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Coming Home To A Place I’ve Never Been

What do you do when the person you trusted most in the world has been keeping a life-altering secret from you since you were born? Maggie and her mom forged an unbreakable bond over years of facing the world alone. After her mom’s sudden death, Maggie receives a call from a total stranger who claims to be the executor of her will. A series of unexpected discoveries send Maggie on a journey through her past while she navigates dangers in the present with the help of newfound friends in a small town that feels like home.

Age Rating: 16+

 

Coming Home To A Place I’ve Never Been by pgibbs227 is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

Summary

What do you do when the person you trusted most in the world has been keeping a life-altering secret from you since you were born? Maggie and her mom forged an unbreakable bond over years of facing the world alone. After her mom’s sudden death, Maggie receives a call from a total stranger who claims to be the executor of her will. A series of unexpected discoveries send Maggie on a journey through her past while she navigates dangers in the present with the help of newfound friends in a small town that feels like home.

Age Rating: 16+

Original Author: pgibbs227

I hate funerals. Especially in the summer. Especially in the South.

As I watchedas people walked to the graveside where we would say goodbye one last time, I kept wondering which person would pass out from heat exhaustion first.

Morbid thought, I know. It’s the way I keep my emotions at bay and under control.

And since it was my mother lying in that casket, I had a lot of emotions to manage.

She died unexpectedly. A distracted driver, the police officer said when she came to my door to deliver the news.

Some sales rep was texting while driving, crossed the line into oncoming traffic and slammed into my mom’s car head-on, going 60 mph in afternoon traffic in Nashville, where we both lived.

So there I was, at a funeral I never wanted to attend, watching people I knew only through my mom, laying mental odds on which mourner would fall out first.

Not that my prediction game didn’t have precedent.

Two summers ago, I attended the funeral of an elderly man who lived in my apartment complex. The pallbearers looked as old as the man they were mourning, and they teetered on the brink of the Pearly Gates themselves.

The day was particularly hot, and as the men stopped at the gravesite to put the casket on the metal structure for burial, one of the men passed out. Unfortunately, he was a little too close to the hole and when he fainted, he fell onto the edge of the grave.

The shift in weight caught the other pallbearers off-balance and one of them lost his grip, lurching the casket downward and sideways, lodging it catawampus into the side of the hole, tilted at an angle.

It was the first funeral I’d ever attended that required an ambulance, a fire truck and two cranes.

So far, nothing that dramatic had occurred today, although I was surprised at just how many people had attended the funeral. I guess I should have expected it.

This is the South after all, where a funeral is as much a social event as a wedding. I recognized some of the mourners, men and women my mother had known over the years.

She had worked as a nurse at one of the medical clinics in Nashville, and she had served the people with zeal and compassion.

She had been at the same clinic for more than half her career, so she had become a familiar, calming presence for many of the patients who came through.

After the last few trickled up to the awning, the pallbearers carried the coffin from the hearse and I followed mechanically, and sat down in the chair of honor as the representative of the family.

My best friend Kim sat next to me since I had no other siblings. A few older people took seats in the remaining chairs.

I stared at nothing in particular as the minister read Psalm 23, which was one of the few Scriptures I remembered from my childhood.

A few more comments from the preacher, something about ashes and dust, then a final prayer and the service was officially over. The minister, whom my mom had known from her work at the hospital, shook my hand and spoke of how much he would miss my mom.

Once he left, I was assaulted with hugs from ladies wearing too much perfume and handshakes from men muttering, “I’m sorry for your loss” because they didn’t know what else to say.

In groups of two or three, the mourners trekked back to their cars.

I stood at the graveside, not sure what to do next, until the funeral home director asked if I was ready to return to the funeral home.

I nodded absently and he placed his hand under my elbow to steady me as Kim and I walked back down the hill back to the car. When we reached the road, he opened the back door for us.

As I turned to get in, I looked back toward the grave and saw a man emerge from behind a small grove of nearby trees.

I did not recognize him, but he looked like the countless others I’d seen at the funeral—dressed in a dark suit with a dark tie and dark shoes to match. He ambled over to the graveside, carrying a single yellow daisy in his right hand.

When he reached the casket, he leaned down and kissed it as he placed the daisy on top. Then he stood upright, turned, and walked back toward the trees and disappeared among them.

 

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2

I was dreaming that I was on a Caribbean cruise. In it, I was leaning back in one of the reclining chairs, decked out in a green bikini, holding a tropical drink with a little umbrella in it.

My eyes were closed and I was letting the sun pour over me while I listened to the wind and the waves as the ship tore through the water. Then I felt the sun disappear from my skin as something blocked its rays.

