‘Do you regret all of these?’ Tanya asked Darla when they were on Darla’s front porch drinking a cup of freshly brewed black coffee.

Darla took a few seconds to observe her simple house, built by her husband’s ancestor and passed down from one generation to the next. They put in a lot of work in rebuilding it after they got married. It was far away from her parents’ home, and the nearest mall was an hour away. Darla and her family spent most of their free time with nature at the back of their house. Darla had green fingers, so she grew different plants and sold them in the market during the weekend. The side income helped to pay bills and put food on the table.

Darla thought of her routine of preparing meals, cleaning and spending time with her two young children. She knew what she signed up for when she decided to be a homemaker, even though she obtained a degree from a local university. A year after graduating, she agreed to marry her long time best friend. They started their life as a married couple in that house and eventually welcomed two children. Their life was simple, and although it wasn’t filled with all the riches in the world they were content.

“Not one bit,” Darla finally replied thinking of her husband children.

“Not even a little?” Tanya asked again.

“I love my husband and my children. Living far away from the city has its perks too. I have no regret,” Darla assured her. “You are worried about marrying Sean?”

“You know it,” Tanya nodded. “As the wedding day is fast approaching, I wonder the ‘what ifs’.”

“You’re afraid Sean wants to live elsewhere and not the city?”

“I love my home and I don’t think I can survive like you if Sean told me we are moving away from the city. I mean what about my job and my social life?”

“I’m sure he will discuss it with you before making any decision. On the good side, Sean won’t be able to survive this either. His favourite coffee shop isn’t here,” Darla laughed. “What you have is wedding jitters. Speaking from experience, everything will turn out fine. You will marry the man you love and you’ll support one another.”

“You’ll be there on that day right?”

“I won’t miss it for the world.”

It was rare for Darla to receive visitors, but when Tanya said she was visiting, Darla was excited. After spending another hour of catching up Tanya drove away, leaving Darla waving from the front porch. An hour later, her children came running into the house when she was preparing lunch. In the afternoon, she helped them with their homework and made sure they understood their lessons. After that, she cooked dinner.

Life was pretty much the same for Darla and her children until that day when Tanya visited. Tanya talked about their childhood and the games they played. That day, she taught her children the game of charade. At one point of the game, she lost her footing and fell towards the wall, making a hole in it.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” Darla informed her children when she looked up to see that they looked worried. Her back and legs hurt but soon, it was taken over by curiosity. Very slowly, she got up and looked at her surroundings. It was just a small room that she didn’t know existed although she lived there for so many years. It was a cold and dark room, and it smelled like old books.

“What’s there?” her oldest child asked.

“Bring me the torchlight,” she answered instead. When the torchlight was in her hand, she switched it on to find an opened antique shelf. There were wrapped up boxes stacked on it. They were dusty and lighter than it looked. “Call you father.”

When Darla’s husband arrived home, he rushed into the living room and found Darla still in the hidden room. He was as shocked as Darla about the existence of that room. Climbing in, he looked around and joked, “Did you decide to destroy the wall intentionally? Was Tanya’s visit that bad?”

“I was delighted with Tanya’s visit and for your information, this was an accident,” Darla answered leading Kenny to the boxes. Their two children waited in the living room as they were afraid of the dark.

“What’s in these?” Kenny shook the boxes but there were no sound.

“I just hope it’s not human remains.”

When Kenny cut opened the first box with the penknife he had in his pocket, they were filled with anticipation. They took another box and did the same. There were more than a dozen boxes and each contained the same item.

“Did you know about this?” Darla spoke first.

“My grandfather told me about it once, but I thought it was a myth. My family thought it was kept elsewhere. That was why nobody wanted this house. So this small room was where my family kept their riches,” Kenny replied, running his fingers along the stacks of money.

Carina Lim bears different messages through her fiction. These messages could be useful in life. She can be contacted at mermaidgal03@yahoo.com