You can't pick your relatives.

Submitted for Contest #55 in response to: Write a story about an old family secret surfacing generations later.... view prompt

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Submitted on 08/19/2020

Categories: Thriller Drama


Who is this angry man in front of me? He's not the same man who left to see his father a week ago. This man is tense and moody. Not cheerful and upbeat. I think back to the night before he left, we were so happy.


I lean back against Keith’s chest. His chin settles on top of my head and his arms wrap around me. I am a tall, big boned woman, at 5’10” and 142lbs. But in Keith’s arms I feel tiny and fragile. He is very tall; he stands 6’6”. I don’t know what he weighs but I can tell you its pure muscle, and in a month it will be all mine.


“I’m going to miss you.” Keith mumbles into my hair.


“I’ll miss you too, but it’s only for a week. You haven’t seen your Father in ages and it must be important if he asked you to come.” 


“”I can’t imagine what he wants Molly. We haven’t really kept in contact since I left the farm.”


“I’m sure he misses you and thought it would be a good time to reconnect since you're getting married.”


“I’m sure you’re right, he’s just always been a hard and secretive man since Mom died.”


“How did your mom die? You’ve never told me.” Keith was quiet for a while,


“Mom died in childbirth along with my baby sister.”


“I’m so sorry Keith!” I turn in his arms so I can look into his beautiful blue eyes.


“It was a long time ago; I said my goodbyes to her then. I just wish I could say the same about my sister. I think Dad has a lot of guilt for letting Mom deliver at home instead of a hospital. As soon as Mom died Dad wrapped up the baby and left the house, I never even got a peak at her. I was just left with Mom for about two hours till Dad came back. No explanation and no baby.”


“He left you with your dead Mother!”


“Shhh, it’s alright, like I said it was a long time ago, but he changed a lot after that.”


“How old were you?”


“I was five, almost six. I spent that time telling Mom how much I loved her and how I was going to grow up and marry someone just like her,”


I tilted my head back and Keith bowed down and kissed my lips. 


Keith left that next day for Chelan County, Washington. I wished him well, but silently fretted. I can’t get the details of his mother's and sister's death out of my mind. What kind of man would leave his five year old son alone with his dead mother and what had he done with the baby? Was it stillborn? Deformed? Or had he killed it because of the death of his wife? Was she buried or left for wild animals? Horrific images flood my mind.


Finally I get a hold of my runaway imagination and finish all the last minutes details for our wedding. Keith has warned me that cell phone reception is almost unheard of in that area, but I still worry that I have heard nothing from him in the last six days.


Today Keith is coming home, but it’s 7 pm and still no word, I’m worried. My phone beeps alerting me to a text. It’s a message from Keith,  ‘I’m home I’ll see you tomorrow.’  That’s all! That’s it! No, I love you; I miss you, that’s all I receive! I am hurt to say the least. 


*****************************************************


Keith arrives at my house around 6pm,


“Hi, how are you?” I ask tentatively.


“Fine!” He grumbles.


“How did the visit with your Dad go?”


“Fine!”


“Is that all you can say?”


“Why the interrogation? I told you it was fine, now drop it?”


Stunned I stare at Keith, he has never spoken to me like this.


“Sorry, maybe I should just go I’m not in the best of moods, I’ll call you tomorrow.”


“No Keith don’t go, I missed you so much,” I sob and throw myself into his arms. “I won’t ask anymore questions if you don’t want to me too.”


He wraps his arms around me, I feel him shudder as he squeezes me tight. What happened on his trip? 


********************************************************


I watch Keith mow the lawn. I can’t believe how happy I am. We are celebrating our fifth anniversary tomorrow. Five years of wedded bliss, well actually four and three quarters. When Keith first came back from his father's he was moody and edgy. He went through all the motions, the wedding, the honeymoon and acting like he was happy, but he wasn’t. I feared he’d never return to the Keith I knew. Things changed three months into our marriage. Keith left on a business trip and came back a renewed man. The burden he'd been carrying had somehow disappeared. Everything is perfect, except the absence of children. Our dream is for a large family, but we haven't been blessed.


A week after our anniversary Keith received a letter from an attorney in Chelan County, Washington. 


Dear Mr. Holden,


I am writing to inform you that Robert Albert Holden is deceased. He passed away on August 4th, 2020. As you are the sole beneficiary, I am required to remind you, that you need to inhabit Holden Hole, to fulfill the requirements of your inheritance. The property is 1500 acres in the community of Stehekin. Parcel number #012-618-02, Book 4, Page 8, Parcel 3. This property is free of liens and /or other encumbrances. There is also an account at the Stehekin bank in the amount of $57,000. I reiterate again that you are required to occupy the property to inherit. You have exactly 30 days from the death of R.A. Holden to move in and receive your inheritance.


Call with any questions; 889-457-8888.


Sincerely,


Henry Forrest

Attorney


Keith turned white as he read the letter; he crumbled the paper, I took it from his fist and read what it said.


“Keith I’m so sorry.”


“What?”


“Your Father, I’m sorry he died.”


