Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty One

Previous chapter: He Came Back.

Chapter Twenty One: Evening Matters.

Yet another day, and Attie came home early. She looked about and headed to the garden to water the flowers. As she did so, her twin came back. Isabel stifled a laugh when she saw her twin gardening. "I thought you weren't fond of flowers," she said.

"I'm not, but someone has to look after them, not leave them to rot like businesspeople do with their so-called unprofitable ideas," said Attie.

"What are you going to do once we're tired of the flower bushes?"

"Sell them to someone who cares," Attie replied. "Still better than leaving them to dry up and die."

"Let me do the rest of the flowers, Attie," said Isabel. "You should go make a vegetable omelette for dinner."

"Hmph, alright then," the younger Lion said. She turned around and went back inside to prepare the food. Francesca soon came back from work, and greeted Isabel with a little more enthusiasm than usual. The older Lion followed Francesca inside curiously, and they sat at the dinner table.

"What's the big news?" Isabel asked. "You said your parents have a surprise."

"One of my cousins is coming to the United States to study in a few months. Aunt Greta wants my mother to do the arrangements before this cousin sets off to university in upstate New York."

"Another cousin?" said Isabel. "What's she like?"

"I've no idea," said Francesca. "All I know is that she's a pastor's daughter from England, and her grandma's my Nona-oba's sister. Her name's Prudence, I'm not sure of her Japanese name."

Attie remarked, "Speaking of guests, I think I should bring one over. My boss told me I should make more contacts."

"How did your oba's sister get to England in the first place?" asked Isabel.

"She ran away from Japan as a young lady because she wanted to sell hats," Francesca replied. "I haven't actually met her, but my mother says this grand-aunt's hat trade really took off."

"Who's this new acquaintance of yours, Attie?" Isabel said to her twin.

"She's a bartender, Nathalie Lindsay," Attie said, as she put the chopped tomatoes in a bowl. "Do you mind if she comes over tomorrow evening?"

"Not at all, but I can't imagine what you'll want to talk about," said Isabel. "Add some pepper to the omelette, will you?"
"ACHOO!" Next thing Francesca and Isabel knew, Attie was bowed over the chopping board. The younger Lion straightened up and rubbed her nose. A bottle of pepper was on the counter.

"Oh, Attie," Isabel said with a groan. "Did you just sneeze on the onions?"

"So what if I did?" her twin retorted. "You asked for extra pepper."

"That's disgusting! You should add the pepper to the eggs, not the onions."

"Bit late for that, don't you think?" Francesca piped up. "Try rinsing the onions, the germs should go away after frying them."

"I don't think Hera would want lion's snot on her onions," said Isabel. "She'll cite mama Doctor Richardson and complain about germs all over again."

Attie folded her arms across her chest and grinned nervously. "I'll figure something out before the doctor's kid comes back," she said as she washed the onions and put them to fry.


The next evening, Attie tried to have another guest over after work. Nathalie had the day off from bartending, so she came over to the gray house on the bend. Isabel, Hera, and Francesca had gone to the city to shop for food and other necessities.

Attie invited her in and they sat in front of the television. The younger Lion looked at Nathalie, she was plump, with blonde hair held back in a ponytail, and had bright blue eyes rimmed with a grayish tint. Attie made some small talk with her by gossiping about the events in Willow Creek.

"So, ah, what do you like to do when you're not working?" said Attie, when she ran out of gossip.

"Well, I like me some reading, a bit of television watching, a bit of this and that," replied Nathalie.

"Do you play guitar?" Attie asked, strumming the air as she spoke.

Nathalie looked surprised. "I don't play that," she said. "I like listening to it instead."

"You wouldn't happen to like rock or heavy metal, would you?" Nathalie looked startled at Attie's question, then a flicker of disgust flashed across her face. The plump woman stood up.

"I forgot something back home," said Nathalie. "I'll see you around some time, perhaps."

Attie had little choice other than to see Nathalie out. "At least I got her email and chat name," she thought to herself. "Why did I go on about heavy metal?"

She didn't say much about her attempt to entertain a guest when her housemates came back, beyond a curt, "It went alright."

Next chapter: Ponderous Morning.

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