Hunting through the treasure Sandy searched for the golden button that had belonged to her ancestor. “This button,” her grandmother had said, “was at Waterloo. My great great grandfather cut it off his uniform and gave it to his daughter when he went to fight Napoleon Bonaparte.”
Sandy started to panic. There was no sign of the button. “Trust you my girl!” Grandma would have said, “The one valuable thing I leave and you go and lose it”.
Sandy remembered the hours spent playing with Grandma’s button tin. All shapes, sizes and colours. There were tiny white buttons from her own baby cardigan, blue school shirt buttons and one big red button from Mum’s favourite coat, the coat she wore that day. Sandy remembered the coat draped over a plastic chair beside her mother’s bed, she remembered the hospital smell stinging the back of her throat. She’d expected to see her mum sitting up in bed reading her magazine, but she was flat on her back, wires and tubes everywhere. She was surprised that her search for a button should bring back that memory so clearly.
“There it is!” She almost shouted to the empty room. At the bottom of the tin in a corner, in a heap of dust, was the Waterloo button. Sandy picked it up, polished it on her skirt and, with her fingertips, she felt the crest of lions and crown embossed on the front. Then, turning it over, she noticed, for the first time, the words, ‘British Rail’ stamped faintly on the back.