The Old Microscope


Relaxing in her seat as the aeroplane whisked her back to England, Sue Watkins reflected on the past few weeks and how her trip had started off a chain of events.

When she’d set off on her holiday to America, she could never have guessed how it would turn out. Three long years she’d been saving for this trip. As a child she’d heard her grandmother talking about her brother who’d emigrated there and ever since then she’d longed to visit the country herself. Now that she was without family and alone in the world, she’d decided to go.

The day had finally arrived when Sue had boarded the plane and set off to see the country of her dreams. She’d waited impatiently for the aeroplane to touch down so that she could see for herself the many, exciting, new places to explore. She’d spent several days travelling in awe-struck wonder, then having quenched her visual thirst with many sight-seeing tours, and feeling slightly tired, Sue had decided to spend one particular day window shopping in town.

Coming out of one department store she’d noticed an old scruffy, curio shop. Since she’d always had a love of old things, she hadn’t been able to resist the urge and went in to have a look around. Her gaze had fallen on beautiful, glassware, antique pottery, delicate lace tablecloths, faded oil paintings and other interesting but hardly recognisable objects crammed into the dimly lit, small room. Sue had gazed appreciatively at each object until she noticed a brass name-plate on an old microscope.

“S. J. Thomas” she’d read out loud, surprised by the sound of her own voice and amazed that she’d recognised the name. Sue had remembered her Grandmother’s tales and was curious to know if this item could have possibly belonged to her relative. It bore the same name as her Grandmother’s brother and she knew he’d been a chemist.

“Excuse me,” she’d ventured to the young man who was polishing some brasses. “Can you tell me anything about the last owner of this microscope?”

“Certainly,” He’d spoken with a bright cheerfulness in his voice, and then he’d smiled at Sue as he’d continued.  “The original owner has passed away but his son lives just down the road at number 346. I doubt he’ll be home until after six o’clock though.” Sue had thanked the young man and deciding to buy the old microscope, had asked him to wrap it for her. She’d left the shop and had gone cheerily back to her hotel.

Shortly after seven o’clock that evening, Sue was standing outside number 346. She’d knocked on the door and waited. The man–who’d answered her knock–looked about fifty and had a kind, gentle face. Patiently, he’d listened to her eager but embarrassed explanation of why she had sought him out, and then he’d invited her inside.  Stepping into a sitting room he’d spoken gently to a middle-aged lady who Sue had assumed was his wife.

“This young lady is a relative from England,” he’d enthused. They spent the next couple of hours happily discussing their family tree, and the many old photographs the couple had produced for her perusal.

The following day, John and Helen—as they had insisted she address them—took her to meet their daughter’s family. Sue was over-joyed at the warm reception she’d been given and when the American branch of the family learned that the English branch had died out except for Sue, she’d been invited to stay on in America as their permanent guest.  After exhaustive discussions, Sue realised that she’d have to return to England until she obtained a work permit.

So here she was on the aeroplane returning to England after saying her temporary goodbyes to her new-found family. She would be going back to America to live and the prospect greatly exited her because that had been her dream ever since her mother—the last of her family—had died.  Now her dream was coming true.  Still clutching the old microscope in its brown paper wrapping, Sue drifted contentedly off to sleep.
(Copyright-Carole Parkes 2014)

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About caroleparkes

My husband calls me a butterfly because I flit from one hobby to another. Apart from being a wife for 52 years, a mother of three sons, and a grandmother, I'm also an author, genealogist, amateur artist, a lover of most needlecrafts, and occasional poet. Of the above, my most enduring interest has been writing and I hope to be doing it well into old age.
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3 Responses to The Old Microscope

  1. Beautiful story Carole 🙂

    Like

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