The Friday Fictioneer Challenge: Write a 100-word story based on the photo. And usually, that’s what I do. However, I didn’t want to cut anything out of this story. There are plenty of Friday Fictioneer authors who did keep to the word count limit, so be sure to check them out by selecting the smiley blue frog at the bottom. As my word count is way over the limit, I didn’t link my story to the main page.
The state of Nana’s home shocked Janice, who had taken a job in another state and hadn’t visited in some years. The house was jam-packed full of stuff, just stuff. Some rooms didn’t even have a narrow path through them as furniture, lamps, knick-knacks, magazines, newspapers created an impenetrable sea. Stains on the ceiling tiles hinted at a leaky roof; peeling paint, stained carpet, leaking faucets, rotting stairs provided proof of on-going neglect.
It was with deep regret that Janice suspected her cousin Joey of manipulating their Nana, feeding her bits of fear, turning her ageing anxiety into a phobia. While he “protected” her, Nana isolated herself, afraid for her life, leaning on her only grandson for safety and advice.
After the funeral, Joey produced Nana’s will. He inherited the house and all its contents; Janice got the storage units and whatever they had inside.
Joey tossed the key ring to her. “Hey, Janice. Guess who was Nana’s favorite. Not you, that’s who! Now, if you will excuse me, I have a lot of treasure hunting to do. No need to come back, I can take care of the house by myself.”
Standing at the end of the driveway, Janice stared at the house. She had wanted to choose a keepsake, something to remind her of all those childhood years of milk and cookies, summer nights on the front porch swing. But Joey wasn’t having any of that. He didn’t want her to wander around the house figuring how much money his inheritance was worth; how little hers would be. The house was off-limits to her; that part of her life was gone forever.
What she did have was years and years worth of letters from Nana. Anytime Janice was away, she and Nana corresponded regularly. Janice always used brightly colored envelopes so her letters would stand out from all the bills and junk mail. She got her friends to send Nana postcards from their travels; sometimes the postcards would be signed with a celebrity’s name. Nana knew they weren’t actually from those famous people, but she loved getting them and went along with Janice’s loving joke, bragging to her friends about the entertainment stars who wrote to her. Even when Nana’s arthritis flared up, preventing her holding a pen, Janice continued writing.
Pulling into the storage unit parking lot, she was pretty sure of what she would find when she opened all those doors: junk, junk and more junk, just like what had ended up in the house. Janice picked up the key ring, jingling the keys. The surprise had been that Nana didn’t just rent one storage unit, but several.
Might as well get it over with. Janice removed the lock from the first unit and raised the door. While Nana’s house had turned into one huge hoarding nightmare, the storage unit was full, but neat. Furniture pieces that Janice had clamored over as a child, hiding behind, served tea on, were packed and stacked against the walls. Boxes and boxes rose up, labels indicating their contents as the antiques she held as a child as her beloved Nana told her their stories. Door by door, all revealed their secrets to her.
How and when Nana had gotten these items out of the house, Janice would never know. She wondered what Joey would find under all the clutter at the house he so coveted. Maybe Nana hadn’t been as unaware or feeble-minded as Joey thought, had seen through his schemes.
The last unit was mostly empty, as if caught in mid-stride of filling itself. She opened the box on top, discovering the letters she had written to her grandmother. She sobbed, holding the box to her chest. It was the most valuable item of all, the knowledge that Nana knew Janice loved her, and that Nana loved her back.
To read other Friday Fictioneer stories based on this photo, select the smiley blue frog.