Myra Halsey stood out from the crowd because she was the only one not covered in soot. The buildings around her were burning, cars abandoned in the street, some with their engines still running. She’d been in the tube station when the explosion happened, but managed to shelter in an archway until the rumbling stopped. When she emerged from the underground station at Notting Hill Gate, she couldn’t believe her eyes. There was rubble and fire everywhere, people panicking all around. She’d been heading home after class when the explosion tore through London. As she moved through, Myra noticed that others were taking more notice of her than normal. She often prided herself on her ability to float through a crowd, unnoticed yet present. But today, something was different. She began to feel uncomfortable, anxious. She started to fidget with her clothes and that’s when she noticed - she was unscathed. The others around her were covered in soot or dirt, faces smudged, hair wild, clothing torn. But not her...why not her? It wasn’t that safe down in the tube station, was it? She felt debris hit her, smelled the smoke, walked through the soot in the air...why was she still clean? She stopped in the middle of the street.
She’d left the College of London right after class. Bailey would be waiting to have that dreaded conversation about what Myra was going to do with her life. They’d talked about it over and over again, but her answers never seemed to make Bailey happy. Ever since her parents died in that lab explosion 15 years ago, Bailey had raised her. She was barely more than a kid herself, but she took it on because Myra’s parents had taken her in when she needed somewhere to live.
Bailey took her job of raising Myra seriously. She found her the best school even if it meant working two jobs. She made sure she was clothed, fed and sheltered. Bailey never complained, so Myra tried not to either. When Myra turned 18, an unexpected event changed everything. Unbeknownst to her, Myra was the sole heir to a family fortune that amounted to multiple millions of dollars. She was too young when her parents died, and apparently they hadn’t changed the trust before that happened to allow for Myra’s guardians to access it before she turned 18.
Initially, Myra was pissed at her parents. If they hadn’t set it up that way, Bailey would not have had to work two jobs. They wouldn’t have had to scrimp and save. Myra knew Bailey did without so she could have it all, and to know there was money waiting made her angry. It took some time for her to come to terms with it, and a lengthy conversation with her parents lawyer about their reasoning, as he knew it, for the age-restricted trust. It wasn’t that they didn’t trust her, they didn’t truly trust Bailey. This was a shock. Bailey had been her rock and her savior for 15 years. What Myra didn’t know was that prior to living with the Halsey’s, Bailey had been in a bit of trouble for drugs. She was clean when she moved in, and did not relapse, but they were unsure if she could keep it up. The only reason she became Myra’s guardian was because she was named in the will as next of kin. She took up her 5 year old charge and forged ahead.
Once Myra learned all this, she had to figure out a way to tell Bailey about the inheritance. After squaring away all the accounts, gaining access to a sufficient living allowance while keeping most of the money in investments, she arranged the transfer of money her parents left to Bailey in the trust, about $250,000 pounds. All she had to do was call the bank to initiate it which she would do after she had spoken to Bailey.
She found Bailey in the flat working on a website, one of her many jobs. Maybe she could quit a few of them now? Myra had stopped at the cafe and picked up two flat white coffees, Bailey’s favorite. When she entered the flat, Bailey called out.
“Is that you?”
“Who else has a key?” Myra answered
“Smart aleck. Where have you been?” Bailey asked
“Taking care of some personal stuff. I brought coffee!” Myra said.
“You’ve been taking care of a lot of personal stuff lately. What’s going on?” Bailey asked.
“Well, that’s well timed. I wanted to talk to you about that. Got a minute?” Myra asked.
“Sure. Let me just save this.” Bailey clicked around on her screen.
Myra walked into the kitchen and set the coffees on the table. She took off her jacket and hung it on the coat rack, dropping her keys in the bowl on the shelf. Her phone chirped. It was a text from Max, her best friend.
“Still on for the movie tonight?” the text read.
Myra typed back quickly, “Maybe. Need to talk to Bailey about something. Will keep you posted. Cheers!”
Bailey took that moment to come into the kitchen and sat at the table. Myra took the seat across from her. They sipped their coffee. Myra was about to speak when Bailey jumped in.
“So, what’s this all about? You’ve been more secretive than normal. I thought it was just a phase.” she said.
“How much did you know about my parents?” Myra asked.
“Your parents? God, that was a long time ago. Let’s see...I knew they both were scientists at that drug lab. They seemed to be happy with each other and they adored you. They also seemed to be financially okay since they took me in without much hesitation. They were kind to me but also required me to be honest with them if I was going to live in your house. They didn’t want to leave you alone with me at first, but over time, I gained their trust and they let me care for you. Um, that’s all I can think of. Why are you asking about your parents?” Bailey eyed me over her coffee.
“I’ve had some news. Mr. Kempton contacted me about 2 months ago. Remember him? He was their lawyer. He asked me to come to his office as he had some news. I was suspicious, having not heard from him since just after they died, which I barely remember. I arranged to meet him that afternoon and what he told me changed my life forever.” Myra took a drink from her cup and a deep breath.
“Well...what was it? You can’t leave me hanging like that.” Bailey said.
“Apparently, my parents had invested their money and put all of that into a trust for me to be opened when I turned 18. They weren’t just ‘financially okay’, as you put it, they were wealthy. Like, really wealthy. And now, apparently, I’m wealthy.” Myra let that sink in.
