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New Beginnings

New Beginnings

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It came as a shock, when self-styled ‘ghetto queen,’ Geneva, was contacted by lawyers who claimed that Stanley Walters, the deceased uptown financier, was her father. His will contained several conditions that had to be met before she could inherit what was left to her. One condition was that she had to live with her sister, a girl who was the same age as Geneva, for a full year to forge sisterly bonds.Geneva left Froggie, her ‘ghetto don,’ behind and found herself in the rarefied atmosphere of uptown living. She had to contend with Pamela, her father’s widow, and the attention of a suave up-towner, Justin, who was determined that she should forget her past and move on with him.
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"My husband was a pig,” Pamela shouted to the startled lawyer. “He was a pig when he was alive, and he is a pig in death. He’s punishing me.” She sat in the swivel chair across from her lawyer and wept bitterly.
The lawyer had never seen the dignified and snobbish Mrs. Walters cry, and he was enjoying the sorry display of misery. He had wanted to be the one to deliver the bad news, and he fought hard for it. They had actually held a raffle to see who would get the privilege of telling the cold, unfeeling Mrs. Walters that her late husband had another child, a child whom he had left half his fortune to.
She stopped sobbing long enough to blow her nose delicately. Her mascara ran in long streaks along her heavily made-up face, and he found himself trying not to laugh at her appearance.
“Tell me about this…this…bastard child,” she raged. “Tell me why, in the twenty-five years that I was married to the man, I did not know about this child.”
“Well, Mrs. Walters,” the lawyer said, putting on his most serious expression, “her name is Geneva. She’s twenty years old.”
Pamela was shuffling her feet under the desk, a murderous expression on her face.
“Run that by me again.”
“Her name is Geneva…”
“No, her age. Are you telling me that Stanley not only cheated on me while we were married, but he has a child the same age as our child, Melody?”
“Yes, Mrs. Walters,” the lawyer responded and nodded.
She rested her head on the back of the chair. “Where does this girl live?”
“She lives in an inner-city community with her boyfriend, who is said to be the don of the area.”
“What?” Pamela widened her bloodshot eyes and stared at the lawyer in consternation. “Stanley was rotten rich. He had investments in Cayman and hotels scattered over the island. How can this girl be living in the ghetto?”
“He did not know about her until two years ago. When her mother was dying from cancer, she contacted him. He did all the necessary tests and found out that she was really his. That’s when he instructed us to change his will, leaving his estate to his two children, Geneva and Melody.”
“Oh, I get it,” Pamela said nastily. “He was playing downtown, and it came back to haunt him. So why tell me about my husband’s little indiscretion? How will it affect me? The man had so much money that giving half of it to a cat would not affect my lifestyle.”
“There is a stipulation, Mrs. Walters.” The lawyer had been waiting for this moment.
"What stipulation?" Pamela answered, looking at him fiercely as if he were the one who made the stipulation.
“Geneva and Melody should live together for a year to forge sisterly bonds since they are siblings. He had wanted to see this in his lifetime, but his illness did not allow for it.”
“Not over my dead body,” screeched Pamela. “Never! I will never allow my daughter, who is the epitome of class, to mix with a member of the underclass.”
The lawyer waited for her to stop ranting before he delivered the final blow. "If they do not live together for a year, their inheritance will go to his aunt, Ida in St. Mary."
“Mad Ida? Was he crazy? I will contest it. He must have been crazy.”
“There is a note here for you,” the lawyer said.
“Read it,” Pamela demanded, as she stood up.
“To my wife Pamela, I am neither crazy nor hallucinating, neither am I a member of the animal kingdom. I want to foster a relationship between my children. Please do not stick your nose in affairs that don’t concern you.”
Pamela sat down hard in her chair. “And who is going to monitor this mess?”
“The lawyers from our firm will file a report every month, which means we’ll drop by unannounced to see if your husband’s requests are being carried out.”
Pamela grabbed the phone and started punching numbers. “Melody, where the hell are you?” she shouted into the telephone receiver.
“Preparing for the beauty pageant, Mom, remember?” The clear cultured tones of Melody’s voice could be heard over the telephone.
“Come home now. It's urgent.” With that, Pamela slammed down the phone and stared at the lawyer, a bitter expression on her face. “When will this girl come here?”
"We thought tomorrow would be as good a time as any since it's the beginning of the New Year and easier to monitor that way.”
Pamela nodded calmly, but the pencil in her hand snapped.


Melody breezed into her father’s study, her slim frame encased in designer jeans and an expensive sweater. “Mother this had better be good; I was in the middle of my Elegant Walking course. If you really want me to go back to university this semester, you had better explain…” Her voice tapered off as she saw her mother’s face: it showed great distress.
Could it be that her mother was grieving for her father’s death? That was an alarming thought, especially since her mother had been extremely happy at the funeral and had thrown an after-party for the relatives and friends of the right ilk who had attended.
“What’s wrong?” She sat in front of her mother, reluctant to go around and hug her. Her mother was never into affectionate hugs, and those she got from her father were often reproved in the coldest way, so much so that she had only hugged her father when her mother was not at home.
“You have a sister. She is from the ghetto. She is coming to live with you for a year. That’s it in a nutshell.”
Melody was stunned. She stared at her mother open-mouthed. Pamela was not generally a person who gave jokes, and her tear-streaked face made it clear she wasn’t jesting.
Pamela explained: “She will be sharing your inheritance. Don’t worry we are still rich. It’s just that this girl will be rich now and will probably have a say in board meetings and matters requiring your authorization as joint heirs.”
Melody stumbled into the sitting room and sat staring at nothing. She didn't know what to get used to first: the fact that she had a sister, her deepest wish, or the fact that her mother thought that she was so self-centered and greedy that she felt the need to reassure her that she was still rich.
Melody sat in the overstuffed armchair in the elegant sitting room and cried once again for her father who was gone and for the gift of a sister, no matter where she was from.