PBW Stories

Paperback Writer's Fiction Blog

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Inheritance
a story idea by Lynn Viehl

“Lunch.” I handed my co-worker, Lucy, a wrapped sandwich. At her hurt look, I added, “It’s an all-veggie pita with no-fat dressing.”

“I love you. If you weren’t a girl, I’d have your babies.” She stopped to rip paper and take a huge bite before taste-bliss made her lashes droop. “Oh, God. Maybe we could adopt.”

Lucy had been dieting since high school; I knew because we’d been best friends since the first day of freshman year. I never kept any secrets from her, either, which was making it tough to decide what to tell her about my luncheon appointment.

“So?” She took a bottle of protein water from her bag. “What happened at the bank?”

“Nothing much.” I sat down in the client chair next to her desk and eyed the scuff mark on one side of my right shoe. “Anyone call?”

In mid-chug, Lucy nodded and passed me a small stack of message slips. Because she was the world’s finest receptionist, they were all neatly and beautifully written, and because I was the head of Accounts Receivable, I’d have to call them back.

“You look like someone just kicked your dog,” she told me after she swallowed. “What’s nothing much?”

“It’s just a family thing.” I sorted through the slips, shuffling them according to accounts and making some predictions about what they wanted to tell me. “No money, no money, probably filing Chapter Eleven, no money . . .” I came to one from the bank officer I’d just seen. “Oh.”

“He needs you to fax him a copy of your birth certificate.” Lucy balled up the empty sandwich wrapper, expertly tossing it into the garbage can in the corner of her cubicle before she gave me the eye. “You gonna tell me, or do I have to spread a rumor about you having the hots for Dale Bilmer in Collections?”

“Dale Bilmer is sixty-two.”

She nodded. “And still single. And looks upon you with lust simmering in his pacemaker.”

I wanted to laugh, but I was too depressed. “I’ve inherited something.”

Lucy leaned close. “Something like what?”

“A French chateau.”

“A what?” Lucy whooped, jumped up and dragged me to my feet before she danced me around. “You’re rich, you’re rich, you’re rich!”

I let her spin me a few more times before I stopped her. “I’m not rich.”

“Oh, sure.” She laughed. “You’re so poor you own a chateau in France. Get out of town.”

“It’s not in France.” I eased out of her arms. “It’s in California.”

“Huh?” Now she looked perplexed. “What’s it doing there?”

“Someone moved it there.” I sat back down and gestured for her to do the same. “It’s in the mountains in the north part of the state.” I hesitated before I added, “I inherited a couple of mountains, too.”

My best friend grinned. “In California? Girl, trust me, you’re rich now. You’re so rich that you could—”

“I have to live there,” I told her, shutting her up instantly. “I mean, if I want the land and the money and stuff, I have to move to California and live in the house.”

“For how long?”

“A week.”



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