Aging Baltic Amber
By М. Порсина (M. Porsina) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
fictional character Gahlen, who first appears in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.
Each A-to-Z daily post is a stand-alone tale - partly true, partly fiction.
Baltic Amber Tradition
Genre: Historical Fiction-Genealogy
“Handing down the amber bracelet from mother to eldest daughter is tradition.” Tess, a vivacious waitress whose family owned the restaurant, continued, “With only male siblings, my inheritance ceremony was quite elaborate.”
“An admirable custom,” I said, eying the unpolished stones.
“Amber wards off witches. I am not bewitched, so it must work.”
Suppressing a laugh, I asked, “How old are they?”
“A Baltic Sea fisherman netted the stones in the 1700s. My ancestor, Jakup, purchased them to ease his wife’s labor so she would not miscarry again.”
Tess agreed her mother could speak with me further about the bracelet, then assisted other patrons.
Charlotte introduced herself and took a seat. “Your inquisitiveness has me curious.”
Motivated by my own interests, I asked, “Do you know who sold Jakup the amber?”
“No longer curiosity, but intrigue.” Charlotte raised a hand.
A waiter appeared. “Yes, mother?”
“Have your father bring a bottle of wine and five, no, six glasses.”
Her husband, Henri, arrived and filled five wine glasses. The sixth glass remained empty.
“The fisherman first denied knowledge of the stones,” Charlotte said. “His family’s safety was at risk after Prussia declared ownership of all Baltic amber.”
Anxiously I asked, “Do you recall his name?”
“Ah, that explains the sixth glass,” Henri said. “No surname, just a given name. Gottfried. He had a wife named Marta, a son Carl. Sound familiar?”
I smiled. “All are family.”
Henri raised a hand. When Tess appeared, Charlotte pointed to the sixth glass. Tess burst into tears and rushed from the restaurant, returning moments later carrying a small box. Henri handed her the sixth glass, filled with wine.
“Seven more of Gottfried’s stones were crafted into jewelry.” Tess laid each item on the table. “But after the baby’s birth, war came. Gottfried and Marta died. The son Carl emigrated.”
“Tess constantly shared her story,” Henri said, “hoping to meet someone who knew of Gottfried. We promised to toast her perseverance on that day.”
At Charlotte’s lead, we all raised our glasses.
Then Tess offered the box to me. “These were meant for Gottfried. As his descendant, they belong to you.” When I humbly accepted, Tess said, “May you enjoy a lifetime of good health, without witches.”