Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Yeah Write #70: Inheritance ( #amwriting #flashfiction )

Moira’s behind almost slipped off the chair when the dreaded phone rang. Her customer’s knuckles cracked when Moira squeezed.

“Ai, ai!”

“Oh, sorry.” She released her grip and pressed her trembling hands to the polished zebra-wood table. The black mouth of the antique candlestick phone yawned from it’s position on a corner shelf.

“Everything alright?  You getting anything?” The white-haired gentleman lowered his voice and glanced at the shadows. “My wife? Is she here?”

That phone, she swore it–

No. The old thing was her mother Lavinia’s shtick.

“It rings for me,” she would say. “You’ve got the gift and one of these days…”

Moira never considered that her mother had been serious. She presumed it was for show like the quirky, mismatched clothing, gaudy jewelry, and belled shoes.  The shop did well with selling high-end teas (blended for each taste), hard-to-find spices, incense, and imported non-alcoholic tonics. The spiritual services provided a healthy bulk of the profits, in part, because Lavinia’s personality and her commitment to satisfying desires and not promising what she couldn’t deliver. Tourists got a kick out of the phone when she whipped off the concealing scarf with flair.  “Expecting a crystal ball? I could just as well use a quarter behind your ear,” she’d say with a wink and tinkle of bells.

Lavinia had a knack for reading people and extracting information. They both did.

Moira considered her customer and pressed a finger to her lips. “Shh.”

She could tell him she had the answer the first few moments they were together, but most folks liked a story. If they got the answer too soon, they left unhappy and without tipping. Moira’s costume consisted of pajamas or yoga pants, so a story and some dramatics were necessary. Look incompetent, take them unaware, then slap them with a fact that gave doubt.

The old man grasped her hands.

“Hmm. I see. Yes, I understand.” She graveled her voice. “Spic-and-Span for a rainy day? Does that mean anything to you?”

He furrowed his furry brows. “Oh! Devil! Hah! She always said I was useless with the chores. Where else would she squirrel it? Under the sink for sure.” He crushed his hat on his head, plunked down the fee (and then some), and escaped at a wobbling trot out the front door.

Moira locked the shop and set the sign to closed even though the sun was still up.

The phone was silent.

Moira tiptoed past it then hurried up the stairs to the apartment she shared with her mother, who these days sat in a comfortable chair looking at nothing. Lavinia blinked a few times from a Alzheimers’ like fog before acknowledging Moira, who had placed a hand on the ailing woman’s knee.

The moments of pure clarity were waning.

“Oh! Sully has just brought me back from a wonderful jaunt.” She patted Moira’s cheek. “You’re pale! What’s happened? Oh! I see. That would shake you up, I think.”

It happened that Lavinia often answered the questions she asked. Moira tried to avoid doing that, although she couldn’t help but know things.  People tended to get cranky if you knew too much, unless of course, it was Lavinia doing it. She got away with a lot.

“Mom, I–” She threw up her hands. “I can’t be hearing dead phones!”

“I tried to tell you one day it would happen.  I’ve shielded you all I could to give you the normal life you wanted.”

“This is normal!?”

“Oh, hush. We are what we are.” Lavinia sighed. “There are worst ways I could die other than becoming a mushy-brained infant. Sully, helps. But he’s right, we’ve had to lower the protections. You must take over now.”

“Protections? Sully’s just something you tell the tourists, Mom.”

“Is it?” Lavinia kissed Moira’s cheek. “You’re stuck. It’s time to see everything you don’t want to. Can’t be avoided. You’re no spring chicken. I did leave it too long.”

“Leave what too long?”

“I’ve been keeping most of your gift dampened, I told you. Which one of us is getting mushy headed?”

“The phone–”

“Did you answer it?”

“It’s not connected.”

“Oh, sugar, you are always connected.” Lavinia shooed her away. “Go on. You know it’s true. How else do you charm the customers with your cleverness? You know things you shouldn’t.”

Moira padded downstairs and peered at the offending antique for twenty minutes. She took the earpiece; the clock tocked.

“Hello, Moira. Sully here.”





8 comments on “Yeah Write #70: Inheritance ( #amwriting #flashfiction )

  1. unfoldingfromthefog
    June 7, 2017

    What a fun take on the prompt! How cool would it be to have a psychic phone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. innatejames
    June 8, 2017

    Moira and Lavinia are fun characters. They have sort of a functional Grey Gardens vibe. I especially like how Moira doubted her own mother’s presentation of her abilities. Great use of the prompt, making the phone call central. Moira’s conversation with the customer felt rushed. She says one thing and he’s out the door?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      June 8, 2017

      Thanks Nate. I had to write this in an hour and I should have done a better job of showing that the man had been there for a while and the phone rang in the middle of the session. A word or two more could have clarified.


  3. Danielle Dayney
    June 8, 2017

    I like Moira and Lavinia as a pair. I have no idea why, but for some reason I imagined Absolutely Fabulous. I know. Way off.

    In any case, I saw just a couple tiny grammatical things (which I am always making grammatical typos and I know your time frame on writing this, so I understand) and also what Nate said about a few spots being rushed. That being said, I still really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      June 8, 2017

      I am sure there are numerous grammatical and comma problems! I will take the Ab Fab as a huge complement. I did have to cut two sentences to make word count too and that often causes a problem with pacing. 🙂 Thanks, Danielle.


  4. saroful
    June 8, 2017

    I should probably preface this by saying I read a bunch of urban fantasy so believable, prosiac characters with ridiculous abilities are kind of my sweet spot. Like everyone else, I’m spotting the couple comma splices and proofing errors, but I love the voice here. I would love to see what this could become if it weren’t rushed and compressed.


  5. Asha Rajan
    June 9, 2017

    I really like the relationship between Moira and Lavinia, and you’ve got the kernel of a really interesting longer story here. As you noted, you wrote it in a hurry, so there are some issues with structure and word choice, but it’d be cool to see a reworked version of this at some stage. Maybe in a future weekend showcase? I’m curious to see how you’d edit with a little more time.


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This entry was posted on June 7, 2017 by in fantasy, fiction, writing, Yeah Write.

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