by Jane Liu, 16, USA
The December drama prompt was “giving.”
Bedroom, torn up. CONSTRUCTION WORKER cleaning up. WOMAN and ALEX enter.
CONSTRUCTION WORKER: There’s nothing there, ma’am. I don’t know what else to say. I can keep digging, if you want, but it’ll cost extra.
WOMAN: No, you’re dismissed. My husband will be waiting for you in the great hall to check if you’ve taken any silver. He’ll know what to do with you. I know exactly what sort of person goes into construction. All felons and drunkards, the lot of you. You probably didn’t even graduate from high school.
CONSTRUCTION WORKER: Now, I’m not paid to listen to this crap. Mark my words, I’m telling everyone I know not to work for you.
WOMAN: See that you do.
ALEX: (aside) That sounds ominous. Sometimes I can really believe that she’s been brainwashed by enemy spies into being a b-witch.
CONSTRUCTION WORKER exits.
WOMAN: Where else is left? We’ve had the entire first floor uprooted and the dungeon searched. This was the last place I could think of. There’s no way she would have left it in any bank, and she wouldn’t have trusted anyone to hold it in her stead, and those she would have trusted are disposed of. This manor has the best security of the world; she would not have kept it in a safe house that could be broken into.
ALEX: Mother, this is getting ridiculous. You’re spending all this money trying to find whatever Grandmama left, and you’re destroying the manor. Will you even have anything left after you’re done?
WOMAN: I know what I’m doing. The treasure will be more than enough to cover repairs. Where else haven’t I thought of?
ALEX: But what if you don’t find the treasure?
WOMAN: I know the senile fool too well for that. Huh, perhaps she hid it in the walls. Clever, but I’ll just have them knocked down.
ALEX: Mother. . .
WOMAN: What do you care? You’re almost eighteen. You have your own trust fund; you don’t need my money. I’m not paying a cent on your upkeep anymore.
ALEX: Did you know this would happen, Grandmama? That some sort of madness would take over the girl you took into your arms? What does she even want the gold for?
Dusty manor hall. ALEX, holding a piece of paper in his hands, is standing in front of a closed doorway, in front of which hangs a faded sign, “aLeX’s Playrom: evrEybOdy KEeP oUt (bUt GrANdmaMa).”
ALEX: (eyes closed) Darling boy, if you’re reading this, happy eighteenth birthday. Your Grandmama is doing well with your Grandpapa, and don’t worry, I’m getting a great tan. Hell is a better vacation spot than Hawaii, but please refrain from visiting for a while, dear. Remember when I told you that I was once a serial killer who sewed jewels into the stomachs and eye sockets of people? You were so scared, but still you wouldn’t leave me for your mother that afternoon. Alex, all of my stories have a little bit of truth…your chubby tea party bears have a little something for you.
ALEX: (continues, eyes still closed) And if you ever want to know the truth, and you’re willing to take up the family business, there will be consequences. You can take what I left you and not think about it, or you can also find my colleague, Dentist Sterling. He may still have a practice outside Moscow. Alex, I have failed your mother, but perhaps there is still hope. I have trained you well, my little liar. I’m sorry I will not be there in person to see the chaos you create. Destroy this. There are indeed people out there, Alex, who are looking for my legacy. They had ferreted out most of my secrets, but they’ve lost, Alex. They’ve lost, because my legacy isn’t Smaug’s hoard. It’s a sweet, sweet child with far too much cynicism for his age. I’m so proud of you, honey. You know what to do.
ALEX: The only time that old bat would apologize, and I have to destroy the proof. One last prank, huh, Grandmama? Be honest, you’re far too ambitious for one last prank. I fear the joke’s on me. You always did like convoluted plots. Really, I should have known. Can you hear me, Grandmama? What else will I find? The only thing I’ve absolutely sure of now, is the “Bounty Hunter, Adventurer, Pirate, Storyteller” that’s going on your tombstone. Those were the occupations that you were most fond of, right?
Alex turns the knob.
Jane says, “Though I enjoy writing humorous short stories and poems, I’m currently working on a YA novel with darker themes.”