“Oh, thank you.” He says distractedly. “We need to get packing, if were going to get there in time.”


“What! You’re really planning on moving there? Clear across the country! Are we even going to discuss this?”


“I’m going to the farm, it’s your choice whether you come or not!” Keith shouts as he storms out of the house.


Where did the man I love go? Did he really not care if I go with him? I love him, but I don’t want to leave my family and everything I know. I don’t know what to do. I crumble to the floor and dissolve into tears.


**************************************************


A breeze is blowing off Lake Chelan; it is a 55 mile long fjord deep in Washington State. We are waiting to board the ferry, Lady of the Lake. The name brings images of Camelot to my mind. Keith comes up behind me and wraps his arms around my body, setting his chin on my head like he use too. For a moment I feel like I’m Guinevere with her beloved Sir Lancelot. That is till he turns back into King Arthur with all the responsibilities and worries bowing down his shoulders. I would take some of the burden if only he’d share, but he won’t. So I’ll enjoy these rare moments when he feels lighthearted and free.


There is no road access to Stehekin, we could have flown to the small airport but Keith wanted to take the ferry. It takes longer and it's scenic, so in four hours I’ll finally see my new home. 


Keith brings me out to the deck, the weather is pleasant with a nice breeze blowing. The view is amazing. The ferry makes a couple of stops along the way and Keith insists that we explore each one. 


The first thing I see when we dock at Stehekin is the North Cascades Lodge. It is lovely. We go inside for lunch while our belongings are unloaded from the ferry and put into Keith’s father's Jeep. We've only brought a few necessities; the rest will be brought by barge along with our car later.


After lunch, instead of heading home Keith wants to take the red bus tour, it is a 50 minute tour of the area culminating at the breathtaking 312 ft Rainbow Falls. On the way back we stop at the Stehekin Pastry Company. The smells coming from the shop are heavenly and my mouth is watering before we even opened the door.


Finally we are on our way home with my lap filled with several boxes of pastries and goodies. The closer we get to his home, the quieter Keith becomes. My Sir Lancelot is gone once again. I wonder what burden sits so heavy upon his shoulders.

The drive to his, I mean our, home takes over an hour. We left the paved road about 20 minutes ago. The remoteness of the place is starting to freak me out, until we round the last curve. The trees disappear and a lovely farmhouse comes into view. It sits in a meadow with a small stream running along the north side of the property. I am speechless.


We pull up in front of the house and Keith unlocks the front door.


“I need to check the property, just grab what you need and I’ll unload the rest of the stuff when I get back.”    He goes into the barn and comes out on a 4 wheeler, it's loaded with a huge bag. Then he is gone, swallowed up by the surrounding forest.


For the longest time I stand in a stupor, I can’t believe he left me like that. Well I should be use to his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality by now, I sigh. Then go into the house with my pastries.


The house is spacious on the inside, maybe a little plain but I know I can make it lovely with very little effort. The kitchen has been stocked and everything has been cleaned. So I set about unloading and putting away our things.


It is getting dark when Keith returns. I have dinner hot and waiting, but he just mumbles he's tired and goes upstairs. I put the dinner away and go out to the back porch and sit in the rocker. It is so different here in the country, there are no lights, except the house and no urban sounds; cars, trains and even the sounds of people are absent. There are sounds though; crickets, the breeze and the rustling of the trees, they are comforting and pleasant. Gradually, the atmosphere of my surroundings change. I still hear the breeze, the rustling of the trees, however I don’t feel comforted anymore. I feel eyes upon me. I scan the area but it is too dark to see anything but shadows. I go inside and lock up. I need to get use to my new home.


The next morning Keith serves me breakfast in bed. He apologizes for leaving me and promises to show me around the property. After we eat, he takes me to the barns and pens, then we get on the 4 wheeler and explore the rest of the property. I love the feel of the wind whipping through my hair as we race over meadow and through the trees. The property is immense; most of it consists of forest with the farmhouse sitting in the middle of the largest meadow. He mentions a waterfall higher up the mountain as the source of the stream.


“Oh can we go there now?” I ask.


“I don’t know. I have things to do.” He starts fidgeting, but I ignore it because I really want to see the falls.


“Oh please Keith!”


“Fine, we’ll go.” His body tenses and becomes rigid as we drive up the mountain toward the falls.


We finally come to an incredibly blue pool, water from above splashes into it causing mini waves to ripple outward. I walk to the waters edge and slip off my boots and submerge my feet.


“Come on Keith, the water feels wonderful.” He glances around for a moment then comes to sit beside me. I lean against him and relax. 


“This is so peaceful, is it part of the property?”


“”Yes, it’s our northern most border.”


“It’s beautiful.” I whisper as I lift my face to his. He relaxes and softly kisses me. Suddenly something crashes to the left of us, it sounded like a clap of thunder. Keith jerks upright and pulls me to my feet.


“What was that!” I cry.


“Probably an old rotted tree fell, it happens. Let’s go I have a lot to do.”


