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An Author's Legacy

by Michelle Pattison 9 months ago in fact or fiction

Marcie's Unexpected Inheritance

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Marcie pulled into the long-paved driveway of 1832 Westcastle Court and forced her Volkswagen into Park with a clunk. As she kicked the driver's door open with her foot, she dragged a loaded cardboard box across the center console and wrestled it out of the car with her. Blowing the black hairs out of her eyes, she set the box to rest on the hood of the car and began fishing through its contents.

“So, you must be the new owner?” asked a female voice.

Marcie turned to see a slender aging woman with tan skin and long gray hair at the foot of the driveway. She was wearing a long silk floral-pattern dress with an oversized floppy hat, and her little Shih-Tzu was sitting at her sandalled feet biting at its leash.

Marcie smiled sheepishly, “Yeah, I suppose so. I’m Marcie.”

The woman gave her the once over, taking in her unruly curls unsuccessfully contained with a headband, plain white t-shirt, and ripped jeans, pausing at her Docs with the hole in the toe. Marcie moved her questionable shoe behind her other foot out of sight and cleared her throat.

The woman snapped out of her stare and lifted her eyes back to Marcie’s, “Pam, charmed. I live a few houses down. Did you know the previous owner?”

Marcie chewed on her already chapped lip, unsure about how to answer the question. She hadn’t prepared to be interrogated as soon as she arrived at her new home. Before she could think of an answer, Pam pursed her lips and nodded as if she already knew.

“I see, so you have no relation to Elias then?” she asked finally discouraging her dog from biting the leash.

Marcie shifted her weight uncomfortably, still unsure about how to answer in a way that made sense. The entire situation didn’t make sense. She shook her head as she looked down to take in her own outfit, her appearance distinctly out of place in the upscale neighborhood.

“So you’re telling me Elias Smith, the famous author, overlooks his entire family and leaves his home to a complete stranger? Riveting.” Pam then turned her attention to the rusting blue Volkswagen now decorating the front of the elegant Tudor home. She then turned back to give Marcie a faint smile, “Well Elias was a recluse full of surprises. Welcome to the neighborhood, I suppose.” She then nodded her head in parting and continued down the walk with her unhappy dog in tow.

Marcie watched her until she could no longer see her past the boulevard trees. Rolling her eyes, she returned her attention to her box and the disheveled mess inside of it. She rummaged through until she found the white envelope. As she began making her way up the driveway, she couldn’t help but admire the presence of the home: A two-story modern Tudor masterpiece complete with cream-colored stucco and dark wooden beams. The steeply pitched gable roof and stone chimney was architecture that made the home truly exquisite. As she continued toward the entrance, she regretted not pulling her car up closer to the house. She would need to get used to that at some point.

Walking up the few steps to the covered entryway she wrestled a key out of the envelope. Before she could bring herself to insert the key in the lock, she turned back to admire the street. The house sat at the topmost point, and as she scanned either side of the Court her eyes came to rest on her trusted car sitting at the bottom of the driveway, proving itself to be an eyesore. The cars she could see parked in front of neighbor’s houses were luxury brands like Mercedes and Bentley, with not even a hint of rust anywhere to be found. They were probably all rust protected, and wax sealed, or whatever else you do to keep cars in the best shape possible. At least she wouldn’t need to worry about locking her car at night. With a sigh, she turned back to the grand wood door and turned the key in the lock. She wasn’t sure why she was surprised the door opened. Perhaps it was because she wondered if this had all been an elaborate mistake.

Entering the foyer, she quickly removed her shoes, afraid to offend the silent halls. Then she walked across the hardwood floors, taking in the traditional design and dark antique furniture. She gently set her box down on the dining room table and turned to see a floor-to-ceiling gray stone wall with a grand wood-burning fireplace. Her jaw dropped. In her admiration, it took her a moment to notice the wooden dome-top trunk sitting on the stone hearth. It seemed out of place. She moved across the Persian rug to the hearth and knelt next to it, grazing her hand across the round top, coming to rest on the latch securing the lid. She looked around the space before deciding to open it.

