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A Mysterious Inheritance for Karen and Alex

By Daniel SullivanPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Photo by Everyday basics on Unsplash

Karen's coffee sat forgotten, the steam long dissipated, as a cold dread settled in her stomach. The key to their dead mother’s house was supposed to be nestled safely in her bag. But it wasn’t there.

She sat at the weathered café table, her auburn hair just catching the dim light which cast a dwindling glow around her pale, angular face.

The varnish on the cafe table was peeling at the corners, flakes dropping to the floor. Outside, a gray mist clung to the windows, distorting the faces of passersby into ghostly shapes. They were like smudges of charcoal on a foggy canvas, their features blurred and distorted by the mist.

"Everything all right, sister?" Alex's voice broke through her reverie as he sat back down after a trip to the restroom, his chair scraping sharply against the café's old wooden floor. His broad shoulders squared in the chair, his dark hair slightly tousled from the wind outside, giving him a roguish charm that often misled people to cover up his darker nature.

Karen's eyes flickered with a hint of suspicion. "The key is gone, brother," she said, her voice a blend of worry and accusation. "Gone from my bag."

Alex dangled the key from its chain with a smirk. "You mean this?"

The skeleton key glinted under the soft lighting of the café, its silver surface reflecting the faint glow of Karen's auburn hair. It was rusted and worn from years of use, but still held its intricate design and shape.

"Why do you have it? How did you get it?" Her voice rose, tinged with anger.

He shrugged, the casual gesture belying the sharp glint in his eyes. "I wanted to see if you’d notice." He paused, leaning forward. “Why do you deserve to hold it, anyway? Her stuff is half mine.”

Karen clenched her fist under the table, memories of past grievances flashing through her mind. They had always battled over their mother's affection and now, her legacy. "Fucker," she hissed, reclaiming the key with a swift motion. Her green eyes burned with a fierce determination. “You know why I deserve it.”

"I do," Alex conceded, his voice softening as he sensed her rising fury. "It was just for a laugh, Karen. You know I care about you more than material things.”

“Then shall I go on my own?” she challenged, her tone icy.

“NO!” Alex’s response was too quick, too sharp. "I mean—not in these circumstances.”

Karen scoffed, her lips curling into a mirthless smile. "Right, bro. Let’s silence your empty aspirations for sainthood and see what momma hid in that house, now that she’s finally conveniently croaked, shall we?”

There was a pause, a short silence that stretched too long, as they locked eyes—each sibling reflecting a brutal understanding of unspoken truths about their mother's death.

The air tasted stale and heavy like it had been trapped in the room for far too long. The taste of bitterness coated their tongues, a sour reminder of the past and its secrets. But enough was enough. It was time to go.

“Lead the way, big sister,” Alex said finally.

“I aim to do so, little brother,” Karen replied, her eyes steely and determined as she pocketed the key.

They exited the café; the bell above the door jingled ominously behind them. As they walked, each sibling clutched the hilts of secret, lethal knives, sheathed at their sides—necessary precautions, for both known and unknown threats that might arise. And also needed just in case ... just in case there was not enough to share between them, of whatever treasure they would find behind momma's locked door.

Short Story

About the Creator

Daniel Sullivan

I am a writer, live storyteller, actor, advocate, civil rights enforcer, and nonprofit director, among other roles. Presently, my focus lies in translating my rich life experiences into the realms of fiction and creative nonfiction.

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (1)

  • Gabriela Trofin-Tatárabout a month ago

    I love this, it helps me imagine it so well: "They were like smudges of charcoal on a foggy canvas, their features blurred and distorted by the mist."

Daniel SullivanWritten by Daniel Sullivan

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