“But Keith, we can do it la…”


“No, I never put off for tomorrow what I should do today.” He smiles at me but he seems tense and his eyes search our surroundings. I hurriedly put on my boots when I notice that all the birds that had been serenading us have stopped singing. It is now eerily quiet, almost threatening. As we drive out of the forest I feel eyes boring into my back and Keith doesn’t relax until we are back in the meadow.


“What was that?” I ask when we get back into the house.


“What was what?”


“The noise, by the falls.”


“I told you it was probably an old tree, they get old and rotted and they snap that’s all.”


“What about the birds?”


“What about them?”


“They quit chirping after the sound, something scared them.”


“Really!" It was just a tree and you let your imagination get the better of you!” He growls slamming the door as he stomps outside.


Dinner is a quiet affair tonight. Neither of us talk much. After I clean up I go out onto the porch again. Just as I am starting to sit down Keith comes out.


“Why don’t you come to bed?”


“I thought I’d relax and I didn’t think you wanted to talk to me!”


“I’m sorry. I love you. Please come in with me.” He says as he walks over and pulls me into his arms. Gratefully I accept his embrace. I notice him give one last anxious glance out into the meadow as we retreat inside.


The next morning he left early, before I woke. I decide to unpack to rest of our things. It is getting late when I come to the box of our important papers. I carry them to the desk in the front room. I open the desk and a book falls out. It is called ‘Syndromes and Inherited Disorders.’ Numerous pages are marked and notes are stuffed through out it. Most of the pages marked are about Gigantism, Marfan Syndrome, Wild man syndrome and Hypertrichosis. A couple of the syndromes are pretty self explanatory. but I have to read about Marfan syndrome, it is similar to gigantism. Hypertrichosis is about excessive hair growth, boring, I put the book back. Keith's father enjoyed some strange reading materials.


I start sorting our papers to put them in some semblance of order. Insurance forms in one pile, bills in another, Marriage certificate and personal papers in another. I am surprised at how many papers we’ve accumulated through the years. About half way through the mess, I pick up a form; it is a denial of payment. I'm not sure which stack to put it in, so I open it to see what it says.


I drop it onto my lap, how could he! Our whole marriage he's deceived me, he knows how much I want children. I believed it was our dream. It was all a lie. My shock is so profound I can't even cry. He had gotten a vasectomy three months after our wedding, during that supposed business trip! Anger and shock course through me!


I hear his 4 wheeler pull up outside. Consumed with rage I grab a log off the stack of firewood and stomp out the door. I don’t give him a chance to say anything, I just attack. I swing the log at his head, he sees it coming and it bounces off his upraised arm. I drop it and start punching him and scratching at his face.


“What the hell is wrong with you?” He yells holding me by my wrists.


“How could you? I thought something was wrong with me! I thought I was worthless as a woman when I didn’t conceive! HOW COULD YOU!” In my fury I leap into the air kicking both my feet into his stomach. We both fall to the ground, I jump to my feet and start kicking him, he doesn’t try to defend himself. He just keeps saying he's sorry, so sorry. 


Suddenly I'm grabbed from behind and thrown against the 4-wheeler. A huge hairy creature charges toward me. I fumble for the rifle that Keith keeps on the ATV. My mind doesn't want to process the fact that a Bigfoot is trying to kill me.


“NO!” Keith screams and jumps in front of me, giving me time to pull the rifle free. I swing it toward the creature, but Keith swings around and wrestles the gun out of my hands.


“ARE YOU CRAZY?” I shriek in terror.


“That’s my sister.” He quietly says.


Comprehension floods my mind when I stare into the blue eyes of the creature.


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12 comments

Roshna Rusiniya
06:07 Aug 23, 2020

This was a very suspenseful read. Enjoyed it. Well-done.

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06:13 Aug 23, 2020

Thank you so much

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Vi Nordgren
00:35 Aug 29, 2020

WOW, I started to suspect the Sis was alive but even with the books the condition surprised me. Good story.

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02:21 Aug 29, 2020

Thank you 😊

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Deborah Angevin
23:35 Aug 24, 2020

The suspense...wow! I liked the ending too, Catherine; I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Yellow Light"? Thank you :D

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00:50 Aug 25, 2020

Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

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13:25 Aug 23, 2020

This was such a great story. I was in suspense the entire time. Very good writting!!!

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15:05 Aug 23, 2020

Im glad your enjoyed the story. Thanks

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Charles Stucker
01:19 Aug 20, 2020

“I can’t imagine what he wants Molly. We haven’t really kept in contact since I left the farmer.” Typo - farm "since your getting married.” Typo- you're " mothers and sisters death " mother's and sister's "his plane was suppose to arrive" supposed "When Keith first came back from his fathers" father's "I must reiterate again that you must occupy the property to inherit." change one of the "must" to "are required" or "am required". You want to avoid using the same word twice in a sentence. "Quinevere" Guinevere "into Kei...

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01:53 Aug 20, 2020

Thank you so much for the critique. It helps tremendously. I will definitely go in and make some changes.

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Jesna Anna s.
08:43 Aug 19, 2020

Wow! Amazing story! Keep writing!

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13:43 Aug 19, 2020

Thank you

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