This is my first WEP writing or reading but I hope to read as many as I can. Just a note (FYI) my aunt actually did smoke a lot and die of cancer this January, so my story is loosely based off that real life drama. My extended family is still getting used to her being gone and I guess I used this as an opportunity to process some of those feelings! Looking forward to reading the other stories as well, thanks all!----
The envelope was a massive prepaid cardboard one with the top securely fastened shut with adhesive strip. It was glossy but not entirely waterproof. Breanna rolled it in her hands and wondered at the contents; it was certainly stuffed full of something that lent an odd shape to the package, something besides tidy, flat papers.
It was February 13th, Breanna’s twenty-eighth birthday and the day before Valentine’s Day. The package had something to do with her birthday, Valentine’s Day, or both; the return address only added to the mystery as she read her Aunt Sarah’s address-her dead Aunt Sarah’s address.
Breanna carefully held the envelope before her and inspected the slanting, wispy handwriting in rich turquoise ink. Definitely her aunt’s handiwork. It must’ve been compiled a few weeks previous in mid-January during the last few days of Aunt Sarah’s life.
“Leave it to Aunt Sarah, huh?” Breanna grinned at Mr. Sours, her plump himalayan cat. His face was flat, his eyes light blue and the hair on his tail, paws, ears, and face a rich chocolate in heavy contrast to the light cream of his body. “I bet you tuna she remembered you.” Breanna smiled and nodded pointedly at the cat as she used a small pair of scissors to carefully slice open the envelope.
Prying open the cardboard, Breanna peered inside and began delicately removing the assorted contents, the first of which was thin volume by Edith Wharton, a book titled “Summer.” There was also a birthday card with Breanna’s name on it, a bag of cat treats, and a couple sheets of notepaper covered in the sloping turquoise writing made out to Breanna and Mr. Sours.
She sighed and rubbed Mr. Sours’ ears as she tossed the bag of cat treats at his feet. “Told you she would remember you!” He purred indulgently and continued to watch Breanna explore the package.
In addition to the note, the treats, the book, the card, there was also a small fabric pouch that apparently served as some sort of jewelry case. Breanna removed a necklace from the pouch and discovered a large opal amulet with a matching gold chain. She also uncovered a small box of chocolates and an old photograph of them when Breanna was barely 5-years old.
Aunt Sarah had succumbed to cancer in January. It had happened so fast it was almost hard to believe that she was indeed gone but the memorial was over and her closets were being cleaned out by her sons and their step-father.
Sifting through the package once more, Breanna sighed and resorted the contents into neat piles. Treats for Mr. Sours, a necklace for herself, a book, letters, the small box of chocolates, and an old photograph. The items tugged at her heartstrings but she was glad for it all, so thankful that her Aunt Sarah had taken the time in her final days to create this package .
Breanna hadn’t gone to see Aunt Sarah in her final days. It was still a little surreal that Aunt Sarah was gone, but Breanna could remember the stinging, burning smoky scent of her aunt’s home and the painful aches in her throat and nose during her visits there. She was sad that she didn’t get to say farewell but also angry that her aunt would do that to herself; all the smoking and not-quite-healthy living that certainly abbreviated her lifetime and disappointed Breanna.
“Here’s what she wrote, Mr. Sours.” Breanna smoothed the sheets of notepaper against the edge of the couch, glancing to his smushed face as he reclined in the corner of the plaid green piece of furniture. “Dear Breanna and Mr. Sours, You probably know already that I’m not doing too well. The smoking finally caught up with me. The cancer is all over the place. There isn’t much the doctors can do except try to make me comfortable but I appreciate that. This year is your 28th birthday and quite possibly the last birthday I will be around for. I wanted to make sure that you got something special from your favorite aunt!”
“I found you an special opal necklace that I thought you would like and a book I think you would enjoy reading, of course a birthday isn’t complete without something sweet so I added a little box of chocolates too. Of course I wouldn’t forget Mr. Sours. He has his own treats and a little stuffed mouse with a bell in it, that should drive him batty!”
“The photograph of us is from your fifth Easter. You did a marvelous job searching for Easter eggs that year and I loved hiding them for you. I think you still hate malted milk balls? Am I right? That year I hid a lot of jelly beans! I so enjoyed playing Easter bunny for you, Breanna, I hope you know that. Christmas was fun too but Easter was more of a production looking for treats and toys all day long, indoors and out, I hope you can have fun like that with your nieces and nephews or cousins. I’m so glad I got to play like that with you, I will always treasure those memories. Thank you for letting me be your special Aunt Sarah,”
“Breanna, I can’t write you without bringing up cigarettes and begging you to please leave them be. It’s just not worth it. The damage they wreak and you can’t imagine how much money I spend on cigarettes every month! Do better for yourself, dear. I know that you can. I’m sure Mr. Sours appreciates clean air too!”
“Love you forever, little one. Take care. Love, your Aunt Sarah.”
Breanna glanced at Mr. Sours, “That was all she wrote.”
Mr. Sours hopped down to the floor and head-butted her shin, gazing lovingly at the cat treats still resting on the couch.
"Okay.” Breanna rolled her eyes and smiled as she opened the bag of treats, saying mostly to herself, “Thank you, we love you too."
Word Count: 1000 FCA