Aunt Edna’s Money

Your wealthy Aunt Edna has died and left you all of her money. At first you’re excited, as you’ve been living paycheck-to-paycheck your whole life, and this newfound money offers you endless possibilities. But, in her will, Aunt Edna left one big catch—and, if you don’t do it, all of the money is to be given to your most unlikable cousin, Wilfred.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.


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204 thoughts on “Aunt Edna’s Money

  1. Audoria

    “It’s about Edna…,” his voice sounded so far away. Cordelia knew what was coming, she took a deep breath and allowed Wilfred to continue.

    “The sheriff was alerted by the townsfolk to go and see to her, it had been weeks and nobody had heard a word.” Wilfred took a sip of milk, placing the glass back on the table and continued to tell the tale.

    “They busted in the door and there was no sign of her. They looked everywhere and that’s when- “

    “They found a note didn’t they?” Cordelia interjected, regretted it almost instantly.

    “How do you know that?” Wilfred asked, suspicion in his voice.

    Cordelia’s grip on the telephone was so tight her fingers turned white.

    “I-I didn’t,” Cordelia stammered, “It just sounds like her you know. Oh hell, she was a writer Wilfred. I always thought if anything happened to her there would be some note. Aunt Edna wasn’t someone who’d just get up and move without letting someone know.” Cordelia loosened the grip on the receiver.

    “That’s just it Cordelia. Edna didn’t move.” He said sternly. “The sheriff believes she took her own life.”

    Cordelia slammed the receiver down, startled by the sound it created that broke the silence for a brief second. Cordelia had never felt so unsettled.

    Sheriff Johnston came to see her the very next day. He handed Cordelia an open brown envelope. “I think you would like to see this ma’am.”

    Cordelia accepted the envelope, stood up and began to read it by the window. Edna’s writing was faint and uneven, she could sense that this must have been extremely difficult to write.

    Of all the people I had known in my life time, you continued to show me compassion, diligence and understanding. In the past two years I had grown ill. I had seen what this disease had done to your mother and grandfather. It’s simply barbaric. It’s beginning to progress at a horrible rate and I know that I am slowly losing my mind. Dear girl, I want to die with dignity. I will not let this disease take any more hold of me. I am strong and independent, I want no intervention. Please do not be upset, I have gone in peace, the way that I wanted. I have left behind $1.7 million dollars and my estate. I would like this to be yours, but only on one condition. Find my body and scatter my ashes in that very place – I’m where I want to be. If you are unable, the money and estate shall be Wilfred’s.
    All my love,
    Auntie Edna x.

    Tears streamed down her face. Cordelia desperately wanted to give Edna the send-off she deserved and wanted. Although Edna took to Wilfred, deep down he was a chauvinistic and callous man and Cordelia could not stand the thought of having anything of Edna’s belonging to him. With that, Cordelia spun on her heels and turned to face Sheriff Johnston, “I know where she is.”

  2. Donnyboy360

    I never cared for Auntie Edna. Ever since I could remember, I absolutely detested her. Many would assume her to be a caring relative. Whenever she used to visit she would bring treats for me to eats. She would take me to fun places such as the zoo or a carnival. She would also teach me many things about the world like how to strike a deal with a man or how to make a woman fall in love with you. Even with these many acts of kindness I could not find it in myself to harbor any warms feelings toward her at all. This was because she didn’t believe in my love of painting. While I might not have been a prodigy, painting brought me joy like nothing else and I was skilled in it. She would scoff at my work and scold me, saying often that I had no talent for the arts and that my focuses would be better used elsewhere.
    A few weeks after my 17th birthday, I received a letter informing me of her death. The letter also mentioned that, in her will, she was to leave me a large sum of money. The condition being that the money must be used for the advancement of my education. If I had no plans of doing such then the money would be left to her son Justin to do with as he pleased. I would often dream of her death being a relief from her pokes and stabs at my passion. But instead, I was filled with rage at her last strike at my affection. Even in her death she plagues me. I thought about what my move should be. I knew I had no interest in furthering my education. I wanted to paint. And that money could support men doing it. How could I make this work? I considered for a moment that I might be able to negotiate at least some of the money from Justin. No that wouldn’t work, Justin was sharp and gluttonous, and he knew his leverage. As far as he was concerned he just needed to wait to receive his funds.
    After a few days of much thought about what I would do I decided on taking the money and going to school. Although I despised Edna the offer was too good to pass on. I thought that an even better revenge to Edna would be to take the money, complete my education and continue my career in art. That way neither her nor Justin got satisfaction.

  3. kitten_girl5

    I always loved Aunt Edna, and it wasn’t until she died that I realized how much time I really spent with her. I suddenly had hours of free time and nothing to do with that time. Then the lawyer came, and my extra time suddenly wasn’t enough.

    “You are the first person in Edna’s will, and she left it all to you provided you follow her one condition,” he told me. I could tell by the way he was looking at me I could tell that he didn’t trust me, but I didn’t particularly care if he trusted me.

    I was curious about the will because that meant that I could have something to remember her by, not because I could be rich. I’d always loved her rocking chair because she would read to me when I was a kid and I remember sitting on her lap falling asleep.

    “What’s the condition?” I couldn’t help but question; I didn’t care if she was rich. All I wanted was the rocking chair.

    He looked at me and stated plainly, “You have to find her murderer.”

    I stared at him and laughed. There was no way he wasn’t joking. Who would want to murder my aunt? Actually, a lot of people would want to murder my aunt, but that didn’t mean that they would succeed. She was well guarded. “You’ve got to be joking,” I laugh, astounded.

    “I assure you miss, I am not joking. I’m quite serious.” He doesn’t even crack a smile and I’m beginning to realize the gravity of the situation. I’m worried about his mental health.

    “Your Aunt had always predicted this and made me swear that I would tell you what had happened if I suspected foul play, and I more than suspect it , I’m sure it happened.” He pulls out a file with the information on Edna’s death and begins to list off the reasons he is sure it wasn’t the simple car crash the media made it out to be. “And the main reason that I know there was foul play, was that her driver’s body had signs of drug use. And though the police chop it up to him being a druggie, I know Edna had extensive background checks done on anyone she worked with, and there is no way that wouldn’t have come up as an issue.”

    As I stare into his eyes, I realize two things: He is as serious as serious can be, and my life is about to get a whole lot harder because there is no way that I will let the person who got my aunt killed get away with it.

  4. patrickdempsey2016

    All of the money is to go to your sister if you don’t succeed. I don’t like that idea very much, but you don’t another choice you must do what is told of you. It’s no big deal all you have to do is take over the family business. The business is a coffee shop. It’s okay, even though you aren’t quite responsible. You can do this it’s not the end. Serve customers coffee and pastries, make them happy and the money that she had stored away will be mine. What would I do with that money. Definitely won’t be living off of Ramen Noodles anytime soon. I can actually make a name for myself. No more bus boy for me. I guess aunt Edna isn’t asking for much. I wish I could get the check with no catch. Make my life easier. God those old folk can really be a pain sometimes. Which leads to the million dollar question. Why me? I’m nobody special. I’m surprised my older sister didn’t get the money. She’s successful. Unlike me. I’m glad that someone decided to believe in me. Someone thought that I could achieve my goal. I’m really glad.

    One hour. It’s really been an hour since I sat in this frumpy looking chair waiting for my lawyer to stop rambling. His mouth is moving but I hear nothing. I get that I have to do this but there must be a loophole around this messy situation. Guess not. I’m stuck in this dingy little coffee shop for a year until they find someone else to buy it. What is so hard about that. Someone should just buy it. Take the weight off of my shoulders. I want to live my life happy and free without carrying on aunt edna’s legacy. Nobody’s going to want to own this place. They should just tear it down. There are so many better coffee shops then old Edna’s place. Please. Do me this one favor I deserve it.
    Finally this boring meeting with my lawyer is over. I honestly thought that it would never end. The odds are against me once again. I’m stuck here. I wish I could find someway to be optimistic about this. Nothing good is going to come from this horrid job I must have. It better be worth the money because this is a nightmare. Tomorrow I will start the process of reinventing the shop. If that’s even possible. This could be the job that changes everything.

  5. Chelwut

    Aunt Edna was a funny person. She was the kind of old lady to yell at the kids playing on her lawn, but treat her cats like royalty. She had a pair of old-fashioned spectacles and a forever-serious face, her lips permanently puckered. She loved her glass shelf full of antique porcelain teacups that no one was allowed to touch. Most important of all, she was very, very rich.

    And that money was to go somewhere when she died. Guess how happy I was when her will revealed that all of it belonged to me.

    I’d fully expected it to be her son, Wilfred. The man is vile, spoiled, and the center of attention everywhere. With a handsome face and a disgusting personality, somehow he’s managed to convince everyone of how great he is. He’s passed the entirety of his life so far doing nothing whatsoever, spending his mother’s money without a second thought. He always seems to be throwing parties on yachts, with his “friends” that are only close to him for his money.

    I was never really close to Aunt Edna, no. I must admit that some disgusting part of me is glad that she died and I got the money. When my name was called, I almost screamed and tried to keep the smile off my face. I snickered when the smug look fell off Wilfred’s face and he glared at me with icy hatred. I just shrugged.

    I’ve lived my life on the edge of poverty. That’s why I hated Wilfred.

    I was internally congratulating myself until the attorney continues to say, “However, in order to receive his rightful property, Don Parish must marry Kylie Putnam, or else the above is void and all property goes to Wilfred Putnam.”

    That was like a slap across the face. Kylie Putnam? You have got to be kidding me. She’s Wilfred’s ugly little sister, dumb and obedient. No way am I marrying her. Besides, there’s Marylou Samson…

    Beauty, intelligence, wealth, you name it, she’s got it. Best part was, she agreed yesterday when I asked her out to dinner. Not only will I have to choose a Putnam over a gorgeous goddess, knowing that I have the decision, but also I’ll have to bail on Marylou. No one rejects her; it just doesn’t happen.

    I know how it will go. She’ll hide her shock well, and smile and congratulate me on my engagement sweetly. She’ll even attend our wedding all dressed up. Later on, she’ll utilize her charisma and power to destroy our lives.

    For a moment, I think that I won’t marry Kylie and receive the money. Marylou can do just about anything.

    I look down, at my faded polo shirt and worn shoes. Then I look at Wilfred, sharp in suit and tie with a Rolex. Kylie is standing next to him, adorned with diamond jewelry. Her too-far-apart eyes gaze at me with hope.

    I nod.

  6. DraconianWriting

    “What do you mean Wilfred gets the money!?!?”

    “It’s all very simple sir,” the obviously disgruntled lawyer stated, “if you don’t find your aunt’s prized pearl necklace your cousin Wilfred gets everything.”

    It had started out as a reasonably good day. I had gone to work at a local computer store, or at least to apply. I had lost my previous job working for a rather large company when they found several papers in my desk implying that I was leaking information to a rival. Since then I had been trying to find work at other companies but all had heard from me and none would have me. I felt good about this job, though. This was the only computer store in town, no one was sure why, but it meant that there was no way that I could supposedly leak information. Then I had gotten home to a man knocking on my apartment door.

    “Are you Benjamin Adler?” he questioned as I came up to him.

    “Yes, is there something wrong?” my mind immediately panicked when he affirmed my question. Had I not paid rent? Was there someone out to kill me? Was I in danger? What was wrong?

    “Your very rich aunt Edna has just passed away.” I let out a sigh of relief

    “Why is that relieving?” the man inquired.

    “Sorry, I thought that something that immediately affected my had happened.” I was never very close to Edna, but I had always received a card with thirty bucks in it as a kid on my birthday.

    “But it does affect you, you see… Edna has left you everything.”

