FlashFictionFridays #1 “Inheritance”

Hi everyone! I’ve decided to start a new project on this here site. It’s called, as seen above, Flash Fiction Fridays! I’m not very good at flash fiction, as evidenced by the fact that every story I write is very long no matter how much I try to cut it down, so I want to try my hand at getting this right. I hope you won’t mind and bear with me.

To start this off, I’m posting the very first piece of flash fiction I tried. Which of course went over the 1000-word limit. Hope you enjoy!

“Inheritance”

By Shari Paul

The windows all needed replacing. Mamma hadn’t been to the house in forever, so maybe she didn’t know that the front steps had rotted to nothing. The roof leaked, thank goodness for the sudden downpour that morning or I would have gotten a bath in my sleep. And of course, the house was full of dust and bugs and mold. But there was running water and electricity, so all things considered, it wasn’t all that bad.

Elmo came over while I was searching for usable dishes, and I only noticed him because I happened to be at the window. I did not know the man he had brought with him, but I could guess. I walked over to the door and called, “What you looking for?”

The other man when he turned was young and portly. His mirrored sunglasses reflected the image of me standing at the half-opened door. He smiled, but Elmo scowled and asked, “What you doing here?”

“It’s my house,” I replied.

My brother’s scowl darkened, and he wrinkled his nose, jiggling his grey caterpillar moustache hilariously. He forced a smile that did not reach his eyes and said, “Didn’t I tell you about the development?”

I shook my head. I said, “I called Ma a few days ago and said that I needed a place to stay until I could sort out some things. She didn’t tell you?”

I doubted she had. Mamma liked to complain about the things Elmo did but make no move to correct them, even as they affected her. Usually I ignored it, but this was a step too far. He shifted, uncomfortable on his feet, embarrassed and angry. Beside him, the other man turned his attention to looking over the house with interest. To him I said, “I would offer you a drink, but I only just got here. You are?”

He started a little, but plastered on a smile and stuck his hand out, “Dev, well you can call me Dave, Miss…?”

“Margot,” I said. His grip was firm, his hand soft but cold, clammy. I drew my hand away and asked, “You’re looking to start a development here?”

“Oh yes,” he replied, hands on his hips now as he turned to survey the acreage that had been our mother’s land since the Cedula. “I had a good look at the village as we were coming up the mountain and I like it. Quiet, small. People nowadays are looking for that you know, a bit of country living. Your uncle has good ideas.”

Elmo sputtered out something that might have been “I’m her brother” but I spoke over him, “Oh? Like what?”

“Luxury homes. We’re going to call it ‘Serenity Villas’. Your uncle mentioned that there’s a famous mermaid pool somewhere on the property too so we’re using that as the theme. Buyers will love it, of course. It’s just the quaint feature—superstitious country folk, you know—that will drive up interest. Who knows, maybe they can arrange hikes to ‘find the mermaid’?”

I looked past him to Elmo. My brother, the coward, had his back to us. He really was going to sell the land out from under his mother, if he had not done it already. I asked, “When do you plan on starting this project?”

“As soon as the paperwork clears,” said Dave.

“It’s already done,” said Elmo.

We both looked at him. He lifted his chin and said, “I don’t know why you’re here now, but I already sign the papers. I told Mother what I was going to do in advance.”

He folded his arms and set his mouth, looking down at me over his nose. I almost felt sorry for him, but he had brought this on himself.

To Dave, I said, “I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding. You see, this house and the land it stands on, and that includes everything going to the river, belongs to all my mother’s children, not just my brother. He could not sell it to you without our permission, and he already did not have mine. I think you should call your lawyer.”

Dave stared at me for a moment, then turned to my brother. Elmo, enraged, started forward, one hand up with his finger out to admonish me. I do not know if he intended to attack me, and I did not care. The ground around us was still wet, water glistening in shallow, muddy pools or glittering like jewels on the tall grass of the overgrown front yard. I pulled even the shining droplets from Dave’s BMW, wrapped it into a fine lasso and stringed my brother up by his chest. The fight went out of him immediately. Dave dropped onto his backside in the dusty front path.

I said, “You should leave now. My brother and I need to talk.”

Dave scrambled to his feet and raced back to his car. I waited until he was nothing more than a cloud of dust slowly dissipating and then said to my brother, “You forgot what I am. Mamma let you get away with a lot, so you must think you untouchable, but not to me.”

Elmo, still fuming, spat at me, “In this dump? The house falling apart. How you going to fix it? With what money? I know your father didn’t leave you no money, because mine didn’t either. None of them did. How you going to pay the taxes? You can’t live in the river like Ma and even if you could, you notice the river getting shallow? All over have development, if you don’t let me do this now, who you going to find to do it later?”

I did not want to hear this from him. I had nowhere else to go and he had squandered all the money and opportunities Mamma had tried to give him. And besides, if he was not so blinded by the riches of the human world, he would know that this land, fed by our mother’s river, was full of her magic. As long as it was ours, we would have her protection and power. What more could we want than that?

I let him fall free of the water lasso, and he slowly pulled himself to his feet. He looked every one of his fifty-odd years, while I looked barely twenty and had seen our island go from a neglected Spanish colony to our little multicultural republic. I said, “Next time you coming, call first. It rude to show up in people place unannounced.”

He lifted his chin, turned and left. I watched him disappear down the path and went back into the house. I had not even started on the living room yet.

Fin

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