Photo via Visual hunt
Sabine watched stone faced as they lowered her father’s casket into the grave. All around her women wailed and men cried silently. She had no tears left. She’d cried them all during his long illness. Beside her, her sister Analiese sobbed into her husband’s shoulder.
When the funeral was over, the two sisters returned to the house Sabine had shared with her father over the past year. She was the one who’d taken care of him, tending him through the final phase of his illness. As soon as they walked through the door, Analiese shed all pretense of grief.
“So where’s his will?” she demanded, turning to Sabine.
“It’s with Uncle Phillip, who’s also the executor of the estate,” Sabine said. “We have to leave.”
“Leave? Why?” Analiese asked, glaring at her older sister.
“It was a stipulation the police were made aware of by Uncle Phillip,” Sabine said. “You aren’t allowed to take anything. All I can take are a week’s worth of clothing, my wallet, and some feminine products should my period start during the week we’re banned from the house.”
There was a loud knock on the door. Sabine turned around and opened it. Two police officers stood there. “Hello Sabine,” one of them said in a gentle voice.
“Hello Chris,” she said. “We just got here. Let me get my things and I’ll leave.”
“Okay.” He glared at Analiese until she and her husband left, muttering profanities all the way.
Sabine shoved what she needed into a duffel bag and headed out, stopping long enough to let Chris’ partner Bailey check to make sure she wasn’t taking anything she wasn’t allowed to. She was given the all clear and left.
She went to a motel and checked in, letting them know she’d be there for a week. Just as she got to the room she got a text from her Uncle Phillip. Your sister is already harassing me.
You expected anything different? Sabine sent back.
No. I just wasn’t planning on having to deal with her so soon, he replied.
That’s Analiese for you, Sabine sent back.
You take care of yourself, Sabine. It’ll all be over soon and you can get on with your life, Phillip sent.
I’ll be grateful for that, Sabine said. Thanks Uncle Phillip.
You’re welcome, sweetie. The texts stopped coming.
Exactly one week later, Sabine received a text. It wasn’t from her uncle, but from her aunt. He’s at the house. You should go there now. He told me to text you since he forgot before he started driving. There was a brief pause and then a second text came in. He also conveniently “forgot” to tell Analiese. I’m supposed to wait for an hour and then text her.
Sabine smiled, the first in a long time. Thanks Aunt Olivia. She once again shoved everything in the duffel and headed out. She paused long enough to pay for her room before returning to her father’s house.
Phillip was waiting for her. “I know this wait has been hard on you, Sabine,” he said, giving his niece a hug.
“Not as hard as watching what I did for the past year, Uncle Phillip,” Sabine aid.
Phillip nodded. “That’s very true. Tony was my brother, and I loved him dearly, but I think he relied on you too heavily.”
“I only did what any responsible, loving daughter would,” Sabine said. Her voice cracked. “And I loved him so much.”
“I know, Sabine. I know,” Phillip said, holding her close.
Analiese arrived an hour and a half later. “How did you get here before me?” she demanded, looking at Sabine who was sitting on the hood of her car.
“I didn’t go that far away,” Sabine said.
Analiese glared at their uncle. “So who gets what?”
“Well, as expected, the house and everything in it, Tony’s money, his cars, and pretty much the rest of his estate goes to Sabine, since she’s the only one who gave a rat’s ass about him over the past ten years,” Phillip said, smirking as his younger niece let out a shriek. “He did leave you something though, Analiese.”
“What?” she demanded.
“This picture,” Phillip said, pulling out a photo. “If you can name who she is.”
Analiese snatched the photo and threw it to the ground. “You can all go to hell,” she snarled. She and her husband stormed off.
“May I see the photo, Uncle Phillip?” Sabine asked.
“Of course, since it’s yours now,” Phillip said with a laugh. He picked it up and handed it to her.
She inspected the picture. It was of a woman in partial profile. Her hair was long and full of loose curls, much like Sabine’s own hair. She had gorgeous blue eyes, but the most striking thing was the full lips, highlighted by bright red lipstick. She wasn’t sure if the woman was naked or wearing something that just left her shoulders bare, but you couldn’t see anything below them, so she didn’t worry about it.
She frowned. The face was familiar. She saw it when she looked in the mirror every morning, with small variations that came from her father. She looked up at her uncle. “I’d say this was our mother, but mom was a red head who always kept her hair short and permed. She also wasn’t this beautiful.”
Phillip smiled gently. “She’s not Analiese’s mother, Sabine. She’s your mother. Carolyn was Tony’s second wife. That is Bethany Cooper-Harper, one of the kindest, most elegant women I’ve ever known.”
Sabine pressed the picture to her chest. “Will you tell me about her, Uncle Phillip?”
“All you need to know is written in both her journals and your father’s, and they’re up in the attic,” Phillip said. “I know you’ll enjoy reading those.”
Sabine looked down at the picture again. “This is worth more to me than the entire estate.” Phillip put a hand on his niece’s shoulder and kept it there as she stared into the face of a woman she’d never known.