Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 7

for her my finishing school background. From the two hundred I was selected, along with Baby Grace, as a suitor. Knowing the hardest fights were yet to come, I sought advice from one of my married sisters—the cleverest. This sister warned, Take something belonging to him as soon as you dare; never let him know you. And she returned to her cheese-making, and bade me leave her house. Into the sleet I went.

Baby Grace, my oldest unwed sister, was the first of the suitors to ask a favor of Charlie—money, of course. His building was kept locked, so she stood outside calling, Mr. Habsburg! Mr. Habsburg! She said it seven times. Dot came to the window. This was about three weeks after the curtsy line, and one-hundred days before the end of the competition.

Dot called Baby Grace a creature. Several other suitors, including myself, stood across the road watching, and we heard Dot say to Baby Grace, What do you want, creature?, right to Baby Grace’s face as she stood shouting at Charlie’s window. But since Charlie Habsburg was a prince in need of an heir, he gave Baby Grace the money. One hundred dollars or more, she would never say. With Charlie Habsburg’s money, Baby Grace bought a tube of lipstick and started putting on airs. The lipstick was a coral color suited to someone very old—about Baby Grace’s age.

That lipstick contained Baby Grace’s finest hour, the hour everyone worried she would win Charlie, the hour he began to call her beguiling.

When my own turn came, I remembered my married sister’s advice and requested Charlie’s kidney. We were in his living room, sipping peppermint tea, Charlie propped upon many cushions and pillows. I knelt on the floor, holding his hand.

I had coveted the kidney—for what did such pure blood as Charlie’s need with filtration? Moreover, my innards often felt gritty, as if my family lines were not true.

Charlie said he’d have to think on the kidney, and that it was time he dressed for A Christmas Carol. He was taking Maxine, another suitor who had asked.

Jaclyn Watterson | 7