This is story is inspired by true personal events. Mostly.
Disclaimer: This story contains mild language.
Ira Acker was having a bad week. She had ripped the pocket on her favourite jacket, been fired from her job, and her uncle who had been missing for twelve years had just turned up dead.
The jacket she could fix with a little thread and a couple of YouTube tutorials, but the job thing was total crap. Her boss had told her it was because "she didn't get along well with the others" and that "she wasn't a team player." It wasn't her fault if everyone else there was a loser working a dead-end job. Besides, Ira knew that it was really Sophie that had complained to him. She had had it in for Ira ever since she had "accidentally" dumped coffee on Sophie's sweater. She had deserved it though. That sweater had been a wreck. The only good thing about that job was that it gave her the money to pay her back rent, which was now going to start piling back up again. When she had come home afterwards she had thrown everything that was important into the duffle bag that had been sitting in her closet. If her landlord caught wind of this she'd crack down on her, which was completely unfair because Ira was paying, maybe not regularly, but she was paying, and that had to be better than this mildewed basement sitting empty and bringing in nothing. But apparently, her landlord didn't feel the same and Ira wanted a fast getaway when the eviction notice came.
Honestly, the whole uncle suddenly being showing up dead thing the least of her worries. She hadn't seen him since he disappeared and that was back in college. She barely remembered him, as well as most of her time there before dropping out. And it wasn't as if he had turned up on her doorstep or anything. He'd been found in some backroad county hours away where he had lived basically as a recluse. Or at least that's what her mother had told her when she had called. Ira had vague memories of him moving out to some countryside and maybe something about buying a weird building? She wasn't sure. But that fact that his body had been found now just supported Ira's theory that some greater power out there was deciding to take out their anger specifically on her this week.
And it only got worse when she was woken by the sound of someone pounding on her door at 11am.
"Ira? Your rent's late again. This is the last time, Ira!"
Ira bolted up and swore.
"I know you're in there, I heard you swear!" Her landlord's voice barely carried above the sound of her trying to break the door down.
She hadn't expected the landlord to show up until Saturday. She threw off her blankets and looked at the clock. It was too early for this. Who the hell evicts people before noon? Ira propelled herself to the closet on the other side of her bed and threw it open. She ripped open the bag, compelled to make one last check, and cursed when she realized she forgot her laptop. She had left it on the couch last night.
"Ira! I'm going to call the cops if you don't answer me!"
"Just a minute Ms. Fuller!" Ira called back. She knew Ms. Fuller was good on that threat.
She hurdled the bed, crashed into the other room, snatched her laptop off the couch, and crammed it into her bag. If it broke she'd deal with that later. It wasn't her problem right now; her next stop was the bathroom.
What sucked most about living in a basement was the lack of windows. Ira wasn't some kind of vampire and didn't deserve to be stuck away in a windowless box as if she was going to burn up just from vitamin D. But there was a window in the bathroom. It was almost to the ceiling and opened up just on the ground, level with the building's driveway. Ira prayed she could get through it.
Standing on the toilet, she stuffed her bag through it; it took a bit of shoving but it made it. She looked at her place one last time. She wasn't going to miss it, especially not the way she could hear every step the people upstairs took or the suspicious stains on the bathroom floor. Let someone else have to live with that. Turning away, she gripped the sides of the windows and started to haul herself up. Through a combination of wriggling, crawling, and cursing the pizza place next door for their cheap prices, Ira got halfway out. It looked as if she was going to make it until-
Her hips had gotten stuck. She could still hear the door taking a beating in the background. She let out an angry, guttural scream and slapped the pavement with her palm. Immediately she could feel the tears it left in her skin. As if things weren't already going wrong enough.
"Uh… are you okay?"
Or maybe they had finally started going right. As Ira looked up, a pair of feet came into view. There was a guy carrying a couple bags of groceries standing in front of her with the kind of concerned expression you'd expect to find on someone who had been walking by just to find a tangled haired woman in pyjamas trying to crawl out of a basement window.
She reached both arms out towards him.
The man obliged, setting down his groceries. He grabbed her wrists, planted his feet firmly, and pulled. With a combination of his yanking and her constant squirming, Ira was pulled out onto the pavement.
"What's going on?" the man asked as he helped her up.
Ira didn't miss a beat.
"I've been held hostage in that basement for the last week. That's why I look a mess."
"Are you okay? Here, I'll stay with you while I call the police!"
She grabbed the hand holding his phone before he could raise it.
"No, no, it's fine. It's just your regular kidnapping thing, but my parents are broke so they couldn't pay the ransom. But it's fine now. Really. It's fine."
The man stared at her. Ira loosened her grip, just to test if he was still going to put that phone to his ear, but his arm didn't move. She let him go.
"But… if there was something you wanted to do for me… I haven't eaten very much lately. They didn't exactly give me a lot of food…"
Ira let her eyes fall to the man's groceries. She made sure he saw it.
"Oh damn, yeah, have these!"
