Blessing in Disguise

Scene 2

"But...why California...?" Ama asked, her face a lovely freckled impression of confused puppy.

Molly handed down a vase from the top of the bookshelf. "The sell box," she said, pointing. "Because it's where the house is?" She answered with a shrug. "Beggars can't be choosers."

"But...California? I mean, Malibu?" Ama looked away and shook her head. "What are you? A Barbie doll?"

She kept her mouth closed while her mind raced through all the angry replies, reaching for a hideous crystal candelabra that had been hidden as far back as possible. "Ouch," she said finally.

Ama deposited the crystal monstrosity into the sell box. "Okay, so, unfair. Maybe even hurtful. But I'm upset. Why do you have to leave at all?"

"Because I can't stay here. There are three offers on the house already. It's all but sold." Molly shrugged. "I can't stay here."

"You could stay with John and me," Ama mumbled, staring down at the tips of her boots. Drifts of white fluff danced around in her dark curls.

"You have dust bunnies cavorting in your 'fro, my friend." Molly giggled, carefully climbing down from the step ladder. She wrapped her arms around her friend's stiff body, squeezing until Ama relaxed and hugged back.

Still holding tight, Molly said, "I love you and John to pieces. You two have pulled my bacon out of the fire so many times you should have stock certificates on my sorry ass. You are, beyond a doubt, the most fabulous, wonderful, generous people ever in existence."

She pulled back, without letting go, to look her friend in the eye. "But you guys have a two bedroom condo. And I have two kids and a dog. I am blessed to know that I have somewhere to go if nowhere else will have me. But I can't subject you to my brood when there's another offer on the table."

Ama pushed away with an exaggerated struggle and a hidden smile. "You're getting your redhead freckles all over my cute black girl freckles. I'm contaminated."

Molly laughed and stepped back, sitting on the top step of the step stool. She slouched, looking around at the box-filled room that used to be her dining room.

"So, who is this woman again?" Ama asked, dropping into a spindly-legged dining chair. "And why should we trust this sudden philanthropic bend?"

"Her name is Theresa Eddings," Molly answered, letting her hands fall off her wrists draped over one crossed leg. "She's Bill's aunt. The one who raised him, after his parents died in the car accident. Well, she paid for his boarding school, anyway. Maybe not so much raised."

"Have you ever even met her?" Ama pulled a bandana out of her pocket and wiped her brow with it.

"No, nor am I likely to." Molly laughed. "Tim, the lawyer, says she is taking the air in the French Riviera, and unlikely to leave Europe."

"So, why is she helping you?"

Molly gave a self-conscious shrug. "Gracey." She stood to grab her water bottle off the table, and then resumed her slouch. "I even had to give Tim a copy of her birth certificate, showing Bill signed it."

Ama snorted. "If this lawyer is so great, why isn't he helping you contest the will? You guys were practically married, you shouldn't have to leave your home."

"We talked about it, and I could. Tim has record of Bill's recent calls to change the will. But he doesn't have any note about what changes he wanted. And the last will said the kids get the house. Contesting the will could easily take years, with no guarantee of success." Molly gave a wicked little shrug. "He did help out with some advice in other areas."

"Oh?" Ama prompted with a chuckle of her own.

"Well, for starters, any joint accounts are mine. And there were a number of them, some I didn't even know about. Those are all now in a new account in my name. And then there's all this," she stood and spread her arms wide. "There is no estate inventory, and nothing to show what's mine, his, or ours. And anything mine or ours is now mine. So, as long as I leave a few old sticks here, the rest can be sold."

"Oh?" the tone of this single syllable changed significantly from the first.

Molly sagged, sat back on the step stool. "That sounds really mercenary. I know. And the last thing I want is to reduce Bill to a bunch of dollar signs. But he's gone, our life together is gone, and I'm alone with two kids to care for. It's not a lot of money, really. But it will get us settled in our new life. And what's left over I can add to their college funds." She gave a tearful shrug.

Ama watched as Molly tried to hide wiping tears from her eyes, and imagined trying to cope with losing her John so suddenly, without even having kids to worry about. "So, you selling it all?"

"Most of it." Molly sniffled. "Not the kids' toys, or our clothes. And we're keeping some of the books and knickknacks." She stood and climbed back up the ladder. "The house is furnished, and I have an iron-clad lease until Gracey turns 18. We need the money more than we need the things."

Ama nodded. "Okay, so that big walnut armoire you got in the spare bedroom?"

Molly turned around with a smile. "Yah?"

"Yah. How much you want for that?" Ama looked away, gave a careless shrug.

"For you, at least three hugs." Molly laughed. "And a batch of your peanutbutter cookies for the road."

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