So, I’m doing a little fiction writing. I’m working on my second novel, but every once in a while I take a break to write a short piece. Writer Peter Elbow encourages freewriting, as do I. It’s the kind of writing you do when you just sit at a computer or with paper in hand and you write. Whatever comes to your mind.
I have a slight obsession with letters and with people receiving letters. Sometimes I wish I’d receive a letter. That was really the only thing I had in mind when I began to write this, and then I thought of secrets and letters. This is what resulted.
Friday Fiction: An Unnamed Freewrite story…who knows what will happen with it.
Secrets. Locked up secrets.
There were letters and cards, handwritten notes, and photographs. They were crammed into the box Samantha had found when she went back to the house, back to the place she hadn’t stepped foot inside of for years. The house smelled musty, the curtains were faded and dingy, and the yellow walls looked like they needed a fresh coat of paint ten years ago. Or more.
Had she really been gone from here that long? Longer even. It had been almost twelve years.
When the lawyer had finally reached her after almost a month of dead-end calls and returned letters, her forwarding address having been changed so many times no one could keep it straight, and no other living relatives besides the recently deceased still remained, she had answered the telephone.
“Is this Samantha Bellows?” the gentleman at the other end of the line asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Is this Samantha Bellows, daughter of Gertrude Bellows?”
The sound of her mother’s name still made her skin crawl.
“I am David Jones, a lawyer who has been entrusted with your mother’s estate. I regret to inform you that your mother has passed.”
She stood, silent, the phone to her ear, expressionless. No words came to mind, so she said nothing.
“Are you there, Miss?” the gentleman had said.
“I am,” she said.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Don’t be,” she said. It was all she could muster up.
“Your mother has left you her estate, and our firm would like to conduct its last business with regard to this estate as soon as possible. When do you think you could come to town?”
She knew it would take her over eight hours to make the drive there, so she suggested that she could be there in two days. The lawyer agreed, and the two decided to meet on Friday at noon. Samantha hung up the phone and stared out the window.
When she had arrived, settling the estate took no time at all. The lawyer had been meticulous about tidying everything up. It was such a non-event, that Samantha had wondered if preparations had been made in well in advance. Perhaps her mother had known she was going to die. She would never know the answers now. Her mother’s death had left Samantha alone in the world, her father long dead, her estranged mother now dead, with no siblings to speak of, and a husband who left her many moons ago for someone younger and more beautiful who knew how to laugh.
How inconsiderate of her ex-husband to expect her to laugh! Had his upbringing been as odd and befuddling and eccentric as her own, he might have understood her inability to loosen up sometimes. And so he had fallen for a younger woman at work, who was able to laugh—she laughed all the time—and she made him laugh.
The quicker she could get out of the house, the better, Samantha thought. The house had a distinct odor to it, that of an antique shop filled with mothballs. She perused the rooms, and while they didn’t look exactly as she had remembered, they looked strangely similar, with some artifacts still hanging on the walls. She stopped in her tracks in the hallway when she saw it and took a breath: her painting—the one she had created of the rolling fields behind the house—still hung on the wall. Her mother had kept it.
She patted her forehead and felt tears building up, but she would never allow herself to cry. She had cried enough, and she was determined never to shed another tear, for how could one cry when one’s heart had been broken over and over and over? Every tear had been sucked from her core—from her mother, her father, and from Ben.
Samantha walked back over to the foyer where the box sat. She had made up her mind to take it. She knew what she might uncover if she went through it, and she knew she wasn’t strong enough tempt it at the moment.
She gathered it up, and walked out to her car, the box in hand. Her little Honda Civic had barely enough room for the box; she had a few cabinet samples stacked in the back along with some countertop chips. She’d been working on designs to renovate a kitchen. As she opened the car door, she took her foot, and using the force of it, stuffed the box into the car, and shut the door.
As she walked around to the driver’s side of the car, Samantha looked back at the house one last time, and one last time she vowed not to cry.