    Now it was up to me to find her necklace. I had no idea where to start. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. My cousin Wilfred were both the only children of my grandfather’s son, my father; and daughter, Wilfred’s mother. I figured that Wilfred had rigged this to be in his favor, just as he had always done as a child. Whenever we were together we would play games that he had made up that were supposedly fair. They never were, though. And I always ended up losing and having to do something stupid. Wilfred definitely had it hidden somewhere.

  7. XChen

    When Aunt Edna passed away that night, I had lost the last member of my immediate family. She was my mother’s younger sister and had always been a widow for as long as I could remember. I had early memories and an old picture of Aunt Edna celebrating with my parents together for my 7th birthday, but sometime after that, she disappeared almost completely from our lives.

    The phone rang at 8am the next day.

    “This is Eileen Edna’s lawyer. I am calling to let you know that your aunt has left all her money to you in her will. It is subject to one condition – you have to find your cousin, Wilfred Silva. Otherwise the money will go to him.”

    Thirty seconds must have passed until I was finally able to speak. “But how do I find this cousin Wilfred?”

    “I have a phone number to his mother, Mrs. Silva. Mrs. Silva is Mrs. Edna’s sister-in-law. Call her and ask to visit her and Wilfred in Brescia, Italy.”

    The 8-hour flight from New York to Milan went by like a dream as countless questions and scenarios popped up and played out in my head throughout the trip. First off, why did Aunt Edna leave the money to me when I was never close to her and the last time I saw her was at my parents’ funeral four years ago? Also, why did Mrs. Silva hang up the phone as soon as I mentioned Aunt Edna’s name the first time I called her? Did Aunt Edna have a falling-out with her sister-in-law, just like what happened with my parents some thirty years ago?

    When I stepped out of the train at Brescia Railway Station, I was surprised to see someone holding a sign with my name on it. It was a man around my age, and he was wearing a gray turtleneck sweater and form fitting dark blue jeans. He had a smile that made me feel warm and instantly at ease.

    “Welcome to Brescia! I’m Wilfred. My mother has sent me here to pick you up.” We drove through many cream yellow buildings accented with white Italian arches. An elevated castle could be seen not far from me when Wilfred stopped the car in a courtyard covered by cobblestones.

    Mrs. Silva had a complicated look on her face just as I had predicted. It was a combination of sadness, excitement, empathy, and a hint of warmth. Wilfred brought us some coffee and sat down by his mother.

    “When was the last time you saw Aunt Edna?” I tried to break the silence.

    “It was four years ago,” Mrs. Silva said, “after your parents’ funeral.”

    “Did you talk to her afterwards?”

    Mrs. Silva looked at Wilfred, thought for some time, and looked straight into my eyes. “Yes we did. She tried to convince me to let Wilfred move back to America and live with her in New York. I told her that was not possible.”

    Anticipated my question, Mrs. Silva continued. “She wanted Wilfred back because he is her son. She had to give him up thirty three years ago when he was still a baby. I raised him up as my son, and she visited him frequently as an aunt.”

    “I understand now why she wanted me to find Cousin Wilfred. I know she would want both of you to attend her funeral.” I started reaching for my planner in the purse.

    “Of course. Wilfred will be there, just like four years ago.”

    “What do you mean?” I stopped and looked up at both of them. I could feel blood rushing to my face.

    “You know, when he attended his father’s funeral.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Ouch! You got me, XCHen. An entire twisted family history in one sentence. I had no real idea where it was going until the very end. This is surprising (in the good way) and totally enjoyable.

      Of course, now I’m wondering who gets the money…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Wham! Bang! with the last sentence. Boy that was a great and polished ending. All sorts of thoughts enter my mind to complete the story and that’s the way you should leave it. Like Tim, I’m totally surprised and amused at the same time. “Nothing is ever as it seems.”

  8. cosi van tutte

    Just to take the prompt into a different direction:

    Captain Vehn Alstmore stared at the transmission, trying to make sense of it. “Aunt Edna has left her vast and wondrous fortune to you. Lucky!”

    “What the fumin’ blazes of Tzelllo?”

    Droid Unit Bz432 shook its copper head. “Pardon me, sir, but that statement is no longer valid.”

    He glared at the droid.

    “After all, the blazes of Tzello have long gone out and—”

    “Don’t you go interferin’ with my choice swears, 432.”

    “I prefer to be called Bz.”

    “Whate’er. Look at this transmission. You wanna talk not valid?” He punched in the correct codes and a small strip of paper printed out of the control panel. “Here.” He handed the printout to 432. “Go stand in that corner all the way o’er there, read that, and then we can go on talkin’ about what is and isn’t valid.”

    “Very good.”

    As the droid toddled over to the corner, Vehn pulled out an old-fashioned cigar and lit it.

    “Pardon me, Captain, but I don’t think it’s wise to—”

    “I ain’t in’erested in what you think. So, read that blippity transmission and tell me what you think.”

    Four-Thirty-Two did a double take. “I’m afraid I just don’t understand your way of thinking.”

    Vehn looked out into the vastness of space. “No one does.” He took a long drag on his cigar and exhaled smoke. Thoughts and memories occupied his mind.

    The fall of the Bastillion Armada.

    Queen Vaharrana’s hostile takeover of the Lower Documented planets.

    “Yeah, and things just got worse from there on in. Hey! Four-Thirty-Two, you gone on shut-down mode or what?”

    “Pardon me, sir.” He returned to Vehn as fast as he could. “I have read this transmission and run the information through my memory banks and processing units. I’m afraid I have no current information on any Aunt Edna.”

    “That’s because it’s a silty pile of shale and meteorite particles. There ain’t never been an Aunt Edna. It’s all just a pile of hokum to pull my credits out of my pockets.”

    “Pardon me, sir, but one does not keep credits in their clothes.”

    Vehn shook his fist at the droid. “Quit negating everything I say.”

    “Pardon me, sir, but I haven’t negated everything.”

    “Yeah, well. You’re well on your way though, ain’t ya?”

    “I don’t think there is a correct response to that statement.”

    “Good. Keep it that way.”

    “Shall I discard this message?”

    “Unless you wanna know the personal joys of bein’ ripped off.”

    “Pardon me, sir, but I don’t think anyone would want to rip off a droid.”

    “There’s always someone.” He inhaled and exhaled another cigar cloud. “Always someone.” He punched in coordinates and pressed the autopilot button. “And I paid derned hard earned credits for that junk-blocking system.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Thanks very much for the 1930’s era space opera homage, Cosi. I love the scene you painted with the incidental bits, and this definitely plays against a weakness of mine. I can see the whole story filling out in glorious black and white, and I can’t wait to see what the cliffhanger at the end of episode one is…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I can see Edward G Robinson playing the captain, Peter Lorrie playing the droid and the “Fat Man”‘ Sydney Greenstreet somewhere close,manipulating the whole event. I’M ALSO A ROMANTIC FOR BLACK AND WHITE SO STACK ME ALONGSIDE TIM, SO WE TRY TO STUMP EACH OTHER. A juicy response you have here, Also loved the exchange with the droid. I hope he looks a little like Peter Lorrie with half closed, sleepy eyes.

  9. SheepCarrot

    (I’ve been gone waaaay too long, but there’s been much madness in my lufe these past few months. Hope you like it!)

    A frigid edge laces the autumn wind, whipping my hair in my face and chilling the tears on my cheeks. The promise of impending winter fits this wretched week with a poetic morbidity fit for a bad country song.

    Six days ago I got the phone call from Gary, my aunt’s close friend and legal counsel. “Cassie, thank god, I’ve been trying to reach you. Your aunt’s in bad shape. The doctors don’t think she’s got very long.” His voice continued talking, but the phone slipped from my hands as the shock set in. I rushed to the hospital from the bank where I worked, but I wasn’t quick enough.

    She was gone moments before I arrived. I saw it in Gary’s face when I ran in. My stomach tied itself in knots before it dropped, and the gripping pain in my chest stole my breath and strength. Gary managed to catch me when I collapsed under the weight of my grief.

    I look down to my feet and slide my toes out to the edge of the bridge as that moment replays over and over in my mind. Two hundred feet below the river roars as it churns over boulders that try to halt its path. Vertigo washes over me and I reach for the railing behind me to steady myself until the dizziness fades.

    Aunt Edna’s death was just the start. Gary drove me back to the house—manor more accurately—that Edna and I shared. I had moved back in when she contracted pneumonia last winter and was having a hard time on her own. Her own son, Wilfred, wouldn’t even stop by to check on her or see if there was anything he could help her with. I wasn’t surprised by that….it was typical Wilfred. No one ever accused him of selflessness or generosity.

    I walked into the house that was exactly as it was when I left that morning. What would have been just the quiet of an empty house on any other day, was now an eerie reminder that my only family was gone. Without turning on any lights, I sat on the couch and stared at nothing, submerging myself in my mourning. Gary contacted me the next day to see how I was coping, and again the following to discuss my aunt’s will.

    “She’s leaving it all to you,” he told me. He insisted on going over the documents in person, so he came over with a stack of papers that looked smaller than I expected. “And if you don’t meet the condition, she’s leaving the entirety of her estate to Wilfred.”

    “What condition?”

    He took a deep breath and I saw him organizing his thoughts to word it tactfully. “You know she wished to be cremated.” It was a statement that didn’t require any answer so I waited for him to continue. “She wants you to scatter her ashes—or at least some of them—in a very particular way.” I took the paper he handed to me, a note which was penned by my aunt’s hand. The more I read the more my incredulity rose. I couldn’t believe that she asked that of me.

    I take a deep breath again as I look over the edge of the bridge, trying to calm myself and tell myself that I can do this. In my hand I grip a small vial containing Aunt Edna’s ashes, her words running through my panicked mind.

    “Dear, you never take any risks. You play it safe far too much, and you’ll never really live that way. I will leave you everything, as you were the daughter I always wanted and my best friend…”

    I slowly count down, knowing this hell will be over in moments.

    “Three… Two… One…”

    I spread my arms wide and lean forward, the wind hitting my face as I fall from the bridge’s edge. My scream echoes in the gorge, and I just pray that the bungee cord doesn’t break.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Sheep!

      It’s great to “see” you again over in this side of town. It’s been way too long. 🙂

      I loved the ending to this. Even though, I don’t know what I would do in the same situation. I kind of have a problem with heights and falling from them. 🙁 I think someone would have to push me and I would probably scream all the way down. And I’m not a screamy sort of person.

    2. Observer Tim

      Good to have you back, SheepCarrot!

      You came back with a strong story here, and one that is both touching and empowering. It’s nice to see Aunt Edna looking out for Cassie from the other side.

      I’m with Cosi on freaking out over heights.

      1. SheepCarrot

        Thanks Tim, it’s nice getting back in the game. I liked the idea of Cassie’s loyalty and love for Aunt Edna serving as a catalyst to get her out of her comfort zone in a drastic way so that daily risks wouldn’t scare her as much.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Aha! an early morning wakeup. I put myself along side Cassie as she debated to jump. Mind you, more than three steps on a ladder and I get Vertigo. Anyway, the power of your writing is wonderful. We’ve been missing your stories here and I notice you haven’t lost your touch on how to spin a yarn. We,come back to the fold.

  10. thejim

    The night stood still, it did not move. The stale smell of old leather was stealing fresh air from the room. I sat next to Wilfred, the epitome of the redheaded stepchild. He exudes distaste, with a smug smile; behind his eyes of green is a malicious individual that thinks of nothing but his own benefit.
    In front of us was a large television that sat on a black stand. Within a moment, the VHS video tape began to play and our Aunt Edna frozen face appeared on the screen in front of us. Then the image began to speak.

