Frosted June – #3

Claire stood on the back patio, undecided, trying to focus, trying to breathe.

It was all simply too much to process, too much to consider. And she had to decide now? It was insane. This morning she had been unaware, concerned with nothing more than which packet of tea held the most promise as she puttered slowly about her kitchen, awakening in reluctant degrees, as was her manner. And then the phone had rung.

A stranger’s voice, rippling with fake, professional concern. Great-Uncle Henry had passed. Could she rearrange this day’s schedule to meet Strange Voice at the estate of Great Henry? Sorry to bother, but said meeting must take place today or secondary codicils would kick in, thus negating the offer.

Offer? Great Uncle Henry? Estate? None of this made any sense with what Claire knew of her family, a family that would never, even stretching the imagination, speak of their dwellings as “estates”. She simply stood there, suddenly-sweaty hand clutching a phone that felt unfamiliar, wrong. The kettle on the stove began to whistle urgently, briefly mooring her thoughts with familiarity. She had to sort this out. “I think there might have been a mistake, Mr… I don’t even know who you are.”

Strange Voice, still professional, still fake: “I’m afraid I can’t tell you that, not just yet. But I can say that I am Henry’s solicitor. And speaking of telling, you must not consult with any of your other relatives until after you have met me at the estate or the offer will be withdrawn.”

Claire numbly poured the scalding water over the tea bag she no longer recalled selecting, but there it was in her favorite mug, steam wafting. “You do realize that this sounds very odd, right? I don’t know you and I don’t know this Uncle Henry. Why should I even trust you?”

Voice: “You don’t have to trust me. You don’t have to agree to anything. This is entirely up to you. You can simply pretend that this phone call never happened and carry on with your life.”

Claire sipped her tea, absently, unaware of the flavor, only the habit. Then she set the cup down, spilling a bit, unaware of that as well. “Tell me how to find this estate of the uncle I never knew existed.”

The Voice did.

Several hours later, after notifying her unimpressed supervisor that she must take a personal day, family crisis and whatnot, Claire maneuvered her ancient and wheezing Citroen through the massive gates of an estate that spoke of another time, another place. The long, impressive drive, bordered by arching, meeting trees led to an even more spectacular chateau, many-windowed wings stretching in all directions.

Claire clamored out of her clunky car.

She met The Voice at the massive wooden door.

His name was Herbert, and he had been the late-in-life lover of Henry.

Surprise Number One.

The two of them sat down in one of the many parlors, wherein they reviewed legal papers and discussed the terms set forth in Henry’s final wishes. There were startling revelations scattered amongst those wishes, tiny grenades of never-sought truths.

Eventually, Claire asked for a moment to collect herself.

Herbert suggested a repose on the back patio, where she could review the lovely acreage of the vast estate whilst she pondered. Perhaps she might enjoy a brisk spirit-based beverage whilst she did so?

Claire declined. She wanted to think clearly. And this is where we found her when the curtains on this story first drew back.

The door behind Claire opened with a solidly-built click.

Herbert: “Sorry to bother, once again, but I’m sure you realize that we have a deadline. I must hear your decision before sundown, per the last wishes.”

Claire took a deep breath. “I accept.”

Herbert: “And you realize this means that you can never tell anyone how you came to own this estate?”

Claire, another deep breath: “Yes, I understand.”

Herbert: “Lovely. I’ll go fetch Amelia.”

Claire took a final breath and braced herself to meet her biological mother for the first time.

Surprise Number Two.

Previously published, no changes made. This is the third in a series of stories inspired by one of Claudette’s posts involving her gorgeous photography. (She is no longer actively posting, but I trust that she will rejoin us some day.) More to come, eventually…

24 replies »

    • Thanks, Barb. I love getting in a certain writerly mood where all of the words tumbling out seem purposeful and driven, whether they really are or not. Claudette’s photos almost always get me to that launch point in one way or another…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Not so much a change, more so “here’s me pulling something out of that overstuffed basket full of things I don’t usually share”. At least not on Bonnywood.

      Of course, now that I reflect on my initial response, I’m saying exactly what you’re saying, just with more words. Which IS what I usually share on Bonnywood… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve pondered continuing this one a few times over the years since I first released it. Thing is, I originally meant for this to be a captured moment in time and not a saga, the same methodology I’ve used with all my “Claudette photo” stories. And there’s this kicker as well: The fundamentals of this story also apply to my own life, although the details don’t apply at all. So, if I continue the story, do I veer away from the personal and make it complete fantasy or do I keep straddling that line?

      Much to think about. I’ll keep you posted….

      Liked by 2 people

      • An interesting question. I’m not any kind of writer, but isn’t that a writerly prerogative? Make it be as personal or fantastical as you want, or dovetail them? The straddling might be difficult to do but the result could be wonderful. Cheers.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my, you seem very invested. (Which is a good thing. One of the biggest problems with modern society, in my opinion, is that too many people aren’t invested in ANYTHING and they don’t care what happens. Sad.)

      I will definitely see what I can do, which in Bonnywoodese means “if I can even remember this conversation tomorrow, we may or may not see progress on the distant horizon”.

      (But aren’t you dying to know what happened next? OMG!) 😉

      In the mean time, a crate of Granny Mae’s Special Elixir and Tonic is on its way…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh, I recognised that pic immediately, I I am humbled by the thought that you hope i would return some day. Truth is I have been very lazy, life overwhelmed, distracted by another creative process, but basically wordpress-posting-ed out. I’m now going to follow this story through, and thanks for your kind words on my pics, I love that they have a part in your story.
    Much love from the end of the end of the end of OZ.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Claudette!

      I’m rather proud of this story, and the two others I did based on your photos. In all three instances, the full story just came to me as I stared at your work, a very satisfying rush of creativity. I’d love to do more, and I hope that we can, so much so that I left a rambling proposition on your latest blog post. Don’t worry, it’s not a naughty proposition. Unless you want it to be, then I can go back and submit it again… 😉

      Much love to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You should be proud of what you write, it’s always good, that’s why folks are following you Mr B. 🙂
        As for propositions, it’s been a very jolly long time since I have had any, but i’m happy to accept any that are given. I have replied to your proposition, and submit my own here: Finish your third book pronto, and then we can do it together!!!!! (why can’t i get emoji to show in my comments? – if I could I would insert a saucy wink there)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Me too! When I first penned this series, I meant for each piece to be a standalone. But this one keeps calling me back, so maybe we’ll continue the story. Stay tuned! But don’t hold your breath… 😉


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