I tilted my sunglasses up to see what was ruining my vibe. A man in a dark suit and dark sunglasses stood above me. He bent over and handed me a single yellow daisy.

Then my body jolted awake and I grabbed for my cell phone. I hated having a good dream interrupted.

I looked at the caller ID as I answered. It read “Jameson and Jameson.”

“Hello?”

“Is this Maggie Frazier?” asked a male voice.

“May I ask who’s calling?” A solid, go-to response when you’re not sure whether you want to talk to the person calling. It has saved me from countless telemarketers, scam artists and nonprofits asking for money.

“My name is Zach Jameson. I’m an attorney in Sumner Creek, Georgia. Is your mother Carolyn Frazier?”

I thought the condolence calls would die down after the funeral. Apparently, someone had just gotten word.

“Um, why do you ask? Hold on…did you say you were an attorney?”

“Yes.”

“You’re my mom’s lawyer?” I was confused.

He hesitated before responding. “Yes, and…”

“And, where did you say you’re from?” The sleep-induced fog was hampering my comprehension.

“Sumner Creek, Georgia.”

I’ve lived in Nashville since my mom and I moved here when I was a kid, so I’ve heard of most Southern towns, at least the ones worth mentioning.

“Never heard of it. And what’s your name again?” I grabbed a pen and piece of paper from my nightstand.

“Zach Jameson. I’m sorry to call so early, but…”

“What time is it?” Like millions of other people in the 21st century, I didn’t own an alarm clock. I just used my phone’s alarm to wake me up every morning.

“8 a.m.”

I took my phone from my ear and looked at the time. It said 7 a.m. Now I was half-asleep and annoyed.

“It’s an hour earlier here,” I let him know, as a matter of fact.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t even think about…”

I interrupted his apology. “You said you needed to talk to me about my mom?”

“Yes. She named me the executor of her will, and you are the sole heir to her estate.”

That single sentence jolted me awake.

I’d spent the last month going through my mother’s condo, looking for a will that had thus far eluded me, and packing up her personal effects until I could decide what I wanted to do with her home.

I lived in an apartment right now, so either I would move into mom’s place or sell it and find something that suited me better. A place that wouldn’t leave me teary-eyed and sad every time I walked in.

“Your mother stipulated that the reading of the will would take place here at my office. After that, I will take the will to the probate court clerk and file it. The court will schedule a brief hearing to officially name me as executor. With me so far?”

“Sort of. I have to come to Sumner Creek?” I was confused.

“Yes ma’am,” Zach responded.

“Why?” I asked.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know.” Well, who the heck does know? This was insane. As a teacher, I had the time to go, but I wasn’t about to traipse down to who-knows-where unless I had to.

“Can’t you just read it over the phone and be done with it? This doesn’t make any sense. I’ve never even heard of Sumner Springs.” I could feel my face turn red with anger.

“Sumner Creek. And no, I can’t just read it to you. I am following your mother’s last wishes. I have an ethical obligation to do so.” The sincerity in his voice helped counter the fact that he was xxxxxxx me off. He continued.

“Once the will is in probate, I’ll gather all the paperwork related to your mom’s estate–her bank account documents, investing portfolio, insurance policy, and so forth. I work with those entities to transfer ownership of her assets to you, and…”

I stopped him mid-sentence. “Wait. No. My mom didn’t have any assets. She had some kind of retirement plan with her work, but that’s it. Other than maybe her car.”

“I can’t reveal the contents of the will until you arrive, but I can say that your mom owned several assets.”

A barrage of conflicting emotions collided at once, but anger and frustration were the strongest.

“So what you’re telling me is that for some reason, my mom made you the executor of her will–a person I’ve never heard about?”

“Actually, she worked with my father, but when he retired, the work transferred to me,” Zach said. “But essentially, yes. I’m the executor.”

“And in order to find out what’s in her will, I have to come down to Silver Creek?” I tried to steady my voice, but it dripped with irritation and indignation.

“Sumner Creek. But yes ma’am, that’s what the will states in specific terms.”

Why did he keep calling me ma’am? Was he 12 years old? The only people I called ma’am were the senior adults in my neighborhood.

“I’m sorry. What’s your name again?” My aggravation was still showing.

“Zach.”

“Ok, Zach. Here’s the deal. I need some time to process. Could we continue this conversation later?”

“Sure. Would you like to talk later today or tomorrow? What would be good for you?” I heard him flipping pages again. Did this guy still use a paper calendar?

“Could I just call back and set up a time? I’m not sure what I’ll be doing over the next couple of days, with all that’s happened…”

His response was swift and apologetic. He gave me both his email address and his office number.

“Call me when you’d like to set up another appointment. And again, Maggie, I’m sorry…”

“For my loss. I know. Thanks.”

 

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