The Legacy of Audrey Flynn
My mother’s instructions had been thorough, written by her once steady hand that in recent years had grown palsied. Standing outside of the bus station, I took the folded note from my purse and studied it again. The humidity had made everything damp, sticky, and I worked to smooth out the creases.
I stepped through the double doors and sat my bag down at my feet. I wished I’d worn my hair up, regardless of what Mother might think. I gathered it on top of my head and stood inside the entry while the mediocre air conditioning worked to cool the back of my neck, my calves. I had thought it best to wear something a little more appropriate to honor the importance of the day — a dress, thankfully. It was far better than pants considering the heat, but that meant my shoes weren’t as practical for all the walking I’d done. And still had left to do, I supposed.
Pumps! No sneakers! I heard my mother’s stern voice as clear as if she had been standing next to me.
Propriety had always been foremost. I imagined her reproachful look, full of disappointment in me even still.
She’d been dead three days.
As I made my way to the information counter I felt a wave of nausea fold over me, envelope me. But if I gave into it now, I knew I would turn right around and walk back out those doors. Instead, I swallowed my unease and approached the window.
A wrinkled, balding man glanced up at me from behind his newspaper when I inquired of the station’s lockers. Without a word, he indicated with a gnarled finger toward a long, distant hallway.
Brickwork and arched doorways beckoned to the days when the building had been something of grandeur; the city’s main hub, a train station. Now the scent of urine stung my nostrils as I made my way down the main hall, past the bathrooms and into another small corridor which held the lockers. A single light flickered overhead, the faint sound of a dripping pipe the only thing I could hear.
Locker 307 had been easy enough to find. I shifted the weight of my bag to my other arm and slipped the tarnished chain that held the key from around my neck. I’d not taken it off since the day it arrived — warm, sweat-slicked metal beating heavy against my bare skin. Sometimes, late at night, I imagined it had a life of its own. Maybe it did once. Maybe one day it would again.
I placed the key in the lock and turned, felt the tumbler give without resistance. It seemed to require little more than my own trembling fingers to break free.
Inside the locker was the box, small and ornate. I reached out to touch it and withdrew my hand. Its age was indeterminable. I hadn’t seen it for many years, since I was little, and my grandmother had left it to her only child, my mother. It was old even then.
The harsh words Mother had written echoed in my head. The only thing I have left to give freely, I will to you. The same as my mother and hers before her. And it’s still more than you deserve.
You have until the end of the third day to accept your legacy. I trust you will and finally make me proud.
I took the box and softly closed the door. Again, the sudden feeling of sickness overwhelmed me. Resolute in my inherited burden, I quelled my unease with the hope that one day I, too, might hand down the box.
Taking a deep breath, I lifted the lid and peered inside. A pair of gleaming scarlet eyes blinked back at me. I smiled at it, and I’d like to think it smiled, too. But one could never be sure when looking at evil.
Mother always said, Everyone has their own demons.
And now, I had to live with mine.