"In the middle of the night, you get an urgent call from a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Something terrible has happened. What is it and why is he/she calling you?"
It's a tad longer than 700 words, but not by too much.
I jolted awake at the ringing of the telephone. Still drowsy, I assured my husband's inquiring grunt that I would get it. I knocked a book off my bedside table as I felt for the phone, which rang again.
"Hello?" I asked raspily, still half asleep.
"Katie?" The voice sounded familiar.
That name woke me up a bit. I hadn't been called anything but Kate or Kathryn by anyone since I was fourteen.
"Who -? Danny?" I asked.
"Katie, I need to talk."
"Okay. Hold on."
I set the phone down and sat up, planting my feet on the floor to steady me. Images of the tire swing by the channel and our secret fort in the marshes flashed before my eyes. I hadn't heard from Danny since...
"Babe?" a sleepy voice asked from the other side of the bed, bringing me back to the darkness of the room.
"It's alright. Just a phone call I need to take. I'll be back to bed soon."
Not knowing why I was doing it, I grabbed the phone. I crept down the hallway past the rooms of my sleeping children and down the stairs to the kitchen. Gathering my night gown under me so that the chair wouldn't be so cold on my thighs, I sat down and lifted the phone to my ear again.
"It's just Dan now, but yes, it's me. It's... been a long time." I could hear the smile in his voice.
With good reason, I thought before saying, "Is there something wrong?"
"Yes. My grandfather has just passed away." The smile had vanished, grief replacing it. He had always been close to his grandfather, the Colonel.
"Oh. I'm sorry. You needed to talk?"
There was silence for a moment. “I was just at the reading of his will.”
Now that would be an interesting read, I thought. His grandfather was a particular and frugal old man. Money aside, he had one of the largest privately owned collections of Civil War artifacts on the East Coast. He must have just died tonight for the reading to be this late.
“He left me everything.”
“Wow,” I said lamely, thinking of the emotional mess that would probably cause Danny, keeping the grief close at hand. Danny had always been emotional. One of the rough-it-tough-it boys, it was personal when it came to his family and you didn’t get in the middle of that.
At least not without a mess, she thought bitterly.
“Katie, I need to ask… do you remember that arrowhead I gave you when we were kids?”
Again, my mind was filled with images of my childhood: the secret fort, my initiation into our secret club The Guided Stones – after the Georgia Guidestones. His grandfather had told him about The Order, a society he was a part of that centered on that “American Stonehenge”.
“Yes, the arrowhead that you gave me at the marsh fort. Part of that… what was it?”
“The Stones.” I could hear the capitalization and the hurt in his voice that I didn’t remember.
“Right. What about it?”
“Do you still have it?” He sounded desperate.
“I don’t think so. It would have been in a box with my toys from when I was a kid, but Mom sold or donated all that stuff years ago when she moved out of the house.”
“You’re sure you didn’t put it anywhere else? Maybe in a box you kept?” he asked, even more urgent.
I thought for a moment, but replied again, “I’m sorry, Danny. I really don’t think so. I’ll keep an eye out, but when I left Bennettsville, I left everything behind. I’m in Washington now. I’m sure you understand…” my voice drifted off.
“It’s okay, Katie. I understand. I know why you left. I just thought you might have kept it, that’s all.”
“Why do you need it?”
“Well, it wasn’t an arrowhead. It was an awl that my grandfather got out of a dig in Oklahoma. It was…” his voice lost its vigor and died.
“What, Danny?” I said his childhood moniker again, hoping to take him back in time as I had been – to let him trust me.
“It was the oldest bone awl ever found in the US. It was worth about three million dollars and the Order says it’s important.” The Order.
“I’m so sorry, Danny. I didn’t know.”
A few more condolences given, he hung up the phone with even more grief in his voice.
Three days later in the Jerusalem Church of Rincon, Georgia, I nodded to a Salzburger member as I entered the third small meditation room on the right side. I closed the small door and listened to the quiet before pulling out a brick just above the floor-level. Out of the hole came a piece of fabric. Unwrapping the awl, I smiled.
“I knew it was the one.”