A Pinch of Spice

Clara and Dory Marchand sat at their linen-covered table with a fresh yellow rose in a Majolica vase set upon it.

“Delicious dear,” Dory exclaimed abstractedly to her younger sister as she daintily dunked a finger of currant teacake into the hot Oolong tea and tasted it. She gazed out the filmy curtained window across the traffic at the graffiti-neighborhood. Frowning, her eyes focused on a newly printed message painted on the back of a boarded, red-brick building. Goodbye Dear, the communiqué read.

“What an odd message,” Dory sighed. “At least this newly painted exhibition isn’t obscene. Still, it’s too much to endure and with Papa and Mama’s money dwindling, we’re at the mercy of insurance agents, doctor’s bills, and phone bills. And, how are we going to afford fuel oil this winter?” She poured more tea into her chipped china cup. “You do realize, Clara, we’ve nothing left but a few pieces of Imari porcelain, some gold jewelry, and two of Grandmama Ceal’s diamond brooches. Besides, it is humiliating to be forced to sit here and watch our beloved Larchmore Street deteriorate before our eyes.” She straightened her shoulders and said, “It’s time we sell our property to the state, Clara. With or without our consent, they’ll tear it down and build the civic center before you can say Betty White.”

Clara patted her lips with a musty silk napkin. She said unyielding in a croaky voice, “I’ll never agree to sell our home, Dory. Let’s not go into that topic again.”

“Say, your teacakes are very good, Clara, as usual. Yet, they taste different.” She ran her tongue over her lips. “Did you add a new spice?”

“How clever of you to notice,” Clara said distinctly.

Dory continued on boldly, “I’ve decided to sell this house and land to the state. You can’t persuade me any longer to do otherwise. I own 51% of the property, thanks to Papa deeming me all-knowing and wise. I intend to contact Mr. Price at the bank tomorrow. I’m so sorry…I know how you cherish this old Victorian Lady. It’s been in our family for five generations.” She flung her long, thin arm theatrically.  “Imagine a new beginning, Clara. The Chasebourne Town Houses are lovely.”

Dory finished her teacake. Suddenly, her wide, terrified eyes fixed themselves on her sister’s pudgy, paint-stained hand. Her twisting hands fluttered to her neck as she drew her last breath.

Goodbye, dear,” Clara murmured, thinking she would dispose of the remains of *White Snakeroot she had collected in the nearby woodland and added a pinch to the teacake mix.

A dreamy expression appeared on her heavily rouged, wrinkled face. There would be no more bickering about the house on Larchmore Street. It was hers forevermore.

*White Snakeroot – a poisonous weed native to North America. Habitat: woodlands, thickets, meadows and pastures.

Author Notes

14 Comments for “A Pinch of Spice”

Tim Hillebrant


Hi Patricia!!

I loved this story! Very Hitchcockian in style and telling. Umm…you aren’t possessed by his ghost are you? O.O

This was a great read, and very enjoyable to get into. I think you’ve a great knack for storytelling, and look forward immensely to reading more of your work.



Thanks Tim. I’m a big fan of Hitchcock, Christie, Poe, Nancy Drew. All great in my book. Dickens. I cannot wait until Hitch’s new biography comes out this fall. I’ll be adding it to my list. Good writing!


Alfred Hitchcok rubs his chin, lifts one eyebrow and scribbles ‘Patricia Crandall ‘ on an old napkin; puts it in his inside pocket, taps lightly on the fabric and mumbles ‘one to watch’.

Patricia Crandall


Ellen, I’ll frame this comment. A lot of encouragement here and I didn’t miss a moment of any movie/tv show Hitchcock. He and Agatha Christie are my mentors. Thank you.


Hi, Patricia!

So evil – Love it! This reminds me of the tales I used to read in the Alfred Hitchcock magazine when I was younger. Great twist at the end, and well-written! I’ll never be able to drink Oolong tea again without thinking of this.

Write on!

Patricia Crandall


Dave, I’m pleased you like A Pinch of Spice. I’m a fan of thrillers; Hitchcock, Christie, Poe, etc. Whenever I can get a twist in one of my stories and it’s hard work, it’s a good feeling.

Anisa Claire


Hi Patricia,

Welcome to Writer’s Carnival! Nice to see you posting here. Hope all is well with you.

Nice opening. It sets the scene with great description.

daintily dunked a finger of currant teacake into the hot Oolong tea and tasted it. – Yum. This makes me want some teacake!

Whoa! Didn’t see that ending coming. Lol. Nicely done.


Patricia Crandall


Anisa, I’m pleased you liked A Pinch of Spice and was taken by the surprise ending as were others. These sweet little ol’ ladies not so sweet, eh? I’m a fan of thrillers, Hitchcock, Christie, Poe, etc. so I am glad when one of my stories pulls a punch like theirs did.


Wow! Quite the twist there at the end! She knew…. and she took care of it. That was awesome!

Write On!

Patricia Crandall


Becky, So glad you enjoyed this story. I’m really into flash fiction and I look forward to reading other stories on Writers Carnival.

Raymond Tobaygo


Good afternoon, Patricia

I could feel your character’s consternation and remorse of having to sell the house, but I didn’t expect the ending. Enjoyed the read.

money dwindling(.) We’re at
very good(,) Clara, as
Her twisting hands fluttered (rose) to

Take care and stay safe,


Patricia Crandall


Ray, Thank you for suggesting needed changes. I have edited this story. I appreciate your comments. Patricia Crandall

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