Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Creative Writing Workshop - A Strange Signature

I often spent a fine hour exploring all the nooks and crannies of my favorite antique shop while chatting with the owner. I had no idea of the age of the couch way in the back, but my dealer friend guessed around early 1900. The couch soon became my latest treasure despite being covered in worn leather and in need of a good clean. I just couldn't resist the character of this vintage piece of furniture or a good bargain. Its disheveled appearance just added to its charm.

My not so new treasure looked grand in the living room and it complemented the hardwood floors.  It was the most comfortable thing I had ever had the pleasure of laying on.  As I laid back into its welcoming leather arms, I wondered what lives the couch had seen and what conversations it had heard... Perhaps it had witnessed fanciful parties of the roaring 20s, or overheard war stories of the Great War as people danced The Charleston...? My hand wondered around the sides of the couch and I dug deep into its dark depths. I felt and dug out an old thruppenny bit with George V and the year 1913 on the back confirming the approximate age of the couch. I recovered a beautiful sapphire ring which I am sure someone must have spent hours looking for and who died wondering what on earth had happened to it. Lastly, my fingers stumbled upon a piece of paper. I spent a good moment grappling with it trying to get a firm grip and eventually pulled it out. The letter was post marked, Oct 3, 1917 from Craiglockhart, Scotland. I took the letter from the opened envelope and noticed a strange signature at the end of the letter. I started to read the letter, but could barely make out the handwritten script. However, the words, "Dulce et Decorum est" jumped out at me. Of course, these words form the title to one of my favorite Great War poems by Wilfred Owen, the author of the strange signature.

Before my mind wondered a million miles, I got a zip lock bag and placed the ring and letter inside... Further research led me to find that this was one of the earliest manuscripts of the poem. This manuscript was older than the oldest known surviving manuscript addressed to his mother. The manuscript I held in my hand was an unknown, but priceless treasure; a treasure that later found itself in the Imperial War Museum in London. I was even more proud of my ownership of the Owen family couch and now knew that I had no intention of ever getting it cleaned...

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