It’s always dusty here.
I used to keep the place spotless.
When I had a staff. When there were more people here with us. Now it’s just Emery and me. I keep things tidy, but the dust settles.
“Have you seen my hairbrush mother?”
“Which hairbrush Emery?”
“The boar’s hair.”
“It’s in the kitchen.”
“Next to the brick oven.”
The house gets bigger every year.
The walls move outward like a colony of mushrooms.
“I love that oven. We never have fresh bread anymore.”
“Do you want fresh bread?”
“You don’t have to make bread mother.”
I’m not Emery’s mother. She just calls me that because everyone calls me that. It started when I was a teenager. I can’t remember how.
“I don’t mind making bread. If you’ll eat it.”
“I would eat bread. With soup.”
I was the head housekeeper for Emery’s Aunt Gladys. After she died I was the only one to stay. There was plenty of money left to Emery, but most of the others thought she was too strange a girl. Without her Aunt around most assumed her eccentricities would become unbearable.
They have run wild, but I’ve stayed. Emery is and has always been in her own little world here. She no more notices a butler or driver than a knife or fork. I’ve never taken it personally and over time I think I’ve become important to her.
I don’t know if that’s meaningful, but I stay because I promised Gladys.
“Will you stay with us after I’m gone?”
“She’ll never leave. You know she’ll never leave.”
“She’ll leave Gladys.”
“She won’t. Will you stay? I can’t stay.”
“In another few years she’ll be a grown woman.”
“Stay that long then.”
“Stay until she’s a woman.”
Emery came here when she was four.
I was thirty. Still young. It still seemed possible to me that I’d grow old somewhere else and have a family of my own, but I’m fifty now. Emery is a woman and I’m still here.
“What kind of soup?”