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The Letter – Part 10 

Well…I’ve been meaning to put a lid on this little story that had its start as a single flash fiction story for a few weeks now. I wasn’t sure how I’d end it until today. Thank you everyone who has followed along this far. Who knew I had it in me? Certainly not this flash fiction, poetry writer…me! It’s been fun. I hope you like the last chapter. To read the other chapters click HERE

The Letter – Part 10

Laura plopped on the edge of the bed as she hit the speed dial on her phone.

“Come on Grace. Pick up. I’m not letting you do this on your own.” The call slipped into Grace’s voicemail. Laura hit the redial button. “I’m not giving up Grace. You might as well pick up.”

Laura hurried downstairs. Voicemail…redial… She rushed out the door, locking it behind her and got into her car. “I think I know where you’re heading Grace.” She hit redial again and turned right toward Commerce Street. Voicemail…radial. “Come on Grace!”

Grace was turning into June’s driveway when she finally relented, accepting the call.

“Where are you Grace?!”

“I’m sitting in June’s driveway. I’m sorry Laura. I thought it was best not to drag you into my drama.”

“Are you kidding me? After all we’ve been through? I know the truth Grace. Mom and dad told me. Everything. She’s not worth it Grace. Please don’t do anything you might regret. I’m almost there. Wait for me.”

“What exactly do you think I’m going to do Laura?”

“Well I know what I’d like to do…”

Grace chuckled, “I’m not you, thank goodness. Ha! Don’t worry Laura, I’m just planning to confront her. Give her a chance to come clean. If she can’t tell me the truth once and for all, I’m done. With her…with this town. There’s nothing left for me here.”

“Uh, well you have me, us!”

“Of course I do Laura. That’s not what I meant. But as for family, my parents are both gone. It’s just me now.”

“And if she does tell you the truth? What then?”

“Mmmm…if she tells me the truth, I’ll listen. But I need time and space to figure all of this out. Either way, I am so ready to get home.”

“Okay Grace, that sounds like a plan. But promise me this. Don’t leave tonight. I’d worry about you. Come over to the house. Have dinner with us. Spend some time with the kids. They miss you. Oh, they’ve grown, Grace. You won’t believe it. And they do love their Auntie Grace. What do you say? You can stay in the guest room and get a fresh start in the morning.”

Silence.

“Grace?”

“Okay Laura…I promise. I’m so tired.”

“I know you are sweetie. I’m almost there.”

“I’m going in Laura. This, I need to do alone. You understand.”

“Yeah, I get it. But I’ll be right outside. I just turned down her street. Almost there. If you need me I’ll be right here.”

When Laura pulled into June’s driveway, she noticed Grace’s empty car.

——————–

June hadn’t expected to see Grace this afternoon. As soon as she opened the door, Grace rushed by her into the parlor.

“We have to talk June.”

June had been dreading this moment all week.

“Can I get you some iced tea Grace? Just made a batch.”

“No.” Grace sat on the settee, motioning toward the arm chair across from her. “Sit.”

“Well what brings you over for this visit Grace?”

“You know June. You’ve always known. And now I know too.”

“Know what?” June sat down, her voice taking a somber tone, “Of course I know. Yes Grace I’m sorry that you had to find out the way you did. That I’m your mo…”

“My mother died last week June. And two years ago Dad too. You know about the letter mom left me in the kitchen. Well that old house is full of letters.”

June flushed, remembering the letter that Annie had addressed to her.

“Dad wrote me a letter too June. I think you know what it said. He spoke of you.”

June sat silently looking at the floor.

“Well, would you like to say anything? I’ve waited all week for you to be ready to talk to me about all of this.”

“I know my dad is responsible for his part. He said as much. Told me how sorry he was for what happened, except…”

Tears collected in the corners of June’s eyes.

“What I can’t figure out is how you could do such a thing. To your own sister! How do you live with something like that?”

June froze. She couldn’t speak. She clasped her hands on her lap and stared at the floor avoiding eye contact with Grace.

“Well, I kind of figured this would be your response. Guess what? At least I asked. That’s all I can do.” Grace’s voice shifted into business mode. “I’ve finished packing the house. I told the auction company to price everything out. There is nothing I want from that house. I told them everything goes.”

June shifted in the chair, the flush had faded.

“Well, I guess that’s that then. I’m headed back home. Don’t try to call me. I wanted to give you a chance to tell me in your own words. To tell the truth, but apparently you are incapable of the truth. I’m really sorry about that. But I’m not sorry for you. Actually I feel sorry FOR you June. You’re pathetic. I’m done!

Grace bolted from the settee, out the door to the driveway. Laura was waiting, just as she said she would be.

