Abby Jane doesn't remember her mom - she died when Abby was a baby. Abby is 14 now and has a questionnaire to fill out, but there's one problem - she doesn't have anything very valuable to her. After searching and finding more about her past, Abby not only finds something valuable, but also finds the power of love for her mother hidden within her.

1. Hidden

Name: Abby Jane

Age: 14

Something that is valuable to you:

    “Something that’s valuable to me…” I say aloud. I push away from my computer and start to spin around on my chair. I exhale loudly in thought, throwing my head back. It takes me a few minutes to realize that I don’t really have anything that’s very important to me. That’s when I figure it out. I can almost see the cartoon light bulb appearing over my head. The attic. All of Mother’s old stuff is up there. That’s where the search begins.

I find a ladder and climb into the attic. As soon as I open the small opening to get inside, I cough furiously and swish the dust and cobwebs away with my hand. After the coughing dies down, I find a light switch. The light is dim, but enough to see. Some light also shines through a little window.

I spot it. The chest. It’s brown, made of oak. It has a gold latch on it, and I crouch on my knees as I flip it open. I wipe my hand on my jeans, getting the rust off of it that came off the latch. The top creaks as I push it up, and more dust comes out. A few more coughs. I start to dig through Mom’s things. Old records, pieces of jewelry, a few books. That’s when I see it. A camera. It’s a film camera - and when I open it, there’s still film in it.

I quickly slam shut the chest, not bothering to latch it. I climb down the ladder, careful not to drop the camera. My questionnaire is quickly forgotten as I race out the door and to town. I know there’s an antique shop downtown, so that’s where I run to.

The trees are a green blur as I rush past. I swerve around a few people on the sidewalk, not slowing down one bit. A dog barks at me from inside a house, but I don’t dare to look. I get into town, and spot the store. ANTIQUES. You can’t miss the sign.  

“Hello,” the old woman greets me when I walk in.

“Hi,” I reply.

“How may I help you?”

“I have this camera, and since everything is digital these days, I was wondering if you knew how to get these pictures to me off this film.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t. I do, though, know someone who can produce them for you. May I have your address so he can send them to you when they’re done?” her voice cracks as she softly speaks.

“Yes. It’s 5446 Melberry Lane,” I say. She writes it down on a scrap piece of paper, her fragile hand barely holding the pen, causing the ink to show up lightly.

“Can I take that?” She points at the camera. I hand her the item.

“Thank you, so much,” I say.

“Oh, you’re welcome, Dear. They should be with you within a week.” I smile, say thank you one more time, and then head out the door. The last thing I see in that store is her white knit sweater.


The week passes by slowly. I could never get my mind off the camera and the pictures. Dad doesn’t know about it, and I don’t plan on telling him quite yet. I want to see the pictures for myself, first. I’ll finally get to see what Mother looks like! I’ll get to see what she liked to do! Mother died when I was just a baby, so I don’t remember her. This is so exciting!

The day finally arrives. Monday. Mondays are usually bad, right? Not this one. When I get home from school, I grab the mail, like usual, but today there’s something extra in the box. The pictures.

I race inside - there’s no stopping me now. I tear open the envelope with one huge pull at the paper. I pull out a stack of pictures - they aren’t clear, but that doesn’t matter to me.

The first one I see is Mom on her birthday. There’s a cake in front of her, decorated with white frosting and colorful candles. She’s wearing a light pink sweater and a smile. Her teeth are straight and perfect, but her hair is a curly mess.

The second one is her and Dad in the pool - she’s wearing a bikini that’s dark blue and has flowers all over it, and he’s standing in the pool holding her bridal style. The sun is shining, and the light is glinting off the water.

I look through some more pictures of her. In a few she’s dressed up with friends for a night on the town. In some others she’s with Dad on dates and vacations. In some more she’s at family parties, like Christmas and birthdays. I finally get to one that stands out. It’s Mom, and she’s holding me. I have rosy cheeks and very pink lips. I can see I have her eyes - blue, dark eyelashes, almond shaped. My light blue jumper matches her sweater. She’s smiling, and I can feel the love she had for me.

The next picture is her, Dad, and me. I’m in the middle, and they’re each kissing my cheeks. Mom is on my right and Dad is on my left. I can tell they’re smiling, and I have no idea what’s going on. I’m captured in the moment. I don’t fight the feelings I’m having - I embrace them. Sadness, love, happiness; it’s all overwhelming.

I race to my room and open my laptop.

Something that is valuable to you: greets me. I feel the smooth keys under my skin as I start to type.

Something that is valuable to me is my mom’s camera. She died when I was a baby, so I never got to know her. I found this camera in my attic, and it opened up a new world to me. It showed me what she looked like, what she liked to do, how she dressed, and how much she loved me. It seems she loved me a lot. I really miss her, but I can feel the love from her. This camera means so much to me, and I would never dare to get rid of it. These pictures are key to my past - if I threw them away, it would be like I’m throwing away the key to my house. I’d be locked out forever and wouldn’t be able to get back in. I grew up without a mom, but now I feel like I’ve known her better than ever. I know my mom is watching me from above - she’s watching me grow up, and she’s there every step of the way. These pictures are a reminder for me. I love my mom, and I know she loves me, too.


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