Will of Bequest

The wrong aunt had died. At least, in my opinion. Aunt Fiona had never been a welcoming woman, and she’d become truly frigid toward me a few years back. Truthfully, I wished she was the one who’d died, not my gregarious and soft-hearted Aunt Josephine. But Great-aunt Josephine was the eldest sister, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised to find myself walking across the cemetery grass at her funeral—or, “life celebration.”

True to her nature, Aunt Josephine had insisted on festivities in her honor, although any liveliness during the burial ceremony was quashed with an icy glare from Aunt Fiona. As Aunt Josephine’s closest living relative, she was the one in charge of the actual funeral arrangements, so the burial had a definitely somber air. She had begrudgingly allowed for a feast afterward, and welcomed friends of the family with a resigned glare.

I’d been “accidentally” avoiding her all afternoon, partly because I’d brought my boyfriend Jimmy Martins along. I didn’t think it was the best idea, but I liked the company. My brothers certainly had no qualms about bringing their girlfriends. They’d also ignored Aunt Fiona’s increasingly disconsolate expression as they trooped up to her with their girlfriends in their coquettishly lacy black dresses.

(more…)

The Night Chats

The night chats were announced with a key and a location. No words were ever exchanged. No maps were ever printed. There’s no painted sign hanging over the door or bunting strung to draw attention. There was just a new place in the shadows where one did not exist before.

Lani entered at the arranged time, through a doorway at the back of the day market. The air still smelled of spices and dyes and dung in the fading light. The aroma of trade.

The pushers met her first on the other side of the door, while her eyes and her skin adjusted to the cool air.

“Hey. Hey you. You wanna sleep?”
“Hey, wanna dream?”
“Nightmares! Quality nightmares here!”

She brushed past them with their somni-pills and their potions. Their oily promises left a residue on her skin. (more…)

Lunar Trials

When I went to unlock my front door one day, I noticed a glowing key on my key ring that hadn’t been there before. I had to pee and my phone was ringing, so I ignored it at first, then forgot about it.

When I remembered the next day, I checked my key ring, ready to contemplate what it was for. But it wasn’t there.

“Wacky imagination,” I muttered to myself.

But I hadn’t imagined it, because a month later—on the day of the next full moon, to be exact—it was back.

“Hello, key. Nice to see you again.” I held it up and examined it. “What do you go to?”

The key, unsurprisingly, didn’t answer.

My natural inclination was to procrastinate. Why do today what you can put off for tomorrow? And as I wasn’t presented with any unfamiliar doors with magical locks, it seemed easiest to not bother with it.

But knowing it would be gone the next day added an intriguing layer of immediacy. I was curious. I was in possession of a key that would disappear the next day.

So I wandered around with, my hand outstretched, as I made my way through my daily routine.

There were no unusual doors in my apartment, on my walk to the bus stop, and certainly not on the bus. I ended up putting the key back in my pocket after several strange looks and a startled flinch from the bus driver.

The bus arrived at the college campus where I worked and got off on my usual stop. I pulled the key back out and squinted at it. It didn’t appear to be any brighter or pulling me any specific direction.

“Seriously, key. What am I supposed to do with you?” (more…)

Hope Chest

The key hadn’t been on Georgia’s ring yesterday, but she found it there now. She held it up to be sure she recognized it—the antique brass key to her cedar hope chest. Lost for years. But how did it get on her ring?

She narrowed her eyes, suspecting the orderlies. The staff at Pine Acres Independent Living were helpful, tidy, and efficient. They seemed to organize while Georgia wasn’t looking. Like the Brownies of folklore. Though they were sometimes so quick about it that her crossword books got re-shelved before she’d finished all the puzzles.

No matter. Having the key back was a gift, even if an orderly had entered without knocking. She stood, mindfully as the occupational therapist had instructed, to reopen the box of whatever wedding gifts remained unused after 57 years.

She opened the narrow linen closet door and lifted her heirloom quilt from the chest’s lid. She brushed about six years’ worth of dust from it—six years since she and Benjamin had moved in here together. Four years by herself. But they key had been gone long before they’d come to Pine Acres. She fitted it into the lock and turned. The antique mechanism clicked and Georgia lifted the lid. (more…)

October Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Hello, reader. Welcome back to another month of free fiction here at the Confabulator Cafe.

Our prompt for October is: “one day you notice there’s a new key on your key chain.”

Here’s the October schedule:

Friday, October 6: “Hope Chest” by Emily Mosher
Friday, October 13: “Lunar Trials” by Sara Lundberg
Friday, October 20: “The Night Chats” by Dianne Williams
Friday, October 27: “Will of Bequest” by Isabel Nee