She thinks I can’t know for sure, but I do.
She thinks I’m far enough below her station that I all I can possibly want is her money, but she’s wrong.
She thinks we’re nothing alike, but we are. We are blood.
And today I am going to tell her.
No, I am not going to tell her. If I told her she would dismiss me or go into attack mode, or denial. The battle would be uphill from there, and I couldn’t chance that the hill would be too steep for my endurance level.
I am going to show her. There will be no denying the evidence squarely in front of her eyes. As it already had been placed in front of mine.
I agonized for days–perhaps weeks or months. The lines marking time were erased by the single constant that crossed them: How do I convince Ava?
Simply show her the gown and I would look like a thief, or an opportunist. Having it delivered–too creepy. Deliver it myself–demanding.
While I pondered, I continued to sort through my great-grandmother’s things. It pays to stay busy, I’ve learned, because there in the midst of one Great-Grandma Nikita’s long-untouched trunks was the picture.
The entire family was there. My great-grandmother, her three sisters, two brothers and parents.
No wonder we looked alike. Ava recoiled like a snake ready to strike when I pointed it out. Our straight chiseled nose, large round dark eyes were duplicated on every pale face amid massive amounts of dark hair–beards, moustaches, locks and tresses piled thick and high, braided, coiled. Even in a black and white photo there was not a bit of change in shade. Amid all that plenty, thin pressed lips dare not smile for most of the family except the father and my great-grandmother. Large ears. Long fingers.
And the ring.
I notice things. The ring Ava wears is a unique mixture of onyx and ruby, carefully placed in an intricate setting that I could not even start to describe. I had even commented on it.
There was no mistaking that the young woman posed beside my great-grandmother was wearing Ava’s ring.
My great grandmother was wearing the gown; the gown I now owned. She and I had it heirloom packaged just two years ago, shortly before I worked up the courage to meet Ava. I wish I had told Grammy Nikita what I was up to. This picture could have saved me a lot of worry. Or at least the expense of a pure-bread Russian wolfhound.
I have been doing family history for years. My mother’s family immigrated from Russia, and there were all sorts of gaps in the story and my imagination loved to fill them. Still it would be nice to fill in with true history.
My gut told me Ava was family. My research had led me close to her door, but there was not enough evidence to link us definitively.
So I bought a puppy, same breed as hers. Thereafter, we frequented the same dog park. I asked her for a vet recommendation. Offered to walk her dog when she went out of town.
Eventually I asked about her family and you would have thought I had held a gun to her head and demanded she open the safe. In that instant I was relegated to the apparently lengthy list of people trying to scam her out of part of her fortune. She cut me off completely. Never again showed up at the dog park. A few weeks later I noticed a boy of about fifteen walking her hound.
How dare she. I had all the money I needed. My father had been dead for twenty years. My mother for ten. Now my grandmother was gone as well. I had a house. I had an inheritance. What I needed most at this moment was family.
So here it is. The gown beautifully packaged and ready for her to unwrap. A copy of the photograph rests beneath it.
Ava is on her way to my house.
I explained in the telegram that I was leaving for Paris. I am. I asked her if she wanted to adopt my dog. She always loved Samson, and I couldn’t think of a better peace offering. If I was leaving, obviously I wouldn’t be stalking her. I pointed that out in my note as well.
I am glad I knew her well enough to bank on her soft spot for Sammy. I don’t know how it will play from here.
No matter what happens, though, my motives will be clear, my reputation untarnished, the door open if family cared to walk through it.
Have to stop leaving this for the last minute. This one needs a total revamp. But that’s what this is: spill it regardless.
Prompt for today: Again from The Pocket Muse: Ideas & Inspiration for Writing by Monica Wood:
Write about a person whose reputation rests on the appearance of an inanimate object.