The house had been in their family for about two hundred years, and had somehow managed to pass from mother to daughter. So great was the pull of the old place that successive generations of husbands always ended up moving in.
Jenny had always heard stories about her grandmother’s secret jewelry box, the one that was supposed to be lost somewhere in the attic, and how grandma, when she was a girl, had found it there one day, left by her grandmother. Mom used to tell the story with a wistful look, as though talking about some long lost childhood friend. But it was one of those stories you don’t really think is true. Grandma had died when Jenny’s mom was just a girl, so there was no way to check, and Jenny was rather practical minded about these things.
So she was a little taken aback when she actually came upon the little jewelry box while rummaging around in the attic one day. The inlaid figurine of a ballerina on the top surface was exactly as her mom had always described it, and she knew at once that it was the real thing, with a certainty that she couldn’t really explain.
There didn’t seem to be a key to open it, or a keyhole either for that matter. After a few minutes of fiddling around trying to find a secret door or something, she was about to give up in frustration, when on a sudden whim she pressed down on the little figure of the ballerina. With a click the box sprang open.
The inside of the box was lined with a thick cushion of red velvet. It smelled slightly musty, as though the box had been closed for a very long time, which she supposed it must have been. Other than that the box appeared to be empty, except for a single old-fashioned skeleton key, golden in color, nestled within a matching depression in the velvet cushion.
Jenny picked up the key, and that’s when it happened…