Ebony stood outside the office doors, pacing as though she were looking for an escape route. She may not have any memory of who she is or where she came from, but sitting in on a will reading for a woman she barely knew amongst people who were actually related to the deceased felt wrong.
The lawyer popped his head out the door. ‘Any time now, Ebony. We can’t start this without you.’
‘Who is she anyway? How come she is here?’ Eb heard scathed whispers leak into the corridor.
‘They don’t want me here,’ was all she could say. She was curious though, despite it all. Why had Hillary put her in the will and what was she left with? She hoped it was her story books.
‘It’s not their say.’
‘Fine.’ She squared her shoulders and finally walked into the small office. Seeing how there were about 8 people inside and the only two chairs on this side of the table were taken, Eb slipped into the nook next to the door. In case she needed to make a quick dash. The 7 pairs of glaring gazes couldn’t be mistaken. Then there was the odd teen with long limp dark hair from the opposite corner smile at her. She barely managed to smile back before the room was called to attention.
‘We all know why we are here so let’s get started shall we?’
One of the oldest women in the room turned with a sour look to Eb. ‘And why is she here?’
‘Cause your mother asked her to be here.’ The lawyer opened a sealed document and started reading it’s content. By the time he was coming to the pointy end of it, the five siblings and their 2 heirs except the teen were at each other’s throats about what they should and shouldn’t have gotten. It seemed to Ebony that Hillary had been quite well off and somehow, these spoilt rotten family were far more concerned about who got what and not so grieving of their loss. Eb’s name so far hadn’t even been mentioned once. She was beginning to wonder why she was even there to begin with.
‘So who gets grandma’s farm?’ The teen finally spoke through the barring family. The shouts silenced. Heads turned from him to the lawyer.
‘That old run down thing in the country?’ The balding man with a bulging muffin top that refused to stay hidden beneath ill fitting shirt spoke.
While the family gawped at each other and waited for the attorney to answer, the teen approached Eb. ‘Hi.’
‘Hi.’ Eb whispered back.
‘I’m Chase,’ he extended his hand and Eb shook it, unsure.
‘Ebony Wilson.’ It felt satisfying to finally say her whole name.
‘How did you know grandma?’
‘You’re a nurse?’ The grin widened on the boy and Eb couldn’t help but notice him keen to look her up and down.
Eb shook her head. ‘I live there.’
The kid almost scoffed. ‘Aren’t you a little too young?’
‘Aren’t you?’ Eb fired back. Just read the rest of the will. She turned back to the attorney.
‘Ebony Wilson.’ She heard her name.
‘What?’ She looked around the room, aware that every single person was staring at her.
‘Hilary left her farm to you.’ The attorney said, closing the document back up.
‘Let me look at that,’ the closest male relative snatched the will from the table and started pouring over the content.
‘So it’s true?’ Hillary’s daughter asked.
‘Of course, mum never loved that place but now that you have it she wants it.’ The kid leaned in and whispered. Ebony couldn’t help but turn to him. ‘It’s literally falling to pieces.’ He winked. ‘If you need a hand with the repairs.’
‘You’re not mad?’ Eb couldn’t help herself.
‘Of course we are mad!’ the daughter fired. ‘We don’t even know who you are and our mother leaves her oldest property to you instead of her family?’
‘Did you know about this?’ The tall male stepped towards Eb with malice.
‘Stop it dad.’
‘You stay out of this.’
Before Eb knew it, the teen stepped in front of her, shielding her in a way. ‘Why do any of you care anyway? Grandma had been asking you to repair that farm for years and no one cared.’
‘It’s family property.’
‘Not any more.’
His father glared at the boy, who stood taller if anything. ‘Can we appeal this?’
‘Why, so you can let it rot away?’
‘Keep out of this, Chase.’
‘Ebony deserves that farm more than any of you!’ He exploded all of a sudden getting the desired silence. ‘Which ones of you were there holding her hand, reading her books and making her laugh every day for the last few weeks of her life?’
Eb felt her stomach turn. How did Chase know what Eb had done for Hillary? ‘How’d you?’ She whispered, too afraid to speak aloud.
‘Cause I saw you.’ He turned. ‘Grandma didn’t remember me but she used to remember you.’
That’s when it occurred to Eb that she has met Chase before, in the nursing home. They’d literally bumped into one another coming in and out of Hillary’s room. Back then his hair had been longer and blond. Eb smiled. ‘She used to talk about you. Asked me to read books you liked as a kid. Said she used to read them to you.’
‘Thank you.’ He mouthed tearing up.
‘Hell, this can’t be right.’ His dad exploded.