減寂増淋

Beatrix Kondo was not exactly a liar—rather, she tinted what truth she spoke in hues of self-interest. Nor was she conniving or manipulative—at least, not in her own judgement. But was it a crime to want what was best for herself, and to lean on folks to sway them her way? One could wait all winter for the wind to blow a tree down—or one could give it a couple of notches with an ax.


Her siblings—her little brother Marlon, her little sister Heidi—found it no surprise at all to learn that, in secret from them, Beatrix had convinced their mother to alter her will. Most of the money was to go to sister Bea. Marlon and Heidi could easily imagine, though not prove, the combination of guilt-mongering, wheedling, unfair constructions of past events, selective recounting of conversations, and other tactics Beatrix must have used. Naturally, they were bitter about it.

But when their mother actually passed away shortly thereafter (carried off by an embolism no one had looked for, as all in the family had assumed her recurrent cancer would claim her at last), it came as a deep shock to Beatrix. Certain events, at certain times, can jog the most calcified of hearts. Her mother's was a death that Beatrix had long anticipated but never properly believed in. She began to look within herself, and into her past acts; she did not find much to like.

When the probate judge announced the way in which the will divided the inheritance, awarding nearly all to Beatrix, Marlon could not contain himself, and bitterly remarked, "Is that really even fair?"

"Why wouldn't it be?" asked the judge; so Marlon outlined the sort of person he had always know Beatrix to be: crafty, dishonest, egoistic and pushy.

At this, a bit of the old Beatrix reasserted itself; she felt the need to defend herself. "I've changed," she claimed. She told the judge and her siblings how, in recent days, she had looked within and seen that her past behavior had been nothing to be proud of, and how she had resolved to bend all her efforts toward fundamentally altering who she was. Where once she had been craven, now she would be frank; where once sly, now forthright; where once self-absorbed, now meek and fair to all. As they listened, the others gradually found themselves impressed by the open honesty and emotional conviction of her address.

"I can truly say," she concluded, "that the old Beatrix Kondo no longer exists."

The probate judge cleared his throat. "A person who does not exist cannot inherit property." He found that the entire inheritance should be divided between Marlon and Heidi.

"But—is that really even fair?" cried Beatrix.