Walking slowly up the driveway Emilie looks around the neighborhood at all the twitching curtains. Suddenly a circle of women form on the lawn opposite out of each of the nearby houses, `Have they nothing better to do than nose out of the window’ Emilie thinks – ‘obviously not – that’s quite sad.’ No manners either as they’re not being discreet in the slightest. Clearly debating why she’s there (in THEIR stuck up area) and not dressed appropriately for the visit, in their eyes. She ascertains this from the brouhaha of `Who’s’ and ‘Why’s’, catching the odd snippet of words like `lingering, robbing’. As well as the annoyed frowns across all of their foreheads as each one quickly glances in her direction.
'How very rude’ she thinks `what gives them the right to judge, look down their noses at me!’ Sure she’s dressed in holey jeans, a Duffle coat; sneakers with holes in the toes and her black beanie in an attempt to keep warm. But who in their right mind wouldn’t wrap up as it’s freezing out. She also has no choice, that’s literally all she physically owns to wear.
Emilie takes a deep breath and decides to ignore them for now; thinking back to the whirlwind of events that has led up to this very moment…
`Emilie’ the solicitor repeats `Emilie…did you hear what I said?’
He clears his throat and continues as Emilie is still gazing blankly at him, not responding to his question `Your Great Aunt Agnes has left you her house in Vancouver Place.’
All Emilie manages to say is `'um…’
`You’re obviously still in shock’ he announces pressing the buzzer to his receptionist he asks her to bring in a glass of water for his client.
Emilie had taken the phone call only a couple of days before `'It is Kirby Solicitors, are we speaking to Emilie Sanderson? We have been urgently trying to track you down for some time as we need to inform you of your mention in Agnes Harris’ Will, your Great Aunt’
Emilie had been down on her luck and sofa surfing, ever since the recession meant the truck stop café closing, taking her waitressing job with it; the only job she’d ever known. This call was completely out of the blue and at first she thought it to be some kind of wind up or scam. She had no recollection of a Great Aunt and she’d remember the name Agnes for sure!
Reaching the door, about to venture inside, she hears the women still spouting their poison, whipping around and marching straight towards them with purpose. She removes her beanie showing her black curly locks, her pretty face and raises her eye brows saying `what is your problem huh?’
Most of the women scatter in different directions back to the houses they crawled out of, all apart from one. This woman is clearly not going to back away, at least not yet; she comes across as no shrinking violet. She answers `as Head of the Neighborhood Watch Scheme – we have a duty to protect our community.’ She stands taller, peers down at her, the rim of her glasses on the edge of her nose; all snooty like and condescending. Her stature indicates she’s intentionally trying to rile Emilie as if poking her with her words on purpose to invoke a reaction.
Emilie composes herself before answering `You have a DUTY as a human being to not make snap judgments' about others from the way they look. The World needs more good in it, more love, more welcoming, not hatred, bitterness and spite.’
The woman is taken aback clearly shocked into silence, her mouth wide open. She grunts “humph” turns sharply looking Emilie up and down before marching back in to her house and slamming the door shut whilst giving Emilie a death stare.
Emilie shakes her head gently in pure disbelief, 'how old are these women 65 going on 5! They’re old enough to know better that’s for sure'. She decides to not let it ruin any more of her day.
Making her way back over to the house, keen to look inside to see what else she can uncover about who Agnes was and why she’d leave such valuable possessions to her when she was pretty sure she’d never met her. Being estranged from both her parents by the young age of 15 sure made it harder to obtain answers about her past, things she couldn’t remember from when she was little. Opening the door she steps in, her footsteps echo occasionally squeaking on the marble floor, straight in front of her there’s a spiral staircase and a marble phone table. Running the tips of her fingers across the cold smooth marble she passes by into the living room to the left. On the hearth of the fireplace she sees a photo of her mum holding her as a baby sitting next to an older lady who Emilie can only guess is Agnes. She can see the similarities, the same nose and the eyes exact deep brown as her own.
She carries on exploring through to the adjourning room, the drawing room. She pauses as there on the mahogany writing table with dovetail joints and tiny drawers sits a fountain pen on top of a pad of personalized note paper. She can see an indent in the pad, picking up the ink pen she colors across the indentation and her name emerges Emilie how spooky is that! Agnes clearly realized her time was near and probably wanted to explain her reasoning behind her amazing generosity. In the waste paper basket was screwed up balls of paper where she’d tried to write a fair few times but obviously struggled to find the right words for what she wanted to express.
Emilie looks in the little drawers and there is a letter addressed to her. It says `My dearest Emilie, you won’t remember me but I couldn’t forget you. Your mum and I were close when you were little as your biological father chose not to be there for you both. I used to see you frequently in those first early years. You would toddle over to me, hold my finger tightly and smile up at me with the biggest toothless grin, one which would always melt my heart. I wasn’t able to have children myself so I took pleasure in watching you grow. Your mum’s mother was my twin sister Eve but she died not long after your mum was born so I wanted to be there for her and then you too, when you came along. We had the best of times altogether, until your mum met that waster of a man and he poisoned her against me, taking you out of my life forever. I was so concerned for you both I used to try and keep track of where you went to see that you were safe. I watched over you from afar. I totally understand why you left there, once you were old enough to make your own decisions. It pains me that your mum chose that poor excuse of a man over you. He was no father to you, always putting his own needs first above those of you and your mother, but she was infatuated and couldn’t see; blind to his indiscretions. You were so courageous to stand up to him and try to get your mother to leave with you. I knew I wouldn’t be welcome in the house so I used to walk past regularly trying to catch a glimpse of you. Snippets of your life; grabbing moments as and when I could to be a part of your life again. You were so hard working and you deserved so much better than what you ended up with. So I decided I would provide you with a fresh start, a life with no money worries where you’d have the financial support to change your life forever. With hope that one day your mother will come to her senses and you can both rebuild your relationship once more. But until that time comes please accept this as a means of getting your life back on track. Yours lovingly, Your Great Aunt Agnes xx’
Emilie walks back over to the Hearth picks up the photo of her with Agnes as a baby, feeling like she now knows her she holds the letter close to her heart, strokes the glass by Agnes’ face lovingly with her thumb. `Agnes I will make the most of this amazing gift I promise you, thank you so much. You’ve saved my life, like the Phoenix its’ arisen again from the ashes. I will re-build it and make you proud.’
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