This week, we were given ten ingredients and told to choose five. I used a ten-sided dice and this is what came up.
· An indestructible tree;
· A mysterious rabbit;
· A half-burned notebook;
· An impossible doorway;
· A missing corpse.
It took me all week to get to this, and in the end I just had to start writing and see where the story took me. Welcome to:
Aunt Imelda's Legacy
Step through the candle flare to the tree at the end of the world. There ask your question of the king o… The sentence stopped. Nola looked down at Moppet. The black and tan rabbit looked back at her.
“I don’t suppose you could have rescued the notebook before Aunt Imelda dropped it into the fire?”
Moppet’s ears drooped and the rabbit shook its head.
Nola sighed. “I don’t know why I talk to you anyway. It’s not like you understand a word I say.”
The rabbit snorted and its tiny tongue protruded from its mouth.
Nola glared at it, not at all sure it had been licking its whiskers. She had no choice but to trust the rabbit; Moppet was the smartest creature she knew. What she didn’t know was why the piebald bunny had adopted her. Of all the things Aunt Imelda had left behind, the rabbit had been the hardest to bequeath.
The house had been a no-brainer—and there’d nearly been a permanent family feud form over that one. Nola was still exhausted from heading both parties down the track of a satisfactory settlement. The books had gone to Germaine and Harold for their private collection; their place was like a library anyhow, and if you wanted to borrow something, they were always happy to oblige.
But the rabbit… Nola remembered all too well how the cousins and grandchildren had fought over it, until it started indiscriminately nipping and piddling on those it didn’t like. Several of the inheriting parents were advocating it be put down—and reluctantly agreeing that this was not want Imelda would have wanted, when reminded of their share of her inheritance.
Imelda had loved the rabbit. The least they could do, Nola had argued, was for one of them to provide a good home for it. She’d regretted saying it the moment her cousin had turned to her, smiled sweetly and said “Well, you’d better have it then, dear. It seems to like you.”
And it did. No sooner were the words spoken, than Moppet had hopped over to her and snuggled down on her feet, and when Nola had picked her up, the rabbit had given a contented wiggle and sigh and relaxed in her arms.
Nola had inherited the gatekeeper’s cottage and gatehouse, which suited her just fine. The cousins and her siblings had all agreed this was the best thing Imelda could had done for her. None of them wanted either building, and Nola had spent most of her childhood and holidays cooped up there, with her paintings and her herbs. Moppet thoroughly approved.
When the call came from the morgue that Aunt Imelda’s body was missing, everyone had been thrown into a panic. Even though they had rarely visited her, they wanted to give her a ‘decent Christian burial’ in the hallowed grounds of the estate’s chapel. Search as they might, none of the authorities had been able to discover where the corpse had gone and the funeral had gone ahead using a coffin weighted with stones.
Nola had been charged with discovering the whereabouts of Aunt Imelda’s remains, and given the run of the house and grounds while she did so. Nola had been the only one to think of talking to the morgue attendant who’d been on duty the night the body had disappeared and, over a cup of delicately herb-laced tea and similarly enhanced tea cake, had coaxed the true story from the man’s terrified lips.
He’d been checking the vault, when he’d heard a loud firm knocking coming from one of the drawers. Cursing himself for having an overactive imagination, he’d opened it to be greeted by the old lady herself.
“Took you long enough,” she’d snapped, sitting up and clambering out over the side.
“Remarkably spry, she was,” the attendant remembered, “and as bossy as always. Demanded a cup of tea, and not that horrible brew you serve up to waiting family either. Knew all about my secret stash of exotic tea. Near wet myself I did, but drinking tea with her calmed me down right enough.”
He paused, pale faced.
“If you don’t mind me asking, Miss,” he said, “You won’t be repeating any of this to my boss, will you? Only I’m in enough trouble as it is, with the body going missing and all. I didn’t have the heart to tell them the old dear just up and walked herself out. Crazy, they would have called me. They’d have fired me for sure.”
They fired him anyway, but Nola hired him to tend the grounds until he found something better he liked to do. Moppet divided her time between sitting on Nola’s lap, and hopping about on the gardener’s heels. He was another human of which she seemed to approve.
It had been Moppet who found the notebook in the incinerator, and Nola had needed to give the poor gardener something to help calm his nerves. He’d been lifting the match to the gas when the rabbit had pushed open the door and hopped out, the notebook in its mouth.
“Near had a heart attack, I did,” he said, pale as milk and trembling like a leaf.
“Never mind,” Nola said. “Why don’t you take the afternoon off. Go and lie down for a bit.”
When he was gone, she lifted the notebook once more and opened the cupboard under the sink; it was where she kept the candles and matches in case of a blackout.“Step through the candle flare,” she murmured, lighting the candle, Moppet sitting on the table. “It’s going to take simply forever to work this out…”
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