(WP) Aunt Martha’s Surprise

(WP) Aunt Martha’s Surprise

               My great-aunt Martha was a weird one, and this suspicion was confirmed when we were cleaning out her house after the wake.

               She’d been much too ill to even attempt cleaning her house, and so my parents, cousins and siblings decided to do so in preparation for the reading of her last will and testament later that week.

               My mother was in the kitchen, rooting through the pantry, while my cousins were in the attic, and my father and siblings were in the bedroom, all quietly taking inventory of her earthly possessions.

               I was going through the bookcases, discarding old, dusty magazines and yellowed books with torn pages and broken bindings, when I heard my mother calling my name.

               “Daniel!” She called from the kitchen, and I looked up, the pile of magazines in my lap sliding to the floor. “Could you come in here, please?”

               “Coming, Mom!” I called back, and stood up, putting the magazines and books aside. I would return to my task after my mom told me what she wanted.

               I jogged into the kitchen, which immediately got me a sharp look and a reprimand.

               “What have I told you about running inside? You’d think you were raised in a barn,” She said, shaking her head at me.

               “Sorry, Ma. What’s up?”

               “Your aunt Martha has a lot of canned stuff left over from when she couldn’t cook. I figured since you’re the youngest, you’d want them. I know you can cook and all, but I don’t want them going to waste.”

She was looking at me with such pleading in her eyes that I couldn’t say no, as much as I wanted to.

“All right, Mom. Let me get some boxes and we can start packing them up.”

She nodded, giving me a victorious smile that almost made me regret my good deed.

**

Several hours later, we called it for the night, promising to come back in the afternoon to finish up, after a family breakfast together.

My mom was carrying two heavy boxes, full of cans, and she winked at me.

“You didn’t think you’d get away before I held you to your promise, did you?” She said, waggling her eyebrows playfully, and I laughed, opening the back door to my four door so she could put them on the floorboard.

“Of course not, Ma. Because we always keep our promises. Our word is our bond,” I replied, rolling my eyes even as she pulled me into a hug.

“You sure you don’t want to come stay with Dad and I? It has to be lonely in that little apartment.”

“I’m fine, Mom. Thanks though. I’ll see you at breakfast tomorrow. I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetheart. Be careful on the way home.”

**

When I finally got home, it was tempting to leave the boxes in the car. But then I’d just have more work in the morning. I parked and got out, lugging the boxes upstairs, even though my arms were screaming from all the hard work I’d done that afternoon.

I unlocked my door and slipped inside of my apartment, closing the door with my foot. Locking it behind me, I sat down in the living room, not even bothering to take my shoes off. I let the boxes fall down next to me, and my stomach grumbled, as if angry that I’d had food hours ago.

I glanced over at the boxes and frowned. Maybe it would be a good time to start getting rid of that canned crap.

I picked up the box and took it to the kitchen, setting it down on the counter. I grabbed the first can I saw: chicken noodle soup, and grabbed my can opener out of a drawer. I slowly cranked it around in a circle on the metallic lid, already prepared for smelling the nasty smell of canned chicken broth.

But that wasn’t at all what I discovered when I opened the can. Sitting snugly in the metal cylinder was an egg-shaped object, sapphire blue and sparkling, and it had cracks in it.

Just what had Aunt Martha had been hiding all of these years?

**