The Book

by | Jan 23, 2013 | Creative Writing, Short Stories | 0 comments

Sandra examined the wrapper on the parcel she had just opened. It did not give her a clue as to who could have sent it. The postmark was Chester, but there was no absolutely no other identification on it. It was her birthday, so it did not seem surprising that she had received a parcel. She had thought it would be from one of her children who were scattered around the world, but she knew no-one in Chester. All that was in the parcel was a book “The Other Half,” by George Mason.

Sandra soon forgot the mystery of where the book had come from when she opened the rest of her post. There were birthday cards from all the usual friends and relatives, with a couple of M&S gift vouchers from her two sons in America, who hardly ever knew what to buy her anyway. Sandra had already had a huge bouquet of flowers delivered by the local florist, sent by her daughter in Australia. The rest of her post consisted of a bank statement, some junk mail trying to sell her a better internet package and a letter from the local solicitor’s office, Messrs. Hobson and Dobson, asking her to contact the office to arrange an appointment as they had some very important information to impart. Sandra was intrigued, but thought it might be one of those scams one often reads about. She put it to the back of her mind, making a mental note to ring them on Monday. Meanwhile Sandra was going to enjoy her birthday. She had a dinner party with her friends to go to tonight.

Settling down with a cup of coffee, Sandra opened the book and started to read. Something about the way it was written captivated her interest very early on, and soon she found she had read nine chapters of it. It seemed a very familiar story to her at first, as it took her through the early days of the war. She had heard similar stories from her mother. She was too young to remember the war herself, of course, as she had been born just after it had finished, but her mother had told her of lots of similar things that had happened to her during the war. Sandra couldn’t put the book down. But it was Saturday and her birthday, so she decided to sit back and enjoy it. She had all day with nothing better to do until tonight.

The story moved on. It had started as a very sad story of a pair of twins who had been separated at birth. Their mother wasn’t married, and could not afford to keep both her illegitimate babies, so she had given away one of them, the boy, and kept the girl. Sandra wondered how hard that must have been for the poor mother to make that decision. She couldn’t imagine life without her children around her.

As Sandra read further she started to empathise with the character in the story, Harry, as he moved from the orphanage into various different foster homes. He seemed to have had a very different childhood from her own, and never really settled down anywhere long. Eventually, in the early sixties he met a girl and married her very quickly, after getting her pregnant. This seemed to have been the making of him. He made a good family man, and by that time had found himself a job working for the local butcher. He soon learned the trade and it wasn’t many years before he had bought his own shop and was running a very successful business. But then tragedy struck as Harry’s wife and two children died in a house fire while he was at work. Harry seemed to change after that, as he tried to put his life back together again. Dedicating his life to his work, he soon became a big businessman, soon owning a chain of butcher’s shops and branching out into grocery stores. Harry’s fortunes went from good to better, but still he had not found anyone else to with whom to share his life.

Sandra felt strangely sad when she put the book down and went out to dinner with her friends. She started telling them about the book, but like her, none of them had ever heard of the author.

The next day there was no time to continue with the book as Sandra was up early and out on a hike with her friends, followed by lunch and an afternoon of games at one of their houses. Sandra went home quite late and settled down for an hour or so in front of the TV, catching up with the programmes she had recorded from the night before.

On Monday morning, Sandra went to work and had temporarily forgotten all about her unfinished book until someone asked her what she had for her birthday. That reminded her that she had to ring Hobson and Dobson, the solicitors, to arrange an appointment. She picked up the phone and dialled the number. The secretary would give her no clue as to what the matter was about, but she managed to book an appointment for lunchtime the next day.

Sandra arrived at the solicitor’s office at the appointed time, still wondering what on earth it could all be about. The secretary showed her into Mr Dobson’s office.

“Good Morning, Mrs Thomas, I am Mr Dobson. Please take a seat.”

“Thank you,” said Sandra. “What is this all about?”

“Well, Mrs Thomas, I have some very good news for you, I think,” said Mr Dobson. “We have a client who has now deceased. I have his will here, and it appears that you are the sole beneficiary.”

“Me?” exclaimed Sandra. “But I don’t know anyone that has died recently.”

“No, that’s true,” said Mr Dobson. “My client did not want you to know about him until after he had died. He left me specific instructions. He died three months ago of cancer, but he did not want you to be told until your birthday, which I believe was on Saturday, was it not?”

“Yes,” said Sandra, curiously.

“And have you received in the post a book recently?” asked Mr Dobson.

“Yes,” answered Sandra.”I started reading it, but I haven’t finished it yet.” 

“Well, you should,” said Mr Dobson, “All will become clear when you have completed it. You see, my client is George Mason. That book is his autobiography. He was your twin brother who was given away at birth. He spent years trying to find you, but by the time he did, it was too late, he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so he wrote a book to be given to you on your birthday.”

Sandra was flabbergasted. She had no idea she had been a twin. Her mother had never told her she was illegitimate. She had never questioned her parentage, always thinking that her father was her biological father. This couldn’t be true.

“There must be some mistake,” she gasped.

“No,” replied Mr Dobson. “Absolutely not. Everything has been checked and double checked. George Mason is definitely your twin brother. He has no other surviving relatives, and he has left the whole of his estate to you. He was quite rich when he died, you know. Now go home, and enjoy the rest of your book. I can assure you it has a happy ending.”


Written for Creative Writing January homework