July 16, 2010

The Letter

I did it. I said I wasn't going to, but I did. As a new member of the Red Dress Club, I decided I would participate in this week's meme, writing a short piece of fiction that begins with the words, "Your mother." I haven't attempted to write fiction in many years. And I didn't have much time (I decided halfway through my daughter's nap that I would go for it). So I decided this would be a piece of flash fiction, to be continued at a later date...

"Your mother left explicit instructions not to open this envelope until the event of her death," the lawyer was saying. 

He held a small, worn envelope in his hand as he looked over the massive mahogany desk at her.

Your mother. It was so strange to hear those words used to describe a someone she'd never known. Never wanted to know. Maggie felt uncomfortable sitting in the big wing back chair in the fancy downtown office with floor-to-ceiling windows giving her a panoramic view of the city. She looked down at her feet.

And then there were the other people in the room, staring at her expectantly. She couldn't see them; they were seated behind her. But she could feel their collective glare. 

Her birth mother's family. Maggie wasn't sure if they even knew of her existence before today. Their faces didn't give it away. They impressed her as people who never gave much away at all. The kind of people who'd be very good at poker. What must they be thinking right now?

When Maggie thought of her mother, an entirely different woman came to mind. The one who had adopted her as an infant and raised her. That was her mother. The woman who had given birth to her and then abandoned her was a stranger. 

As a young child, Maggie had asked about her. Many times. But she could always see the pain in her mother's face as she struggled to answer. So she gave up. And eventually, she stopped thinking about "that" woman altogether. Until the day she received a phone call...

The lawyer cleared his throat and brought them all back to the matter at hand. "Ms. Winiski's Last Will and Testament has already been opened and read to all interested parties. This is a separate matter." He turned his attention to the group in the back of the room.

"There's no need for you to be present for this," he said to them.

"This involves us, too," the tall one replied. Maggie didn't even know any of their names. "Ms. Pope is kin, after all."

"Ms. Pope, do you have any objections?" The lawyer looked apologetically at her. He didn't like this situation one bit. She could tell.

"No sir," she replied. "They are welcome to stay." Probably want to make sure she's not leaving me the farm, she thought. Normally an expression. But in this case, it could actually be true. What would she do with a farm, anyway?

"Well, it seems appropriate that you be the one to open the envelope," the lawyer said. 

He stood up and came around the desk, leaned over and handed her the envelope. She held it in her hands and looked at it. Turned it over and over. Stared at it. Her hands trembled a little. No reason to put it off. She took her finger and began to rip at the top edge of the envelope. She could hear her "kin" lean forward and strain to see over her shoulders.

It was a letter. "Dear Maggie," it began.

"Yes, I know your name. I know everything about you. I've been watching you from a distance your whole life."

Maggie stopped reading and put the letter down.

"On second thought," she said to the lawyer. "I think I would like some privacy."

"Of course," he nodded. "Take your time."

"Everyone, we can wait in the conference room. My assistant has some refreshments waiting for you..." His voice trailed off as he lead her newfound family out of the room.

Red Writing Hood


  1. I NEED MORE! I am getting chills as I anticipate finding out what the letter says. Did you really write this in 1/2 a nap's span? Awesome!

  2. Elizabeth - nice to see you trying your hand at fiction! This is an intriguing premise. I like it when her "kin" leaned forward ... like a collective mob ;-) I hope to see more fiction from you :-)

  3. Yes. I didn't even proof it. LOL Hope there aren't any typos! ;) Glad you like it. I don't know what comes next any more than you do, however. I'll have to figure that out.

  4. @ PJ - Thanks! I felt like as a member of the group I should at least make an attempt. Though I have made it clear my speciality is NONfiction! ;P

  5. So now I really need to know what that letter says. Keep writing! I think there's a fiction writer in you.

  6. ACK!! What did it say? WHAT DID IT SAY?!?! Sorry. I'm very impatient.

    Anyway - SO glad you participated (it wasn't that painful, right?)! A great start, left me wanting to know more, so that's a good thing!!

  7. AHH! I can't stand the suspense! What did it say? Very well done, you definitely caught my attention.

  8. Ach! I am hooked. PLEASE! What happens now????

    Oh, this dialogue was just excellent. It seemed like you had fun writing it, like it was so easy for you.

  9. When I finished this piece, I had no idea what the letter said. But I do now, and I'm already working on the second installment. You will find out, I promise! ;)

  10. Well done!!!! From one non-fiction writer to another, this exercise scared me to death and I threw my draft away twice before I actually went and posted it.

    Serialize this baby - I'll come back for more! Great tension! I was in the room!

  11. @ Adelle - I think the best thing we can do - in writing and in life - is face our fears! I have no intention of switching genres, but I will keep this going and try to keep participating in the memes. Thanks for the encouragement!

  12. As someone who was adopted as a kid, I say BRAVO.

    Now... WTH did the letter say???? :)

  13. @ Smee - I am also adopted, so perhaps that is why I took the story in that direction. The similarities end there, however. Maggie is purely fictional. ;)

    You will find out what the letter said. Although I'm not sure when I will be able to post the second segment. I have guest posters set up for all of next week, and I'm sure the next meme will be completely different. I may have to pass on the memes for a bit and participate in #FridayFlash until this story is complete. I have at least three segments in mind...

  14. This is really good. The tension in that room is very well done, and your mc's thoughts are clear. Also-- what does the letter say?? :)

    I'll be back for the next one. Great job.

  15. @ Gracie - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I have completed three more installments for this story. Will be posting one each Friday...

  16. i definitely want to know where this is going - write more fiction woman!! :) and i love the different ways people are using "your mother." would not have thought to use it in a lawyer's office. nice job!

  17. So how did you feel writing fiction? I liked it. Really good hook.

  18. @ Ericka - Thanks for the encouragement!

    @ Jeannie - I had fun with it. And I've spent my entire weekend thinking about this character. Fleshing out the rest of the story. It's different b/c with my normal writing, the main "character" is me. LOL

  19. Intriguing start. I want to know what the letter says too and also what kind of relationship will develop with her newfound kin.

  20. This is a great beginning! I can't wait to find out what happens! molly

  21. I am hooked .... excellent start ... you grabbed the readers attention and left dozens of questions in the mind of "what's gonna happen next" and I forgot I was reading and was just enjoying the experiencing what your character was going through. Keep writing this story....... :)


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