General Fiction posted March 3, 2019

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A letter from her grandmother teaches her so much.

The Greatest Gift

by Stephanie Rollins

Where is She Coming From? Contest Winner 

"Dearest, would this be of interest to you?" Lillian asks, holding up a worn book.

I take the book from my grandfather's housekeeper. She has selflessly taken it upon herself to help me go through his things. I sigh. Things. Sadly, that is all that ever mattered to the heartless man.

My parents died when I was a toddler. My grandparents took me in. Between Grandma Iris and Lillian, I had a warm childhood. It was non-traditional, yet warm. My grandmother died last year. My grandfather died four days ago. Now, all I have is Lillian.

"Interesting," I say as I flip through the pages. "It seems to be Grandma Iris'. A book about bird species. I had no idea she was a birder."

"I don't think they called them that back then. I do remember she liked to hike," Lillian says.

A letter unceremoniously falls to the floor. I pick it up and begin to read.
"It must be a love letter from grandpa."

Nervously, Lillian takes it from me. "Some things are sacred," she explains.

She piques my interest. "Is anything sacred once someone is dead?"

I snatch the letter from her and sit on a dusty stool. With a defeated sigh, Lillian sits across from me on a metal chair.

"Pandora's box," she mutters.

I begin reading, "My beautiful Iris, the days are too long between our visits. I ache for you. My body and soul are yours when we are one."

"You should stop," Lillian interrupts. "That is someone's personal thoughts."

Lillian seems mighty anxious, I note. Knowing her as well as I do, I know she is hiding something from me. Eventually, she will tell me.

"What I would give to have a man write of his feelings like this. Men just are not like this any longer," I muse. "Anyway, let's proceed."

"As if I could stop you," she says under her breath.

"Holding your hands when I am inside you completes me. However, I long for more. Eternity with you is not long enough. Accept my proposal. Marry me. We could live out our lives together as husband and wife. We could make love every night until we fall asleep in each other's arms."

Lillian shakes her head. "Private. Intimate. None of your business," she scolds.

I continue, "I want you to be bride, my love, my everything. I want you to be Iris Mattingly. Oh, to give you my name."

I stop. Grandma had a lover before she met grandpa? This will take some time to wrap my head around.

"Told you that you should have let sleeping dogs lie."

"Love, Daniel." Daniel? I scan the top of the letter. Then, I see the date.

"Go ahead and tell me I was right...."

"This was less than ten years ago. Actually," I pause to think. "It was nine years and three months ago."

"Your grandma was a good woman. Don't you forget that."

Lillian stands and begins to box old books and record albums. I know she is trying to end this conversation.

"Grandma was having an affair? She was 'becoming one' with some other man?"

"Don't you pass judgement," she harshly scolds. "Your grandpa was not a nice man to live with. Your grandma went without a lot of the heart stuff and physical stuff for decades." Tears flood Lillian's eyes. "It hurt her. Made her a shell of a person. There was a hollowness behind her eyes that just made me sad to the core. She was a great woman who deserved more."

"I never realized," I flatly state.

"You were her granddaughter. It was none of your business." She turns to me. "I was her friend and housekeeper. I was privy to things you weren't."

I nod. "It kills me that she hurt."

"I know you are lonely...not having a man and all that. Being married and lonely is a different kind of pain all together."

I ponder her words. I wish Grandma was here, so I could hug her.

"If only I could have shown her more love," I say through my tears.

"It is a different kind of love, dearie. Morally, maybe it was wrong of her to have loved Daniel. However, morally, it was wrong for your grandfather to not see to her needs. Selfish bastard...God bless his soul."

I finish boxing up the attic with Lillian. Silence weighs down on us. However, she was wrong. I needed to know this.

I take the letter and lovingly lay it in my cedar chest on top of the quilts that Grandma made. She passed down so much to me. She taught me to bake, garden, and love. This letter is a reminder to save my heart for a man who will cherish me. Perhaps this letter is the greatest treasure from my grandmother.

Writing Prompt
Write a story that starts with the sentence: "Dearest, would this be of interest to you?"

Where is She Coming From?
Contest Winner
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Artwork by cleo85 at

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