Magnolia: Chapter 1

.”One more stop for the day!” Ali thought as she drove down Main Street. She had been delivering flowers for 7 hours already and absolutely hated delivering flowers in the winter.  Mostly because of how cold it was in Vermont and because it got dark, in her opinion, way too early.  Ugh! I can’t wait to get out of the cold, at least it’s not snowing today,” she thought.  Every time she came home from college she always helped her grandparents out at their flower store, the Magnolia. This Christmas break was no exception.  Her grandparents had started the family floral business when she was small and she practically grew up in their shop.  Winter surprisingly, was an extremely busy time of the year for them especially with Ms. Franklin’s winter ball coming up.  

Ms. Franklin was basically the ambassador for the town of Brighton.  Her family had lived there for over 100 years and had provided most of the town jobs at the elevator factory. The Franklin winter ball had gone back generations and was known as a great way for the community to come together and enjoy the holidays.  Ali drove the Magnolia pink and white vintage flower truck up the winding long tree-lined front gravel drive of the Franklin estate. “It’s always so beautiful no matter what time of the year,” Ali thought. The trees were missing leaves but were illuminated with holiday lights that made them glow.

Ali drove the Magnolia pink and white vintage flower truck up the winding long tree-lined front gravel drive of the Franklin estate.

 The estate was nearly always quiet as Ms. Franklin had no children.  She did have nieces and nephews that would visit from time to time, but most of her family had moved away after their mother passed.  As Ali approached the Franklin estate she could see the French-inspired chateau that was symmetrical on both sides and sat in between two large courtyards that had white tents set up to get ready for the ball.

Ali pulled around the beautiful Italian fountain and parked the flower truck in front of the entryway to make offloading the flowers a bit easier.  As she got out of the flower truck she tripped and stumbled out. This day just keeps getting better and better!” Ali thought. She wasn’t a very tall woman which made getting out of the flower truck a sport as it sat up pretty high.

Harper, are you here?” Ali called out.

As she walked up with the first batch of flowers, Ali paused as she approached. The lights are off. That’s odd,” she thoughtThe Franklin estate was usually lit up like a giant light bulb, especially this time of the year. 

She continued to walk up the front stairs and heard a screech as she pushed open the excessively large front door.  Ms. Franklin had told her the door was unlocked and to just go on in because she was home.

“Harper, are you here?” Ali called out.  Harper was Ms. Franklin’s given name.  She used to babysit Ali when she was small. Growing up she noticed her family had a close relationship with the Franklins, but the Franklins weren’t close to many others. Ali flipped on the light switch near the front door and the light flickered on.

 What was that?” she thought as Ali saw a shadow of what looked like a person run towards the back of the house.  Ali could hear the back door slam shut! “Who’s there?” Ali yelled as she ran to the back of the house to catch up with whoever was there.  But before she made it to the back door she stopped in shock, Oh my God.  Please tell me she’s alive! Ms. Franklin was lying there passed out on the vintage yellow patterned tile floor in the butler’s kitchen.   Ali saw the large gash on the top right side of her head through the strands of her dark brown hair. “Are you ok?” she exclaimed as she gently tried to shake Ms. Franklin awake, but no answer. Ali stood up in a  panic and scrambled to the tan landline corded phone on the wall and dialed 911. “Hello, please send help, Ms. Franklin is unconscious and bleeding. Hurry!” she said as she tried not to cry. Fear coursed through her body.  Whoever did this could still be on the estate.

To Be Continued…

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