Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 36

From the library, Mary Elizabeth went down one more floor to collect the Chantilly candlesticks with the swooping monograms from the mantel; the basket heavy and awkward now. This was the point where she worried her grip would loosen, the basket slip, the valuables clatter onto the marble floor of the foyer. But, no, she made it back to the kitchen safely, set the basket down, and went to fetch the silver tea service from the dining room, thankful as always that the silver cutlery stayed tucked away in special boxes, only buffed to a sheen for special occasions.

She lined up the full collection, evenly spaced, in a long row that stretched the length of the kitchen table as though it was a museum display. Like most precious things, these pieces needed love and attention to bring them to life. She began her polishing with the care she always used – buffing each surface until it glowed, using a soft brush to ensure no stray remnant of tarnish lurked in crevice or engraving line. But she knew, even while trying not to acknowledge the fact, that the task was a futile one.

Mrs. Dempsey was dead. She had traveled to visit her sister in Chicago and had passed in her sleep while there, dying in a strange bed instead of here at home as was proper. Patsy – no, Mary Elizabeth caught herself – Patricia she was now, and she had reminded Mary Elizabeth of that fact at least a half-dozen times – Patricia had decided on cremation, family only, with no service. Mary Elizabeth wondered again whether the candles she lit in chapel each week still counted when no proper prayers or words of a priest had been spoken.

She put down the second bookend and began work on the teapot