Family Lies Chapter 3

Drawing of a partly-built brick wall with a sign saying: "Under construction." Caption reads: "Work in progress."

Family Lies Chapter 3: Jack chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden

Emily was signing the form assigning her proxy votes for an annual general meeting of one of the companies she invested in.  

“Some people who buy huge chunks of companies want to be more hands on,” Jenny said.  

“Some people don’t know the limits of their expertise.  I know mine,” Emily said.  “I pick good companies, with good environmental and social credentials, run by competent people.  Then I trust those people to run the company without my incompetent interference. I’m an investor, nothing more.”

“Fair enough.  You don’t want to go to the AGM, just to see it all happen?”

“Travel interstate, during a pandemic,  with a compromised immune system, for a meeting that I’ll get a full report on anyway?  As my nurse, are you recommending that?”

“Not when you put it that way.  It’s just you never get out.  You live in this tiny bubble. Your world is this house and your daughters and granddaughters. I worry about how healthy that is.”

“I’m an introvert.  I’m privileged to be able to live in my own little world.  After everything that’s happened in my life, I don’t take that privilege lightly.  I’m living the life I used to dream about. You don’t need to worry about my mental health and isolation.  I’m not lonely and I’m not missing out.”

The phone rang.   It was Jack, Emily’s ex-husband.  He wanted what he always wanted: to borrow money they both knew he would never repay.

“I want to take the grandkids to a theme park, but I’m a bit short of money this week,” he said.

“Did you retire? Or are you still earning six figures a year?” she asked.

“You know I’ve never been good with money,” he said.  “I don’t have anything.  I just need enough to take the grandkids to a theme park.”

Emily thought a moment. “Since it’s for the kids. Let’s see.  Theme park tickets are about a hundred dollars. For you and three kids, that’s four hundred, I’ll allow five hundred in case the price has gone up since I last took them. Once you’re inside rides and shows are free, so you just need money for food and souvenirs, so you probably need about seven hundred.  I’ll be generous and give you a thousand. How’s that?”

She waited for the inevitable whine.  She knew it wasn’t about the grandkids.  It was never about the grandkids, just as it had never been about the kids.

“That’s not enough.  I need a hundred thousand.”

“Which theme park do you need a hundred thousand dollars for? Are you buying shares in the park?”

“I need transport to take them there!”

“You want me to buy you a new car.”


“Don’t you have a car.”

“Yes, but it’s two years old.”

Emily felt as if her head was exploding.  She knew if Jenny took her blood pressure now, the reading would not be good. 

“I’m not buying you a new car. I’ll give you a thousand if you really are taking the grandkids out, but nothing more.”

“But you can afford it!”

“So can you.  You just choose to waste money and then complain you don’t have money after you wasted it.  That sounds like your problem, not mine.”

“You used to be nicer than this.”

“I used to be afraid of you.  I’m not any more.  It’s a thousand for the grandkids or nothing.  Your choice.  And don’t leave me any more threatening letters.  It’s not going to work.”  

She wasn’t sure he’d left the note, but his asking for money the same day seemed like too much of a coincidence.

“What threatening letter?”

“The one you left in my letterbox, calling me a bitch, and demanding an unspecified amount of money ‘or else’, which I have to say is the most insipid threat ever.  ‘Or else’ what?  You’re going to kick and scream?  You’re going on a hunger strike?  You’re going to try to break into my very secure house to assault me.  You’ve got to do better than that.  If you’re going to extort me for money tell me how much and what you’ll do if I don’t pay.”

“I didn’t sent you any threatening letter.  I wouldn’t do that.  I’m not that kind of person.”

“I was married to you for a decade.  I know you’re definitely that kind of person, whatever you like to think about yourself.  I get that letter first thing this morning, and this afternoon, you call and name your price.  You’re not as subtle as you think.”

“I don’t know anything about a letter.  I just called because I thought it would be nice to take our grandchildren to a theme park.  But you don’t care about our grandchildren.  You’re only thinking about yourself like you always do. You’re a selfish, horrible person. You’ve got all that money and you don’t share it or spend it on anyone.”

“You mean I don’t give it all to you.  That doesn’t make me selfish.  It just means I’ve learned a lot over the years. Do you want the thousand dollars or not?”

“Of course I want it.”

“OK.  I’ll do the bank transfer now. Enjoy the day out.”

She pressed the “end call” button before he could say any more.

Was he telling the truth?  Did he not have anything to do with the note?

With the tension headache building, Emily wrote a note detailing the conversation, and added it to the file with the original threatening note.  Maybe the conversation was evidence her ex-husband was behind the threat.  Maybe it just proved he was a jerk, something she’d already known.

Chapters of Family Lies

Note, this is the first draft. What eventually is published as a book (if it is published as a book), will be edited, rewritten, and re-edited, and may not have much in common with this first draft.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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