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.
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.
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?