A Fair Price

This week’s prompt comes from G.L. MacMillan. I found it a challenging one to get an idea for and now that I’ve had one (and wrote it without an internet connection), I can’t find the information online to support the story or my explanation. So I’ll add an extroduction after the story for those interested. Your feedback is always welcome.

in-the-light

A Fair Price

Wilf sipped his whiskey, feeling it claw down his throat and cauterise the scars. The grandkids were downstairs – sat round the table like they were reading his Will and talking about selling: numbers that meant nothing to Wilf. Numbers with more zeros than sense.
It was his, of course. He’d bought it fair and square, when whiskey was liquid gold and islands kept you neither warm at night nor sane underground looking for the hard stuff. It was his, this island, and they’d have to bury him under it before he’d let them sell it out from under him.

***

Extroduction

I remember hearing, on a tour of the Thousand Islands, the story of islands being bought and sold for the price of a bottle of whisky. Even if they are exaggerated, such stories always intrigue me, because they are such clear evidence of how value is not intrinsic. Land is worth a lot more now than it used to be, but whisky is also worth a lot less.  In Cambridge (UK), where I studied, there was a story of a wealthy benefactress leaving all her silver to her favourite college and her land to another. Again, brief research isn’t enough to confirm the details, but if memory serves, it was Lady Margaret Beaufort and the colleges Christ’s and John’s respectively. At the time, she considered silver by far the more generous gift, but it’s the land that is now the priceless asset.

My story above is a reflection of another musing on this subject, namely how the changes must appear to someone who has witnessed them. A few of my elderly neighbours bought their homes for a few thousand dollars. Of course, a few thousand dollars was a lot of money then, but not as much as the $500,000+ they’d get if they sold it is now. How must it feel to witness that sort of inflation, and how much more to witness the paradigm shift Wilf has seen?

32 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

32 responses to “A Fair Price

  1. I think land is/was much more important to many of our parents’ generation than to many now. I’ve always loved land and I can feel Wilf’s feelings on that score.

    I think here, “night not sane”, you want “nor” rather than “not.”

    janet

  2. The monetary Value of anything is based soley on what we assign to it. I enjoyed reading the Extroduction too!

  3. Good work, Jen. I believe the story stands with or without the extroduction. Sadly, greedy offspring are a universal theme. Well written.

    All my best,
    MG

  4. Land has always meant too much or not enough.

  5. Dear Jennifer,

    This makes me think of my husband’s uncle who owned the family farm that was built at the turn of the twentieth century. Out of his six children, only one (thankfully) appreciated its worth. I agree with Marie Gail. Your story stands with or without the extroduction.

    Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • As I said to MG, the extro- was optional, but I wasn’t sure the original price of the island was clear without it. Thanks for sharing your personal parallel too – I can’t understand people who react this way to their legacy; I think if I were Wilf I’d sell the whole thing for another bottle of whiskey (and the right to live and die there), and leave the grandkids what he started with.

  6. MrBinks

    Great story, rings far too many bells for me, unfortunately.

  7. Loved the story, loved the extroduction.

  8. Greed…a universal theme. Nicely executed!

  9. I agree with Lorna, definitely a universal theme – land means a lot to us oldies, but the younger generation isn’t interested. Well written, and I love reading the extra information. Always enjoy the story behind the story.

  10. Which is why I plan to spend until the end!

  11. Dale

    Greed indeed… never mind not waiting until the body is cold… not waiting until he’s dead is a whole ‘nother level of greed!

  12. micklively

    We have an eighty-nine year old friend who is “on his last legs”. It is sickening to see folk circling like vultures for the spoils.
    Good piece.

  13. Clever tale depicting the greed that sadly rears its head too often in these situations.
    Live long, Wilf.

  14. Interesting story and I really enjoyed the extroduction. Learned a new word too, even if you made it up.

  15. gahlearner

    Great story, the extroduction adds an extra interesting touch. I’m one of the lucky benefactors of the rise in land prices, too. Around here, prices rose ten-fold and more, but it very much depends on where the land is.

    • Lucky you! I’m one of the unlucky generation who came too late to benefit, but I’m not bitter… and certainly not enough to be waiting on an inheritance on the back of it.

      • gahlearner

        For my parents, it was kind of positive karma. They lost all their belongings after WWII, all German immigrants in the former Yugoslavia, where they lived then, were sent to camps and expropriated, so they watched with joy as the land they bought for small money rose in value over time.

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