“Good morning sweet sister. Did u sleep well?”
I looked up as my brother descended the grand white marble staircase of our Victorian Manor.
“As well as anyone could sleep in a thunderstorm brother. But u look radiant today. May I ask why?”
Just as he was about to answer Mother entered the parlour and set about fixing the curls of my hair and tightening my corset. “You look lovely dear” she told me. I only grimaced and concentrated on breathing despite the ridiculous embrace my corset held against my lungs. “Get that scorn off your face darling.” she said pointedly.
“As you wish mother.” I replied in an exasperated tone.
I walked over to the window overlooking the lane upto our home and looked out. Today was the day our long lost brother was coming back home. Richard had always been the charming rebel. He was father’s oldest son and his biggest dissapointment. For Richard had run away from home at 18. Everyone believed it was because of the immense pressure papa had laid on his first born. And papa had died of grief 2 months after. But I knew better.
As I stood contemplating the past I heard noises coming up the lane. “Mother!! Richard’s here!!!”
Mother rushed out the door to welcome him. My other brother, Cliff, and I followed mother but cared not to adopt neither her pace nor her joy.
“Mother….its been so long. I’m sorry for my foolish behaviour. I only regret that I did not come before the parting of our dear father”
I watched as he kissed Mother’s hand and wiped away the fake tears glistening in his eyes. “I’m sure u do” I scoffed.
“Cathy!! That’s no way to welcome our brother” Cliff scolded me.
“Don’t reprimand her Cliff. I understand her anger. After all I did abandon her” Richard replied.
I forced a smile onto my face and let him kiss my fingers and then pull me into an embrace.
“One word about that night sister and I will make sure u pay” he whispered into my ear and then casually let me go, smiling the entire time.
I blanched. I’m certain my face had lost all it’s colour at that moment. But fortunately no one noticed enough to inquire whether I was all right. I followed the rest of my family into the house and kept my sarcasm to myself.
Three months passed and in that short span of time Richard assumed control of the household and the estate which were formerly under Cliff. He became the favourite of the family and the help alike. I spent those 3 months wondering how I would confront him and confront him I must. That night haunts me to this day.
It was 5 years ago. Richard had been but a boy of 18. I, 16. Richard had fought with father that night. I had been upstairs but I could hear their oaths and curses. I heard the china break and the door slam. I knew Richard had escaped to the barn like he always did after a fight with father. It was not uncommon that I followed him after.
“Go away Cathy. I do not wish to be consoled. Let me alone. That thrice accursed son of a gun has ruined my night.”
“Rich are u drunk? U are!!! I do wish you would quit.” I said not heeding his refusal of my company.
“If you shan’t go then I will. I’m going to meet Isabel by the river. I have things to settle with her. Good night Cathy” Isabel was the love of his life. Or so he said.
When I woke the following morning Richard had fled from the house and Isabel was dead. No one knew how she had died except me of course and I held my tongue and didn’t tell a soul.
And now I stood in the very spot Isabel had stood and waited for Richard. He came sauntering up the lane. “Before you accuse me of anything Cathy you should know I was drunk that night. I don’t remember a thing.”
“That does not excuse what happened brother”
“Mistakes happen Cathy. If you don’t hold you tongue then another mistake might be made.”
“Are you threatening me brother?” I exclaimed.
Just then Cliff came riding up the lane. He got off his horse with a pistol pointed at Richard.
“So this is how it is then. My own kin against me. I shall not die by your hands brother. You will not get that satisfaction. ” saying this he lunged for the pistol and shot himself.
Neither of us expected it to go quite like this. Cliff was aghast. I walked over and picked up the pistol. “Oh Cathy. I never could believed our brother could do such a thing. He loved her did he not?”
“Yes Cliff he did. But so did you. Nay…don’t look shocked. I knew about your secret rendezvous. Your plan to run away with Isabel. But she was going to leave you that night. You knew that so you followed Richard as did I. She convinced him to take control of papa’s estate. I had planned on her running away with you and Richard too deep in grief leaving me as a sole heir. You did not see me that night of course. You left. But I was furious at Isabel. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorn’d brother. And so I drowned her. Poor Richard was far too drunk so he fainted and must have blamed himself all these years. Oh my lord. Cathy…”
“Hush brother. You shall speak no more.” I lifted the pistol to his head and shot him.
I took out the hidden pistol I had and put one each in my dear brothers hands. I looked at them one last time and rode towards the house contemplating on how I would describe the fight my brothers had just had over the inheritance and in a fit of anger had shot each other.