© September, 2002
The expensive black leather pouch lay open on the floor. Its satin ribbon ties were undone and lay as waves on the sea of blue wool carpet.
Ginny stared wide-eyed around the untidy room. The drawers from the oak sideboard were empty, their contents had been strewn across the floor. The oak box sat on the television, its lid lay on the floor. The contents, tiny china ornaments, had been scattered on the carpet. The oil painting leaned at an odd angle against the wall. The edge of the canvas was torn; it hung loosely from the frame.
An anguished tear fell as Ginny realised the painting was irreparable. Her best friend, Josh, had given her the painting after she had admired his portrayal of the snow-covered mountains she loved.
Ginny dropped the brown paper bag of groceries, bent, then looked at the pouch. It was the most important item in the room. It was empty. The precious treasure it contained had gone.
Such a thing had never happened before in the sleepy rural town of Huntsville. At least it hadn't happened in Ginny's 30 years of life, that she could remember.
But then, Ginny could only remember the last 6 months. She'd awakened in a white starched hospital bed one afternoon and had not been able to remember anything of her past.
Doctor Josh had told Ginny that her amnesia was temporary. He had told her time would heal her wounds and her memory. Nobody had seen the car that hit her. They had assumed it was a freak accident by a person passing through the area.
When she looked around her untidy sanctuary, Ginny had been unable to think why somebody would break into her home. She had no enemies in her new life. She wondered if the theft related to her invisible past.
She picked up the empty pouch, then slipped her hand inside. There had been nothing to feel except the warmth of the leather skin. The broach had gone. She sat down on the floor, closed her eyes against the tears, then visualised the broach. It had contained an inexpensive gem, a garnet. The garnet's setting had been gold filigree. It was a beautiful ornate piece of jewelry.
It was the only tangible piece of her past that she had. Her wallet had gone, the doctors had told her when she asked about it. But they had found the broach in the pocket of her jeans. She smiled as she remembered the caring doctor Josh had been. Then she recalled the day he had entered her hospital room, the day he had bought her roses. She had been delighted when he had told her he had handed her hospital file to another doctor. She was overjoyed when he had asked to marry her barely a week later, she had accepted without hesitation.
She squeezed her eyes tight shut. She closed out the disarray of the room; then stopped the tears as her hand squeezed the pouch.
"Yoo-hoo anybody home?" The high pitched screech of her neighbour echoed through the hallway. "Are you there dear?"
Ginny cringed, then quickly wiped her eyes with the back of her hands, stood and walked to the front door.
"Hello, Mrs Faulkner."
"Oh my dear! What on earth has happened? Are you all right?" The plump granny in a bright pink tracksuit stepped into the house, then checked Ginny over with her hands.
"I'm fine Mrs Faulkner. No broken bones this time. But it looks as if I've been broken into."
"Oh no! Oh dear! Has anything been stolen, dear?"
"Nothing of value. Just the broach."
"Oh no! Not the broach! Oh dear. I'm so sorry! Have you called the Police Department yet, dear?"
Ginny smiled a tiny smile then at Mrs Faulkner's use of the Police Department term. Huntsville's Police Department consisted of one part time constable in his late 50s. Happy Harry was everybody's friendly local cop.
"I've only just arrived home. I've just walked in and seen the mess myself."
"Have you checked the rest of the house, dear?"
Ginny turned frightened eyes to her neighbour. "No."
"Come along then, dear. We'll do it together."
Within minutes they were back in the lounge. The rest of the house had appeared untouched.
"I guess they just wanted the broach," Ginny slumped into her cream upholstered armchair.
"Well, I think it's time to call Harry. You make the call dear. I'll put the kettle on."
Ginny watched as her neighbour left the room. Her new white running shoes squeaked on the polished wooden floorboards in the kitchen as she busied herself with first the kettle, then the coffee mugs.
Ginny telephoned Harry who arrived as she took the first sip of revoltingly sweet coffee. She grimaced then put the cup down as Harry walked into the kitchen.
"Hello, Ginny. What's been happening here then?" His cheerful voice boomed into the room. "What have you been getting up to now, young lady?"
