The best view of maple trees was from the drawing room window, bleak and naked but still beautiful; her husband had planted them as a young man to flank the formal garden, though now the ornamental ponds were dry and crumbling, and the rosebushes long since gone wild. That morning she made her way laboriously up to Frederick's room that faced north, out towards the town. Her fingers rested momentarily on the moth-eaten rocking horse and it creaked back and forth a time or two, raising dust motes into the stream of weak sunlight. She did not have to wait long. Last night's rain had sunk the remains of the paving under deep puddles and the car skidded and slithered up the rutted driveway, the tracks of its previous fruitless visits still evident. The two men got out and picked their way carefully towards the steps. Celestine admitted them to the hall so they would have the most impressive view of her descent. The faded grandeur of the vast gently sweeping staircase allowed her to look down haughtily at the same time as disguising her increasing frailty. She greeted them graciously enough but offered no refreshment.
"Lets get down to business shall we Mrs Everett," said the taller man, removing a sheaf of papers from the briefcase. "I have been authorised to make you a much improved offer for the property. We appreciate the deep emotional attachment of your family to this house and feel this represents a very generous recompense for your loss."
She perused the papers, her eyes alighting on the figure at the bottom. She sighed. It had been worth the extra six months in the draughty, damp wreck of a building; Annette had been a fool to settle at the first offer, now she was rid of this place and her retirement in the sun was guaranteed.
(Linking back to Magpie Tales 156 for other contributions. Image: Wind of History by Jacek Yerka)