Artwork by Jack Vettriano, via Tess at Magpie Tales
"Rachel. She's waiting downstairs."
An impatient tapping of cigarette against burnished leather the color of oxblood. She continues to stare out the window, Imogen waiting skittish as a fawn in the doorway. She found her older sister's profile, back lit as it was by the pewter sky beyond, rather imperial in its own way. She found most things about Rachel to be regal ever since they were children. Imogen rarely forgot it.
Rachel stood silent. She watched the slow, fat drops of rain descend to disintegrate on the impossibly green grass and slick pavement. It reminded her of emeralds and coal, and Sarah still dead after five years. Green eyes and black hair flickered across the theater screen behind Rachel's eyes. Beautiful things brought forth from the earth, too fragile perhaps to survive without breaking or burning. The thought closed Rachel's eyes, involuntarily, but this time there were no tears. Imogen spoke, a rock in the pond of remembrance.
"Chandra is wai---" Rachel cut her off, a bit sharply, "I know, I heard you."
She turned to look at her sister, seeing the flush of embarrassment and hurt creeping up her neck. Imogen started back slightly under the pressure of Rachel's ice-blue eyes. Rachel softened her gaze, realizing the poor thing was only trying to help, and gave a reassuring smile.
"I'm sorry, love. I didn't mean to be so harsh. Too much on my mind, you know, and this is my first since Sarah di--died," Rachel said, stumbling over the word. "I'm ready, I think, but still." She looked back out the window, rainfall and memories disappearing into a slick gloss over the streets. "Tell her I'm sorry to keep her waiting, I'll be down in a moment." Imogen dipped her head in acknowledgement, and skittered off downstairs to relay the news.
Rachel tapped the cigarette on the case again, decided against lighting it. No time, really, and she didn't want to make an entrance smelling of Dunhills. She opened the battered leather case and replaced the cigarette. It snapped shut, a loud clacking in the silence of the room. The contents vanished from sight, and the case went in her purse.
Rachel stepped away from the window and over to her full-length mirror. Her lover's eyes stared back out at her. Rachel smoothed her dress, whispered "Time to go, darling." Sarah melted away with a soft "Yes, yes, it is..." leaving a melancholy smile. Emeralds and coal scattered themselves into the strata of Rachel's heart, fading from view as she made her way downstairs into a new empire.