\"Delilah, there's a letter for you in the mail\", mom said, eyeing the clean and pressed manila envelope. I didn't recognize the address, but the surname was clear; Esterhazy. Just like me and Mom. Delilah Esterhazy (me) and Caitlin Esterhazy (mom). I held it up. There was a red wax seal \"H\" on the flap of the envelope. I snorted. \"A wax seal? this is totally a prank\", I said, but opened it anyway. I will never forget the look on mom's face, or the way I felt when we opened it. There was a letter, German soap, and a stack of $100 bills. Wait, lemme back track: a STACK of $100 bills. That's a lot of Benjamins. Mom's face dropped. \"We need to send this back\", she said. \"Are you crazy? What have you been smoking? Are you feeling okay? Everyday, you're pressing Aunt Gabby for some cash. And then, one day, out of the blue, an envelope with somewhere near $5000 comes in the mail, practically by magic, and you refuse it?\" I ask. To add to my rant, I felt mom's face for fever. \"I'm fine, Delilah, but this isn't out money. Wrong address, wrong name\", Mom said. I read the envelope. \"Delilah Anne Esterhazy 1927 Stoneboro Avenue, Haggerville, Summersault\", I read aloud. I shrugged sarcastically. \"Sounds like me. It's my name, ain't it?\" I asked. \"Isn't it, you mean. Ain't isn't a word\", mom said. \"Ah. Whatever. I did it to bother you, Miss English-Teacher-In-Your-Dreams-Working-At-PetCo.\" I teased. Mom rolled her eyes. \"While I major at English, you major at everything else. Math. Science. History. Eating\", Mom teased. I smiled. I had a gift. Naturally, I was a genius. I had an IQ of 119. And I'm not even 13 yet. \"Anyway, it's my name. it's my address. So, legally, it's MY money. Ha! I got some cash to spend!\" I cheered. \"No, no, no, Delilah, Dearest, the letter explains that these are... my grandparents?\" Mom stopped in mid-read. \"I have Grandparents?\" she squeaked and read aloud. \"Rich Grandparents, apparently\", I retorted. Mom's dark brown eyes looked at me harshly. \"I'll put this in your college fund\", mom lied. \"No you're not. I already have a scholarship to NYU\", I said. Mom sighed, and we counted the bills. There were 900 bills. 900X100=90,000 smackaroos. That's a ton of cash. \"Ok, we'll split it; I get $89,999 and you get $1\", I teased, but I didn't get a smile out of mom. She was more sober than a rock. She hadn't smiled once at even one of my jokes after she read the letter. I suppose it doesn't matter. We split the money. So now, I have 45,000 for no apparent reason. The money kept on coming. And coming. And coming. And coming for the next six months. It was enough that mom and I moved out of our little tiny apartment into a two room condo. Plenty, and plenty, and plenty and plenty of cash. At one point, when we never wrote back for the money, Grandparents Esterhazy sent a letter. \"Dear Delilah, You haven't answered any of my letters. I hope you have gotten my money, otherwise there is probably some hoodlum walking around with $90,000 a month. Anyway, how are you darling? Listen, I owe your mother this money. Your grandmother/Caitlin's mother Elizabeth had a fight with me a long, long time ago. We made up, and Elizabeth apologized for Caitlin and I never meeting. This is the money I owe you. I hope you answer, Love great Granny Henrietta.\" \"Dear Granny Henrietta I'm sorry I haven't answered, it's just that mother is a bit... shaken about $90,000 a month from an alleged 'grandmother'. At first, we assumed it was a prank. I apologize. But, is our family name REALLY Esterhazy? Like, Franz Joseph Haydn's Esterhazy? It's kinda odd... family heirloom, perhaps? I'm fine, just shaken for the same reasons as mother, and I hope you're feeling well too. Love, Delilah\". I sighed, guilty that I was talking to Henrietta behind mom's back, but soon it became a regular thing. The mail came on the 15th of every month at 3:11 sharp, which was 9 minutes before I got home from school. The 15th is exactly a week after mom gets her period, so she's always at work a couple extra hours to make up the hours she missed whining about cramps. Perfect timing, no? Then, on my birthday, October 15th, I got a letter. But, it was earth shattering. \"Dear Delilah, Happy birthday, kiddo! Finally, you're thirteen! You haven't hit puberty yet, have you? I can't lose my little Honey Bear to that boy Chad you keep writing to me about. Oh, I wish I could visit, but it would break your mother's feeble heart. I love you so much, Delilah, it puts me to sleep everyday. I reread your letters everyday until I get the new ones on the 22nd of each month. If I hadn't hit menopause nearly 20 years ago, I'd be having my \"monthly gift\". And--\" here was where the font changed. Instead of the slanted left hand cursive handwriting (like mine) a thin, scraggly handwriting covered the page. \"The letter ends here. Miss Henrietta died. She's been found curled onto the floor in blood. We need you to claim the house in Germany by December 19th of this year. Plane tickets have already been purchased and the money let for you. You have just inherited over one trillion dollars. If you need to call 017-662-1449 and ask for 'Jacque Franz'\". I froze. \"Mom!\" I yelled. \"Mom!\" \"What? What is it, honey, I'm baking your cake\", mom said. And right there, i confessed. everything from the money, to the death. I expected mom to freeze. To cry. Instead, she was very close to killing me. \"Are you crazy? You went and spoke to this lady?\" Mom screeched. \"She's your grandmother!\" I exclaimed, thinking, why is she so stubborn? \"You don't know if this is a sex offender, a child molester, who's squeezing information out of you, and sending you money that might not even be real!\" mom explained. \"Mom! Use your better judgement, ok? You abandoned you family and let it be just you and me, and i'm just fine with that,\" I statred. \"Delilah--\" \"Don't cut me off, Ma. Anyway, when someone who claims to have some relation to us is sending us money-- nearly twice as much as what you're asking for-- you wont take it. I decide to chat a bit with her. let her know we got the money instead of letting her think she's sending her money to 'some hoodlum on the street'. I can't do that, mom? Plus, if the money is fake, the bank hasn't found that out yet. We bought a condo with $100,000 in cash that went directly to the bank. So tell me; can you honestly tell me that this is fake?\" I yelled. The air was bitter and tense. Mom's hard eyes softened, and then teared. \"I always knew. I always knew that I had family, but mom kept us isolated. Can I see the letters?\" mom asked, wiping a tear. I hadn't seen her cry since dad's funeral nine years ago. I showed her. Mom read the letters-- laughed at some, cried at others-- but she had a smile. \"We're going to Germany.\"
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Book / Historical Fiction
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