Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Letter

"I don't know, maybe it'll go on E-Bay. The stuff inside is intact. Probably a collector will bite."

Sherry frowns, sorry she had accepted the lot in the first place as her middle-aged son lugs the old box past her and drops in on the floor beside a pile of green glass jars and carefully folded yellowed linens. She hates being in her shop on Saturdays because the daunting task of pricing new stuff looms over her. Newly acquired clutter fills the room: nick-knacks, faded pictures, rusty mirrors, tattered books, clocks that have ceased keeping time, chairs that need their joints re-glued, scratched curios wanting new stain all ready to be polished, cleaned and re-sold. Orphaned by deceased owners, these objects wait to be re-gifted and born again into a new use.

"It's all just a bunch of junk. Price it 40% off and move it." She scoffs as she rings up a customer, shakes open a white kitchen garbage bag and places newly sold items into it. In the corner her son counts hundred dollar bills and tallies them in a ledger.

It's that time of afternoon when the sun streams through the dusty window, washing over the tired old merchandise and making cut glass vases scattered throughout the shop sparkle.

Picking up a box, Sherry notices some writing on the side.

"Do not throw out."

Inside the box is a giant ornate Bible. A letter falls out of the book. Sherry rips it open out of curiosity. Scrawled in a weak hand is:

"June, 1948

Dear Susan,

I was not able to tell you this while I lived because I was too ashamed. I hope you finding it now gives me some rest in the afterlife, before I face the consequences of my actions. Sometimes when a person puts so much stock into the material life, and then it is suddenly gone, there is no seeing past what is lost. Your father was not a monster, but I am. He did not shoot himself. I shot him in our bedroom, and staged a suicide. I had some debt."

Please forgive me,

Your loving mother,


Looking up from the letter, Sherry shouts, "Jack, Where did this box come from?"

"Um, some old lady's dining room closet, mom. Her daughter sold the contents of the house. I think the name was Furman. "

She returns the letter to its yellowed envelope and slides it into the back of the book. The book was clearly given away by mistake. For a moment a thought causes Sherry to hesitate, perhaps she should call the family and offer to have her son drop off the book with the daughter. She opens her phone ledger and scrolls down the names with her finger.

Estate Sale of Agnes Furman
326 Greene Street
Daugher- Susan Ruthe 674-9867

Sherry grabs her cell phone from a drawer, compelled to call. Then something distracts her.

A man approaches her at the register and leans over the book. "An old family Bible. There would definitely be a market for that among collectors online." He raises up the book and inspects the binding.

"It's got gilded edges. Nice. Actually, I'm a dealer and I think I have a client who'll buy this. I'll give you $500 for it."

Sherry puts the phone back on the counter. "Alrighty-then. Sold." She says, writing up a receipt as the letter falls out of the back of the book.

The dealer bends down to pick up the envelope. "What's this?"

"Oh, just some junk. Here, throw it in this." She holds out a pail lined with a white kitchen garbage bag. The man leaves happy with his purchase. The rest of the day flies by with a couple of architectural pieces coming in from a house demolition, business as usual.

This week I'm practicing fiction. Above is today's attempt. Honestly, I think I stink at this, but like anything else, if you practice then you improve. Your feedback is helpful to me. Send me a comment. Obviously this is a rough draft. I just wrote it, looked at the grammar and posted. Here's my writing prompt today:

From A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (Stave Four, The Last of the Spirits)

Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience of opening it, and having unfastened a great many knots, dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff.
"What do you call this?" said Joe. "Bed-curtains?"
"Ah!" returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms. "Bed-curtains."
"You don't mean to say you took them down, rings and all, with him lying there?" said Joe.
"Yes I do," replied the woman. "Why not?"
"You were born to make your fortune," said Joe," and you'll certainly do it."
"I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I can get anything in it by reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as he was, I promise you, Joe," returned the woman coolly. "Don't drop that oil upon the blankets, now."


Milk Man said...

Great story, hooked me and kept my interest. Like Celebrity Apprentice, not the ending I hoped for, I like Hallmark Hall of Fame more.

Loren Christie said...

Joan Rivers won. That, my friend, is fuzzy logic. Thank God Trump isn't the President.

Anonymous said...

Can't comment on the Celeb Apprentice, but as for the story, if this were the first pages of a longer piece, I would be interested to see where the story went...


Putz said...

p.s went away from home for the weekend and mt grandson hearedly walked away from the toilet and out the door as i was saying if you don't wash your hands rthat is just gross and he came back in and washed them...glad you are writing to playges...he is lonely and needs it...i wrote to one of your friends

Loren Christie said...

Thanks for the feedback G! That letter made me curious too, even though I wrote it. That's very funny about the hand-washing, Mr. Putz. I wrote that because there was a study done by some university that stated something like 70% of Americans do not wash their hands after using the restroom. How that data was gathered, I don't know. It turns out that Mr. Brague likes the word play in Through the Looking Glass as much as I do, so we have that in common.

Loren Christie said...

Okay G, I just re-read The Letter and I'm going to go foward with it tomorrow adding more. Let's see if I can get it scary without making it sound stupid.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I really like it so far - and yes, I do think you are good at this! I can also see where the story comes from with your liking antiques and old things.

jen said...

well, you got me hooked! off to read part 2.

i was never very good at fiction, but i wrote a screenplay once. It was character-driven vs. plot driven and the professor said it would never sell b/c all movies were plot-driven. Funny, after that, all movies were character-driven (Forrest Gump; Bridget Jones; etc.)

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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