“I’ll follow you Laura. Let’s get out of here!”

Inside, June sat stoically in the parlor. She knew Grace. She meant what she said and she was stubborn…like her. June knew she would never see Grace again.

—————

At Laura’s there was a flurry of activity. The kids vied for a spot next to Grace on the sectional while Laura tossed a salad and slid a frozen lasagna tray into the oven.

There was laughter and giggling, stories about their school day, and a string of silly, never-ending knock knock jokes.

Grace sat there, taking it all in. Laura was right. She still had Laura and Danny and these kids in this town that had grown so strange to her this past week.

Sometimes the family we are born into is not the family we end up with. Grace knew that now. As everyone gathered around the table for dinner she felt it. It felt like coming home.


The Letter – Part 9

If you’re just joining us, you can catch up on the rest of the story HERE.

 It wasn’t like Grace. She was a “pick up on the second ring” kind of girl. After 5 failed attempts to connect with her friend, Laura was worried. Attempt number 6 lapsed into Grace’s voicemail box just as Laura pulled into the driveway. The front door was ajar so she let herself in.

The house was eerily quiet. Afternoon sunlight flooded the emptiness with pale dust speckled streams of light. Laura rushed from room to room calling to her friend, “Grace, sorry for popping in on you, but you didn’t answer your phone and you know I hate it when you ignore me!” Laura’s lame attempt at humor was more for her own sake. With each empty room she grew more worried.

Her heart was racing by the time she entered Annie’s room. It was empty, like all the others, no sign of Grace. Laura scanned the room. The bed linens were neatly folded on the end of the mattress, labeled boxes were stacked near the closet. Nothing seemed out of place except for the crumpled envelope on the floor.

“Oh god!” Laura muttered, as she reached down to pick it up. A freshly penned note on the nightstand caught her eye. “What is it with this family and letter writing?!”

“Laura,


If you’re reading this, thanks for being such a good friend. You probably have news for me. Well, if your parents were honest with you, you might. I already know what you came to tell me. Dad left me a letter too. After reading it I knew what I had to do. June needs to hear from me what I’m guessing my parents never had the heart to say. They were both too kind. I’ve packed my things. I’m heading home. There is nothing in this house I want or need. Forgive me for not giving you a proper goodbye. I’m okay. Really I am. If you’re ever in the city, look me up. You have my number.

I love you girlfriend,

Grace”


The Letter – Part 8


All previous chapters of this series may be found HERE.

—————————-

The Letter – Part 8

“I think I need to sit.” 

Laura’s mother pulled a chair close tapping the seat. “I’m so sorry Laura. I’m sorry we kept this from you, but your father promised Tom…”

“And I am a man of my word, Laura. You know that.” Her father interjected. “But your mom is right. Grace should know. We had hoped it would not be us who had to tell her.”

“Well, I don’t understand. How is this possible, if June is Grace’s biological mother, and you’re telling me that Tom…oh god, this is worse than I ever imagined.”

“I know dear,” Marge reached for her daughter’s hand to console her. 

“Well, of course I have to tell. But how can I tell her?! Is there more I should know?”

Marge leaned closer to Laura and told her everything; Annie’s miscarriages and Tom’s heartache when Annie rejected him, the weakness that led him into the arms of another woman. But not just any woman, Annie’s own sister, June. And the lies that followed.

“Oh god! Do you think Annie knew?”

Laura’s father broke his silence, “Tom said he planned to tell her. But I don’t know if he ever did. His health took a turn after we spoke.”

“I hate this! My poor friend! But a promise is a promise, right dad?” Laura glanced over at her father who nodded approvingly. “Looks like I need to grab a few more bottles of wine and some take-out. I’ll call Danny and tell him he has the kids again tonight. This can’t wait. Grace is heading back home this weekend.”

“I’ll say a prayer for you both, Laura. I know it’ll be hard. But, better coming from you, her good friend, than from that aunt of hers or the rumor mill in this town. Let us know if there is anything we can do.”

“Thanks Mom. I love you guys. Um…one more thing….while we’re on the subject, are you two keeping any family secrets I should know about?” Laura’s playful tone didn’t mask the fact that she was dead serious.

Marge chuckled, “Oh my dear no! Our family is so boring!” She looked into Laura’s pleading eyes adding, “No secrets, Laura. Really.”

—————————-

It was the hardest day yet for Grace. Going through her mother’s personal things; her jewelry, her clothes with lingering hints of Annie’s favorite White Shoulders perfume. Grace packed most of it to take to the Goodwill, keeping a few silk scarves and her mother’s gold and diamond jewelry. As she removed the bed linens for laundering and slid the dust ruffle from between the mattress and box spring an envelope drifted to the floor.