Ginny smiled. "I've been broken into Harry. Take a look at the lounge. Nothing has been taken except the broach."
Harry poked his head through the door. "Ah, it looks more of a mess than anything else, eh? Just the broach you say?" He turned back to Ginny.
"Yes. Everything else seems to be still here. Nothing has been touched in the rest of the house." She sipped at her coffee, grimacing again at the unexpected sweetness.
"Mrs Faulkner, did you have to put so much sugar in the coffee?"
"Yes dear. You've had a nasty shock. Sugar is good for sorting out shocks."
"I'm fine. I can't drink this though, I'll make myself another cup. Harry would you like one?"
"Hmm. Yes Ginny, I'd love one. Been on the job since 5am this morning. Nearly fell asleep at the desk this lunchtime."
As Ginny busied herself making coffee, Harry and her neighbour quietly talked.
"So, Betty, what do you make of it?"
"Sounds like it was a very purposeful break in to me Harry. Sounds like they just wanted the broach. Must have known it was here." She raised her left eyebrow as she spoke.
"Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking too. Will you do me a favour and keep a close eye on Ginny. There's something real odd about this theft. Like, whoever did it must have known Ginny before the accident."
"Don't you worry about Ginny, Harry. I'll keep my eyes on her day and night. I don't want anything happening to this lovely girl."
"Ehm," Ginny cleared her throat from behind them. "Here's your coffee Harry." Ginny passed Harry his cup, then watched as he juggled his notepad and pen. She took them from him, placed them on the table, then bade him to pull up a chair.
"Have you had any memory recalls yet, Ginny?" He carefully watched her expression over the top of his cup.
"No, nothing tangible."
"Well, there's only been one brief picture come to mind. I think it was probably just a dream though."
"What was it?" He sat forward in his chair, eagerly listening.
"Nothing much. Just a picture. It was of the broach actually. Somebody was wearing it."
Harry's pencil flew over his notepad. "Did you see who it was?"
"No, just a person." She closed her eyes willing the image back. Nothing. "I think it was a woman though. That's more of a feeling than anything. It looked like the broach was attached to some folds of deep blue velvet."
"You're sure it was attached?"
"Yes, the broach was upright. There was shadow at the bottom."
"Hmm. Okay, well that's a start. When did you have this recollection?"
"It happened during the night about a week ago. I woke up and well, I thought I'd had a dream actually. I'm still not sure if it was a flashback or a dream," she shrugged.
Harry wrote more in his notebook, then stood up. "Well, you know to call me if anything odd happens again. Don't touch anything in the lounge, I'll have the forensic people here shortly. You never know, whoever took the broach might have left us a fingerprint or two. It would be a good idea if you stayed the night at Betty's house. Just can't tell if they might come back or not."
"Yes, of course, dear. Harry that's a great idea! Go pack a few things up Ginny and stay the night at my place."
An hour after that, Ginny found herself standing in her neighbour's house staring out the heavily lace edged window back at her own home. The forensic people had come and gone. There had been no signs of fingerprints, other than her own and those of her eccentric neighbour.
She turned as Mrs Faulkner came into the room, then brushed a tear away before the older woman saw. She didn't need reminding again that she would be safe because the whole town would look out for her.
"Here we are, dear. A nice hot cup of tea will do us both good. Sit yourself down." She handed Ginny a plate piled high with sandwiches. "There, I thought you might be hungry. It didn't look like you'd had anything for lunch."
Ginny's stomach rumbled on cue. She hadn't felt like eating earlier, but now she was ready. "I don't know why everyone's fussing around me so much. I'm quite capable of looking after myself you know." She picked up a dainty sandwich, then put the whole thing in her mouth. The second one was finished before her kindly, if over protective, neighbour had given Ginny her cup of tea.
"Now, who on earth could that be?" Mrs Faulkner waddled off to answer the door, as the bell chimed out the beginning strains of Elvis' Love Me Tender. Ginny chuckled as she listened to the chime, then straightened in shock.
"Hello, I'm from the Council Survey Committee. I'm here to ask you a few questions." A deep voice vibrated through Ginny's body. Recognition was intense, but nonetheless elusive.
.... There is more of this story ...