The Unknown Inheritance
A Secret for Normalcy
The glinting light from the window struck her hair creating a glistening copper glow. Callie shook her head in disbelief as the mobile banking app on her phone once again claimed that she couldn’t access her account. She let out a heaving sigh of sorrow as a tear of pent up stress rolled down her cheek. Rent was due and she needed to make sure that she had enough money in the account. Since it was locked again (from what she assumed was another bounced check), she’d have to take the time to stop at the bank on her way to work.
A glance at the clock made her want to scream in frustration as she was already running late. Quickly rushing to the door of her loft apartment, she shrugged her coat on and grabbed the purse on the small console table to the left of the door. The little black book that the purse was resting on fell to the floor with an echoing thud. Callie gasped. Squatting down to gently pick it up, she ran her fingers over the blank faux leather cover before smelling it.
Callie smiled as she inhaled the familiar scent that always reminded her of her mother. Tears that yearned for freedom glistened silver in the morning light on her eyelashes. She so missed Leah – her mom. Her mom had been the rock that she leaned on and the black book in her hands held her mother’s unfulfilled dreams. Her dream had been to be a writer, but then she had kids and set that dream aside for her children’s happiness. Or so she had claimed.
As Callie placed the book full of handwritten days of years past back on the table, she wondered why her mother had chosen to continue living in the shadows instead of taking one of the many publishing companies up on their offers years ago. It wasn’t very often that someone had the knack of writing that Leah had possessed naturally and Callie wondered why she hadn’t gone to the big leagues instead of staying in the shadows for her children. Who wouldn’t want wealth and big parties instead of living a tough life on a farm, secluded from public society with only barn owls for company? Callie would have loved it, but she knew that her brother wouldn’t have done well.
Callie wiped her eyes and exhaled following the same example she had witnessed her mom do a thousand times before she died. “It will all be okay.” Callie whispered through the long exhale. As if on her cue, her shoulders released the pent up stress and she smiled as she turned the doorknob.
The smile on Callie’s face disappeared as she opened the door and had to duck to avoid a man’s knuckles as he was trying to knock on the door which had been replaced by her face. “What are you doing?” The screech in her voice hurt her own ears. She glared at the gentleman whose slight greying in his hair made him appear to be in his late forties.
“I’m so sorry, Miss! I wasn’t expecting the door to open and never could’ve guessed it’d open that fast!” The gentleman apologized as her face turned red.
“It’s ok.” Callie responded as she stretched back up to her full height of 5’ 9”. “What can I do for you?” Her manners kicked in as she plastered a smile on her face instead of the grimace that she had the urge to show as the clock kept ticking away. With every tick, she heard a word out of the mantra, “You’re late. You are SO fired!”
“I was hoping that you could point me in the direction of Callie Nelsen.” The man squinted at a name on what looked suspiciously like court papers.
Callie took a soft breath before responding, “That’s me.” She would not break down, she told herself. She just knew that those papers were regarding one of the many unpaid bills that would go unpaid once more this week if she didn’t hurry up and get to work.
“Oh, good! I’m so happy that I finally found you Ms. Nelsen. My name is James McGill, attorney of law, and I am representing your mother, Leah’s, estate.”
“Just show me where to sign and I’ll get you your money… wait… what?!” Callie asked incredulously as she took in the expensive suit on the man in front of her.
“Your mother, Leah, left her estate to you. It isn’t much, but maybe we should discuss this in private?” McGill replied with a raise of his eyebrows in response to the next apartment’s cracked door as Callie’s neighbor tried to listen in.
“I’m confused. You must have the wrong person… my mother wasn’t wealthy. We weren’t terribly poor, but we weren’t rich by any means. Please excuse me; I have to get to work.” Callie responded as she exited her place and started to move past him.
“That will be fine. Can I just leave this envelope and business card with you then?” James asked as he stepped out of her way.
“Fine.” Callie responded as she took the offered papers from the man walking next to her and stuffed them unceremoniously in her purse.
“Call me when you get a chance and have a good day at work.” McGill nodded a farewell as they exited the building and Callie climbed onto the waiting bus.
“Bank first or work?” The bus driver, Arthur asked as she paid her fare.
Glancing at the clock on the dashboard, Callie sighed and replied, “I suppose work and hope the bank doesn’t close before I can get there tonight.” She then quickly took her seat.