“Oh Mom, really? I don’t think I can take anymore of your letters. Why couldn’t you just tell me while you were still here…” Grace knelt down, lifting the envelope, her eyes welling with tears.

“To my Gracie” it said, in her father’s familiar handwriting. With trembling fingers she slid the letter from the envelope.

My Dear Gracie,

I love you more than you will ever know, but there is something you should know about your old man. You always believed the best of me, thought I could do no wrong. But I am human and did a terrible thing. Your darling mother forgave me. I hope you can too.

Before you were born, your mom and I tried for years to have a family, but it seemed it was not meant to be. After the last miscarriage your mom told me to leave. Forever. It broke my heart Grace. Annie was everything to me, but she wouldn’t let it go. And so I left.

I should have gone home that night, but I didn’t. I went to see June, to see if she could talk some sense into her sister. I’ve regretted that night ever since, except for one thing. My weak, stupid actions brought me you. 

All these years, watching you grow, knowing that you were a part of me, living a lie. I am so proud of the woman you’ve become, Gracie, but you should know that I’m not the man you thought I was. You are the only good thing I ever did. I know I don’t deserve it, but I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. 

You’ll always be my Grace. I love you,

Dad


The Letter – Part 7

Well…I have been kicking myself for not being prompt with the installments of this short series. Life got a bit busy these last few months. Please forgive me! If you’re still interested, here’s Part 7.If you need to catch up. The other chapters are HERE. I am setting a goal of an entry a week until it is finished. If you’re still with me, thanks for your patience. 

The Letter – Part 7

For the first time since finding the letter I actually slept through the night. The wine helped. There was a message on my phone from Aunt June. 

“Hi Grace, I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it over today. Something has come up at work, and I need to tend to it. I’ll check in on you later.”

“Well, what a surprise. Humph! Take your time Aunt June,” I thought. “Having you here just makes me mad and frustrated. I have plenty to keep me busy.”

Back to Mom’s room to finish what I’d started before Laura came over. That Laura! She knows me so well. I wonder what she’ll find out from her parents.

—————————

Laura wasted no time getting to the bottom of Grace’s mystery. Her mom and dad were retired, so once she got the kids off to school she headed over to join them for breakfast.

She let herself in through the front door. “Hey mom…dad, hope you still have a bit of coffee left for your daughter.”

“Laura! What a surprise! You know we always have coffee since you got us that Keurig for Christmas. What brings you here today?” Laura usually called before coming over.

“Well guess who I saw last night Mom. I had dinner at Grace’s house. You remember, Grace?” Laura dropped a coffee pod in the Keurig and tapped the brew button. 

“Of course I do, poor dear! We spoke at her mother’s funeral. I feel so bad for her. First her dad, now Annie. Is she in town long? How is she doing?”

“Just a few more days. She’s getting the house packed up. I think she and her Aunt June are going to auction off what they don’t want along with the house.”

“Oh yes, June. I never knew her. Didn’t really have a need.”

“What does that mean, mom?”

“Now Marge, don’t go saying something you’ll regret. Let the dead rest in peace.”

“Whoa dad! What could mom possibly have to say that she might regret?” Laura’s mother lowered her head regretting that she may have already said too much.

“Sometimes it’s best to let some things go unsaid, Laura.” her dad said in a dismissing tone. “That’s all.”

Their hesitance to discuss it only encouraged Laura.

“Yeah, well about that dad. I was hoping you both could give me some answers. Not me, but Grace, actually. I spent the entire evening trying to cheer her up!”

“Well of course you did, Laura. You’re a good friend. I’m sure she would do the same for you. That’s what friends do.” Her mom interjected hoping to change the subject.

“Yeah, she was definitely upset about losing her mom, but there was something else. Grace’s mother left her a letter. She found it a few days ago.”

Marge shot a foreboding glance at Andrew, locking eyes with him.

“Did you guys know that June is Grace’s biological mother?” Laura continued, watching their reaction as she spoke. “Yeah, apparently she got knocked up and gave Grace to Annie and Tom to raise!” They didn’t look surprised.

“Marge…let me answer. Yes Laura, we knew.” Andrew said.

 “I can’t believe you never told me! Why do I get the feeling there is more to this!?”

“Like your dad said, Laura, sometimes it’s best to leave things alone.”

“Well, I can’t leave it alone mom! My friend is upset! And the worst part is Grace can’t even get her aunt to talk about it! There’s something you’re not telling me! I can see it in the way you’re looking at each other!” Laura was on a mission now. She probed deeper, raising her voice, “I remember that afternoon when dad came home so upset after talking to Grace’s father.” She looked at both of them intently. “So, tell me, what was all that about!?”

