The hole in the wall
The crash died in a shower of plaster and dust and Steve coughed as a cloud of it flew into his face.
“You sure you don’t want the dust mask?”
“Bit bloody late now.”
“Well I did say…”
“Shut up you.”
“Get off! I’m not kissing you, you’re minging!”
Steve laughed and turned back to the enormous hole he had just knocked through our bedroom wall.
I peered into the room from the hall, which was a maze of towering unpacked boxes. We’d been living in sleeping bags eating food cooked on a camping stove for weeks and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a proper wash.
I picked my way around the assorted detritus of home renovation on the bare floorboards and peered into a gaping cavity that swirled with grey dust.
“Hang on,” said Steve. “What’s this?”
He leaned into the hole and reached down. His hand disappeared into thick opaque dust and emerged holding a small black book, coated in grime.
“Well what are the chances?” he breathed, dumbfounded. “Would you look at that...”
“It looks like a notebook.”
“Auntie Clara was always scribbling in one of these. I assumed they must all have been buried with her. How on earth did she manage to get one in there?”
“It’s a journal?”
Steve shook his head. “These were top secret. She never told any of us what was in them, but I always wondered.”
I frowned and took the book from him, turning it over in my hands. It had a soft black leather cover and fresh, white pages under the coating of dust.
“It looks quite recent - the paper hasn’t gone yellow or anything. Do you think she left it here for you to find when you inherited the house? She knew you’d be doing the place up, didn’t she? She made you promise you would.Maybe there’s something in there she wanted to tell you that she didn’t want the others to know…”
I passed it back to him and he slowly flipped open the cover. I had expected pages of spidery writing, but most of the leaves were blank. Except one.
Go to the third slab in the crazy paving and pull it up. Dig about six feet under(appropriate, I thought, given that’s where I will be if you’re reading this! Ha! And you’ll find a red box. It’s for you and Ellie. Good luck with everything.
PS don’t tell the others_
We looked at each other in astonishment.
“I suppose we’d better…”
I nodded and we walked mutely outside. It was drizzling lightly, but neither of us really noticed.
We found the slab. Steve levered it up with a spade and began to dig. It seemed to take a lifetime, but eventually we heard a dull thud as the spade made dull thud as it made contact with something that definitely wasn’t earth.
Steve looked at me, blinking raindrops from his lashes and squatted down to pull up a dirty red metal box.
Breathless I walked round to stand beside him as he slipped his thumbs under the catch and pushed open the lid...