    Hello my two glorious nephews, as you know you both are my last heirs and since I am no longer here you both are wondering what you may get for an inheritance. I have thought about this for some time.
    I have set up three accounts. For two of the accounts there has been deposited 1 million dollars. That is plenty of money for each of you two. If you plan and invest you will ever have to work again. Just say the word and the lawyers will draw up the paperwork and you can leave with 1 million each.

    Alternatively, the third account, which has the full value of my money and the entire estate, which would include both of those other accounts, the balance in the third account is over 12 Billion dollars.
    You can choose the 1 million or accept a proposition that I have, and the winner will take it all.
    Press the pause button and discuss it, when you have come to a decision press play, I will await your decision.

    I pressed the pause button.

    I turned to Wilfred and said, “Let’s take the million and be done with it.”

    His small eyes watched me with contempt. “Your pathetic, F#*K you, I want it all. He reached over and pressed play on the remote control.

    Edna’s old voice came out once again from the TV set.

    I imagine that you, my dear boys, Charles you wanted the 1 million and you, Wilfred, you want it all.
    Well since you could not agree on the split of the money, you must abide by my stipulation or you get nothing.

    Before you, there are three glasses of wine. One is just wine and the other two have a deadly poison in it. You must each give a glass it to your cousin and then both of you will drink at the same time. Before you do that, you must sign the paper before you releasing the other and the estate of and liability and that you did this of your own free will. Once you drink the wine if by chance, one of you is alive, call the extension before you and my lawyers will come onto give you your paperwork, good luck boys.

    The picture on the screen goes black.

    “So, we need to give each other a glass and then we drink?

    “Yes, you idiot.”

    I stared at the glasses as if I could tell if there was a difference between them. Each one was filled to the same mark they all looked identical.

    I looked at Wilfred said, “You go first.” He reached out, grabbed a glass, and handed it to me.

    I grabbed another glass and handed it to him. We both paused for a moment and stared at each other. We lifted our glasses slowly to our mouths and then we drank. Wilfred drank his whole glass down and set it on the table.

    With sharp eyes and a nod of his head, he demanded I drink it all. I drank every drop and set it down.

    We waited.

    My heart pounded in my chest I could feel my blood pumping. Could this be the end? What had I done? My life was not worth money no matter how much it was. Oh god, how I wished I had just walked away.

    My head fell into my hands, I looked up and Wilfred was smiling.

    “I feel great” he said, “You must have drank the poison.” He laughed like a mad man, and danced around.

    I sat and watched him, waiting for something to happen. After some time I realized that, nothing was happening, to either of us.

    “The old Bat was playing a trick on us, He laughed HA we won! You want that?” he asked, but before I could respond he grabbed the other glass of wine and said, “Call them up and let’s get our money, although, I would have preferred if you died. That would have been great.” He drank the second glass of wine down as I called the extension next to the phone.

    As I hung up the receiver, I looked up to see a shocked look on Wilfred’s face. He clasped his neck and then fell to the floor. Just then the main door, opened and three lawyers came in with two large men who quickly grabbed the Wilfred’s limp body and left the room.

    “Mr. Charles, if I may explain. The old lawyer said with no expression on his face as if he did not just see a dead person being hauled out of the room. “Your Aunt had poisoned all three glasses, but one glass is not enough to do any damage, but 2 glasses are lethal. She figured the one who would be greedy would want more than his share, both with the money and with the wine. Here is the paperwork just sign and you receive everything. She knew you would get it all, and now you won’t have to worry about Wilfred.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Very clever of you, I was having trouble trying to figure Wilfred’S drinking of the third glass of wine. I suppose he thought none were poisoned, butn he should have thought the puzzle through, no one messes with Edna!

    1. Observer Tim

      This is very clever, theJim. I applaud Aunt Edna for her sage wisdom, and Charles for his restraint. Wilfred, on the other hand, got exactly what was coming to him. Nice idea, and a clever twist. It has the reading sense of the Conan Doyle stories I’ve been binge-reading recently. Great job!

  11. Observer Tim


    I didn’t even know Zatabuna was a real place, let alone the one where my Aunt Edna had her property registered. Since the will was executed under Zatabuna law, all the usual American provisions didn’t apply, and that really burned Cousin Wilfred. He’s held the estate up for six months trying to fight it, but while Aunt Edna’s estate wasn’t that huge it was backed by incredible political leverage. Even the U.S. judge had to admit the law was on Edna’s side.

    In accordance with Zatabuna law, Aunt Edna’s estate would go to whichever of us could prove that we were the poorest. It should have been a no-brainer.

    Wilfred is a successful advertising exec with a wife, three houses, eight cars and a private jet. I work part-time slinging coffee and dodging guys who think my behind is a pinching bag; last month I had to sell my car to get money for groceries.

    Mr. N’Kubu, the Zatabunian judge, stared at us across the glass-surfaced desk.

    “Wilfred Ballamy, Xenia Polreis, you are both aware of the conditions of the will. This is an unusual battle of poverty, as it involves two foreigners, but Edna Jamieson ko-Tamani, hero of Zatabuna, was explicit in her will. At stake is an estate valued at approximately thirty-five million American dollars. Do you understand?”

    We both nod. I’m not sure I like the smug look on Wilfred’s face; he’s found some way to screw me out of this, I’m sure. It’s what he does.

    “We now begin the proceedings. Wilfred Jamieson, state your worth.”


    I look over in shock. Judge N’Kubu doesn’t buy it either. “Explain, please.”

    “Three days ago I signed everything over to my wife’s sole custody.”

    “I see you have studied our laws, Mister Jamieson. However, I have witness that you have purchased a package of gum and retain four sticks.”

    “I used my wife’s credit card!”

    “That does not matter; your net worth is now four sticks of gum.”

    My net worth is eighteen bucks cash plus the clothes on my back; all the rest was sold to buy my ticket here. But somehow it’s still too much. But there may be a way out, if I’m willing to sacrifice a bit more.
    I turn and whisper a question to one of the Witnesses. She responds with a nod. She also agrees to my second question and tells me her name: Lyota N’Kuna.

    The judge turns to me. “Xenia Polreis, state your worth.”

    “One cent.”

    “And your other possessions?”

    “All given just now to Lyota N’Kuna.” I take a penny out of my purse and hand her the rest. I then begin undressing.

    The judge raises an eyebrow and says, “Stop. Miss N’Kuna, is this true?”

    “Yes, your honour. Her clothes and all other possessions are mine. ”

    “In the interests of civil order we will not require full demonstration of this; however, the court accepts the amount stated. Miss Polreis is the rightful heir.”

    Take that, Wilfred.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, OT!

      This story was full of great lines from “Your net worth is now four sticks of gum.” to “Edna Jamieson ko-Tamani, hero of Zatabuna” to “In the interests of civil order we will not require full demonstration of this”. 😀 Just all around great fun!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m sorry I missed out on the clevage, I guess I’ll have to dig out my well-hidden Sears catalogue from 1966 and glance at the girl’s nighty’s. Good story Tim and clever of Xenia. Did you make this town up or do I have to go looking for it? Please don’t forget the canoe I asked for at the bottom of the prompt, it getting gamey around Texas. I’m growing mushrooms on my mail box!. Oh and good Lord, you should see the snakers and Gaters on my door step.

        1. Observer Tim

          Hi Kerry;

          The country (Zatabuna) is made up; it’s an island kingdom somewhere in the neighborhood of Madagascar which managed through a cold-war quirk of fate to garner a LOT of political influence. The incident has something to do with why Aunt Edna is a hero of the country. And yes, I do make up this much backstory just for a 500-word throwaway. But it stays in the back of my head in case it’s needed again.

          Sorry to hear about Texas; that was us three years ago. Just remember, the two boats and the helicopter were God’s way of saving you.

      2. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Cosi! I especially enjoyed writing the “four sticks of gum” line, and the “civil order” one was to prevent the pronogarphy filter (notice how I deliberately misspelled it) from eating the story. As for the hero of Zatabuna, I hope I can write that backstory before it gets crowded out.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Just great, I can imagine Aunt Edna enthroned and honored because of her heroism and her love of the island people. No way was Wilfred gonna get the money. Plus, now his wife gets what he had. I’ll bet she’s already filed for divorce. So many wicked Wilfreds here.

  12. Findingmyshoes

    The last face I wanted to see that morning was waiting for me as I entered the study of the castle. Wilfred grinned at me exposing a mouthful of grimy teeth.
    “You’re much prettier with make-up on.” he said, leaning over the arm of a gilded chair.
    “I’ve been kind of upset.” I snarled, “I recently lost someone close to me.”
    “Yeah, I know.” he guffawed,. “We’re here to read her will. Duh.”
    I let out an exasperated sigh and tried not to look at him as I dropped into the heavily brocaded chair on the other side of the small room.
    I had been crying on and off for days. It wasn’t that I knew Edna well, but she was family, and family meant a lot to me. When I was adopted, I was introduced to a life I had never known: a mother, a family, a home. Now they were all fading away. First my grandparents; then my uncle. My mother died three years ago, and now Aunt Edna.
    The lawyer entered and began walking us through the documents, but Wilfred continued to stare at me. It was absurd that someone as heinous as Wilfred could be a part of my family loving, good natured family. It was even more absurd that someone so vile could be a blood relative of Edna. She was the precise combination of elegant, warm, and crazy that anyone would expect of a wealthy aunt. She and her husband had been obsessed with Arthurian legends. They had built a sandstone castle out in the countryside, and filled it with medieval treasures. She had a family coat of arms made on silver shields and sent one to each of us, so we would remember allegiance and pride for family. Now that Edna was gone, it seemed as though my whole life- my family, my mother, my adoption- was just a fading dream.
    Edna had written the will herself. It was beautiful; both poetic and elegant. “Family,” she wrote, “family is the line that links our souls. It connects us to the past and leads us into the future.”
    “To my nephew Wilfred, the eldest son, of the eldest son, of my dear older brother, you are the rightful heir of our fortune, that I cannot deny you.”
    My heart sunk. Wilfred beamed at me, and ran his tongue across his top lip.
    “However,” the lawyer continued reading “Gentle nephew, I fear that your spending habits and head for numbers would soon deplete our funds and leave our fair family line to wither. Therefore, dear niece, you must be our champion. Our hearts were bound to yours the moment we met. Bind your line with ours, and care for our name with the diligence, duty and compassion as you always have. If you cannot, wed and remain with the rightful heir, then our estate passes to Wilfred”
    I turned slowly to Wilfred, my stomach twisting.
    He looked at me, and took my hand with a raunchy smile. “Milady,?”

    1. Observer Tim

      This has creepy written all over it. Here’s hoping that she can make a better man out of Wilfred, or that she’s strong enough to do what might need to be done… I can see this turning into a story of a family life regained.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m with Uncle here. Leave the dirtbag and start a fresh life. You can’t make a swan out of a pig. I enjoyed this story, especially the twist.

  13. UnclePizza

    OK, if you consider that there’s a corpse, and that there is will involved (will, not “a will”), then maybe this is not completely disregarding the prompt. Maybe.

    Of Sins and Ash – Part 8

    The young coyote approached the clearing just after dark. She stopped at the line of white stones that marked the boundary, and glanced over her shoulder. The rest of the pack lay hidden in the clumps of sage and yucca, and although she could not see the pack leader, she knew that he would be angry if she turned and came back. She played the role of scout, which meant that sometimes she was at risk, but the pack protected her and she was never scared. Until now.

    The scout turned again toward the clearing and stared at the form laying on the ground: a two-legger lay on its back, dull eyes open toward the cloudless night sky. It smelled like the old woman who lived in the large stone den, but her scent had changed. It had always been a distinctive scent – similar to other two-leggers, but with something-else mixed in that told the pack that she was to be respected. Now, the two-legger scent was still there, but the something-else that came with it was different. It was the smell of death. And death meant food. And the pack was hungry.

