Bradley quietly set his Nintendo DS on the coffee table. The battery had died a half hour earlier, but he’d sat, largely ignored, and listened to his parents, uncle and aunt plot, plan and exchange veiled insults.
“I don’t think it’s insensitive to just ask her about the will.” Bradley’s Uncle James looked into the short glass he held, shaking the ice cubes that floated in golden liquid.
“She’ll think we’re only concerned about the money.” Bradley’s mother, Anne, pinched the bridge of her nose like she did when she was worried. Suddenly, she looked up, making eye contact with her brother’s latest wife, Tabby. “We’re not, of course,” she said defensively.
“Us either,” Tabby answered, fingering the strand of pearls that circled her neck.
Bradley’s dad stood up. “It would just help tremendously to know. We’ve got Bradley’s education to think about. It’s not like we’d be wasting the money on boats and plastic surgery.”
Bradley knew his father’s words were directed at his uncle and aunt, but James ignored the comment. “Tabby and I are actually interested in charity work.”
Tabby looked at her husband with wide eyes, but due to her recent botox procedure, her face was mostly expressionless.
After two attempts, Bradley was able to free himself from the soft sofa cushions that surrounded him and escape from the suffocating room. Memories of summers spent with his grandmother rolled through his mind as he walked slowly down the long hallway toward her bedroom. His heart ached. He’d gladly trade his inheritance for more time with his grandmother.
As he approached her bedroom, he was surprised by sounds coming from inside. He knocked gently on the door, but there was immediate silence. With a pounding heart, he cracked the door and peaked inside.
Laying atop the massive four poster bed was a tiny, white-haired figure. The slow up and down movement of her bedspread was the only sign of life. Bradley tiptoed closer. He approached the side of the bed and noticed a television remote, just inches from her hand. Bradley reached for the remote, but his grandmother suddenly grabbed his wrist with surprising strength. “Gotcha!”
“Ahh!” Bradley jumped back in shock. Leaning over, he rested his hands on his knees and tried to calm his pounding heart. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”
Ruby couldn’t contain her laughter. “Heart attack? I’m the one on her deathbed.”
Bradley eyed his grandmother suspiciously. “You don’t look like you’re on your deathbed.”
Ruby winked. “Let’s keep that between us.”
“Seriously? You’re not about to die?” A hopeful smile replaced Bradley’s melancholy expression.
“Well, I’m almost ninety, so I guess the end could come any day, but I may have exaggerated my current illness.” She raised her eyebrows at Bradley, silently requesting his understanding.
Bradley stood for a moment, dumbfounded. “What? Why?”
“I’m doing research.”
“Research?” Bradley was confused.
“For my will.” Ruby clicked on the remote.
On the television screen Bradley saw his parents, uncle and aunt. It took a moment to comprehend what he was watching, but then he spotted his Nintendo DS on the coffee table. “Hey, that’s right now. You have a spy cam!”
“Are you mad?”
Bradley stared at the TV, processing the situation. He observed the muted figures pace around the room, clearly losing patience with each other. “Nah, they deserve it,” he said with conviction.
Ruby nodded at Bradley’s approval and pulled a yellow legal pad out from under the covers. “It’s all for my research, so I can honor everyone’s wishes in my will.”
Bradley knew his grandmother well enough to be leery. “Yea, right.”
“You doubt me?” Ruby pretended to be insulted. “Tabby and James are interested in charities, so I’ll leave a portion of my estate to World Vision. They even provide cleft palate surgery for children in need. Since Tabby loves beautiful faces, I thought’s she’d appreciate that.”
Bradley shook his head and chuckled. “They’re going to be so mad.”
“That’s the beauty of it. I’ll be dead, so what can they do to me?” Ruby looked at her legal pad. “And for your father’s sake, I’ll be sure your education is taken care of.”
“Thanks, but I was hoping for enough money to buy thousands of video games.” Bradley answered his grandmother’s shocked expression with a wink. “Just kidding.”
Ruby rolled her eyes. “I guess I deserved that.”
Bradley scooted closer to his grandmother. “Being old must be really fun.”
“It definitely has it’s perks,” Ruby agreed.
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