Come to Dust

Come to Dust

A Story by Steffi

She was a mystery from the moment she swirled through the door. Her black dress swished with grace past those around her in the doorway the brilliant scarlet of the belt around her waist caught the light and shimmers in the dim light. The room was filled with suits and their families to celebrate the 90th birthday of Henry Prickett. The former district attorney to Charlo, Montana sat perched in the middle of a long captains table in the center of the room. His smile greeted all those who came to shake his hand with lively strength and charm. A flush hue still fills his cheeks as several enthusiastic youngsters in the profession urge him into a photo after photo. Chatter fluttered through the guest as the woman, no more than in her thirties glides into the room. The blonde hair in tight curls against a pale face with the forced blush of make-up upon her cheeks. The greenness of her eyes shone like cats eye when it reflected off the lights and candles of the room casting an almost ethereal glow. The only imperfection to be seen a small scar along the side of her face stretching from the eyebrow to the gentle curve of her cheekbone. 

A quiet murmur spread throughout the guests. Neighbors asked their friends who asked those sitting across the table about the identity of the strange girl that had waltzed her way into the party. She spoke to no one as her eyes scanned the room till they found their target. The birthday boy blinked wildly at the woman who stood fixed across the floor. The flush hue of his cheeks drained into a pale alabaster as his smile faded. He fingered the gold watch, which had become a known staple among his wardrobe, along his wrist. It’s constant tick echoed loud against the stilled hum of the room. 

She never approached him that night. But it did not stop the rumors that spread among the guests. ‘Who was she’ started first. “Don’t you know? That’s his mistress of course.” Rob Haberman told. “Thats why his wife Millie won’t come to any of the socials anymore. Too ashamed to show her face!”. A few of the older women blush and fail to believe it. Not their Mr. Prickett. But the younger of the group swallowed it like water to a dying man lost among the sands of the sierra. Not a half hour after the young woman entered the entire span room was buzzing with her bawdy actions with the lecherous Mr. Prickett. 

“That’s not it” countered Terry Branagan. “She’s the reason the Prickett’s lost all that money this year! It’s true; Millie tried to say it was bad stocks but really she blackmailed Henry for some of his sketchy dealings as D.A. and took it too the bank!” Her cheeks fluster as she she grabs the attention of those around her. And so it spread. Twittering and humming like bees in a hive the gossip soaked itself into the party. 

Henry never moved from his space at the captains table. His fingers stayed glued to the faded watch along his wrist. His eyes only flicking from the hands that moved within the clock to the young woman never losing track of her position within the crowd. The brave few would attempt to engage her in conversation as she took a place along the wall near the buffet of food. She would give few choice words but never enough to give an idea of who she was. When asked about her name or where she came from she would just give a smile and clasp her hands in front of her as if impatient for something to happen. 

She took a liking to the young Mr. Yeilding whose hair had begun to grow back in small tuffs. The cancer treatments he had received in the past year had been hard on him. All those in the room would look on in sympathy at his hallow cheeks. ‘Such a shame’ they would say. ‘Such a sweet young man.’ They talked alone for awhile in a side room that connected to the hall. When they returned he spoke nothing to the woman except a gentle nodding of his head as if is head if taking in what the woman told him with great regard. It was not long, before they became the interest of gossip. ‘What could they have possibly talked about alone for that time’ the aging wives *gossiped* amongst each other. It was Mary Fowler's turn to jump in. “Obviously he was getting her information. A poor sickly man like Mark cant find a respectable woman. Surely he hired her for her services like Mr. Prickett.” ‘Oh no!’ exclaimed all those who heard ‘No not Mr. Yeilding! What happened to that young Hannah girl from the big city he was with?’ they all chatted. ‘Left once things got bad’ the gossipers would spread till the room once again was buzzing with the story. 

Soon the clock approached the midnight hour. What everyone was waiting for to welcome Henry Prickett into his 90th year. The chefs rolled out a tower of cake, enough to give a sugary coma to all those attended. His sons and grandchildren all helped the man blow out the 90 candles that lined the layers of the cake. And by the time the clock struck its final notes at midnight the lights were all blown out. After the cake is dolled out the aging D.A. tells his son its time for him to retire. He says his goodbyes to all those who approach him never once glancing them in the eye. Instead his fingers make a tap, tap tap noise against the face of the watch that stands frozen on the midnight hour over and over. When his oldest, Michael, offers to replace the battery in the morning his eyes catch the young woman’s. They stare for only a second, the tension not lost amongst the party goers. He mumbles ‘Don’t worry about it’ to his son as they shuffle him into the back of the rented limo. 

‘Here Lies Henry Prickett’ it reads on his tombstone. Few crowd close and whimper into handkerchiefs talking about the days of his youth and the promise he gave to those of Charlo. All of the towns folk gather in rows as his eulogy is said. On the edge of the crowd stands the young woman. Her blonde hair tied close to her neck with a thick black trench coat covering the scarlet of her dress. She stands emotionless and wordless among the crowd of mourners till only a few remain. Upon his grave she places a small white lily and traces the name engraved in the stone. As she walks away the sound of her heels tick like the hands of a clock in the ears of Mark Yeilding as he fingers the faded golden watch glued to his wrist. 

© 2010 Steffi

Author's Note

Rough Write! Be gentle

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Added on December 17, 2010
Last Updated on December 17, 2010



Nowhere, NJ

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