A ‘Woo hoo!’… my story below has been placed second in the Northampton Writers Group annual short story competition. I originally wrote it (almost a year ago) as the first-placed story in my now defunct 500-word competition (where you provided the prompts and I wrote the stories – as close to 500 words as I could get – from my favourite prompts). If you go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/626510 you can read the runner-up, ‘Number 18’, as well as see what else I have on offer. So, here is the story with the prompts, supplied by Jane Dutton, below it.
Peering over his John Lennon glasses, Byron Salisbury, of Salisbury, Peech and Talbot, studied the legal documents adorning his leather-topped mahogany desk, then re-read the birth certificate given to him by the young man sitting opposite. “Oh.”
George Foxbury edged forward on the Chesterfield visitors chair. “Oh, Mr Salisbury?”
“There is…” Salisbury scratched his right cheek. “There is a… er, bit of a hitch.”
“Just a small… very small…” Salisbury pinched together his right thumb and first finger then peeled them apart, leaving a miniscule gap. “Nothing that cannot be worked out, I am sure, Mr Foxbury. George.”
“Let me guess…” George sighed. “Grand pa pa Henry’s left all his money to a cat’s home?”
Salisbury shook his head.
Salisbury shook his head again.
“No, a dog’s home. It was Grand ma ma who loved cats.”
Salisbury coughed as he rubbed his hands.
George Foxbury looked from the solicitor, out through the window to the trees thrashing around thanks to Storm Katie, then back at the solicitor via the bland magnolia walls. “I don’t mind how much money he’s left to… whichever… but I’d really like the house.”
Salisbury frowned, pushing his glasses further down his nose. “I’m afraid it says here you inherit all his wealth–”
“Yes!” George clapped his hands and leapt up, grabbing Salisbury’s right hand, shaking it vigorously.
Salisbury cleared his throat then watched George sit as the words “I’m afraid” sank in.
“Afraid of what?” the younger man asked.
“As his… legally proven next of kin, you are to inherit the estate of Henry Foxbury III, late of Foxbury Hall, Bumbington, Oxfordshire.”
“Yes, yes,” George chivvied.
“Yes indeed. You are to inherit the said estate on your eighteenth birthday.”
“Right. The year after next.”
“I’m afraid not.”
“Because legally you are…”
George leaned further forward. “I am…”
“Sixteen, yes. I’ll be eighteen in two years.”
“What do you mean ‘no’?”
“You were born at the end of February.”
“The very end.”
“The very very end.”
“Have you ever looked at your birth certificate?”
“Not really. Grand ma ma kept it with all the other official paperwork after my parents died… with Grand pa pa Henry’s driving licence, shotgun licences, other guff, you know. She kept them all together, our three, in an envelope marked ‘Birth Certificates’. I just pulled out mine. Checked my name.”
“And you know what year it is this year?”
“Of course. 2016. What’s that go to do with–?”
“A leap year, George. What day do you think you were born on?”
“I’m not sure. I think Grand ma ma said it was a Wednesday. Far to go.”
“Wednesday is full of woe. Let me just check…”
George pursed his lips as the solicitor looked up something on his computer.
“It was a Tuesday, George. Full of grace, and I hope you will be as I explain how this is going to go.”
- Character name/s: George Foxbury, Henry Foxbury, Mr Salisbury
- Location: Solicitor’s office
- Object: Henry’s will
- Dilemma: George is expecting to inherit on the 18th anniversary of his birth. He was born on February 29th.
- Character trait / emotion / quirk: Henry is dead. Mr Salisbury rubs his hands frequently and pronounces his words carefully.
- Colour / shade of colour: Magnolia
- Other comments: George is sole beneficiary.