sighed and rummaged in the old attic, cobwebs in her hair and her mind racing a mile a minute. The small mortgage wouldn’t break the bank though she’d have to tighten her belt. The remodeling into livable space would chip away at her savings and devour the money she’d put away for the wedding and the honeymoon. Now that she’d scrapped those plans, she’d hoped to use that money on herself, maybe vacation to a spa, but she’d have to spend it on the house instead.
Dust, debris and bric-à-brac covered the house and the attic which smelled musty, though not dank, like the basement. Jonas had thought the house didn’t have serious mold issues, but now she doubted everything Jonas had said.
Something caught Lisa’s eye: a wooden box, ordinary, yet unusual. With painted swallows on its side, it stood apart and untouched among the old knick-knacks.
Lisa tiptoed to it, careful not to topple the mountain of rusty stuff nearby. The floor creaked beneath her feet and she hoped she wouldn’t fall through the ceiling. She discovered the top of the box was a series of little drawers. When she unclasped the hinges on its sides, the set of little drawers lifted out and revealed a deep bottom box.
Lisa smiled and tried all the drawers; the first two held nothing but the delicious aroma of cedar that wafted out upon its release. The third drawer revealed a hand-held mirror with twining silver roses around the glass. She glanced into it and saw her reflection, content, relieved. So not how I feel.
The bottom box contained old photographs—tin-types perhaps—of the house as it had been during the fat cow years, pristine and majestic. Lisa glanced around the rickety attic.
The last photo was a cyanotype of a man with a stiff high collar, mutton-chops and piercing eyes that reminded her of the realtor who’d sold her the house. The man held the mirror in his hand, its glass pointed at the camera. In his other hand, he held a small jewel or crystal that hung from a fine chain. It reminded Lisa of what hypnotists used in movies. The cyanotype was in shades of blue, yet the way the man held the jewel, in front of the mirror, Lisa discerned a bright flash emitting from it.
“Like a prism!” She exclaimed, remembering her grandfather playing with it by the window. Every time it caught the sunlight, the rays split into many colored beams.
“Now you can see the wavelengths of light,” her grandfather had explained.
Smiling, Lisa reached into the box again, her fingers closed around a small trinket. It was a crystal cut into a pyramid and it hung from a delicate chain. She held it up to the attic light; it sparkled as it dangled, but the colors did not shoot out as they had in her childhood.
She glanced at the cyanotype again and startled, exclaimed, “He winked at me!”
Yet the man gazed impassive at the camera.
Lisa held the mirror in one hand, and, imitating the picture, dangled the jewel in front of the glass. Colored beams of light shot out of the jewel onto the rotted wooden wall.
Lisa’s jaw dropped as the wall repaired itself where the beams struck it. She pointed the mirror and the jewel at the floorboards and, again, watched amazed as the floor polished itself.
Lisa ran through the house, mirror and the jewel in hand, laughing and giggling as the house rumbling, squeaking and groaning, and returned to its former glory. For the finale, she stepped outside and stood before the darkened house gleaming in the starlight. The mirror caught silver moonbeams, bounced them into the jewel which projected them onto the house, and engulfed the house in rainbows.
Lisa squealed with delight as her old, broken down home shone like new.
“It’s a diamond in the rough,” the realtor had assured her, “you’ll love it.”