The Antiques Roadshow expert passed the necklace of rough stones through his manicured fingers and held it for a moment in the sunlight for the television cameras to pick out the subdued orange and yellow hues.
"Many viewers will be familiar with polished amber jewellery, but what we have here appears to be an example of unpolished Lithuanian amber jewellery......but I'm not sure......perhaps you could tell the viewers the story of how the necklace was found......"
As his son related the little of what he knew the old man, hunched in the wheelchair stared up at the necklace; remembering.
He remembered leaving the cell and climbing the stairs to stand in the middle of the road stunned at the Armageddon destruction. He had shuffled along the road through a haze of smoke and dust, a bewildered ghost, one among many.
Some time later, desperate for water he had entered a building that had escaped destruction; the sound of glass crunching under his feet as he stepped through the wreckage sharp in his memory.
On the floor of the house he found a horrifically burned body, the right hand a grotesque claw appeared to have been holding something. The arrangement of the stones on the floor suggested a necklace, the connecting string having burned away. Nearby, in the charred remains of what had may have been a chest of drawers there was a metal box; not unlike a biscuit tin his mother would have at home. Opening it he found photographs: formal family groups, individuals posing, children. One caught his attention; a young girl, standing against a wall - it could have been of the house he was standing in - looking into the camera, smiling in the sunlight. Smiling at him.
He had gathered up the strange almost weightless pieces of stone and placed them in the tin box and left the sad house of death. Later at home he felt compelled to restring the necklace. He then placed it in the box and closed the lid and tried to forget.
"....and my father left the house, and soon after the relief forces found him. He was one of the few British prisoners of war to survive the atomic bombing of Nagasaki..."
"What an amazing story. And this is the actual box?"
"Yes, it is."
The presenter put the necklace to one side and spread the photographs on the blue felt table cover to allow the television camera to show the viewers the happy family scenes. In one, a young girl standing against a wall smiled at them as her fingers played with a piece of jewellery around her neck. The smooth polished amber stones of the necklace glinted in the sun.
About the author
Sandy writes fiction, memoirs and some poetry. His work has been published in the anthologies ‘The Pulse of Everything’ and ‘The Darkening Season’ and the international poetry anthology ‘Indra’s Net’. He is a member of Otley Writers and blogs as www.sandyscribbler.com