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“To Annabelle Granger I leave her mother’s diaries located in the box in the attic in the hope she will one day learn to be less of a dreamer than her mother was”
The lawyer stopped speaking, shuffled the papers in front of him and cleared his throat. His eyes met mine sadly, apologetically “I am sorry Annabelle” he said gravely “There is nothing provided for you in your father’s will”
I nodded dumbly. I drifted outside of my body and viewed the proceedings as if I were someone else from a distance. From that perspective the office appeared small, cramped and dingy, dimly lit by a combination of a single desk lamp and a weak fall North Carolina sunlight that filtered through the single glass window.
Extra chairs had been brought in to accommodate our group that consisted of my three brothers; James, John, Adam and their wives surrounded the cluttered desk. Didn’t this law firm have a boardroom I wondered inanely. I looked down on them as they stared at me with varying degrees of emotion on their faces. My body continued to stare straight ahead, my hands gripping the handle of my purse so tightly my knuckles and fingers had a bluish tinge to them.
It was James who finally articulated the thought going through my mind.
“That’s it?” I heard James ask “She gives up everything to nurse him for the last six years and all she gets is a bunch of old diaries?”
Clyde Finch had been the family lawyer for as long as I could remember and handled both the personal and business matters for my parents. He was also Godfather to Jack Jr. and a fixture at family gatherings and holidays even more since his wife died ten years ago. He now laid his hands flat on the desk and sighed “Look I warned your father about this” he said “It was the wrong decision to make, clearly malicious and spiteful after everything you have done for him Annabelle. I will stand behind you one hundred percent if you want to contest the will on the grounds of him being mentally incompetent in that last year before he died”
Before I had the opportunity to thank him for his support the murmuring started among the wives.
I sensed the moment the emotional temperature changed. It was Eva, Jack’s wife and the most outspoken and selfish of the wives who put a voice to what they were all probably thinking “Well” she said in her loud nasal voice “she clearly must have done something to hurt or upset Father”
Father she called him father I thought hysterically as if she had been the one to change his diapers four times a day every day for six years, to bathe, feed, clean him, read to him and the myriad of little things that go into being the full time care giver of a sick physically incapacitated bitter old man. She never even came to see him and would never consent to sit with him so that I could have a few hours to myself to see a movie, get my hair cut or have coffee with the few remaining friends I had left before they all slowly dwindled away.
They argued over the possibility of what dastardly deed I might have performed on their ailing father as he laid an invalid helpless and at my mercy. Initially James spoke up in my defense and thought they should each give up a part of their inheritance to give me something so that I was not entirely homeless and destitute. But the wives bless their little greedy hearts were not partaking of that particular generous and giving idea as they with consent painted me as the villain.
A rage so pure, so white hot and bright flooded the depth of my being till I trembled. The overwhelming and cleansing rush of anger freed me from the trance I was in. I stood up. “Thank you for your kind thoughts” I bit out through tightly clenched teeth smiling thinly at them “I will be out of the family home within the week”