I've had the privilege of reading and reviewing many short stories by friends of mine. Being a writer of poetry and riddle books, I've never tackled a fictional short story online. As a young girl, I wrote many. However, as an adult, nope, never fictional.
Fiction wasn't my thing. Maybe it's this whole getting-older-stuff that gets us stepping out of our comfort zone? That's exactly what propelled me to write and publish my first poetry book in 2019, and since then, six riddle books. For some unknown reason, I had and still have a sense of urgency.
I blame time for my bravery to try new things. Time is knocking on my door, and my sense of it passing by too quickly is front and center these days.
So today's review is about jumping in and doing that one thing you've been hesitant to do. For me, it's writing a fictional story. So judge away, lol.
|His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story by Barbara Tremblay Cipak|
His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story About Love and Light
She stood at the bottom of that radiant sun-soaked hill sobbing from a pain that she didn't fully understand.
This kind of suffering was beyond anything Kathleen had ever experienced.
It hurt more than when her father unexpectedly died in his sleep from an unknown heart condition when she was only eighteen; and even more than her mother's difficult passing from dementia three months ago.
At the top of that hill, Kathleen could see Jeffrey, dressed in a lovely black suit. Her heart could feel his soul as if he were still that precious two-year-old rusty haired boy she rocked to sleep every night for years. She wondered how he grew up so quickly into the dapper twenty-year-old she was looking at today.
Kathleen could see Jeffrey comforting his sister. Holly's strong independent nature couldn't console her on this day. At eighteen, Holly needed her brother's shoulder. Kathleen was grateful that her children were there for each other.
Then it hit her.
Kathleen suddenly realized why she was feeling this indescribable pain. Her children were grieving, and she could feel every part of their anguish. The tears she cried were a combination of all her love, as well as theirs.
Kathleen remembered how it happened, how she died.
Two weeks ago, life took a turn that led her to the road she was on today.
It was a bright, beautiful Tuesday. With spring in full bloom, she remembered feeling like anything was possible. As she headed downstairs that morning, she had an unexpected moment of knowing that everything would be ok. It was so profound that it stopped her on the steps. She paused to inhale the gift and felt fortunate to be in tune with something that always felt personal to her, something cosmic.
While sitting in her kitchen, waiting for nothing, Kathleen was enjoying a fresh cup of morning coffee. Life had always been a struggle, but Kathleen managed to find rays of sunshine. She called them 'her moments of bliss.'
Being a single mom, she tried hard to maintain an uplifting attitude. She couldn't afford to slip into hopelessness. She often said, 'my children save my life every day.' To her, that was the greatest gift, and being a good mother was the least she could do for what they gave to her; hope.
Doing everything and expecting nothing had been Kathleen's motto. "Just do," she used to say; the rest will take care of itself.
While sipping that coffee, her phone rang. It was a number she didn't recognize and almost didn't answer. But being a believer in chance, she thought maybe today good luck would shine upon them and send the money they desperately needed for Holly's medication.
Holly suffered from a rare auto-immune disease and required expensive anti-inflammatories to keep her frequent seizures under control.
She answered that unexpected call.
"Hello, Kathleen speaking."
"Hi, is this Kathleen Summers?"
"Yes, it is."
"Hello, this is the office of Brander and Dorval. We handled your father's Last Will & Testament."
Kathleen was confused. Her father didn't own anything; he didn't have anything. How could there possibly be a Will, and why would someone be contacting her thirty-seven years after his death about a Will!
"What?" Kathleen said sharply
"Yes, there is a Will, and Mr. Brander needs to speak to you about it. Could you come in today, how's 1:00 pm?"
Although nearly speechless from shock, Kathleen agreed.
Kathleen could hear both her kids shuffling upstairs as they readied themselves for their day. Jefferey loved animals and worked to save money to go to school to become a Veterinarian. His determination alone woke him daily for his job. Never late, always dependable. That was Jeffrey.
Holly never let her health stand in her way. She was about to finish her last semester of High School. Her curiosity about her auto-immune disease led her to want to study within that field. Maybe a doctor, perhaps a researcher; she hadn't figured that out yet.
Kathleen was proud of their determined spirit. It hadn't been easy for them; lack of money was always the mountain they had to climb, but her kids never let that stop them from dreaming.
Kathleen headed upstairs to ready herself for her unexpected appointment and let the kids know she would be out for the afternoon. She didn't tell them about the strange call since she wasn't sure it was real.
Hugging both kids as they left for the day, Kathleen reminded them she wouldn't be working from home this afternoon, and not to worry, she had an errand to run. "Love you both," she shouted. "Love you back mom, bye, have a great day!"
The Law Office was grand. This company had been in business practically forever. As she walked into the ornate building, she wondered how on earth her father could afford this caliber of a lawyer. "Nah," she said to herself, "This has to be a mistake."
A lovely, tall, dark-haired lady led her into Mr. Brander's office.
Mr. Brander proceeded to introduce himself and encouraged her to take a seat.
Kathleen exclaimed, "this is a mistake; you must have the wrong Kathleen Summers."
"I'll get right to it, Ms. Summers." He pulled out a large brown envelope. Inside the envelope were instructions given to the law firm.
Mr. Brander pulled out a photo and asked Kathleen, "Is this your father?"
Almost fainting, Kathleen nervously answered in question format, "Yes?"
"Ms. Summers, your father left you an inheritance, not to be opened until this day."
