Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel Read Free Book Online

Book: Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Courtney Sheinmel
Think about your money.
    The bulk of the Hollander estate was fairly depleted by the time my grandparents died. Grandpa’s communities had long since been divided up and sold off. Even so, Mom and Aunt Gigi had each inherited a wad of money, in addition to joint ownership of the house, which they used on weekends. During the week, my mother worked as exhibits director at a museum in Manhattan. She lived off her salary and invested her inheritance wisely. But of course Gigi was foolish about her share; she’d wanted to be an artist, and she’d invested in a gallery that wentbelly-up. She’d wanted to act, and she’d spent thousands on lessons of the craft but never earned back a dime. She didn’t work a day in her life, and when she ran out of money, she moved into Edgewater full-time and relied on Mom to help keep up with her bills. Further evidence that Mom’s trust should now be in my hands, not hers.
    When I walked into Idlewild Fidelity, I made a beeline for the customer-service desk at the back, chin up and gaze unfixed so as not to make eye contact with any of the other customers. Idlewild was a small town, and there were a lot of people I wanted to avoid.
    â€œWhat can I do for you?” the woman behind the counter asked pleasantly.
    â€œIs there a manager I can speak to?”
    â€œTake a seat,” she said, waving toward a row of chairs, her voice now a little sharper. I hadn’t meant to offend her sense of competency, but I wanted to start at the top of the food chain. “I’ll see if anyone’s available.”
    Twenty minutes later I was finally ushered into a small back office by a man whose name tag, JIM TRAYLOR , had me thinking about all the drives out to Idlewild we’d taken from the city in Mom’s Volvo, her James Taylor CD the soundtrack to our ride. Our favorite was “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You” because Mom would put Susannah’s and my names into the lyrics. I had no idea what had happened to that car. Had Mom shipped it across the ocean? Or driven it to the airport and left it there?
    Jim Traylor listened as I recited my information—name, date of birth, social security number—and he punched keys on his keyboard as I explained my objective. “I’m not trying to bespiteful or hurt my aunt or anything like that. I just want what’s mine, and I’d like to get the ball rolling. So, if you could tell me exactly what needs to be done and how to do it . . .”
    â€œIt’s really not that simple.”
    â€œI know, I know. I’m under eighteen. But aren’t there cases where minors can get control of their own money? Is that power of attorney? Is there a form for it?”
    â€œThat’s not the problem,” he said.
    â€œSo, what is? Do I need to bring my aunt in? I can probably make that happen within a few days.”
    Traylor tapped one last tap on his keyboard, then pushed the screen so that I could see it. “Miss Hollander, your checking account, your joint checking account with your sister, and your savings account are all at a negative balance.”
    The screen was a spreadsheet, each column in the red. My chest tightened in fear.
    Years before, Gigi had taken Susannah and me to a meditation class. The teacher taught us to close our eyes and repeat a mantra—a private, nonsense word he gave each of us—to calm down and become Zen. Predictably, Susannah was all into it, and I thought it was hokey and strange. But right then I closed my eyes for a couple beats longer than a blink and said my mantra in my head—
yim, yim
—while Jim Traylor waited for me to respond.
    Finally, I did: “This is precisely why I need to have control of the trust,” I told him. “Because my aunt is not responsible enough to keep track of bills and bank balances on her own. Once I’m in control, I’ll transfer money over, and Susannah and I can get out

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