Pushing the lid back she was met with the smell of musty wood and aging paper. It appeared to be filled with two full rows of filed black notebooks, with one laying flat on top of the others. She picked up the single book, feeling its soft smooth cover. Admiring the rounded edges and elastic closure she recognized it was a Moleskine journal. She realized then that all of the filed black spines were Moleskine journals. Intrigued, she opened the one in her hand to the page with the ribbon bookmark, where a note was written:

Marcie,

You presumably have many questions about the decisions I made in my final days, beginning with why I left you my house. The answer to this is not simple, and in order for you to truly understand my decisions, I leave you this trunk. Inside you will find every notebook I have ever owned; every thought, every feeling, every word I wrote down during my life has been recorded inside these many journals. It is my wish for you to go through them, learn from them, and do not follow the mistakes I made. It was at some point after I became a success that I grew greedy and suspicious of everyone around me, including my family. It was this suspicion and hunger for success that drove the people I love away. Of course, I can only admit this now because I am at the end of my path. I did not realize the error in my ways until it was too late to repair it. It is terrible to say, but when your closest relationships deteriorate to the point which they do not want your money, you know those life choices you made were grave.

I know this does not answer your questions, I will address those now…

Perhaps you remember my final book signing several years ago which you attended, the only time we met. You told me about how much you admired my work and hoped to write half as well as me someday. You told me briefly about the volunteer work you were doing with your local charity, utilizing your writing to help those in need. Maybe relaying this to me didn’t seem significant to you. Perhaps you didn’t think this would resonate with me as much as it did. So often I would meet fans who ramble on about how they wish to be me, how they wish for the fame and fortune. Not often do I meet a person who genuinely wants to make a difference, a person who wants to change people’s lives for the better. I saw so much of my younger self in you before I succumbed to the sickness of greed.

After our meeting, I looked into your charity work and it brought me immense joy to see a young writer using their voice to promote the well-being of others. I especially enjoyed the piece you wrote about empowering children to write stories about their experiences, the child perspective is too often discounted. Of course, you know that topic is close to me as so much of my works encompassed the importance of young voices. Considering that I am unable to pass my legacy on to my family, I wish to pass it on to you. I hope you can take the writings from my journals and apply them to continue improving your life, your work, and the lives of those around you.

Additionally, underneath this row of books, you will find a total sum of $20,000. It is my wish for you to use it as you see fit. Use it to focus on your writing, give it to your charity, buy a new car for yourself; I really hope you’re not still driving that rusty blue bug around. No matter what you decide, I’m glad I could help make it a reality.

As for your own writing, I have left a few blank Moleskine notebooks for you. I distinctly remember you saying that you do not journal, and if you have not started by now, I must insist that you do. It is wonderfully therapeutic, and it helps to give your creativity a direction. I have no doubt, with hard work and consistency, you will write as well as me one day. I believe, even better.

We all need purpose and connection in this life, Marcie. Never lose that drive for wanting to help others and make the world a better place. Do not get so caught up in the material things that you forget what it truly means to love and live. There is something about impending death that provokes regret and philanthropy.

I wish you all the best,

Elias Smith

She sat back on her heels, overwhelmed with a mix of feelings she couldn’t fully identify. She could not believe this man, who she admired so much, had lived his life with such sadness. She could not believe, after that one meeting, they had both carried on living in mutual admiration of each other. She rose and grabbed the sides of the trunk, where the black spines sat in uniform, and lifted the inner tray. Sure enough, underneath were several rows of $50 and $100 bills she had to assume equated to $20,000.

She sat back on the floor again, the mixed emotions identifying themselves as a tightness in her throat she could only relieve by releasing it with a sob. She wondered if Elias knew how much this was going to change her life. She wasn’t really sure if she fully understood how much her life was about to change. She could now make the difference she had always wanted but was never able to. She wiped the wetness from her face and retrieved the first filed spine.

She slowly opened the aged book to the first page, dated: September 1997. She began reading Elias’ record about his trip to Milan to visit his friend Francesco who had gifted him this first Moleskine. He described it as, “the best quality journal he had ever seen”, and he promised to only use this brand for the rest of his career.

The trunk was proof that he kept this promise. Marcie then retrieved the last filed Moleskine. She carried it over to her box and fished out a pen. Cracking the intact spine open, she was met with a blank white first page staring back at her.

fact or fiction

Michelle Pattison

Psychology (BA)

English and Professional Writing student

Fantasy book lover, overthinker, and all-around knowledge seeker

Simply trying to convince myself that I belong here

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