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Prose

The Inheritance: Part 1

Before this year, I hadn’t done any creative writing for a long time. I mean a long time. I had always been an avid writer at school and then somehow lost the confidence. I tried once to re-start a short story whilst at university, but anything I wrote felt hammy and wrong. My degree in German and History wasn’t particularly creative although it did keep my interest. Since I’m now doing MA Literary Translation at UEA, I’ve kind of come full circle. Suddenly, most or all of my coursemates and tutors are writers. Translating literature is an art form, and it has inspired me to have another attempt at creative writing. I’ve always loved horror stories, and writers like M.R James and Stephen King have often kept me up long into the night. So without further ado, here’s the first section of my current work in progress:

“Now, there’s just one more thing to clear up.”

My eyes wandered to the clock ticking softly on the wall. Outside, a family and dog wandered past the bay window and the sun shone. Inside, it smelled like furniture polish and instant coffee.

“Which other thing?”, I tried to yawn without opening my mouth, which was only half successful. The air seemed thick with dust, and my nose itched.

The owlish old man shifted in his chair, making the leather creak.

“There’s one more item in her will. It’s listed here under ‘antiques’. It seems Ms Coleridge had quite a collection in her attic all this time.”

“Oh, right. I never knew about that”. I suppressed the urge to chew a thumbnail. 

“Well, do you want the boxes? I could organise a delivery. If not, it can all go when the house is cleared. It’s up to you.” The solicitor bent over the paperwork. In response, his thick glasses slid a centimetre or two down his long nose. I started counting the liver spots on his bald skull. There might be something worth keeping in there. There might be something I could auction. Who knows.

“Yeah, okay. Why not?”

“Wonderful. We have your address. They should be there by the weekend.” The liver-spotted skull bobbed back up and he closed the folder with a flourish, and I briefly lost track of the clock’s steady heartbeat. He proffered me a soft, wrinkled hand and I took it. It was five to one. I hadn’t eaten anything apart from a banana in the car that morning. My stomach rumbled under my dress. I smiled, said goodbye, trotted gladly back out onto the street and breathed a sigh of relief. I put my hands on my hips and did a weird bow to try to stretch out my stiff back. It really was stifling in there. I almost skipped back down the street, vowing to sniff out a bakery before I went back to the car. 

I had barely known my aunt, yet here I was in her hometown, talking through her will with her solicitor. She had been missing for almost ten years now. She had had no children, she had not owned her home. My brother and I were her closest living relatives. Last year, he had started applying for her to be declared legally dead. A bit of closure, he said. Let’s turn the page. I hadn’t resisted. I wasn’t invested enough, hadn’t known her well enough. A life reduced to a few bonds and boxes, handed over to a near stranger. What an inheritance.

By annaputsover

Translator and English tutor

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