    Still, fear of what would happen if they crossed the line unbidden had shaped their instinct, so they had waited all evening, hungry and unsure. Finally, the young female wandered tentatively past the row of stones and into the clearing. The rest of the pack watched closely. Nothing moved.

    The pack began mewling and murmuring, their hunger gnawing at their caution until finally the alpha male burst through the sage and bounded toward the motionless body. Hunger now banishing all sense of fear, the alpha barked at the old woman, and when she still did not move he nipped her thigh. Still no rebuke, only…food.

    The old woman had been slight in build, and it took just a few short minutes for the pack to reduce her remains to a mere scattering of bones. Sated, they spent the next several minutes howling joyfully at the sky before trotting through the desert for a rare night of carefree play. As dawn neared, the coyotes began returning to their dens, calling loudly to each other as they regrouped. None of them noticed the raven watching from atop a lone piñon at the edge of the lair.

    La Bruja watched patiently as the nocturnal creatures slept through the day and into the afternoon. As the day progressed, their sleep grew fitful as organs, blood, and muscle absorbed what was once her physical being. Yes, dears, she thought, I have become part of you now. And you are becoming part of me. Where I could once only tell you to do my bidding, I will soon be able to do it myself through you. Where I was once only a single being, I will soon be many. Sleep my pets, and gather your strength, for we have work to do.

    As the coyotes began waking in the late afternoon they began sensing – something strange. It was similar to the feeling that they had when the old woman commanded them, but different somehow. As the sense became more distinct, more compelling, the coyotes became restive. Soon, the younger ones began to accept the change and calmed down. Others seemed to have a harder time, and began to whimper, glancing apprehensively around the lair. The older coyotes had the hardest time of all, and one old male even began to jump around erratically, snapping wildly at the air until he fell exhausted.

    By dark, the pack had calmed, having adapted to the changes within them. It was then that the raven glided from her perch atop the piñon and landed in their midst. The carnivores calmly surrounded large bird and sat, quietly waiting. The raven turned its head, slowly looking each coyote in the eye before taking to the sky, and the pack began to run as one behind her.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You know Uncle, this just gets better with each chapter. A Disney movie, it’s not. Let us see what happens next or as Charlie Chan would say, “Get on with it, thank you very much.”

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, UP!

      Whether it follows the prompt or not, this is an awesome continuation. I suspect bad things are coming to the guy who killed her.

      I really like how the younger coyotes accepted the change faster and easier than the older ones. Isn’t that just the way it is? 🙂

  14. Kaboosh

    I never was very close to Aunt Edna. Being an only child, I’m guessing I might get a hundred dollars or so from her will. I looked at my parents at the other side of the table. My mom was holding back tears while my dad tried to comfort her. Aunt Edna was probably the closest relative my mother ever had. After my mom turned ten years old, her parents died in a hotel fire. Her sister, Edna, was six years older than her and took care of her until she went off to college. Aunt Edna never had a chance to go to college herself because she had to take care of my mother for so long. Two years after she started her job as a nanny, she went on a vacation in the Caribbean islands. She had a heart attack near a dormant volcano. She was found and taken to a hospital where she only lived for 3 days longer.

    The will reader walked in and quickly sat down. He had dark circles under his eyes. “Now, I’m gonna make this quick,” he said to my mom. “Your sister’s will was pretty short and it basically said one thing. Your daughter gets all of her money. ”

    This caused a look of confusion on my parents’ faces. The look on my face was probably twice as shocked.

    “Are you sure that was all she said?” my mother asked.

    The will reader quickly scans over the paper with his steel gray eyes again. “Yep, that’s all,” he says with certainty.

    I look at the written will he’s holding and see a few sentences on the back of it. “What about the backside?” I ask.

    The will reader flips the paper over and starts reading with a raised eyebrow. As he reads his eyes widen and he slowly raises his hand to his chest. In a dry voice, he reads “But you will only gain the money if you obtain the amulet from your cousin Wilfred. If you can’t, he will be given all of the money.” After a long pause the will reader breaks the silence. “This could mean nothing, given the state she was in when she wrote this will.”

    See, when Aunt Edna was in the hospital, all the doctors were claiming that she was slightly insane. She continuously claimed that she saw flying people spewing lava and fire right before her heart attack. I started to believe them but something didn’t feel right. Aunt Edna was so mentally stable, it just didn’t make sense.

    My father interrupted my thoughts by exclaiming, “What amulet? And who the hell is Wilfred? Jordan doesn’t have any cousins!”

    “Look, I have no idea. I recommend you just go home and think this over,” the will reader said. His eyes were zooming around the room. He seemed very anxious to leave the room.

    I get home and quickly run to my room. I switch on the TV on hop on my phone. I was excited to tell my friends about the will.

    Something on the TV catches my eye. The news is on talking about a suicide. I never have the news on. “Mom! Were you watching TV in my roo-” I’m quickly stopped when an image of a smiling man appears on the screen. The dark gray eyes seem to be peering into my head. A million thoughts scattered through my brain.

    “There were four large indents in the mans chest, something like a semi-circle. Doctors are trying to find out if they have anything to do with the suicide,” the news reporter said.

    A name in big bold letters sat under the picture of our will reader.

    “Wilfred Jones.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Well, that is a great turn of events. It’s calling for a second part. One small suggestion, “Look, I have no idea. I recommend you just go home and think this over, the will reader said. His eyes were zooming around the ROOM. He seemed very anxious to leave the ROOM. I get home and quickly run to my ROOM Using room so quickly three times is a distraction to the reader. One other thought, you change from present tense to past tense often. It is very difficult, especially for me to write present tense smoothly, so finally I gave it up and switched to past tense.
      We have a lot of great writers here who use present tense and they’re masters at it. My hat’s off to them, I can’t do it. Your story line is excellent, promises lots of action and intrigue along with it. Welcome to the forum, we’re happy to have you with us.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a fascinating beginning to a story, Kaboosh. I’d love to see what you do with this idea. It sounds like a kids’ thriller in the making.

      On the technical side, what Kerry’s saying. The tense-jumping especially is a bit distracting.

  15. Kaboosh

    I never was very close to Aunt Edna. Being an only child, I’m guessing I might get a hundred dollars or so from her will. I looked at my parents at the other side of the table. My mom was holding back tears while my dad tried to comfort her. Aunt Edna was probably the closest relative my mother ever had. After my mom turned ten years old, her parents died in a hotel fire. Her sister, Edna, was six years older than her and took care of her until she went off to college. Aunt Edna never had a chance to go to college herself because she had to take care of my mother for so long. Two years after she started her job as a nanny, she went on a vacation in the Caribbean islands. She had a heart attack near a dormant volcano. She was found and taken to a hospital where she only lived for 3 days longer.

    The will reader walked in and quickly sat down. He had dark circles under his eyes. “Now, I’m gonna make this quick,” he said to my mom. “Your sister’s will was pretty short and it basically said one thing. Your daughter gets all of her money. ”

    This caused a look of confusion on my parents’ faces. The look on my face was probably twice as shocked.

    “Are you sure that was all she said?” my mother asked.

    The will reader quickly scans over the paper with his steel gray eyes again. “Yep, that’s all,” he says with certainty.

    I look at the written will he’s holding and see a few sentences on the back of it. “What about the backside?” I ask.

    The will reader flips the paper over and starts reading with a raised eyebrow. As he reads his eyes widen and he slowly raises his hand to his chest. In a dry voice, he reads “But you will only gain the money if you obtain the amulet from your cousin Wilfred. If you can’t, he will be given all of the money.” After a long pause the will reader breaks the silence. “This could mean nothing, given the state she was in when she wrote this will.”

    See, when Aunt Edna was in the hospital, all the doctors were claiming that she was slightly insane. She continuously claimed that she saw flying people spewing lava and fire right before her heart attack. I started to believe them but something didn’t feel right. Aunt Edna was so mentally stable, it just didn’t make sense.

    My father interrupted my thoughts by exclaiming, “What amulet? And who the hell is Wilfred? Jordan doesn’t have any cousins!”

    “Look, I have no idea. I recommend you just go home and think this over,” the will reader said. His eyes were zooming around the room. He seemed very anxious to leave the room.

    I get home and quickly run to my room. I switch on the TV on hop on my phone. I was excited to tell my friends about the will.

    Something on the TV catches my eye. The news is on talking about a suicide. I never have the news on. “Mom! Were you watching TV in my roo-” I’m quickly stopped when an image of a smiling man appears on the screen. The dark gray eyes seem to be peering into my head. A million thoughts scattered through my brain.

    “There were four large indents in the mans chest, something like a semi-circle. Doctors are trying to find out if they have anything to do with the suicide,” the news reporter said.

    A name in big bold letters sat under the picture of our will reader.

    “Wilson Jones.”

  16. ReathaThomasOakley


    “Yes, Annie, what is it now?” She put down her pencil, her papers were all over the table, I only used a little space for my Bible and Big Chief tablet.

    “Will I have to hug her? I don’t want to hug…”

    “Annie, please,” Mama was using her calm voice. “You know much as me ’bout all this, and you know I gotta get this report done before six.”

    Most Sundays, after dinner, we’d take a drive or visit folks, if we were home Mama’d have her hair pin curled for night service. Today Daddy and Brother went fishin’, Mama was working on her missionary society treasurer’s report, and I was reading the Bible.

    That morning, before he started his sermon, Brother Seaney’d asked Mrs. Cubbage to come up front, ’cause she had an announcement for children twelve and younger. Mrs. Cubbage was a portly lady, that’s a word Mama uses when she means fat, with big bosoms and a funny smell. I pay attention to smells ’cause Mister Sherlock Holmes does.

    “Children,” she began, “first off I want you all to call me Aunt Edna.” She smiled real big. “Children, I’m concerned modern boys and girls don’t know scriptures like when I was a child.” That got a few ‘Amens’ from other old people. “So, I’m going to give five dollars,” I sat up straighter, “to the first boy or girl who can by next Sunday morning, recite all the books of the New Testament, in correct order.” She smiled some more and sat down.

    I couldn’t hardly believe my own ears, I’d never had five dollars, all at one time, my entire life. My allowance’s been going for a magnifying glass and other things I need for detecting. With five dollars I could buy a cape and even a cap like Mister Holmes wears. I was just easing a Bible out of the song book rack, when I looked across the church and saw nasty cousin Wilfred staring at me.

    Wilfred ain’t my true cousin, just first cousin Teedee’s first cousin, but he’s been around far back as I remember, in Sunday School class, where he eats wild onions and blows his stinky breath all over the girls. We started first grade together, but hadn’t been in the same class again, ’til this year. Now he spends his time devilin’ me and cheatin’ on ever thing.

    When Mrs. Knight promised a quarter if we could write out all forty-eight states in ABC order, I noticed Willfred wore a long sleeved shirt on test day, even though it was really hot. He pulled up first one sleeve, then the other, and looked at his dirty ole arms while he was writin’, then pulled the sleeves down before he turned in the paper and asked to be excused.

    At recess his shirt was wet; I went over and grabbed his arm and sniffed. He smelled like the yucky green pine soap in the girl’s bathroom. Boys musta had the same, I just never saw any boys with clean hands, ’til Wilfred’s.

    “You cheated,” I hissed.

    “Can’t prove nothin’,” he said and walked away.

    I figgered once a cheater, always a cheater, and I wanted that five dollars. I had to stop worryin’ about huggin’ Mrs. Cubbage, and make certain I knew all the books and Wilfred didn’t. So, I went back to writin’ and left Mama alone.

