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:
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."