Before she knew it, it was 4 and she was waiting for the bus once again after her shift at the café. The bus pulled up, screeched to a halt, and Arthur’s smile pulled a much smaller smile in response from Callie’s tired face. “Headed to the bank now?” The question brought only a small nod from Callie as she handed her $1.25 fare and slouched into the closest empty seat. Her eyes drifted closed from exhaustion until Arthur’s voice broke through her sleep, “Hey Callie, this is your stop.”
“Thanks.” She hoped her smile underscored how thankful she was that he took the time to make sure she got off at the right stop. The walk from the bus stop to the bank was short and Callie exhaled as she had done earlier in the day, “It will all be okay.”
As she entered the bank that was almost as big as the barn back home, she winced as she heard the manager immediately recognized her with a despising tone. “Callie, Callie, Callie… why don’t we go to my office to talk?”
Sighing, Callie nodded in response as she followed the imposing woman into the corner office and closed the door behind them. The manager didn’t even wait for Callie to sit before sitting and turning to her computer. Callie sat down and unceremoniously dumped the contents of her purse on the desk between them. “What are you doing?” The manager growled in disgust as coins rolled onto the floor.
“I’m trying to get all of my tip money to you so that you can unfreeze my account.” Callie replied as sweetly as she could muster without laughing at the frazzled look the manager had gathered after touching a syrupy quarter.
“I appreciate that…” Emily’s voice had a stress-filled tone to it as she used a disinfectant wipe to clean her fingertips off. “What is this?” She asked as she picked up the envelope that Mr. McGill had given Callie that morning.
“I don’t know. Some lawyer gave that to me.” Callie gently pulled it from Emily’s hand and tore it open.
The gasp that followed made Emily glance with concern at the young woman who was perpetually late on all payments, “Is everything alright?”
“Everything is better than ok if I understand this correctly.” Callie handed a letter with an enclosed check for $20,000 to the manager.
Emily’s brown eyes bulged as she read the letter: ‘Dear Ms. Nelsen, The enclosed check for $20,000 is only a small portion of your mother’s estate. Leah, may she rest in peace, was a good friend and entrusted me with taking care of her small fortune to be kept until her daughter was 21. I’ve been looking for you for the past several months, but you have apparently moved several times. Please give me a call at your earliest convenience so that we can get the transfer papers signed. I would recommend that you bring the leather diary that your mother kept as it details your ownership of her estate. Thank you for your time, James McGill, Attorney of Law’
“Is the check valid?” Callie softly asked.
“Please excuse me while I check Ms. Nelsen.” Emily responded with new respect for the copper-haired lady in front of her.
Callie reread the letter several times before Emily returned. “The check is good Miss and has brought your account to $18,539 after paying pending payments and late fees. Is there anything else that I can do for you today?”
“No… thank you.” Callie responded as she slowly gathered up her belongings with Emily’s help. She walked out of the bank in a daze. $18,000 would pay off all of her debts owed. Slowly she dialed the number on McGill’s business card.
“Hello, you have reached James McGill, how may I help you?” The professional voice on the end of the line brought tears to her eyes as she remembered how abrupt she was with him just that morning.
“Hi, this is Callie Nelsen. We met this morning and you gave me a check for $20,000. How is that possible?” Her voice cracked at the end of her question as she thought about not owing anyone anything for the first time since she lost her mother.
“Callie,” the voice on the other end of the line turned gentle, “I’m so glad that you found the check. Your mother was a wonderful woman. She sold many books, but kept her public life very separate from her private life. She wanted you and your brother to grow up in a normal life. Leah loved you guys so much that after she paid off the farm, she put every penny that she could into an estate account for you both.”
“Mom didn’t have any books though.” Callie responded in confusion.
“Have you ever heard of the Growing Up Wild series?” McGill asked, trying to hold back a chuckle at the name.
“Yes, but no one knew who the author actually was.”
“That was your mother’s big break.” McGill’s smile could be heard over the phone. “Leah could have gone bigger, but she needed her privacy. Can we schedule a meeting at my office at 2pm tomorrow?”
“Sure.” Callie responded as she memorized the address on the business card that she was holding.
“I’ll see you tomorrow – the first day of the rest of your life!”
About the author
I am a mother of 2 precious angels who drive me slightly more crazy
than I already am with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
When asked "are you crazy?!" my favorite come back is:
"yes! And I have the papers to prove it! How about you?" LOL