Self-Preservation Wins Every Time

Shawna was excited to know that her grandmother, someone she had never met before, had left her an inheritance. She wasn’t aware if it were small or great, but considering that she had only sixty dollars in her bank account, any amount would be welcome. And Grandmother Jenkins had been the wealthiest woman in her district, so Shawna expected a big payday.

She arrived at Grandmother Jenkins’ house at the time stated on the summons from the lawyers. She found seven unfamiliar people there. As the introductions were made, she learned that four of the others were her cousins, and the other three were people who represented the various charities in the town.

All of them were appalled to learn that only one person would inherit the whole estate! According to her grandmother’s last will and testament, the person who was brave enough to enter the apiary, the place where the beehives and honey bees were kept, to obtain the key to the chest in the middle of the dining room floor, would inherit it all!

No one believed that this could be truly happening! But, when Shawna and the others trooped out to the apiary, keeping their distance from the bees, they found that it was true. Using binoculars found inside the house, one of the men, Mr. Castle from the children’s charity, looked and saw what they all hoped was a joke.

He told them that entombed inside the jar of honey, the key could clearly be seen. This deed was representative of the cruelty that had defined Ada Jenkins throughout her selfish life. She had to have known that anyone who entered the apiary was likely to be stung to death long before they reached the key.

Everyone started talking at the same time, and Mr. Castle called for them to speak one at a time! One man said that he was not willing to die, just so someone else could inherit the money, and he walked away. A young, beautiful woman with long dreadlocks stated that she would not chance losing her beauty, for her face was her livelihood. She walked away, too.

Shawna was quiet, looking to see if there were any way to enter the apiary without causing the bees to swarm. Seeing none and watching as people just stood around doing nothing but fretting, she separated from the others and ran back to the house.

She googled bee repellents. She found that if you mix peppermint essential oil in soapy water, enough that you can smell the peppermint oil, it would serve as an effective bee repellent. In addition, avoid wearing bright colored clothing, especially floral designs, to keep from looking like a delicious flower patch.

Driving to the nearest local health food store, Shawna bought enough peppermint essential oil to make three times as much repellent as she needed. Then, sneaking into the kitchen of Grandmother Jenkins’ house, she mixed the concoction.

She changed into the black outfit that she had brought with her as mourning clothes, and started down to the bee apiary. When she ran into Mr. Castle, he asked suspiciously, “What are you doing?” Shawna, smelling like a peppermint factory, responded, “Just going for a walk!”

Mr. Castle told her that beekeeper was due to arrive the next day. Once he gave them the jar of honey, they would break the jar and share the proceeds equally among the six of them left.

Shawna thought that maybe that would be easier, because, ultimately, she would have more money than when she arrived. But, something in Mr. Castle’s mien alerted Shawna, and she instinctively knew that he planned to rob them all.

Following her aptitude for self-preservation, she lied and told him that she was interested in joining with him and the others, as he had proposed. He smiled at her, but the smile never reached his eyes, causing her to shudder.

As she walked away from him, she could feel his eyes on her back. So, she walked in the opposite direction of the apiary. When she could not see him anymore, she turned in the direction of the apiary. There was still enough daylight to see what she was about to do.

Steeling her nerves, she swallowed her fear, a trick that had saved her life one night when she ran up on a pit bull. She very carefully walked toward the jar of honey. She kept her mind free of anything but the jar, focusing on the key.

Step by step, she walked calmly and slowly, until she reached the jar of honey. She picked it up as if it were made of dynamite, and then she turned around and retraced her steps.

The bug repellent had worked! She wanted to shout for joy, but she knew better than to do it. Instead, she walked to the back of the house. Taking a brick from the walkway, she broke the jar of honey. What a mess it made, but Shawna did not care.

She washed the key off under the faucet outside the back door, wiping it dry on her clothes. She went inside and took a bath to get the peppermint smell off her skin, and then joined the others for dinner. She listened as each person related their plans for their share of the money. She participated with them, giving some fanciful answers, so no one would suspect her.

When everyone went to bed, Shawna packed all of her things, eased noiselessly down the stairs to the dining room. There, she pulled out the key, inserted it in the lock, and took out the sheet of paper that had to be presented to the lawyers to obtain the inheritance. Once she had the passport to her riches, she unlocked the door, and left Grandmother Jenkins’ house forever.

The next morning, she presented the paper to the lawyers. After ensuring that the paper was not a fake, they presented her with her inheritance: 78.5 million dollars in cash, stocks, houses, jewelry, and a red sports car (You go, Grandmother!)! Hotdog! She thanked them and promptly got into the sports car and drove away away to a new life, one free of financial worries.

After a few miles, she started laughing, wondering what the others must have thought when they woke and found the chest open and empty. Appreciating the smooth handling of the sports car, she realized that her mother was right: “Sometimes in this life, you have to make your own luck.” Thanks, Google!

A fictional story written for December Writing Prompts from Putting My Feet in the Dirt: entombed inside the jar of honey, the key could clearly be seen. Scott’s Daily Prompt is District.

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