I have long known what people say about this old place. The antebellum grandeur is just a memory of a memory now, and the respectability Father brought to the place is headed for the dim mists of time as well. They only gossip about how haunted the old house is now, and about the things they think happened that long-ago April night.

You know, I had dreams once too, the same dreams I think Daddy had for the both of us. During the coming-out cotillion, why, I heard people say that we could make a go of it in Hollywood or even New York City. We had that kind of beauty, that kind of poise. People were talking about us, and that’s been the coin of the realm ever since Father’s father’s time.

Even during the trial, with you weeping in the box and me shedding my best crocodile tears from the gallery, it struck me how wonderful that was. People knew who we were. Even if those dreams of stardom and the big city were not to be, we were still being talked about.

I read the letters you sent from prison, even if I never replied. You didn’t say–because you didn’t have to–that when your sentence of thirty-to-life was up, you were coming for me. After all, only Zuzu Carroll and I knew where you really were the night Father died, and I think you’d have done just about anything to protect her and her family from scandal. Even if it meant taking the blame for those bare few drops of strychnine in Father’s medicine.

Zuzu died in ’85, as I’m sure you know; wasted away, the poor thing. The old house was let go for tax reasons after I declared bankruptcy; I still see it on my way to and from my job at the grocer’s. How that must have made you laugh, if you ever knew it before now, your sister working in wrinkled shame after it turned out Father’s fortune was a rickety cover atop a mountain of debt.

The place was empty until a few days ago. I knew you’d come here, and so you have. Oh, don’t give me that look. You should be thanking me. Once the knife has finished its work, there’s a bottle of Father’s old medicine upstairs, laced with enough morphine to put down a horse.

Don’t you see, my dear sister, oh don’t you see? I’ve made a machine that will keep us in living memory for as long as this ton stands. Good or bad, what does it matter? In death, we both get the immortality we craved in life.

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