Free, A Short Story
By Felicia Denise
Lennie sat her suitcase near the front door. She knew she should just leave without looking back, but she could not resist one more walk through of the house that had been her home for the last twenty-four years.
She couldn’t help but smile when her gaze fell upon the large oak bannister…with the nicks in one of the railings. After watching the Winter Olympics, Myron and RJ decided if the Jamaicans could bobsled, so could they. Fashioning their version of a bobsled from the box her computer paper was delivered in, her two youngest sons even donned their winter hats and mittens. For “realism” Myron proclaimed.
What would have been a few minutes of fun and a great memory, took a turn for the worst, when older brother Duncan decided just pulling each other around the patio wasn’t good enough. They needed an incline.
Lennie heard RJ’s wails and rushed into the foyer to find them all at the foot of the staircase – Myron rubbing his head, Randy covered in blood, and Duncan looking extremely guilty.
Four hours later, after a mind-numbing visit to the ER, Lennie returned home with her troop of wannabe bobsledders. Myron had a simple bump on the head, and no concussion. RJ was the puzzle. They could not figure out how he knocked TWO of his teeth out – and a canine and a molar at that, and NOT his front teeth. Lennie was fully prepared to be arrested for child abuse, when the kindly doctor just laughed, commented on the crazy things kids do and told RJ he hoped he found the missing teeth so he didn’t miss out on a visit from the Tooth Fairy. Thank God they were his baby teeth.
Lennie chuckled softly as she ran her hand over the two small indentations where she’d found RJ’s teeth later that night, sticking out of the wood like something straight out of a horror movie.
Making her way across the foyer, Lennie walked down the three steps into the sunken living room. Despite all the wonderful memories she had of Christmas mornings, birthday parties and family get-togethers, Lennie still hated this room. If she were being honest, she had to admit she never really liked the house. He wanted THIS house. He loved the idea of the grand staircase, the cathedral ceilings and the sunken living room. Lennie wanted the ranch style home a few miles away with the pool and a second kitchen on the enclosed patio. But this was his status symbol to prove to himself…and his father…that he had ‘made it’ after only two years in research and development at the chemical company. How ironic that he had spent even less time in the home than RJ who hadn’t been born yet when they bought the house.
Walking over to the patio windows, Lennie looked out over the large backyard as if she could still see her children playing with their cousins on a summer afternoon. Lennie smirked as she watched the water shimmer across the pool. “You didn’t win that one, did you, Ranard?” He had vetoed the idea of putting in a pool, saying they were too deep in debt. Yes, they were. After buying HIS house. But six years later, business was booming for Lennie’s catering business, “Always…From Scratch!” What started as a lunchtime specialty sandwich business had grown into a full service catering business. Her background in nutrition and her killer cooking skills made her a stand out among the city’s league of caterers, and she soon became a favorite of millennials in search of healthier, but trendy menus.
At the end of the fifth year, after paying her quarterly taxes, updating her service supplies, and even giving a holiday bonus to the small team of soccer moms who doubled as prep and wait staff, Lennie had more than fifty percent of the cost of a pool. She knew financing wouldn’t be a problem. But she thought maybe it was time to dip into her nest egg.
Her Aunt Diane, her mom’s oldest sister, had passed away shortly after Lennie and Ranard’s third wedding anniversary, leaving everything she had to Lennie. Diane’s husband had been killed in Vietnam, they had no children, and she never remarried. Diane and Lennie had been close all of Lennie’s life. It was Diane who taught Lennie to play the piano. And Diane taught her the secret to a killer pound cake. Even though Lennie was shocked to find out she was Diane’s sole heir, it made sense to the rest of the family. Lennie was always Diane’s first concern.
‘Everything’ turned out to be Diane’s home, two cars, two rental properties, three hundred acres of land in San Luis Obispo, California, and an extremely generous amount of cash. After having Lennie sign all the necessary documents and arranging for her to meet him first thing the next morning to receive her new banking and tax information, Diane’s attorney left. Linda Kelimore, Lennie’s mother, sat silently fidgeting with her hemline until her husband returned from seeing the attorney out.
Burt Kelimore stood in the doorway of his home office and exchanged an uneasy glance with his wife before sighing heavily and taking a seat next to her. Lennie watched her parents, confused. “Mom? Daddy? What’s wrong? Did I miss something?” Linda grabbed her husband’s hand and squeezed as her eyes filled with tears. Lennie sat forward on the sofa and leaned towards her parents. “You’re really starting to scare me, Please, tell me what has you so upset.” Burt let go of his wife’s hand and reached for Lennie’s.
“Lenore, you know how very much we love you, and the last thing we want to do is upset you or try to tell you what to do.”
“Just say it, Daddy, please! I’m starting to freak out here!”
“Babygirl, it’s about the inheritance you just received.”
©Felicia Denise 2016