I still remember the day when I borrowed one of her most beautiful dress in her closet. I was nine or ten. Perched on stilettos far too big for me, I had decided to entertain my mother with a fashion show, just like the one I had seen on TV. I had selected two outfits. Unable to choose between the one with the black straps and the other made of red velvet, I had opted for both. That was me. I was always second-guessing myself. I still could remember the crystal-clear laugh that came from our living room. It belonged to my biggest fan. Just remembering that moment made me smile. With her long, wavy blonde hair and her round cheeks, she looked like a goddess. She also sounded like one with her voice’s smooth notes. She was my model, my mainstay, and a perfect copy of myself. Fierce as a lioness, she had overcome many obstacles, starting with being a single mother. Only a few men had won her heart, but these cowards had all left her. The last one, a guy named Dwayne, had escaped in the wee hours of the morning without an explanation, despite an idyllic relationship that had lasted for several months.
It destroyed her. And why did he leave ? Unfortunately, I knew it. The reason was the same that had brought me there that morning. All these happy memories replaced by an irrepressible feeling of injustice. Why her ? For more than sixty years, my mom’s hygiene had been irreproachable and still ! Fate had decided to give her one last rough ride. That damned thing had eaten her away, starting with her lungs.
Despite her disease, she never let herself go. She always kept the same smile that will forever be engraved in my memory. She was exhausted due to the endless treatments, but she kept on saying that everything would be alright. I believed her. Maybe more for my sake than hers. It had been a long road, full of doubts and false hope, especially when she finally went into remission. But there always were recurrences to bring us back to reality. My mom had passed away, and I had to deal with the administrative hassle caused by her death.
“Mrs Blake ?”
From the other side of the desk, a woman wearing a grey suit was watching me. With a quizzical look, she politely instructed me to stop daydreaming. I wish I could have run away far from here. She gave me an accommodating smile, and my eyes looked around the room, as if I didn’t know where I was. Parts of the walls were made of polished wood, and next to the window, at the far end of the room, antique bookcases were filled with years of archived files.
“Thanks for coming.”
I nodded, not completely sure I was actually there. The executor opened a file on which the name “Margaret Blake” was written. At that moment, reality hit me. I couldn’t escape it. I noticed that the dark blond bob sported by the woman in front of me was perfectly coordinated with her thick and very classical glasses. She took a deep breath, and then she spoke.
“We are here to open and read the will written by your mom.”
I felt uneasy when she referred to the woman who had raised me as « mom. » I felt like it was a childish word to define her. In my opinion, I was the only person who could use it. It had a whole different meaning, when I said it. It carried the love I felt for her, and that nagging pain that would follow me forever. Nevertheless, I didn’t say anything, and I nodded politely to end to this unpleasant meeting as soon as possible.
“In her will, Mrs. Blake stated that she leaves you her house.”
It wasn’t a surprise. My mother had prepared me for this. She had always kept me informed, even though it was unbearable for me to talk about her death at that time. I approved silently. Mrs. Dorsay turned some documents towards me, and handed me a pen.
“If you agree with the terms, you need to sign at the bottom of each page.”
A throbbing pain, rising from somewhere deep inside my stomach, reached my throat. Putting that damned scribble on these few sheets of paper meant so much more to me. It meant that I accepted her death, and I suddenly realized I would never see her again. My stomach was in knots, and I wiped a tear with the back of my sleeve. Then I leaned towards the file in front of me. I remained focused, taking my time, while I was reviewing all the details mentioned in the document. Never a signature had been so traumatic. Even though the executor was probably used to these human tragedies, she noticed my distress, and showed empathy, when she seized the sheets back. She gave me the keys, and I carefully put them into my bag, as if they represented something private or special that needed to be protected from the outside.
“Fine. You will receive a copy within a week. Your mother also left a personal letter for you.”
Uneasily, I looked at the envelope she was holding in her hands. Once again, I scribbled my signature on a piece of paper to acknowledge that I had received it in person, on that specific day. We sorted out the last details of the will, but a part of me had already left for a faraway place, lost in sweet memories when my mother was still alive.
Unable to feel any emotion, I turned on the engine of my old black Comet. Its distinctive and familiar roaring sound soothed my broken heart. I was looking for a refuge in my little cocoon, trying to forget about the rest of the world. The sealed envelope was lying on the passenger seat over a pile of documents. I wasn’t ready to open it yet. I was not strong enough to read the farewell note that my mother had bothered to write down. Without a word, I watched it, and drove away as fast as I could.