The Bureau

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Strange the things you can find when restoring furniture.

Submitted: May 23, 2018

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Submitted: May 23, 2018

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The Bureau

My father buys up old furniture and restores it. He’s been doing it for years and has established quite a reputation now for excellent work. At first he’d buy anything but now he’s learned to be more discerning. He knows what he wants, which items are worth spending the time and money on, and most importantly, what will sell.

Unlike a lot of traders he always offers a fair price to the seller. He doesn’t try to haggle downwards; if it’s not worth the asking price he just won’t buy it. I have even known him to pay more when someone has an exceptionally valuable piece but does not realize it. Honest to a fault, that’s my father, especially when it comes to making money to pay the bills.

I’m his only child and I have inherited at least some of his patience. My schoolmates made fun of me for a while, being a girl and spending so much time working on furniture. The thing is, I enjoy it. I don’t do the repairs, but the cleaning, the waxing, the varnishing. There is something very satisfying about seeing a piece come in to the workshop looking fit for the tip but then with some tender loving care turning into an item to be proud of.

The bureau had seen much better days. There were worn and splintered places, black marks from everyday wear and tear. It had ink stains on it’s top too, which I thought added a real authentic touch. At least they proved that the desk had been used for what it had been built for.

My father and I carried it in to the workshop and placed it towards the back. It would be my job to make sure all of it was clean, free of any dust and mold before my Dad started to carry out any necessary repairs. With it’s drawers down one side and the smaller ones that were either side of the top, it was going to be some job.

I removed the top drawers, cleaned out dust and cobwebs, gave them a thorough going over with a special attachment fitted to the vacuum cleaner before replacing them in their original positions. I’d learned to take my time and ensure that pieces went back where they had come from. Wooden furniture often warped very slightly and a different drawer might not quite fit, even though to the naked eye they looked the same.

There was nothing of interest in the bigger drawers down the side either. At least that’s what I thought, but then my finger caught on a thin piece of wood, right at the back of the top one. I had found a false back, a place for secrets and hidden stories. Very gently, I moved that back away, not expecting to find anything at all. An envelope, yellowed and faded with age, appeared before me. I put it down carefully; determined to check it out but knowing I’d not have the time to do it now.

I took it back to the house with me, and up to my room. That evening I carefully placed it on my own desk and gently removed the aged paper. It was beautiful, clearly a love letter of some kind from a long time ago.

My dear Frederick,

I know not how to put this in

to words, knowing that you will feel as devastated

and heart-broken as I do myself.

Papa has forbidden me to marry

you. Indeed he has forbidden me to ever meet with

you again. He knows that while I remain here he will

never be able to keep us apart and for that reason I

am to be sent far away. To another country even!

This shows that he knows the lengths

we would go to just to be together. My departure is

to take place almost immediately. I can only hope

that this reaches you for I could not bear it if you were

left to believe that my desertion of you was from choice.

I hope and I pray that one day we will

be together again.

Your ever loving

Evette.

 

It had been hard to make out the words in places, the ink had faded and the paper had worn where it had been folded. I’m pretty sure I read it more or less perfectly.

I lay back on my bed and thought. Had the desk belonged to Frederick? Or Evette? Of course it could have belonged to one of their children, or even to her father. Had it been delivered? Had it been received? Did they ever get to see each other again or were they condemned to live their lives away from their soul-mates?

Sitting up, I also had to consider that maybe their separation was for the best. Perhaps they would have ended up fighting and hating each other. After all, that is what happened to my own parents; but it was kind of nice to let myself be taken in by the romance.

The question was what was I to do with the letter now? I could keep it myself, no one would ever miss it, or know that it had even existed. But should I? After all, I now knew that little piece of their shared history. I did not have the information to find out more, but I guess the good thing about that was the freedom to dream up whatever scenario I wanted.

I made my decision. When my father had finished his restoring, when it was all waxed and polished and ready to be put out on show, I’d replace the letter. Who knows; perhaps someone else will come upon it and give their story a totally different ending to the one that I choose.


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