I’m being fired?

Jennifer was talking with a coworker in the newsroom about the meeting she just had with her boss. “Tcht. They still don’t trust me, even after my last story broke two days before any other source and it turned out to be the biggest thing since…” Jennifer’s smart phone buzzed another text message. Her sister Susan indicating she had just received a letter from England addressed to Jennifer, and that there was a package waiting for her as well.

Why was I sent the letter?

Susan pulled the last of the weeds, and heading back to the house when Jennifer came bursting through the backyard gate laughing and shouting. Why is she so happy? She could hear her babbling, her dialog giving only fragments, asking herself what is going on? Pacing and jumping, giddy as a child on Christmas morning. She noticed her sister wearing a light wind breaker, jeans and her tee-shirt saying ‘Women Rock’, pumping her fist in the air as she received a final letter from her attorney for her recent divorce a month prior.

Walking over to the patio Jennifer sat on a wooden bench outside on the back porch, at her sister’s home, clutching the letter detailing how her life is about to be altered while Susan passed her entering the kitchen.

Jennifer starred vacuous at the bird fountain standing in the garden amidst the many colorful blooms accenting the lawn, and tugged her thin windbreaker tightly around her slender frame to ward off the chill permeating the morning air. Being too distracted this morning only to realize she is dressed so inappropriate for a cold morning. Reflecting on how different her life was just a month ago.

Contemplating her current situation, hearing the back door swing open admitting her sister, Susan, out onto the porch. She approached the bench where Jennifer sat, still wearing her warm blue fleece robe, hair in a ponytail and make-up free. She gazed sheepish out at the rising sun which spilling small rays of sunshine across the frosty grass in the yard. In her hands, two steaming cups of coffee. Offering her the welcomed cup of liquid warmth.

Here you go Jen, nothing like hot fresh java to start the morning, giving her a warm, affectionate smile.

She took the mug her sister offered sipping the hot liquid slow and deliberate. Closing her eyes savoring the warmth. This is amazing, she said holding it between both hands willing the heat to warm her entire body.

“Thanks Suz, I needed coffee.”

“Saw you dancing in the garden out there. What’s up?”

Your never going to believe this but I received a letter from a law firm in England on behalf of uncle Tom. I am required to attend the reading of his will. Holding the warm coffee.

A Law firm in England?

Her sister didn’t respond, but stared out past the lawn, she anticipated a reply. Receiving a letter after the death of her uncle stating she is her uncle’s heir who bequeathed to her a home she didn’t know existed. To add to the confusion, it is situated in England on a separate continent.

Only two months passed since they last spoke with him. He never said anything about owning one in England. It’s crazy to think she inherited something half way around the world. Right now Susan didn’t know whether to be excited or jealous. Why did her uncle send her a letter about a property she hasn’t known of?

Jennifer’s smart phone, indicating yet another text message. Typing a reply, it vibrated again, another voice mail message. She disliked the endless interruptions, and to pay for all those impersonal people dividing tech toys, people think they can’t live without, knowing they are going to break when the warranty runs out. Distraction is a common theme in her life, and her mind kept revisiting the events causing her current state of confusion.

Her emotions became a roller coaster of sadness, confusion and sometimes excitement at the mystery awaiting her. After a few moments of companionable silence, she glanced up at her sister and asked a question she knew she couldn’t answer but still felt compelled to ask.

“Why do you suppose our uncle chose me as his heir for an estate I didn’t know of? I’m not certain if I should be excited or not. I don’t understand, said Jennifer feeling bewildered and uncertain. Both sisters received letters from Uncle Tom, knowing only of the house in America, and not the one in England, because he never mentioned it to them.

Glancing at her sister in her periphery. Seeing her staring thoughtfully, out past the lawn knowing from years of living with her, she is contemplating, reflecting a bit before she offered an answer. Susan is never hasty, always planning and thinking ahead, never quick to judge without considering the variables.

So she gets to inherit an estate while I raise kids. All my life, she was the pretty one, the one the guys were drawn to. Of course I can’t say anything about it, to do so will put our sibling relationship at risk.

“My fear of flying is enough for me to not want to leave the US, while you have always dreamed of traveling to Europe. I’m grateful for uncle Tom’s house in the US”, said Susan.

“Yeah, I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe.” said Jennifer sipping her coffee. “Our family and friends have always known of your passion for European history.”

“Well Jen, it makes sense our uncle would list you as his benefactor and bequeath you his estate. I think he felt closer to you”, she stated with quiet objectivity and understanding. She paused and then continued.

“You always seemed to understand one another but I can’t offer any insight regarding the mysterious property besides, you are a bit of a Nancy Drew, especially when it came to finding lost treasure.  I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” Glancing at her sister returning a sibling compliment.

“Your pretty smart yourself Suz!”

Her smartphone lit up and showing yet another text message. She begins typing a text reply followed by listening to yet another voice mail message.

“Perhaps, the lawyers will be able to offer more of an explanation.” As she thought about what Susan said, and the conclusions reached, realizing how right her sister can be. Ever insightful, she managed to answer her question with the simplest, most obvious explanation.

“I’m going to get on the computer and make flight reservations for you.”

