(A Sherlock Holmes short (very short) story. The German version of this has been published in the Sherlock-Holmes-Magazin 08/2011, ISSN: 2190-2321)
I am holding his cigarette case in my hands. It is made of silver, and I remember the day I bought it for him very well. I had his initials engraved on the lid, also my new address on the inside, together with my promise of being only one call away from him.
I had given it to him on the eve of my wedding, the night before I moved out of Baker Street to start living with my wife. It had been a very, very happy day for me. Anyway, I did my best to keep my promise. Whenever he needed me, I was there for him. And, to be honest with myself, I would not have wanted it any other way. I felt like having the best of two worlds now, domestic felicity with my dear Mary, and the friendship and collaboration with my dear Holmes.
Whenever I saw the cigarette case in his hands, I was reminded of exactly these happy circumstances.
On that dreadful day in Switzerland, when I was searching for him, desperately calling out for him, this familiar silver case was the first thing that caught my attention, lying on a rock and keeping Holmes’ farewell letter at its place. I kept clinging to it all the way back to England, unable to let go of it for more than maybe a few seconds. Until this day I have the feeling that it kept me from collapsing – at least until I reached home…
I somehow made it through that first time of grief. I framed his letter to stand on the mantelpiece of my study, but the cigarette case hardly left my person, apart from those times when I was in bed. Then it continued to rest on my nightstand, together with my pocket watch.
Then Mary died as well. I am hardly able to think of it without a sudden lump in my throat. This double bereavement… at some point I thought it would finally break me. But I kept going, one day after another. Perhaps it was the treasured memory of these two persons I will always cherish above all others, two people, courageous and bright in their own ways, until the end. That rendered me strength…
I am holding his cigarette case in my hands. I am sitting at the desk in my consulting room, my fingers around the flat metal box, my mind still trying to grasp the new reality.
A shabby hat, together with a discarded wig, is lying on the table. A man, tall, raven haired, pale and thinner than ever, is lying on my couch. He is still and his eyes are closed, but I can see the movements of his chest that tell me that he is in fact breathing. The skin of his face and hands is warm, so in spite of his paleness there must be blood running through his veins. I have not yet dared to examine him and so can not swear to that his heart is really beating, but yes – all these observations convince me that Holmes is still alive. Continue reading