    Next day I took my Big Chief to school and hunched down low over my desk and carefully slid a piece of paper from the tablet and pushed it way in the back of my desk. All morning I kept on sneakin’ it out, readin’ it, and pushin’ it back in. After lunch recess I felt all around, took ever thing out, old crayons, broken pencils, notes from Carol Hay, but no Big Chief paper. I looked over at Wilfred, who was just grinnin’ all over his face, and shook my fist at him.

    Next Sunday morning I wore my taffeta dress, that I don’t wear much ’cause it’s gotta be dry cleaned. When Mrs. Cubbage was up front first some of the little primary Sunday School children tried reciting, and some got as far as Acts. The McWorter twins just giggled ’til their mama made ’em sit down, then it was just me and Wilfred left.

    “I’m kinda nervous,” I said. “Wilfred can go first.” And, he did alright ’til Galatians, and he took a big breath.

    “Titus, Philemon, James…” And, as folks holdin’ their Bibles started whisperin’, Mrs. Cubbage stopped him.

    “Wilfred, dear, you want to slow down, maybe start again?”

    “No, ma’am, I’m ’bout finished, first and second Peter…”

    “Wilfred,” she said, “you left some out after Galatians.”

    “No, ma’am, it’s Go To Party Just…” By now ever body was talkin’ right out loud.

    “I don’t know what you’re sayin’, but please either start again, or sit down.”

    Then Wilfred looked at me, and yelled, right in church, “You cheated!”

    After his daddy took him outside, I stood up and recited all 27 books from Matthew to Revelations in perfect order, got my five one dollar bills, and even hugged Aunt Edna.

    “Annie,” Daddy said on the way home, “I heard you saying some funny things this past week, like sentences to help you remember the Bible books. I think that’s what Wilfred was tryin’ to do, but sounds like he got mixed up. How you s’pose that happened.”

    “I’ll have to think on that,” I said and held on to my five dollars real tight.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, UP, I do try to make readers feel at home with what I write. My commas are a bit jarring this time, but didn’t notice until I read here. One of the benefits of this opportunity.

    1. Bushkill

      again with the spot on dialogue. I actually feel like im right there in a pew listening to the goings on myself. love to be transported by your prose, Reatha.

    2. Observer Tim

      Odd this should appear at this point in the age. I just finished reading The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (a reading adventure which began a couple of weeks ago with A Study in Scarlet). In reading this gem I’m struck by how much Annie really is a Sherlock Holmes in training. I could read these tales all day.

      [P.S. The closest match I saw to this style was Holmes in The Adventure of the Retired Colourman.]

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Tim, when Annie first appeared I recalled a book my father gave me when I had my tonsils pulled, my introduction to Sherlock Holmes, but written for kids. The cover was so vivid in memory that I found it on eBay. I also found most of his stories free for my Kindle. I’m not familiar with the Retired Colourman, but will find it. As I’m pulling these together I’ll try to work in more references, but don’t want to overdo it.

        Thank you so very much for your kind comments for everyone. I’m sure you, and others, contribute to our continuing writing week after week.

  17. dustymayjane

    After Mr. Steele repeated for a third time that Aunt Edna had willed everything to her only niece, Sally Wainwright nearly kissed him.

    He raised his hand to stop the intrusion on his person. “There is one more thing Miss Wainwright. Your Aunt Edna added a final stipulation.”

    There’s the catch. Sally would have been surprised if there hadn’t been one. “Okay Mr. Steele. What do I have to do? Name my first born after her? Spread her ashes over Mount Everest. It would be just like Aunt Edna!”

    Mr. Steele had heard this commentary many times. The heirs to riches always wanted everything for nothing. He was tired of everybody else getting rich off some old bag.

    Old Edna was eager to place the stipulation on her will, for Wilfred’s sake. Especially after her lawyer played up Wilfred’s unfortunate situation. He knew Sally Wainwright would never agree and once Wilfred received the money, old Uncle Herman Steele would swoop in on the family dunce. It would be like taking candy from a baby.

    “Edna was worried your cousin Wilfred would never get married, being so… odd, so she stipulated that you marry him before receiving any money.”

    Sally sat quietly and absorbed the news. Wilfred odd? Sally thought he was a genius, but misunderstood by the older family members.

    They’d always had a strange relationship, but there was a fine line between love and hate. It had always been said that if the two were left alone together, someone would die. They knew that any antagonism between them was mere attraction.

    “And if I don’t?” Sally had never trusted Aunt Edna’s lawyers.

    “The inheritance reverts back to Wilfred.” Mr. Steele was seeing dollar signs and grinned inwardly.

    Wilfred knew his life was about to change drastically. Either he was getting married to a wonderful woman or remain single, but he would be rich.

    Sally left the office to Wilfred on one knee, in his best suit, holding a giant bouquet of flowers. He looked handsome and not at all odd. Sally’s heart fluttered. “Hello Sally. Did you get the news from Uncle Herman, I mean Mr. Steele?”

    There it was! Sally was no dunce either. “Uncle Herman? Wilfred, is Mr. Steele your uncle?” She was certain Uncle Herman, aka Mr. Steele had influenced Aunt Edna and planned to use his nephew to get her money.

    “Yes, he’s my father’s brother.” Wilfred had always had feelings for Sally even if the family thought they hated each other. “He said you wouldn’t want to marry me. But I wanted to ask you myself.”

    “I will Wilfred! We’re going to be married and rich!”

    Mr.Steele closed himself inside his office, knowing his plan had been foiled.

    Aunt Edna had recognized the feelings between her niece and nephew, twice removed. She loved the idea of an arranged marriage and was happy when her lawyer had suggested it. She knew the marriage would be full of passion and would last a lifetime.

    1. Observer Tim

      Ah, what happens when we scheme. Poor uncle Herman is going to end up getting nothing, which is exactly what he deserves for being a cad. I love the take, and I agree with your comment about happy endings (even though I don’t always use them). This is wonderfully romantic.

      My only suggestion is that the admission of their pre-existing affection would be spicier (and more suspenseful) if served after the proposal.

  18. Ananfal

    It was hard to believe that Aunt Edna was gone.

    She had practically raised me after my junkie mother overdosed on the drugs that her dealer boyfriend handed out to her like candy. I was five at the time, and already taking care of most of the chores myself, since she was too stoned to take care of it. Aunt Edna looked like an avenging angel when she came to pick me up, the sunlight igniting her fiery red hair into a burning halo that blinded me as I looked up at her.

    It didn’t take me long to realize that she was merely a human – angels definitely didn’t forget their car keys as often as Edna did – but she was still the idol that I looked up to my entire life. When I was finally an adult, she took to traveling, restless after all the time spent in one place looking after me. Edna was a wandering soul, that was for sure. I thanked her for raising me, then let her go like the free bird she was.

    It was a little less than a year ago when Edna’s health took a turn for the worse. Some sort of cancer. Terminal. Rather than go through chemo and be stuck in a hospital for the remaining pittance of her life, Edna resumed her travels, visiting all the places she had always wanted to see while she still could. I couldn’t take away her happiness in her last months on this earth by asking her to stay, so I let her go, like I had before.

    Now that she was dead, I had to let her go one more time. But it was harder than I thought.

    I wasn’t ready for the will reading, but I forced myself to go. I couldn’t miss hearing her last words.

    “I give my whole estate willingly and without hesitation to my niece, whom I love as though she were mine. The only condition I have – and you know there’s always a catch, don’t you dear, but you don’t have to worry this time, I swear – the only condition you have to fulfill is this: find happiness.”

    My throat was clogged.

    “Find someone to settle down with (I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, don’t think I didn’t see you eyeing that cashier lady that one time), and be happy. I love you.”

    Even from beyond the grave, she was still looking out for me. I love my Aunt Edna.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Well, I lost connection three times, about one week each time
          One story, I was never able to post. You can email Brian directly, sometimes you end up in junk mail or spam, like I did. For the last three weeks I haven’t had a problem but it can happen any time. The web site is being bombarded with span and the defense gets very particular especially over profanity
          Good luck

  19. jhowe

    My name is Wilfred Oliver Winemaker. Wow, you say. Get it? My initials? I’ve been living in Omaha with my Aunt Edna, at least until I get back on my feet. Before you ask, I’ve done extensive research on and I haven’t found one wine maker in my family tree.

    By getting back on my feet, I mean to say that I’ve been experiencing some anger issues. Debilitating anger issues. Many of these are due to my cousin, Blare. She doesn’t like me. At all. She finds me detestable. After the hamster incident, I can see she may have a point. And then there’s Aunt Edna’s recent brush with death, which she lost. At the reading of the will, Blare was extremely happy, for a short time. Then the stipulation was revealed.

    Before I get into the stipulation, I should elaborate just a bit on the hamster. I admit, I killed it. I shouldn’t have, but I did. It’s what I did afterwards though that has Blare all up in arms. I thought it would be funny, but now I see I went a little far. Let’s just say you can deep fry just about anything.

    Ok, the stipulation is that Blare has to make amends with me, about everything. By everything, I’ll tell you there’s quite a bit. There’s the video of her in the shower that got aired on the monitor at graduation rehearsal. There’s the urine in the wiper fluid container, and in her milk carton. There’s the photo shopped image of her on Facebook carrying a human head. There’s her friend, Allison who, to this day, doesn’t know it wasn’t Blare who goosed her during the power outage. And the list goes on. And on.

    I get the feeling now, that Blare is going to forego her small fortune instead of making amends. I’m a little nervous about the handcuffs and ankle restraints. The ball gag is a nice touch I have to admit. I wonder where she got it. The huge kettle of canola oil simmering on the stove though has me concerned. The picture of Binky taped to the wall confirms it. I’m about to be deep fried. If I could talk, I’d apologize. Profusely. I’d tell her I was sorry for the SAT score scandal, the letters to the prison and the subsequent marriage proposals, her membership acceptance into Youth for Hitler, but most of all, about Binky.

    She takes the photo from the wall and wet tears streak down her cheeks. With tongs, she dips the picture into the oil and it sizzles and comes out charred. She waves the picture, to cool it and devours it, smiling sardonically. I think I chose the wrong person to torment. She dons oven mitts. I can’t help but wonder if this is going to hurt. My name is Wilfred Oliver Winemaker and I have anger issues.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Poor Wilfred is headed to the frying pan Very realistic take on the prompt, John. Lots of infoematio in such a small space. Anger issues are not going to help here. Confronting, lettin. Binky is thye cat, obviously. Wilfred isn’t going to around much

      1. jhowe

        Hey MCKEVIN. I’ve had a few that wouldn’t post the last couple of months. Nothing I did helped. Try posting the question in the comment box at the bottom and see if that posts. A few people have given advice that helps.

    2. Observer Tim

      Remind me never to get on your bad side, John; you have way too vivid an imagination. Now I’m going to be thinking about deep-fried reprobates all day. I wonder if she remembered to get a good tempura recipe…

      This is entertaining as hell, with an emphasis on the hell.

  20. Pete

    I drove through the night, meeting the first rays of morning at the steps of St. Kemper. My hair was swept back from the wind, my eyes stinging from the road.

    I found Edna in her bed. Her deathbed. Frail and ragged—as one might expect, but defiant nonetheless. Edna. I said her name like it was spit. Privileged Edna. Country club raised, born in a tennis skirt. Now she looked a bit shy about death. A shame, too, because it looked good on her.


    I stepped into the room. Lured by money, tethered to her a by a force I wanted to gnaw through with my teeth. She was small for someone who took up so much space in my thoughts. She turned a hollow stare to me.

    “You look awful.”

    “Yeah, well, long drive.”

    Machines kept her alive. Hate kept me at the doorway. I glossed over the crumple of sheets and bone that was Rachel’s aunt. She blinked to life, took a few labored breaths.

