A Golden Opportunity

fiction by Glynis Scrivens

A Golden Opportunity

Illustration: Inkshark

What a weird day it’s been.” Thea gazed outside at the fallen branches and debris on the lawn, the only visible sign of the violent storm of an hour ago. The air felt eerie and surreal, her normal grasp of reality suspended. “No internet, no phone, and no electricity. This is what it must’ve been like in the old days, Magnus,” she said.

“Yes, the so-called good old days, before we all had an armory of gadgets to protect us from the natural rhythms of life.” Her husband put his arms around her waist and drew her to him.

Thea smiled. “What’s made you so lyrical all of a sudden?” she said.

“It’s kind of romantic, isn’t it?” His arm tightened around her. “No TV blaring away, no emails to answer, no Facebook or Instagram. Just the two of us, and the night.”

Magnus paused and his expression changed. He seemed to be weighing something up.  “You realize what this means, don’t you?” he said.

Thea, who was snuggling against him, looked puzzled. “We’ll have an early night and hope power’s restored by morning.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” He freed his arm from her waist and pointed at the quiet dark street. There was nobody in sight.

She stared at him for a beat, unsure what he was getting at. “I can’t see anything.”

“Exactly,” Magnus said. “And what can you hear?”

Thea lifted her head, concentrating. “Nothing, I suppose.” As she spoke, next door’s dog started barking loudly, as it had done several times already this evening. “Well, people’s pets seem to be disturbed by the storm. And they can sense that things aren’t normal now.”

Magnus smiled. “And who’s come outside to see what the dog is barking about?”

A gleam of understanding lit up Thea’s eyes. “Now I know where this is heading. Are you thinking what I think you are?”

“It’s a golden opportunity,” he said. “Just think—nobody’s security system is working and nobody’s paying any attention to the dogs. It’s dark and there are no street lights.”

As he spoke, next door’s Mercedes revved up, and their new neighbor drove off into the night.

“What are we waiting for?” Magnus said, fiddling with a flashlight, trying to find his toolkit. “Did you hear Oliver bragging about the gold necklace his wife inherited?”

“She told me about that too,” Thea said. “A bit careless of her, I thought.”

Magnus nodded. “Maybe, but with that security system, why would they have to worry about being careless?”

Thea grinned. “Except when there’s no power.”

“Just think how lovely that necklace will look on you,” Magnus said. “Not immediately, of course. We’re too smart for that. We’ll wait until we’re renting our next house.”

Thea sighed. “I’ve always wanted a real classic piece like that.”

“Get a move on then,” he said. “They might’ve just gone to the shop for a bottle of milk or something. We don’t know how much time we’ve got.”

With practised ease, they kept out of sight, slipping through a side gate into their neighbor’s back garden, treading carefully in the darkness as the path was slippery from the rain and the fallen leaves and twigs. Magnus produced a deft metal tool, and within a few seconds they were inside the house.

A faint gray light leaked through the windows into the murky darkness.

“Whereabouts did he say the necklace was kept?” Thea asked, trying to adjust her eyes. She stayed close by her husband.

Magnus pointed up the staircase toward the bedrooms. “Just on her dressing table. Not even in a safe. Rich people aren’t always the smartest, are they, love?”

They removed their muddy shoes before creeping up the stairs in their socks, pausing now and again to listen. But the house was silent and empty. There was nobody home, and the alarm system wasn’t working. What a golden opportunity. One that Magnus had been waiting for since renting in this exclusive neighborhood.

Upstairs, in the master bedroom, things weren’t so easy. It was a mess—clothes thrown everywhere, opened bottles of cosmetics lying about, magazines left open. And the dressing table was barely visible under a clutter of jewelry and scarves and photographs. Where would she have left her valuable pieces? Because the stuff on show was all imitation.

This wasn’t at all what they’d expected. Oliver and his wife always dressed well. Magnus and Thea had naturally assumed their house would similarly be immaculate. Or at the very least, tidy.

The sound of a car in the street made the two start in alarm. Disappointed, they slipped back downstairs and out the back window, closing it carefully after them and remembering to collect their muddy shoes.

Their mission had been in vain. The opportunity lost.

Back home, hearts pounding, they sat in the darkness together to catch their breath. Their plan had seemed perfect. How could they have known the necklace wouldn’t be where Oliver had said it was?

“Might as well go to bed, love,” Magnus said.   

Thea looked around, trying to work out what was wrong. “Did you leave the bedroom window open?” she said, puzzled.

“Of course not,” Magnus said. “We always—”

He stopped, suddenly alert. “What’s been going on here?”

Thea followed his gaze. Their bedroom was in a state of chaos. Boxes opened, clothes strewn about. Thea shrieked in alarm. “My pearls? My diamond studs?”

Frantically she opened her jewelry box. It was empty. Every decent piece was gone.

She turned to Magnus, furious. “You idiot,” she screamed. “This is all your fault.”

“But it was a golden opportunity,” he protested.

“Yes,” she said. “For someone to rob us.”

 

Glynis Scrivens writes short stories and has been published in Australia, UK, Ireland, South Africa, U.S., India, and Scandinavia. Her book Edit is a Four-Letter Word includes what she has learned in the process (see www.glynisscrivens.com).

This article originally appeared in the August 9, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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