Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 35

The silver-backed brush, comb, and hand-mirror from the dressing table went into the basket next, and then Mary Elizabeth transferred the collection of perfume bottles from their silver tray to the top of the dresser before sliding the tray into the basket. She didn’t think Mrs. Dempsey had used perfume since her husband passed, and it seemed unlikely Patsy would use it now, but the sparkling collection of crystal bottles, each with a stopper of a different shape, had stood on the dresser for so long that it seemed blasphemous to consider moving it.

Patsy wasn’t expected back for some time yet, so Mary Elizabeth made her way to the second floor by way of the main staircase – a broad sweeping curve of polished walnut that made her feel like a heroine in a movie. In the library, she removed the silver bookends from the volumes that stood at one end of the desk, placing the last two books on each end flat, so nothing would topple unexpectedly. The books had been the same since she’d been with the house – a dictionary and a thesaurus in matching brown leather, a five-volume set of Shakespeare, and a small brown book with a badly-faded cover that dated back to Mr. Dempsey’s childhood – The X-Bar-X Boys in Thunder Canyon – woefully out of place, but always a part of this honored collection on the desk, never removed to the shelves that housed Mr. Dempsey’s humbler references.

Mary Elizabeth wondered about that book every time she saw it. Once, when the family was out of town, she perched nervously on the edge of the upholstered desk-chair and read the first two chapters. She found nothing that helped her puzzle out its importance, and she finally slipped it back in place, no wiser.