    “How’s Sid?”

    The nerve of this woman. Bringing up my daughter. Rachel’s daughter. My eyes fell to her shriveled arms, the puckered skin where an IV fed her existence. A quick fantasy, my hands around her neck, twisting and squeezing and whisking things along.

    “Now, now, Paul, I’ll be gone soon enough. The least you can do is give me this.”

    “I don’t owe you a thing, Edna. Nothing. I really hope you didn’t call me out here to buy my forgiveness.”

    I stand straight, happy not to have botched my rehearsed line. I came up with it somewhere in North Carolina. She was unfazed, as though it was expected. She shook her head, the line that is her lips curled upwards. “Are you still drinking?”
    Rage unfurls through my veins. I needed the money. My daughter hardly spoke to me. Hardly looked at me. When she did I turned away because her eyes were Rachel’s.

    Edna peeked up from the shroud of death around her eyes. “Yes?” She took a breath, continuing the mind reading. “Sid needs this money. So yes, call it a bribe. Whatever you can live with. If you hadn’t showed, I was going to give it to Tom.”

    I cut my eyes to her. “You killed her, Edna. Killed her. You took my life away. What do you want me to do?.”

    A slight nod. A glimpse of her and Rachel boarding that train. Waiving and laughing. Edna already sipping a margarita. Girls weekend with Aunt Edna. How fun?

    “Do you think this is karma?”

    I broke off my thoughts. “What?”

    “The cancer. Does it give you what you need?”

    From the first diagnosis, I’d wrestled with thethought. Only Rachel was still gone. The hole was still there, bigger by the day. Gaping. I shrugged. “Sid blames me. All these years I’ve shouldered the blame.”

    “She does blame you, Paul. But not for Rachel.”

    My eyes were no longer stinging. No longer dry. “What?”

    The room, the machinery, the ticking. Planets away from her life as a socialite . Edna struggled to sit up. I didn’t make a move to help her. She closed her eyes with a grimace, pain like a familiar friend.

    “She blames you for giving up. Jesus, Paul, you’ve been in this room for minutes and I can see it all over your face. You almost look like you want to trade places with me.”

    But I didn’t. Because death would shut my eyes. And I couldn’t close my eyes. When I did I saw my wife, and her eyes found me through the current of travelers. The train. Edna swore she’d be safe.

    She shot me a look. “Are you still painting?”

    I almost laugh. “No.”

    “A shame. What are you doing, Paul?”

    The closest thing to a compliment I’d ever heard from her. I wiped my face and she reached for me. Her hand on mine. Her breaths like a deflating plastic bag.

    “Please. You don’t have to forgive me. I never forgave myself. But take the money, Paul. Fix things with Sid. That’s all I’m asking.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        There is so much pain, raw emotion, anger, resentment, guilt, remorse all trying to work it out, two people who no longer understand each other. Last moments before death one gives quarter,
        the other not understanding. A dynamite write Pete, also realistic and totally sad story.

    1. jhowe

      Good writing here Pete. The emotions were vivid and raw. Rachel and Tom, two people not physically present but very powerful in their roles, left me mesmerized. Nice dialog too.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Very, very powerful take on this prompt. Great descriptive words and phrases throughout made me see it all. I’m not certain if he should take the money or refuse it as a final blow to this woman.

    3. Observer Tim

      If you were aiming for a deep family tragedy, Pete, you hit the mark. The dirty cynicism is poured on pretty thickly in this family. I only hope Sid can escape, because it’s already too late for Edna and Paul.

      Very well crafted!

  21. UnclePizza

    “Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Jacobs. I know that you’re incredibly busy right now, so I really appreciate it.”

    “Yeah, it’s a madhouse here, but I can give you five minutes. What can I do for you?”

    “Well, first, let me congratulate your team on winning the American League championship.”

    “Thank you.”

    “As chief of security for the stadium, you must have your hands full preparing to host the first two games of the Work Series next week.”

    “Yeah, as I said, a madhouse. You got four minutes left, kid.”

    “Well, let me get right to the point then.”

    “Good idea.”

    “I’m going to run naked – streak, that is – around the bases during the seventh inning stretch of the first game.”

    “The hell.”

    “And you’re going to make sure that I get all the way around the bases.”

    “The hell. But I repeat myself. Why in the world would I let you get away with that?”

    “Because I’ll give you a million dollars if I succeed.”

    “The h… Uh, a million bucks? You kiddin’ me?”

    “No sir. I’m dead serious.”

    “OK, no offense now kid, but you don’t look like someone who’s got a million bucks to give away just so you can feel the breeze blowin’ across all your pieces”

    “Well, you’re right. I don’t. Today. But next week I will. As long as I streak around those bases.”

    “Hold on; I wanna get this straight. You come in here lookin’ like you live paycheck to paycheck, offerin’ me a million bucks to let you streak around the bases, but you don’t give me the loot until after? Please. Explain how that works.”

    “Of course. I take it you’ve heard of Edna Meecham?”

    “The rich old broad who owns half the office buildings in downtown? Sure, I know the name. Crazy as a loon, I hear. Or she was, anyway. I heard she died last week, right?”

    “Yeah. And they read her will today.”

    “No kiddin’. And what does that have to do with this business of you wagglin’ your pieces in front of every baseball fan in the world?”

    “Everything, Mr. Jacobs, everything. Here, I have a copy of her will. Please take a look. There’s a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo, but I highlighted the relevant parts for you.”

    “Sure. Let’s see: ‘I Edna Meecham, being of sound mind…’, now that’s a laugh! OK, yeah, yeah, I see… Uh-huh; mmm…uh-huh, whoa! And that’s you – the nephew?”

    “In the flesh. Sorry, no pun intended.”

    “And if you don’t…?”

    “Second to last page.”

    “Wait – is he the same…”

    “Yep. Same Wilfred that owns the team you’re about to play.”

    “Sheesh – what an asshole.”

    “You’re not kidding. Try growing up around him.”

    “A million bucks, huh?”


    “Well, then I’d say we better get planning.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Work series, world series, no dif! The story was imaginative, funny and believe it or not, realistic. That’s because it’s written so well. Your the top, this week.

    1. Observer Tim

      Nice, Uncle. I love the way you boiled the whole story down to the dialogue. I could almost see this happening. Of course, the way things are recorded the main character’s going to have to deal with his naughty-bits being rebroadcast across the web forever (or until the next seven-day wonder comes along).

  22. Bushkill

    Aunt Edna’s Money

    Rich! I’m going to be fantastically, unavoidably, heart-stopingly close to being rich!

    I say that because rich is an elusive term. Dear Aunt Edna had money. Scads of it. And it’s all mine if I can muster up the courage.

    Anyway, those were the thoughts rocketing through my head as I sat listening with my dolt of a cousin, Wilfred Tobias Janis … “The Third”. And he would correct your sorry butt if you left the lineal number off the end.

    Wilfred was a tool. Unequivocally, irrevocably, and helplessly so.

    He was also the only person I knew, personally, to have more wealth than dear old Edna. Willy and I, I took pleasure in goading him, were all that was left of the family though. The rest had all been killed by an exploding birthday cake at the old bat’s 90th birthday party. Something about too many candles too close to the propane tank at her besties house. There was a roar, a boom, and then poof, a cavity in the dentured, white picket-fenced homes of Elm Street.

    The Executor droned on. Auntie had had a lot of stuff. All mine now or mostly so. The island retreat in the Cayman’s went to Wilfred, as did the estate in the south of France, but I kept everything stateside. Willy got the yacht, I got the limo. Willy got the private jet, I got the John Deere. Clearly I was more grounded than my dear cousin. I also got the ski retreat in the Rockies and the sports cabin in the Alaskan wilderness. I had trouble imagining Edna as a sporting gal, but her last Christmas picture had shown her mushing dogs across a field of snow like she had been born to it.

    The mansion in New England would be mine too, along with all that money, if I could find homes for her beloved fur babies. I hadn’t been to see her in several years and she had taken a liking to the cuteness of kittens in that time. Kittens grew to be cats and no matter how often cats fought, there were always more kittens. It appeared to me that Edna put the “cra cra” in crazy cat lady.

    There were dozens.

    Of litter boxes!

    Much of the back yard had also been bulldozed into a giant litter box. There were pictures in the folder the Executor had. It looked awful. I left the room at the law office a little uneasy, the wry grin of dear Willy etched into my mind. The nightmares began that evening. Elm Street might have been woven into my subconscious.

    When I got up the next morning I took a big breath, a handful of posters I planned to use to advertise free kittens and cats, and my phone so I could research how to take care of them. I started my research with the local zoo’s website.

    Oh, and I stopped for Benadryl, I am terribly allergic to cats.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Talk about a drippy nose. I csn only imagine an entire back yard bulldozed into a giant sand box. The man certainly had courage. A most amusing take, regardless of the smell.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Now, this is a sweet story, however, I suspect Aunt Edna isn’t the only “cra” “cra” in the family. Loved the John Deere/grounded reference.

    2. Observer Tim

      My impression, Bushkill, is that your entitled MC got exactly what was coming to him. Maybe if he has to work a bit for him he’ll appreciate the wealth more. Now I wonder what form of torture that Wilfred had to deal with…

      You did entirely too good a job showing the Main Character’s mindset.

  23. kittycat4ever

    Commments appreciated – can’t improve without feedback. 🙂
    word count: 661

    As I sat across from my Aunt Edna’s lawyer Mr. Smith, I smoothed of my skirt nervously. It was the best outfit I owned but in the luxury of her Celtic mansion, I felt woefully under dressed as always. Waiting for him to finish up his paper work I idly wondered what could possible be for me here. It wasn’t like we were close.
    The sound of papers tapping against the desk caught my attention. Mr. Smith smiled and said,“As you know, your Aunt Edna has passed away. She often wished the two of you were closer but it was your mother’s wish that she keep her distance and so she did. She loved you always and has selected you to inherit everything. The money, houses, stocks, everything.”
    My jaw dropped. This had to be some kind of joke, I had been living on my own for two years now without so much as a phone call living hand to mouth. The idea of never having to even thing about money ever again was so abstract.
    After giving me a minute to process this information, he continued,“There are a few requirements that must be met to get the full inheritance. Allow me to elaborate.” Reaching into his desk he pull out an aged, leather bound book. A pentacle was emblazoned on the front held fast by a unique looking lock, “This is your heritage, Jasmine. Touch it.”
    Unsure of what to expect I reached out placed my hand over the top of the book. It was warm and this almost indescribable feeling came over me, like I could do anything. I felt so… connected.
    “Jasmine, sit back down. Now.”Mr. Smith’s stern voice got through to me. Nodding I let my hand drop and sat back down. He handed me a tissue, at first I wasn’t sure why but then I realized I was crying. It was like being found and then having it ripped away. I couldn’t understand it.
    “Jasmine, you have just verified that you have inherited your family’s legacy. You are the last living female of the Vendus line of witches. It is an ancient line and a powerful one. Had it been up to your aunt you would have studied magic long ago but it was against your mother’s dying wish that you learn of your heritage. That promise has been fulfilled with your Aunt’s death. Now your Aunt’s final wish is for you to reclaim your past and your future by studying magic for one year and a day under Rowan Eldur. At which time, you may choose to walk away and take 25 million with you. Nothing else. OR you choose to keep your full inheritance by accepting your place in the family.”
    Mr. Smith seemed to sense my disbelief at the whole situation. “You don’t have to decide today. Why don’t you sleep on it and make your choice after you have met Rowan. Perhaps he can do a demonstration of what kind of magic we are talking about so that you really understand before you decide.”
    I nod and head off for my bedroom, deciding that a hot shower and a cup of cocoa before passing out seemed like the best options. I can figure it all out tomorrow.
    Not long after, the phone rings in his office, Mr. Smith picks it up swiftly on the first ring. His mouth set in a hard line, “Hello Rowan. What do you need?”
    “I just wanted to know how my young fiancee is doing? Is she going to be as powerful as predicted?” Rowans voice is dripping with anticipation.
    “ Calm down. Time will tell, as will your teaching Rowan. We will see you tomorrow. Oh, and do remember that the Jasmine doesn’t know about the contact yet. Keep that bit to yourself lest you send your young bride fleeing to the hills.”
    As he hung up the phone Rowan said, “As you wish. Tomorrow then.”

