by Pierce Nahigyan
Serena carefully handed the officer the ancient high wheeler. He took it with a polite nod and, with his partner, they wheeled it onto the back of a tow truck where the driver would strap it in for the long journey back to the museum. She signed the paperwork they gave her.
She had thought that her great-grandfather was a coot. Maybe he was. No, he definitely was. But as she wrote her signature, she sighed. That was no reason to write him off. Eccentric and estranged he may have been, but he was certainly not rich, as her whole family had believed. Family reunions were always stiff affairs with a lot of resentment aimed at the old man, whom she would take by the hand when he or they would finish that last drink they shouldn’t have, and find a quiet place, the kitchen or the porch, and sit with him and listen to him babble on. She could remember little of what he babbled about. She had let her mind wander to other things, things she’d rather be doing.
And yet when her great-grandfather died his estate came to the small house they all thought he was hiding treasure in, and the penny-farthing. He left the house to the family but he left her the bicycle. What could she do with such a thing?
And yet the rusty, strange old contraption was a gift. It was a singular and significant bequest and she treasured it in a way she could not share with her mother, father, uncles, aunts or even cousins and brother. They didn’t begrudge her the curio but they would not have taken kindly to her secret: that she loved it. She had fixed it up as best she could and, when no one was around, she even tried to ride it. She was getting the hang of it.
But it was stolen, by her great-grandfather or by someone who bequeathed it to him. She wondered if some family member had spoken to a curator about it, and that was how its true nature was discovered. But it didn’t matter now. The ademption was non-negotiable. It belonged to some famous collection and that was where it would return, to a display, behind glass for the ages.
She handed the papers back to the officers and they handed her a receipt, and she waited by her mailbox until the tow truck was a spot on the horizon and then turned the corner and disappeared.
She couldn’t remember most of what her great-grandfather had told her but she had the distinct impression that if he was standing next to her, instead of her mailbox, he would tell her to steal it back. His real legacy was to make her an outlaw. True, it was a singularly and significantly bad idea, but it made her smile behind her tears.