Mr. Brander proceeded, "In these instructions, we're asked to give you this black notebook along with this key."
Mr. Brander informed her that the key was to a safety deposit box at a bank not too far from here and that he would have to accompany her to access the box. However, she would have to read what was in the black notebook first, as those were her father's instructions.
"It's private, only for you." Mr. Brander led her to a boardroom where she could quietly process the unexpected gift that was left to her thirty-seven years ago.
Kathleen opened the cover.
"To my darling Kathleen and her children."
She gasped out loud, "how was that possible!" She hadn't had children when her dad had died.
She turned that first page and began to read.
My Dearest Kathleen:
You have the same gift I do. From the moment you were born, I knew within you was the gift of knowing. You always seem to understand that in the end, everything would be ok.
From as far back as I can remember, maybe back to when I was two or three, I could see significant events coming next. Everyone else calls it psychic; I call it life. I don't know why or how I have this gift, but it is a part of me.
I'm writing this letter because, in less than a week, I'll be gone. I know I'm destined to die in my sleep. Rest assured, it will be from natural causes. You'll later find out I had a heart condition. I've seen several doctors about it, but all tests showed nothing substantial. However, I know I won't live. It's the same knowingness you carry about life.
You'll have two kids, and I know one of them will have a medical condition. I can't tell you any of this now, at eighteen. You wouldn't understand or believe me. But mostly, you don't need to know about this blessing and burden at such a young age. So I decided to handle things this way.
My grandchildren needed to be taken care of, so I started early in life making sure they would be alright. You'll eventually understand why this is so important and why I did things this way.
Go with the lawyer to open that safety deposit box. Please pass all its contents along to your children. I promise you; it will eventually make sense.
Love you more than you could know - until we meet again,
Kathleen felt both grateful and fearful, but a part of her was angry.
"Why would dad leave something for children I didn't have and never think to leave things to me?" She wasn't jealous about the gift for her kids; she was baffled.
Mr. Brander opened the boardroom door and asked her if she was ready to go to the bank. On the drive there, Mr. Brander informed her that her father and his father had been good friends and that it was his father who initially worked on her dad's Will. "Before my dad died, he filled me in on your dad's wishes and the Will our firm was holding for you," I promised him I would take care of it when the time came.
Inside the little room, and in her father's lawyer's presence, Kathleen opened the safety deposit box.
There were two large brown envelopes.
Printed on one envelope was "Open this one first," and on the other, "Open this one last."
Kathleen opened the first envelope to find another letter from her father.
To help your children, my grandchildren achieve their purpose in life, I've taken steps to ensure they would have the resources they needed to achieve their goals and complete their contribution.
You'll find in the next envelope that I've invested $20,000 in a safe stock portfolio held by this bank. By the time you open this letter, it should be worth between 140,000 and 200,000 dollars. The bank can help you with those details.
Please ensure your children get all the documents and my letters.
Kathleen felt more than loved. She began to get that cosmic sense she was accustomed to, that there's still more to this story. It both scared her and comforted her.
Mr. Brander handed her all the documents, including the little black notebook with her dad's initial letter, and they hugged and parted ways for the day. They planned to meet at the bank in the coming days to establish the value of the inheritance her father left to her children.
Kathleen arrived home at about 5:00 pm. Both Jeffrey and Holly were preparing dinner. "Hi, mom," they cheerfully blurted. "Where were you?"
"Well, you aren't going to believe my day; you both better sit down." Kathleen then proceeded to tell them the entire day's events.
The kids were beyond shocked. Like their mom, they were a bit confused about why their grandfather would wait all these years to give them this inheritance and why it would go to them.
Later that night, as they were all preparing for bed, Kathleen hugged both of her kids, told them she loved them, and said, "Let's sleep on it tonight; maybe things would be clearer in the morning."
Kathleen died in her sleep that night.
She understood the purpose of her father's Will now. As she stood at the bottom of that hill watching her kids at the top, she knew they were visiting her grave. She noticed something tucked under Jeffrey's arm; it was that little black notebook.
Suddenly Kathleen's tears stopped, and beside her stood both her father and her mother. Her first words were, "Mom, you knew all this time." "I did, dear, I always trusted your father's gift of knowing. We both planned this for you.
The three of them walked towards the children at the top of the hill. As they stood beside them, they heard Holly speaking. "Thank you, mom, for all you did for us. Grandpa's $20,000 investment is worth over $300,000 today. That's enough for Jeffrey and me to go to school. I'm going to be a Doctor, mom, and Jeffrey is going to be a Veterinarian. We promise to make you proud.
Kathleen, with joyful tears, had no doubt they would.
Kathleen's father let her in on the biggest secret of all. "Do you know why we did this?" Kathleen answered, "Yes, to help the kids achieve their dreams."
Her dad said, "That was one reason, but not the main reason. Holly will be part of a global discovery on how to help those who suffer from auto-immune diseases. It will be the breakthrough of her time. She's going to help a lot of people. And Jeffrey won't just be Veterinarian; he's going to be a major contributor to one of the largest animal rescue facilities in the country."
"And you knew this when you were little, dad?" "Yes, I did," he replied.
"How?" she asked. "I don't know, we all have a gift; we just have to open our minds to see it and believe it.
As Jeffrey and Holly walked away, Kathleen asked her mother and father, "where are we going now?"
"Home Kathleen, we're going home."
I had originally written this story to enter a contest but then decided against it. So there you have it, one more step outside of that familiar comfort zone.
Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone?
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