He practically shoved the groceries into her arms. Ira shifted her grip, picked up her own bag, then began to make her way down the driveway and out to the sidewalk. As she walked, she dug through the food. It was decent stuff; at least that guy hadn't been a vegetarian or vegan or something. When she had seen the guy's groceries, she realized that she hadn't grabbed any food, which sucked because there was definitely a pack of Oreos that was at least still half full. Ira guessed that technically this was stealing but his groceries were going to a good cause; he could always buy more and really it was his own fault for believing some stranger's stupid story.
But even though she had food, Ira was now officially homeless. She had already walked three blocks when that thought finally got through her head.
There was no way she was going to tell her parents what had happened. That call from her mom about her uncle had been the first time they had spoken in two years, even though they only lived a twenty-minute subway ride away. The perks of living in the same metropolitan area. Her parents had disapproved of her life choices ever since she told them that she didn't really see the point of college and dropped out. And who were they to judge? Sure, they had steady successful careers, a wide active social circle, and were respected members of their community, but honestly, who cared? They were just two more stuck up people who got their kicks from looking down on the people who didn't want the same kind of life as them. Or so Ira was convinced. True, it was Ira who had stopped talking to them first but whatever. It was the same thing.
Ira threw herself down on a bench and kicked her feet up. She pulled out a long loaf of bread from the grocery bags and tore off a chunk with her teeth. Was this a real baguette? Man, that guy was extra. Where would you even get one of these? She hung her head back over the arm of the bench and groaned. She needed to get dressed. People would stare and that was the last thing she wanted right now. Pulling out her phone, she looked up where the nearest gas station was and headed that way.
The bathroom there was grungy but not that much worse than her own had been and really she just needed somewhere to change. Unfortunately, most of her clothes were pretty wrinkled, but that's what happens when you shove them in a duffel bag and leave them there. She didn't really have much of a choice so she tossed on what she pulled out first and then threw her jacket on top. She got close to the mirror and tried to inspect her stitching on the pocket through the spots. It didn't show up much considering the jacket was black and bulky. Sewing through the jacket had been a pain though, even though it wasn't real leather. Ira took another look at her reflection. Her ashy hair was still a mess because her hairbrush hadn't managed to escape with her, so she tied it back into a ponytail. It would pass for now.
As she packed her pyjamas back into her bag, her phone rang. She was surprised. She was sure the phone company would have disconnected it by now. Still, if it was her mother again…
But it wasn't.
Ira didn't recognize the number or even the area code. Whoever it was wasn't from around here. Usually, Ira wouldn't haven't answered something like this but figured whatever this call was couldn't be worse than what had already happened today. She swiped the screen and held it up to her ear.
"Hello, is this Ira Acker?"
The voice on the other end belonged to a man whose tone shouted "I'm professional and I want you to know that."
"Uh… yeah. Who is this?"
"My name is Raheel Knowles. I work with Campbell and Co. Law Firm out in Charlotte County. I believe you've received the news about your uncle Frank Oaks and while I've never met him, let me offer my deepest condolences."
He didn't mean it.
"Thanks?" Ira offered.
"So, as I said, I'm working with a local law firm out where Mr. Oaks lived in order to execute his will and I'm pleased to tell you that your uncle has left you a rather sizable inheritance."
Ira grabbed her phone with both hands.
"Wait, for real?"
"So how does this work, can you send me whatever it is?"
"I'm afraid we can't, it's a bit too big to be mailed." He gave a chuckle at this. "You see, Mr. Oaks has left you his place of residence."
"No way. A freaking house?"
"It's not exactly a house but Mr. Oaks owned the property and the building on it and lived there for many years. Now, there are some legal matters we need to take care of, papers to sign and all that, and you'll also have to come out to Charlotte County to view the property and decide what to do with it. What time is convenient for you to make the trip?"
"I can leave today. Right now," said Ira as she leaned back against the sink. She couldn't believe this.
"Alright, that sounds great! Now, we can't have a representative meet you there today but we should be able to schedule someone for tomorrow, which is good because I imagine you'll want to rest up after a long drive and familiarize yourself with the county itself. Now…"
Ira didn't pay much attention to the rest of what Raheel said and it had mostly been requirements about what to bring and technical legal jargon anyways. She was reeling. She'd no longer have to find another dump to live in because an actual house had just been handed to her. If this week was taking an upward swing it was doing so in the best possible way.
After the call, Ira looked up the address the lawyer had given her and groaned. It was a six-hour drive. She reminded herself that a literal free house waited at the end and that gave her enough strength to finish packing her bag and finally leave the bathroom. She was going to go. Nothing was going to stop her.
All she needed was a car.
Author's Note: I'm writing this story basically as a personal creative project so that I have something not school related to write. I'm a screenwriting major and I'm working on a couple of major class projects so I kind of just want to write something for me. And also this was an idea for one my classes that I ended up not using.
I really, really appreciate it if you're reading this story because, honestly, that's what stories are for. But I apologize in advance for a seemingly random update schedule. I was going to write most of this, then just post it in chunks but I ended up really wanting to post this and see what people thought. I ended up liking it a lot.
I'll write if I have time and energy but being a university student, this can be a bit hard to find sometimes, but thanks for spending the time to read this!