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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)

TITLE: Three for the Money
By terri tiffany


The three of us gathered for the reading of Mother’s will. The lawyer’s office was stuffy and looked as though the cleaning woman was on an extended vacation. The desk was buried under stacks of papers – one form holding the key to our futures.

Neither of us looked at each other although we were dying to gauge the other’s emotions. We shuffled in our chairs and waited for Mr. Browning to settle in his own leather padding. “Ladies, your mother asked that I bring you together so I could read her will.” He peered at each of us. I didn’t drop my gaze – let him try to intimidate me. It wouldn’t work – it hadn’t with my mother or my father.

A cough. My younger sister was always the first to surrender. A movement from my right assured me my older sister was still intact and plotting her strategy.
“Shall we begin?” Three nods.

Mr. Browning cleared the junk from his old man’s throat and opened the drawer next to him. He reached in – and drew out what looked to be a leather bound book similar to the chair he sat in. He licked his right index finger and flipped through some pages stopping about half way. I arched my neck slightly hoping to get the first peak.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts…then you will remember your evil ways and the bad things you did, and you will hate yourself for all these wicked and disgusting things.”*

“What’s this about? What about mother’s will?” My older sister took control…she always did until I played my trump card – she hated when I spilled her secrets. The loose skin on her chin shook with indignation.

“Mother said she would pay for my surgeries before she died. I have witnesses from the hospital.” No amount of plastic surgery could change the slant of my sister’s mouth or her tone for that matter.

“Mother said she was leaving everything to me because I am alone.” Leave it to my younger sister to whine– it was obvious to anyone why she was on her third divorce. “I need the money and the house.” I rolled my eyes and focused them back on the Mr. Browning’s stony face. If only my father had worn that expression. Dad cared more about his bottle than his three girls. No wonder Mother had been beside herself most of her life.

“And what is your story?” Mr. Browning peered at me over his decade old glasses.

I didn’t have a story. Did I? At least not one good enough to demand the money. My husband was an accountant – my kids were well off – I was there only for the entertainment factor. I took great pleasure in watching my sisters get their just reward.

“As I expected.” He busied himself with some papers then looked back up. “Your mother loved all of you – but she knew there was no love lost between the three of you. Despite years of trying to get you to change your hearts – you persisted in this feud.” Another cough from my left. I licked my lips.

“She gave all her money away to charity before she died.” The force of his words stripped me of my breath. My two sisters froze with their jaws in similar positions – the first time I had seen them agree on anything other than how to argue. “She requested I read this scripture to you after I informed you.”

“‘If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation…’” *

“Mother and her crazy religion - I’m out of here!” One empty chair fell back.

“What will I do without her help?” My younger sister dropped her head into her hands and starting moaning.

Mr. Browning turned to me. His eyebrows met in the middle. The show wasn’t so amusing anymore. In fact, it was getting pretty boring – a lot like most of my life.

“So where does that leave us?” I asked. A smile cracked from beneath his moustache. My younger sister paused briefly in her sobs.

The man who had confirmed our future picked up the Bible and walked around his desk. He dropped Mother’s messenger directly in my lap. I looked up into his eyes expecting to find disgust. What I saw instead made me look away. I found compassion.

*Ezekiel 36: 26, 31
*2 Corinthians 5:17

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Pat Guy 02/01/07
Perfect title! I loved the voive of the POV - perfect. And your ending was top-notch. I really loved this story - especially the message.
Pat Guy 02/01/07
The voice! The voice! Sorry. :)
Jen Davis02/02/07
This was a very unique story and a creative take on the topic. I loved the reading of scripture from Ezekiel. The title drew me in and was perfect for this piece, and the ending was excellent. Great job!
Kathie Thomas02/03/07
Great story - no 'perfect' sister, just all three very different and deserving.
Marilyn Schnepp 02/03/07
This was one of those "sitting on the edge of the chair in anticipation for the next line"...type stories. Very creative, very good, and nifty title to go with it. Written well, and definitely a great entry! "Unique", I'd say.
Jan Ackerson 02/03/07
Compassion made her look away--what a powerful statement, and how you captured this woman's entire soul with just those few words. Excellent.
Jacquelyn Horne02/04/07
Good writing. You could feel that the lawyer did not like his task, but still knew that it needed to be done. Thank God, he did it with compassion
Donna Powers 02/06/07
Great title, and a very interesting story. You've created three distinct personalities in just a few words. Well done. Thanks for sharing this