Ashley Owens
2 micropoems by Ashley Owens | #thesideshow
December 14, 2016
RAND vs. Rand by Smiley McGrouchpants | flash fiction | #thesideshow
December 16, 2016

The Inheritance by Haylee Massaro | flash fiction | #thesideshow

It had been years since I thought about my aunt Serena. She was always quite strange, a loner – I think she liked it that way. I had not seen her since I was a young girl, and so she remained tucked away in a tight compartment of my mind, only surfacing when I saw a disheveled passerby on the street or when some other item sparked my memory, reminding me of her. She used to show up at family functions, smelling of drink, usually alone, or occasionally, with a few unsavory characters who made cameo appearances on her arm.

When I was fourteen, she moved halfway across the world, somewhere exotic – I can’t remember where…India…Oman? I really can’t recall. Once she moved away, we never saw her again and scarcely mentioned her. She was a distant memory, a vacant chair at the dinner table during holiday gatherings.

That is why it was so strange when I received the package. It arrived on my doorstep one afternoon, wrapped neatly in brown parchment, accompanied by a brief letter. The letter read as follows:

Dear Ms. Elario,

It is with my deepest regret to inform you that your dear Aunt Serena has passed on.
At her request, she wanted you to have this box, as she had no children. It was very dear to her, and she trusted that you would take good care of it.

Lawrence Esq.

I speculated at how J. Lawrence Esq. and my aunt had tracked me down, as I had not spoken to her in fifteen years. Nevertheless, I was enticed by the peculiarity of the package and tore the parchment from it hastily, to examine this strange inheritance – the box.

It appeared to be wooden, deep green in color, inlaid with tortoise shell and covered in etchings. The etchings were inspired by nature and were very detailed; it was likely engraved by hand. Fixed upon its front was a miniature brass lock. I looked through the wrappings carefully, but there did not appear to be a key inside. Both irritated and impatient, I ripped through the papers and the envelope again, but still, there was nothing with which to open the box. The letter was missing a return address, and there was not any contact information for J. Lawrence Esq. so I was left with no way to inquire about a key.

The lock itself appeared to be simple enough, like others that you might see on a young girl’s diary. I took a bobby pin from my dresser and meticulously picked at the small brass lock. After about an hour of tinkering, the box would not open – the lock unscathed. I held it up and shook it next to my ear. I thought that perhaps I heard a light thumping sound from inside.

Curiosity ate away at me. What was inside the box? What oddity had she left me? And why did she, a woman I barely knew, leave me such an item? The box sat tauntingly on my kitchen table, calling out to me, inviting me, daring me to open it. The opals and iridescence of the tortoise shell glowed in the soft light.

I headed down to the basement and arrived upstairs with a hammer in hand. I would break the lock. I held the box tightly with one hand and raised the hammer in the other. With accuracy and precision, I brought the hammer down onto the latch. It bent slightly but for the most part, remained unharmed. Again, I lifted the hammer, making contact. Further mangled, but still intact, so, I raised the hammer again and again and again until the deep green wood splintered and split open. I cleared away the broken bits of wood, and peered inside. The box was empty. Fresh questions grew in my mind like tiny leaves on April branches – questions that I would likely never be able to answer. The pangs of guilt followed. I knelt beside the box, while bits of green-colored splinters lay scattered upon the floor. I lifted its remains carefully in my hands and thought that quite possibly, the last evidence that survived of Aunt Serena’s existence had been destroyed. She would remain the distant memory, the vacant chair.

The following morning, the postman arrived with a letter. The writing looked similar to that of J. Lawrence Esq., but there was no note inside, only a tiny brass key.

Haylee Massaro is an English teacher currently living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of Pittsburgh earning a B.A. in English Literature and then went on to study English education at Duquesne University where she earned her M.S.Ed. She enjoys reading, writing, playing music, and traveling any chance she gets. This is her first literary publication.