Bailey just stared at her.
“Wealthy. Wealthy? Like, how ‘really wealthy’, if I may ask?”
“It comes to just over 15 million pounds. Most of it is tied up in stocks and bonds, but they set it up in such a way that I can have a sufficient monthly allowance paid out of the interest. But there’s more...are you ready for it?” Myra hestiated.
“More? What could be more than this?” Bailey asked.
“They left you some money as well. I think they realized that if anything happened to them, you’d be the most likely person to take care of me.” Myra said.
“Me? Money? They left me money? Why?” Bailey stuttered.
“I truly don’t know, but I’m not surprised. That’s part of why I asked you what you remembered about them. I think it’s wonderful and it’s really not enough for all you’ve done, but I hope it helps.” Myra stopped just short of telling her the amount. Compared to her 15 million, what was 250,000?
“Can I ask how much they left me?” Bailey had tears in the corners of her eyes.
Myra reached over and covered Bailey’s hand with her own. “250,000 pounds. I’ve got the transfer all ready to go but wanted to tell you first so you wouldn’t think it was some cruel bank error.” Myra let that sink in.
“WHAT? Are you serious? 250,000 pounds?” Bailey screamed.
Oh no, Myra thought, she’s insulted! I knew I should have given her more. Well, I still can. She looked up at Bailey. Wait...those tears, they seem to be of happiness. She’s smiling.
“Are you okay?” Myra asked.
“AM I OKAY? I just received 250,000 pounds...just like that. For me? Just for me?” Bailey seemed to have trouble catching her breath.
“Yes, just for you. And if it’s okay with you, I’d like to start paying for the flat, or at least sharing the cost. It seems wildly unfair for you to shoulder it when I can afford it now...wow, that sounds weird.” Myra said.
“You don’t need to do that...” Bailey started.
Myra cut her off. “Yes, I do. No arguments. We’ll work out the details later. Let me just call the bank and get that transfer going.” Myra stood up. Bailey jumped up and grabbed her into a bear hug.
“How can I thank you?” Bailey asked.
“You don’t need to thank me. I am just the messenger. Besides, it’s I who should be thanking you. You selflessly took care of me, someone not even related to you, for 15 years. It’s the very least you are owed. Now let me call the bank.” Myra hugged her back and grabbed her phone.
15 minutes later, the money was transferred, Bailey looked in her account and nearly fainted. Myra encouraged her to talk to an investor and put some of it to work for her. Bailey agreed to do so tomorrow. Right now she wanted to celebrate.
That was two years ago. Since that day, Myra had taken on half the financial responsibility of their living expenses and started attending college. She was two years in and was still struggling to pick a direction. Bailey had given up a couple of the less desirable jobs and was able to focus on her web design business. She’d become one of the top designers in the city and was becoming well known throughout the country.
Myra hated the conversations. She didn’t really need to work. The investments her parents had set up were still going strong, that 15 million growing to almost 18. She had plenty to live on and Bailey had also managed to make her 250,000 grow to almost double. They were fine...why did she have to make a decision? She knew Bailey didn’t want to see her become one of those aimless wandering rich kids. Myra knew that wouldn’t happen because what she really wanted to do was to work for MI5. She wasn’t sure how Bailey would take that because Bailey was suspicious of the government at all levels. That’s why Myra didn’t want to talk about it.
These were the thoughts in her mind when she stepped off the train that Wednesday afternoon. It was mid-October, the air was crisp when she entered the tube station at Euston Square. She’d just pulled on her sweater as the train came to a stop. She stepped off the train when she heard a rumble. It seemed to be coming up from under the train tracks. She stopped and looked around. Her feet and hands started to tingle and she figured it was from the rumble. When dust started to fall from overhead, she decided to take cover. There was an archway just ahead of her, and no one else seemed to be heading that way. There was a mounting panic in the station and Myra felt the tingling spread to her arms and legs. She’d never felt like that before but again, chalked it up to the rumbling. It never dawned on her that she should try to get out of the station. She thought it was just an earthquake. They’d been predicting a big one for years now.
Sheltered in the door, Myra heard three big booms. “That’s no earthquake.” She said out loud. Bracing herself in the archway so she wouldn’t get thrown around, the tingling had spread all the way through her body. Debris started to fall from overhead, throwing up dust and tile shards. She shielded her face with one arm while bracing against the wall with the other. It seemed to last for 20 minutes, but she later realized it was only about 3. She had her arm over her face to avoid breathing in the dust when it all stopped as quickly as at started. Myra continued to hold on to the wall to make sure it was really over. There was still dust flying around and falling from the ceiling, but the station appeared in tact. The train was stalled on the tracks with the doors open. The station was deserted. She realized she was lucky to not have gotten trapped down there. She stepped out of the archway and onto the platform. The way out was just ahead of her so she started that way. When she first looked, she didn’t think there was anyone else in the station with her, but she was mistaken. She noticed that there were at least 5 bodies under an archway that seemed to collapse. She stopped to check for life, but there was none. Stifling a cry, she moved towards the way out. She grabbed for her phone. No service. She raced up the escalator, which had stopped, to the surface. What she saw there took her breath away.
She stepped out from the station. She stood out from the crowd because she was the only one not covered in soot. The buildings around her were burning, cars abandoned in the street, some with their engines still running.
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