    1. Bushkill

      Good story and nice plot twist at the end. A few punctuation or word choice items stood out, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a quick edit (there’s one such in the first line even). A bit over the word cap, which I find to be the biggest particular challenge of these posts.

      You did a solid job with this. I will let more experienced pundits add more detail… bit of a noob myself.

    2. UnclePizza

      Hi KittyCat – I liked the story and I agree with Bushkill about punctuation: more commas would help and pay attention to compound words. And even though most of us go over the word count, I would suggest for practice trying to tell the same story with only 500 words. I used to come up with drafts of 800-1000 words and then ruthlessly cut anything that was not essential to tell the story until I had it down to 500. Once you feel like you have the knack of being concise then go ahead and use more words again. They key is that when used well/sparingly they can add depth, but the will slow things down when not used well. Keep it up!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Listen to the Uncle, KittyCat because he has sage advice. Another way to edit is to finish your story then sleep a day. I know the temptation to post is strong but waiting to clear the mind and reread your story can be most helpful. Now on to your plot, it is masterful and mysterious, has a sense of dread in it and evil intentions. All wrapped up in so few words. I always have been a believer in the strength of story, it overcomes some of the mechanical skills of writing. Never let the mechanics stand in the way of a great story.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is the intro to a story I would buy and read. That’s really all I can say, you’ve got a great concept here and created a character I already care about after just a few words.

      I see several people (Bushkill, Uncle, and Kerry) have some good advice, which I will also stand behind. My one thought on formatting is to use two carriage returns after each paragraph. That also has the benefit of spacing out the story nicely.

       If this works the paragraph should be indented and you can replace your tabs with   (otherwise it didn’t).

  24. igonzales81

    The flatboat scuds across the still water, parting the thick coating of algae that floats across its surface. I stand in the boat, carefully using a long pole to guide the craft. Mist draws a gauzy curtain over my surroundings. It’s the darkest hour of the night, the moon long since set; only the faintest sheen of starlight, and my own memory, keeps me on course.

    Aunt Edna was my dearest relation, a woman keen of mind and bold in action. She favored me greatly, always observing that I was responsible to my obligations, unlike some she could mention.

    Growing up where I did, I saw a lot of tragedy. So many of my extensive family met an untimely end—lost at sea, snuffed out by the terrific storms that wrack the Gulf Coast, or simply vanished into the swamps without a trace. That was part of why I left when I did, headed north to make a new life.

    The other part was, of course, Cousin Wilfred. Crass and uncouth, he had none of the breeding of my other relations, none of the wit or verve. He simply clung to the family tree, a gall hitching a living on our stately oak. Only his status as Aunt Edna’s child stayed my hand. I knew I had to leave, or I should not be held accountable for my actions as regarded him.

    Then, sadly, my dear Aunt Edna passed on. They told me she went peacefully; I did not believe them. Edna was not one to go peacefully.

    I was right.

    I reach the spot I knew so well. Three immense mangroves sprout from the slimy water, holding enough sandy ground with their roots to form a small island. A soft breeze comes from nowhere and everywhere, stirring the thin mist. Many were the times I would come here in my youth, always at the behest of dear Aunt Edna. I was the only one she could trust with this particular chore.

    I lay the pole across the stern, stand and stretch, pausing to savor the moment. Somehow, I always knew it would come to this. I think back on the hearing, not a week past, and the look on my poor cousin Wilfred’s face. He simply could not believe that his own mother would spurn him so, that to me went the mansion, the holdings, everything save the stipend that had long been his only means of sustenance. That expression of hurt and rage, the glare of pure murder he cast me. And he did not even know that I knew of his part in it all.

    I bend over again and drag the heavy sack from the bottom of the boat. Tugging open the end, I begin to remove the mortal remains of Cousin Wilfred. Admittedly, I could have chosen a different victim for this task, but no stipulation was made by dear Aunt Edna, and Wilfred would be so lost without her.

    The various body parts, cut quite small, make barely a splash as they sink into the swamp, and immediately I see the water roil and churn as its hungry denizens rise to their meal.

    All dear Aunt Edna wished was that I feed her fish.

    And I am nothing if not responsible to my obligations.

      1. igonzales81

        Thank you for your praise, but please don’t be jealous. Writing is like building; we may use different materials and methods, but the end result is always something unique and beautiful. Please post and show us all what you’ve built.

    1. Bushkill

      I love your use of “responsible to your obligations” at the front and very end of your story. It gives the motif a finality. Cold, a little dark, and perhaps a little closer to the uncouth nature the MC derides in dear cousin Wilfred. I see all sorts of neat twists and turns for this character to reappear in other stories.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I find this tale haunting, reflective on the hidden evils of man. Everyone has a margin between good and evil, some wide, most not. Your tale explores this issue and doesw a great job of it, the words and thoughts that are conjured up by your tale. It is a fitting example of good verses evil. I wonder if his aunt is able to approve or disapprove of the bait used.

    2. jhowe

      Loved it. Clinging to the family tree, not the type to go peacefully, the breeze that comes from nowhere and everywhere… all great lines. I was excited to get to the end to see what happens. And now I wonder what Edna had fed the fish.

  25. Kerry Charlton



    Brian sat in the first row along with his pain-in-the-neck cousin, Wilfred. The family’s three pews were laden with mourners or what appeared to be. Aunt Edna was really his great Aunt and her money had rebuilt the old church after the squirrel incident of 1985. He knew he was her favorite as he had spent many an hour listening to her spin tales of old from growing up in what used to be a politically correct Pascagoula.

    Rumors had persisted for years about her historic fortune but no one had ever proven it. He did love her dearly and she helped him over his grief when his mother died suddenly while he was in high school.. The tears were real even with Wilfred scoffing at him. After the burial, he invited his cousin out to dinner. After all they were related, even though both sisters had passed unexpectedly.

    Being his usual curt self, he declined,

    “See you at Aunt Emma’s will reading next Monday. She told me she’d split her money down the middle between us“

    As Brian’s grief grew stronger, he thought about the good times he and Aunt Edna hade shared. Driving along the coastline in her 1956 Bentley convertible, their stops at the malt shop and an occasional flick together. He realized she had been his best friend since his Mother passed. He didn’t give a hoot about the money she might have.

    Edna’s attorney, Nes Lesmann in a highly nasal voice droned on incessantly with legal terms, disputing the will and he came to the distribution,

    “I leave the sum of one thousand dollars to my grand nephew, Willard Numbscum. The balance of my estate to Brian McCarthy, with one provision, which will be handed to Brian in a sealed envelope.”
    Willard shot the international peace sign at Brian as he walked out. That left only two in the room, Brian and Nes. Brian opened the envelope carefully, his expression did not change, but his hands trembled.

    The following day, his bank notified him of the transfer to his account, $30,000,000. The bank put a three day hold on the money. As soon as that passed, he secured a cashier’s check for twenty five million and personally drove over to Wilfred’s house and delivered it to him. He tried to smile and be polite as he heard his cousin speak,

    “I told you Brian, she liked me best I understand you only have five million left. What in the world caused you to do this?.”

    “She asked me to in the note.”

    ‘You’re a dunderhead cousin, you already were in possession of the thirty million, legally it was yours.”

    “I know that but I did it anyway to please her.”

    “She’s dead cousin. You are an idiot to listen to a dead person‘s wishes, but I thank you anyway.”

    “Good luck Wilfred, there are no hard feelings on my part.”

    “And none on mine, cousin.”

    Secretly, Les Nesman audited Brian’s account on a prearranged agreement.

    Three weeks later, Brian received a registered letter from Chase International

    He called the executive vice president and was invited to lunch the next day in New Your. A first class ticket was delivered by limo at four in the afternoon and Brian caught his flight to New York with high anxiety,

    ‘It looks like they want the thirty million back,’ he thought, ’what will I do now.?

    In New York another limo picked him up and drove to the Waldorf .

    “I’ll pick you up at nine tomorrow morning, Mr. McCarthy.”

    He barely slept that night wondering how long the prison term would be. Next morning he was ushered into the private office of Chase’s senior executive vice president,

    Charles Williamson handed Brian a large vanilla envelope,

    “Please read this Mr. McCarthy.”

    Brian read the first line and stopped for a moment, when he realized he read a list of stock holdings, where the first line stated, ‘250 thousand shares Ford Motor Corporation.

    “Why am I reading this?”

    “Mr. McCarthy, we handle you Aunt Edna’s stock investments, which total slightly under two billion dollars. By the way, when you sign this agreement, it will be your property.”

    “I can’t believe it.”

    Why? Your aunt was very clever. That’s why you had to pass her test. What are you going to do now?”

    “I’ going to visit my cousin Wilfred In Pascagoula, Mississippi.”
    . .

    1. igonzales81

      That was an awesome story. The ending was just what I was hoping for. And I love the cleverly unexplained bit about the “squirrel incident of 1985.” Bravo!

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great twist! Good for Aunt Edna. A couple of asides. My husband reminded me of the squirrel story, and Nes Lesman? How about Les Nessman?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Your husband has a good eye. I wondered how many would remember the RAy Stevens song and WKRP, another squirrel. Thank you for stopping by, Reatha.

    3. Observer Tim

      This has all the southwestern charm and humour I’ve come to expect from you, Kerry. Isn’t it just like Aunt Edna to give so much to a nephew who can’t even get her name right! But the MC is a truly deserving sort, and no matter how poor he was before he’d have to work hard to lose that fortune.

      This is the wonderful sort of ‘just so’ story that you tell so well. Great one!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, I’m hopping to the top to read yours. I kind of save it for a day wondering where your mind is headed this week. By the way, if you have an extra canoe, ship it to me Fed Ex!

  26. Lex Noël

    Word Count: 500

    “So you’re telling me if I don’t do this, all five hundred mill goes to Wilfred?” I clarify incredulously.

    “Yes, Mr. Hardy,” croaks the Lawyer. Once again the grin cracks across his aged face, reminding me of an old toad.

    “I guess we better get going then,” I sigh. I follow Mr. Hale down the hall and out into the parking lot. We climb inside his vintage Jaguar and set off for Aunt Edna’s house in the woods. I haven’t been back since I was a kid. All I really remember is her weird obsession with vintage glass soda bottles. She’d buy them by the dozens wherever she could. “A soda a day can add up,” she would say each time she bought one. She was always missing a screw or two.

    We turn onto the long driveway leading up to the house. From the mailbox at the end of the drive, stretching out over at least an acre of yard is an enormous mosaic of soda bottles. There isn’t a blade of grass to be seen between the shimmering green and clear colored bottles. She seems to have been inspired by her Dutch roots, making a picture of a windmill and a pair of clogs.

    “There must be half a million bottles here,” I groan to Mr. Hale. “I’ve got to wash, dry and polish every single bottle? Just to throw them away?” Mr. Hale nods once again smiling like bug eyed toad.

    “Well make yourself comfortable,” I sigh as I push the car door open. I realize that there are a myriad of worse scenarios in order to get five hundred million dollars. I’d clean a billion bottles if I had to. I just don’t get why I have to go through all the work just to throw the stupid things away.

