This is the second segment in a flash fiction series. If you have not read the first, start here.
Maggie waited until she could no longer hear their footsteps in the hallway. Then she scanned the room for a more comfortable place to sit. It didn't feel right to read something so momentous in that rigid chair. Ah, there it was, behind the desk. Soft, supple, inviting leather. What the heck? The lawyer would never know.
She opened the letter and continued reading.
"My parents wanted me to give you to strangers. After all, it was a disgrace; a single woman pregnant with a married man's child. They just wanted to make the whole mess go away. I was too young and scared to fight them and try to keep you. But I knew there was only one person who could raise you.
It was hard for her to accept at first. But, having lost your father in the war, you were the only piece of him she had left. And I knew she would love you, since you had been made from him. When I felt the pains coming on, I snuck out of my parents' house and went to her. She helped bring you in to this world. We cried together, and made a pledge.
She would move away, and raise you as her own. I insisted you know you were adopted, and that she keep me up to date on your life. She agreed as long as I would stay away and never attempt to contact you. It was far from a satisfactory arrangement, but then nothing about the situation was ideal.
Each year, on your birthday, your mother would send me a letter and a photo. I would retreat to my family's lakeside cabin alone and devour every word. Again and again. They made me feel I was a part of your life. And every year, I wrote a letter back to you. I never sent them, of course. That would go against my promise. I placed them in my hope chest at the foot of the bed.
Mr. Thompson has one more envelope for you, when you feel ready. It contains the deed to the cabin and the key to the hope chest. I'm sorry we were never able to meet in person. But, if you want to know my heart, read the letters. And I hope you enjoy the cabin. It was always a place of reflection for me.
There had been no mention in the Will of a lakeside cabin. So that's why the Winiski family was so interested in the contents of the envelope. It made sense now. She swiveled the chair around and looked out the window. Mr. Thompson had a fantastic view of the city skyline along Lake Michigan.
So much made sense to her in that moment. The pained look on her mother's face whenever she asked about her birth mother. The fact that none of her father's pictures or WWII medals were ever on display like in the homes of so many of her friends. She had found them all in the attic when she was cleaning out the house after her mother's funeral. Her other mother.
Maggie took a deep breath, stood and walked to the door of the office. Upon opening it she found Mr. Thompson seated just outside, at his assistant's desk. He rose and buttoned his suit jacket. She could see the Winiskis peering out the conference room door just down the hall, but she did not acknowledge them.
"Mr. Thompson," she said, "I believe we have some property to discuss."
"Indeed," he replied. He followed her back in to his office and closed the door.