Flash Fiction: An Inherited Life

Cottage17

 

Pulling her coat tighter around her to keep out the chill, Bethany walked along the main street towards her cottage. The sun was slowly setting and cast a golden haze over the tree tops. The Lake Valley had always been a quiet little town. The Rowan trees added color to the woodland. Bethany had inherited this cottage a few months ago from her aunt Hanna. She was glad she could get away from a life of being a waitress in Texas and trying to make ends meet. Aunt Hanna turned out to be her savior. She had never met or heard of Aunt Hanna who was a distant relative living across the continent and was surprised to find herself as the sole beneficiary of her cottage and jewelry along with sufficient funds to last for a decade.

When Bethany reached the front porch, she sensed something in the air or was it a hushed movement? She looked around and saw a shadow lurking behind the shrubs a few feet from the gate of the cottage. Was she imagining things? The shadow had disappeared now. Bethany shook her head as she opened the front door. “May be I am reading too many horror stories nowadays,” she sighed.

Bethany carefully tiptoed to the living room doorway and entered the room as quietly as possible. She looked around and told herself to relax.

She removed her coat and made a strong cup of coffee. A sip of coffee made her feel fresh. She worked at the local library and usually carried a couple of books home for herself. At night, reading a book by the fireplace had become a routine now.

Suddenly Bethany felt her heart pounding. A shadow was approaching. She couldn’t see him. He was wearing a dark overcoat. There was mist all around making it impossible for her to see the intruder. She was about to scream when she realized she was in bed. It was just a bad dream that woke her up frequently in the last few days. Was it just a dream or was someone following her?

She shrugged aside the feeling and opened the closet. Hidden below a shelf was a small compartment that was not visible unless you touched the lower side of the shelf. She retrieved an envelope and found some documents by the name of Carla Anderson. She quickly took all the documents downstairs to the fireplace. The fire was still on. She threw the envelope into the fire and watched them burn to ashes. Carla had to disappear without a trace because here, in Ireland, there was no Carla Anderson.

No one should know that she was indeed, Carla Anderson not Bethany Craig, her roommate. People often mistook them for being sisters. There was a striking resemblance between the two girls. Unfortunate circumstances shrouded Bethany’s death.

On a fateful weekend, Carla got involved with a guy from the drug mafia and had somehow managed to escape after two days. When she reached back, Bethany was not around. There was no note left behind. When two days passed without a trace of Bethany, Carla got worried but she could not go to the police, as she was scared after what had happened over the weekend. On the third day there was a knock on the door and Carla was stunned to find a police officer at her doorstep.

“Did Carla Anderson live here?”

“Yes”, Carla stammered.

“I am afraid we have bad news for you. Carla died in a car accident and her face is smashed beyond recognition.”

Carla wanted to correct him that it must be Bethany not Carla but the fear of the mafia and the shock of the news of Bethany’s death kept her uttering a single word.

Taking a deep breath to settle her nerves Carla asked, “How do you know its Carla, if her face was not identifiable?”

“We found Carla’s driving license in her handbag.” He replied.

Bethany must have taken my handbag for the party and my driving license must have been in it”, thought Carla.

She knew she had to run away from the mafia and this turned out to be a perfect opportunity. “Poor Bethany”, she thought.

Both Bethany and Carla had no one else in this world, or so Carla thought. It came as a surprise when a letter of inheritance arrived from Ireland, in the name of Bethany four months after her death.

That was when Carla decided; it was time to start afresh. She knew Bethany wouldn’t mind, would she?

There were no more bad dreams.

 

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

© 2015-2017 Shilpa Niraj, All Rights Reserved.

 

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