    Back at the mosaic I’ve set up a cleaning station on the front porch of the house. I pull a couple of dark green Sprite bottles. Just as I’m about to dunk them in the water I see that they each have something inside. I flip two bottles over and two tightly rolled wads of twenty-dollar bills fall into my hand. I unroll the wad and each one has a hundred dollars worth in twenties. I flip over the other three bottles and inside each is a wad of one hundred dollars. I grab ten more bottles from the yard and dump them out onto the porch. Every single bottle holds a hundred bucks. I collect the money and stash it under the porch steps before running over to Mr. Hale.

    “Is the entire five hundred million in the bank?” I ask him as coolly as I can.

    “Yes,” He replies without looking up from his book. Pure jubilation rises in my chest. I’m going to walk away today with at least another fifty million.

    “A soda a day can add up, Mr. Hale,” I tap on the car door and run back to the porch.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I agree, the bar has been risen. Amazing piece of work, how excited the reader gets for your MC. It’s almost a dream come true. When he gets finised with the soda bottles, he needs to start tearing the interior siding off the walls, could be filled with sterling silver ware, old newspapers wrapped aroung gold watches etc. What a treasure chest he inherited. I’m happy for him, well almost.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow, this is clever, Lex. I love the light-hearted take on the huge and nigh-impossible task. Okay, maybe not nigh-impossible. If it takes five minutes to wash and polish each one, it will take over 475 years to finish the task! He’ll have to work out a better system. Very nice.

        1. Lex Noël

          I was going to say……surely not 475 years! Ha. Instead of writing “walking away today” I should have simply put “walking away”. I think I’d spend five years cleaning half a million bottles if I get to walk away with $550 million at the end of it 😉

          Thanks of the kind words!

  27. Witt.Stanton

    Love & Espionage

    Her heels tapping against the marble flooring, Agent Atlas straightened her shoulders and pushed open the door. A pale woman lay in the bed, her face wrinkled with age. “I knew you’d come,” the woman said, her voice thin.

    Atlas shrugged out of her trench coat and made a show of smoothing the wrinkles out. “Well,” she said, “I was in the area.” They both knew she was lying. She pursed her lips, then sat on the edge of the bed. “How are you?”

    Her sister gave a soft sigh and relaxed back into the bed, relief on her features. “I should make a full recovery.” Atlas felt a hot tear fall down her cheek as she traced her fingers over the tubing stuck into her sister’s arm.

    “I didn’t want to see you like this,” Atlas finally said, withdrawing her arm. She pushed a wisp of greying hair behind her ear. “I almost didn’t come.”

    Her sister smiled. “You’ve always had a soft spot for me.”

    Atlas turned, pulling an envelope from her coat pocket. “I went to your funeral, as you asked, Edna. Why did change your will?”

    “I thought you’d like it,” she laughed, oblivious to the change in tone.

    “I don’t,” Atlas replied, “because you’re asking too much of them. They’re only children.”

    “You know that doesn’t matter; we started before we learned to walk. Your son has an IQ of 182 and Wilfred–”

    Atlas cut her off with a look. “Our parents wanted peace. This isn’t right, they wouldn’t want this.”

    “They were spies,” her sister said. “We are spies. Our children –”

    “No,” Atlas interrupted, feeling more than ever like she carried the weight of the world upon her shoulders. “Raise your children as you will, Edna; leave my son out of this.”

    “Well, my Wilfred already knows six languages, has martial arts training, can decipher –” Her sister broke off in a fit of coughing, blood speckling the handkerchief. She gasped for air, clawing at the tube in her arm. “What have you done?”

    Atlas leaned forward, kissing her sister’s forehead, and hushed her. “Don’t worry. I’m setting things right.” She stood, pulled on her coat, and was halfway out the door when she heard her sister’s heart monitor flatline. She didn’t turn around.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Finishing off one’s sister is pretty tough stuff but maybe the millions had a lot to do with it. Once a spy. Always a spy
      Interesting conversation between the two sisters
      Looks like the rivalry never stopped. Well. It’s stopped now! A little back story on the history of the spy story would make the tale zing.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Witt!

      Just so you know, I love this line for obvious reasons: “Atlas interrupted, feeling more than ever like she carried the weight of the world upon her shoulders.”

      I have a feeling that there’s a whole world of story between these two sisters just waiting to be written. 🙂

    3. Bushkill

      wonderful little juke at the end of this. You did a nice job of selling the family tie and the sisters and then went … zoom … completely away from where i thought things were headed. Awesome!

    4. Observer Tim

      There are about a million lines of backstory behind this tale, Witt, as I’m sure you’re aware. I love the feeling that we’re coming into the middle and the subtle cues that painted the world of espionage behind the sisters. Talk about sibling rivalry! Great job.

  28. cosi van tutte

    Wilfred sat next to me during the will reading.

    I tried to stay focused on who got what when and where, but Wilfred was sick. Yeah. Yeah. Poor Wilfred with his runny nose and streaming eyes.

    He kept rubbing his nose with the side of his bare hand and licking his green nose slime off his hand. Over and over and over. I thought I was going to get sick over and over and over. I tried so hard to ignore him, but I could see him out of the corner of my eye. Rub. Lick. Rub. Lick. I really wanted to get sick all over him. It would just serve him right.

    I pulled a bunch of napkins out of the box next to me and handed it to him. “Here.”

    He looked at me with his streaming eyes. “Uhh?” Rub. Lick.

    “Take it.” I whispered urgently.

    Rub. Lick. “Nah. I’m fine.” Rub. Lick.

    My stomach clenched. I scanned the room for a better seat. They were all taken by Aunt Edna’s twelve million relatives. I was stuck.

    “As for my vast and wondrous fortune—”

    We all snapped to attention. Forget about who inherited her jewels and ten thousand diaries and Crazy Cat Sanctuary. This was the big one. The big deal. The roll of the dice that mattered.

    “—I leave the whole big lot of loot to my beloved nephew Percival.”

    Yes! I would have shouted it, but that reeked of bad taste. I just sat there grinning and ignoring the rubbing and licking happening next to me. At that moment, I didn’t care about Wilfred’s uncouthness. I was da man of the moment. I was the envy of all. I could just feel the envy percolating around the room.

    “Of course, there is a catch. You know how I am, Percival dear. There’s always a catch.”

    Oh. Shoot it all. In my excitement over becoming an instant billionaire, I’d forgotten all about my aunt’s personality glitch. Well. It couldn’t be that bad. Right?

    “I’m sure you remember the stories I used to tell you when you were a child. Well, I’ve written them all down with the plan to publish them. Obviously, I was not able to realize that plan. I’m sure you understand. I would like you to edit them—”

    I nodded my head. I understood. She respected my ability as an editor. It was well past time that someone in the family acknowledged it.

    “—with Wilfred—”

    Uhh. What?

    “—and do be sure to have them published under my name. I will be unable to rake in the glory and fame, which is a shame. Still. I think it would be a nice thing to do in my memory.”

    I looked over at him.

    He smiled a sick, bleared smile and rubbed his nose again. I quickly looked away before he could lick his hand again.

    “This may not seem like too much of a catch, but do keep in mind, dear nephew, that if you fail to meet my demands, the only thing you will inherit is my dearly departed first husband’s collection of false eyes. Oh, and just for the amusement of it all, you would have to display the false eyes on your kitchen table at all times. Oh, it makes me laugh to think of it. Well. Have fun with Wilfred, dear nephew, and try not to kill him. Otherwise, you will inherit nothing at all. Love you, dear. Oh, and one more thing: If you try to contest the will, you will inherit my darling second husband’s collection of bad toupees, twenty-seven cents, and nothing more.”

    The lawyer closed the will. “And that is all.”

    I sat still in a state of shock. How could Aunt Edna be so mean-spirited?


    I had to edit all of Aunt Edna’s stories with Wilfred. Why would she do this to me?

    Wilfred rubbed his nose one more time and punched my arm, leaving shiny slime trails on my black suit jacket. “This should be a lark, dear cousin. A lark!”

    Why, Aunt Edna? Why?!

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Maybe Wilford could be run over by a twelve yard concrete truch, of course by accident
      Very amusing about rub pick and slime. Don’t we all know someone like this character. .last line was very clever. At first take. I thought Wilfred had become Aunt Edma inside but I decided it was a lament instead. Good story.

    2. Observer Tim

      Cosi, it always amazes me how you can create such characters and people of utter strangeness. Aunt Edna’s relatives seem to have inherited many of her foibles, especially Wilfred. I hope Percival has considered online collaboration, where the most likely virus will be electronic.

      I love it!

  29. thejim

    I sat alone in my aunt’s, highly paid, lawyer’s conference room. The leather bound chairs encircled a massive, finely polished, table. Before the lawyers left the room, he informed me that there was a stipulation before I would inherit all of her billions. I thought that maybe it would be like the movie where I would have to spend millions without l telling anyone, or maybe like that one and I would have to do hard labor and find a true friend or some nonsense like that.

    After the lawyers left the room, I unraveled the twine that held the large envelope closed. I slid out a letter. With my aunt’s handwriting was Inscribed the following:

    You know that you are my favorite nephew. Since I did not have, any children to leave my wealth to, I have only two nephews to leave my fortune. Ethel gave birth to that extremely hideous creature, Wilfred. I feared he would get it all. Then my younger sister gave birth to you my dear boy, to her you were a mistake never planned, she never wanted children. Despite that, you turned out just glorious except for one small detail. Now this is where the stipulation comes into play. Wilfred although extremely distasteful, I throw up, just a little bit thinking about him. You may not have known this, but Wilfred was born Wilafred. Yes, my boy he was born a girl and is still to this day. Well, it, has all the girl parts in working order. I cannot give you all my money, the way you are now, no man has ever touched the Von Stelston’s money.

    I paused a moment to gather my thought, Normally I would have given all my attention to Willfred and the news I just got about him or her, but screw him… ah… her. I hope I am not going to read what I think I am going to read. I slowly flipped back over the paper and started reading again.
    I am sorry, but you my son must get a gender modification and completely switch into a woman.

    I blinked several times.

    I have the doctor lined up and all the expenses of the operation and recovery have been paid. Once they complete the procedure, you come back here, a doctor will examine you and once you have passed that and a DNA test my lawyers will sign off, and all my money is yours.

    I am sorry it has come to this, but I know you will have a wonderful life as Breann leaving the old Brian and his baggage behind. You Have 3 months until the process starts and then the deadline for completion is 5 years. By that time, you should be totally finished.

    Four years and six months later, I walked into the law offices to have a doctor examine me. There was a verbal test giving to me by the lawyers and a slight pinprick of my finger to provide DNA, which of course was a perfect match to the one I gave them when I visited the doctor in his downtown office before this process started. After everyone was satisfied, I revived a thick envelope with all the documentation of my wealth. Then, without a word, I left the office, headed out to my car parked outside, and drove back to my apartment.

    I opened the door to see myself sitting and waiting. I use to always be upset that my buddies would say that my girlfriend and I could easily pass for brother and sister, but not anymore. The doctor was happy to take, a cool 2million not to perform the surgery and to keep his mouth shut.

    I have always wanted to see Italy, and now I shall.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I really loved this turn of events
      Aunt Edna had no idea how clever Brian was
      The only problem and I would write this as a second chapter
      Aunt Edna comes back to try to get her money back and uses Wilfred to help her. Let’s see what Brian can come up with.

    2. UnclePizza

      Good one! You had me cringing at the thought (no judgement or offense whatever to those who do that, it’s just not for me)!

      PS – now I feel like a cheapskate: my MC only offered $1M as a bribe. I guess doctors come with a higher price tag though 😉


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