Marge reached across the table cupping Andrew’s hand. “The truth always comes out, Andy. Don’t you think Grace needs to know?”

“It’s not our place Marge. I promised Tom his secret was safe with me. He just needed to tell someone. You know.” Andrew shook his head and looked at his coffee cup. “It’s just not our place!”

“Secret? What secret!? I knew there was more! Mom?”

“Grace should know, Andrew.” Marge turned from her husband and looked directly into her daughter’s eyes, “Yes Laura, we knew about June back when Grace was born. And then a few years ago we learned who her father was. Please sit Laura.”

Laura leaned against the counter. “Thanks I’ll stand. Tell me mom. Who is Grace’s father?”

Marge sighed as the name slipped from her tongue, “It is Tom. Tom is Grace’s biological father.”


The Letter -Part 6 

  
I met Laura in kindergarten. We had remained friends through high school. Our lives splintered in different directions after that. I went to an out of state college and remained there settling into my life and career. Laura married her high school sweetheart and spent a few years in community college. The arrival of her first child set the stage for her life’s work, being a mom and homemaker. She was good at it.  

But even though I hadn’t married or had children, and she now had four, we found plenty to talk about when I returned to town. I needed her more than ever now, when everything I thought I knew about my life was crumbling apart. Our friendship was one thing I could count on. 

I was upstairs, just starting on Mom’s room when I heard Laura’s car in the driveway.

She let herself in. “Hey Grace, time for a break! I brought the wine. Haha, I’m lying…I brought two bottles! And Danny has the kids tonight. I’m all yours! Grace?

Laura was a nut! I called downstairs, “I’m up in Mom’s room. You know me so well, Laura! This is definitely a two bottle night! Be right down! I left two wine glasses out on the kitchen counter.”

By the time I had gotten downstairs, Laura had already uncorked the bottle and filled our glasses.

“So spill it girlfriend. I know you didn’t invite me over here for giggles!”

“Let me get dinner started. Pasta and salad good for you? Then we can chat.”

“Grace…I heard it in your voice when you called. Something’s up!”

I put the water on to boil, dumped some pre-made salad in a bowl, opened a jar of sauce to warm on the stove, and took a seat at the kitchen table across from Laura.

I raised my glass to her tipping my head, “Well, do you want the good news or the bad news?” 

“This doesn’t sound good…lay the bad on me first…”

I took a deep breath, a gulp of wine and blurted it out, “Mom and Daddy are not who I thought they were!”

“Um…okay…and this is bad, why? You’re being cryptic girl! Come on, it’s me. What the hell, Grace?!”

“I was going through old recipes and I found a letter from my Aunt June to Mom and Daddy…They are not my biological parents…June is…well, she is my mother! I have no idea who my father is!” 

Laura’s jaw dropped. When she regained her composure she reached across the table to hold my hand. “Oh sweetie…I’m so sorry. Were you alone when you found it? Of course you were! Oh god, Grace, I can’t imagine…you said there was good news?”

“I lied. There is no good news. Aunt June won’t even talk to me about it.” I was trying not to cry.

The water was sputtering out of the pot and sauce was splattering on the backsplash. Laura flipped into “mom” mode. “Here let me get these pots settled down.” She added the pasta and gave the sauce a quick stir before turning the burner off and covering the pot.

“So June knows…well of course she does! You know Grace, I hate to bring this up. I know how upsetting this must be. But this explains a lot.” I looked up. 

“What do you mean?” 

“Well, back when your dad’s health was failing, my Dad spent a lot of time with him. One afternoon when the kids and I were visiting Mom he came home visibly upset. He had a word with my mom in the other room and I overheard him, say, “I told him he had to tell her…” And then my Mom said, “Poor Annie…oh my, and what about Grace? I just can’t imagine…”

Laura served me a plate of pasta and took her seat at the table, “At the time I thought they said what they did because your dad was so sick and they felt bad for you and your mom, but it didn’t make sense. What could he possibly have to tell your mom that he hadn’t already said?”

“Daddy had something to tell Mom? Are you sure you heard…”

“Oh I’m sure. I remember because my dad was so upset. And now I’m wondering if this has anything to do with your letter Grace…”

“I can’t imagine…”

“Tell you what I’m gonna do Grace. I’m gonna ask Mom and Dad what it’s all about. You don’t need any more surprises. Let me handle it. Now eat your dinner before it gets cold.” Always the mom, my good friend. “Besides, we have another bottle of wine chilling and I want to hear all about your fancy career and fabulous social life! Oh to be single again!”

I loved Laura! I felt relieved. She was just what I needed tonight…someone to take my mind off of things. Tomorrow, I would have answers. 

(Read the first 5 parts HERE)


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