“Flight reservations”, said Jennifer with a concerned Look at her face. “Hey, Sus?” yeah; let me pay for it. It isn’t fair to you, I mean with the kids and everything.” Feeling like a burden to her sister.

“Stop worrying. My husband and I are doing fine.” Placing her hand on her sister’s arm.

Jennifer’s smart phone showed an email message indicating her reservation for the next morning. “OK, kiddo, you’?re all set.” Your plane goes through Chicago with a stop in New York before heading over the pond to England, and maybe this will be an easy thing for you, and it will all be over soon.”

Out of concern for her sister she advised her to check for a contact number for Shaldorn, and to call them to let them know she has flight reservations, and would arrive the next morning.

Per her sisters advice Jennifer called the number in the letter. They advised her a driver would be picking her up at the airport.

The next morning she showered and packed part excited and part nervous about the whole thing. After getting dressed Jennifer glanced at her reflection in the bathroom mirror holding the ancient coin she wore as a necklace her uncle gave her. She slid her fingers over the necklace, gently fingering the surface of the ancient coin. Her uncle told her it’?s not a replica from some tourist shop but an authentic coin, and it will bring her luck.

She didn’t have lots of relatives scattered around the world. There was just herself, her sister, her mother and now this. What if she did have relatives she’d never met?

The smell of fresh coffee fills the house as her sister entered the room handing her a package and an e-ticket. “OK Jen here you go.” Handing her both.

“Sus…thank you”, her cheeks blushing – her sister always taking care of her, even into adulthood. “You’re always taking care of me.” Jennifer’s eyes began to water.

“Hey…don’t worry about it. You’re my sister.” She said speaking slowly her eyes giving away her concern. Feeling like a burden to her sister after having been fired from her job, divorced from her ex and now Susan is paying for an airline ticket to England. Jennifer had always been independent since she was a teen but now with all that is going on in her life she just needed to somehow find a way to show that she is not a failure.

“Oh by the way Jennifer this came the day before yesterday. I meant to tell you but I guess I got caught up in our conversation about the letter, and your trip.”

She opened the cylindrical shipping tube and pulled out what Looks like a document rolled up, string tied with a wax seal on it. Looking on with the curiosity of a child eying a birthday present. She took in a breath. “This is strange. Why would uncle Tom send me a document with a wax seal?” She raised a brow.

“I don’t know but he always did like history.” Susan peered.

“I know its one of the things I loved about him.” Her eyes twinkled. Picking it up from the table holding the rolled up and sealed parchment in her hand about to break the seal, when her sister stopped her.

“Wait, Look at the seal. Not the kind most people use. It’s not his initials. It almost looks like…”

Turning toward the mirror feeling the coin around her neck. Jennifer remembers when she was young and her uncle gave it to her. He said it would bring her luck.

“It’s the same image as the one on the coin necklace uncle gave me.” Holding it near the wax seal.

Her eyes widened. “Oh wow, they are the same. What’s up with that?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll give you some privacy”, said Susan padding for the door. “But I’d love to hear the scoop on what’s in the letter.”

Jennifer’s mind spinning with questions as she broke the seal, and was slow to open the leather scroll lined with parchment paper. It was thick and rough as she smoothed the page out, it was old and littered with deep creases than ran across it. Sweeping black letters were written in calligraphy, not quite uniform lines, and a myriad of golden and scarlet clouds decorated the edge of the yellowing surface.

Dearest Jennifer, dated July 30

I miss you and wish we could spend time together like we used to. William died two months ago and he left his entire estate to me. Can you believe that? I was so shocked but I knew that he always trusted me. I’ve not been feeling well these past days while dealing with the affairs of the estate. This place is very special Jennifer, and there are many things you need to know. First, the staff here is terrific, you would like them. I have spent a lot of time thinking about my life, and yours. Right now I am trying to find a way to pay the taxes on this property, and am having a tough time with it. The property here is large and requires a small staff to maintain it. He told me of strange things like the legend of the dagger. I couldn’t believe he would tell me all this but I guess he trusted me enough. I have so much to tell you. Wish you were here. You can trust the staff here except for…someone is coming I have to go. Please come as soon as you can.

Love
Uncle Tom

Puzzled even more by the letters Jennifer rolls up the parchment and puts it into her carrying bag, and heads for the door. Standing on the front porch with her sister they say goodbye.

“Oh and Jennifer”, Susan replied. “Is your passport up-to-date?” Her sister always thinking ahead.

“My passport?” she replied, having forgotten to check it. “I’m glad you asked me that.” Checking her carrying bag for the passport.

“But is it current?” Jennifer checks the date.

“Yes, I renewed it only a few months ago while on an assignment for the paper. That is before I was fired”, said Jennifer with a somber Look.

“Hey kiddo, that wasn’t your fault. Things will get better. So what was in the letter?” Eyebrows raised.

“Oh uncle was just writing me about his friend he met during the war. Look, I should get going I have a long trip ahead of me; I’ll call you when I get there, and Susan, thanks for always being there.” Quick to give Susan a hug secretive about the letter.

“Of course, what are sisters for?” They hugged as Jennifer gets into the cab to the airport.