Dressed in musty skirts, high-necked blouses and sturdy shoes, 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 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 frayed 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 the life was squeezed out of her.
“Goodbye, dear,” Clara murmured, a dreamy expression on her rouged, wrinkled face.
© 2016, Patricia Crandall. All rights reserved.
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