It was seven o'clock on Saturday evening.Jackie stood at the window.A car drove slowly up to the front door and stopped.A tall man with white hair got out.It was Albert,the husband of Molly's sister.
‘Here's Uncle Albert,’Jackie said.‘Always late.’
She went out of the room and opened the front door.Albert came in and went at once to Molly.
‘Oh,dear.I'm very late.I am sorry,’Albert said.‘Fifty years old today!What a wonderful dress!’
Molly did not smile.‘Thank you,Albert.We're all getting older.’Tonight she wore a long black dress,and the two black dogs sat at her feet.‘Everyone is here now.Let's go in to dinner,’she said.
Everyone stood up and went to the table.
‘The table looks nice,Jackie.What wonderful flowers!’Diane said.She was a beautiful girl,with long black hair and dark blue eyes.She wore a long red dress.
Albert sat down next to Roger.Roger was Molly's son,her second child.He lived in Cambridge,in an expensive house.
‘Someone called Peter stopped me down the road,’Albert said.‘Who is he?He's very angry with you,Molly.’
‘That's Peter Hobbs,from the house across the road,’Jackie said quickly.She looked across the table at Molly.‘He lost his job last week and he's angy with everyone.’
‘It's Molly he doesn't like,’Albert said.
Molly said nothing.Everyone began to eat.
‘How is Aunt Annie?’Jackie asked.
‘She's much worse now,’Albert said.‘She stays in bed all the time.She needs a nurse twenty-four hours a day.’
‘I am sorry,’Molly said.
Albert stopped eating and looked at Molly.‘It's very difficult and very expensive,you know.Annie feels very unhappy because you don't visit her,Molly.She loves you very much.You are her little sister,you know.’
Molly closed her eyes for a minute.‘I know that,Albert.I an fifty years old,but I am always her "little" sister.Well,we can talk about it later.’
Albert laughed.‘Oh yes,we can talk later.It's always later with you,Molly.Always tomorrow.Never today.’
Jackie watched her mother.Her mother was angry with Albert.Molly never liked talking about her sister Annie and she did not like visiting her because she was very ill.
‘That's a beautiful dress,Diane.Is it new?’Jackie asked.
‘Thank you,Jackie.Yes,it's new,and very expensive.I got it on Wednesday,’Diane said.She smiled at Jackie.
‘All your things are expensive,’Jackie said.She remembered the phone call on Thursday about the train ticker.
‘I don't like cheap things,’Diane said.‘And I'm going to need more money soon.I want to go to America.Can you help me,Roger?’
‘Oh,no,’Roger said.‘Nobody wants to help you,Diane.you don't like working,we all know that,but we all want you to get a job.’
Diane laughed.‘It doesn't matter,Roger.I don't need your help.Mother always helps me.Mother loves me best.’She suddenly smiled,a quick,beautiful smile.But her eyes were cold.
Jackie looked at her mother.Molly's face was white.Jackie did not understand.Was her mother afraid of Diane?Jackie wanted her mother to be happy today.
‘Would you like some more meat,Uncle Albert?’Jackie asked.‘Roger,can you give everyone some more to drink?’
Roger got up and began to give more wine to everyone.‘This is good wine,’he said.
Molly smiled for the first time.‘Yes,your father loved this wine.He often drank it.’
‘Yes,’Albert said,and looked at Molly.‘Expensive,too.’
‘Would you like to meet Mr Briggs this weekend,Roger?’Jackie asked quickly.‘He's the new man at the farm.He wants to meet you.’
‘Briggs?briggs?’Molly said,suddenly angry.‘Don't talk to me about that man.I don't like him.He wants half my garden for his farm.He needs more land,he says.I don't want him in my house.He's always dirty and he has bad teeth.’
Jackie stood up and got her bag.‘Excuse me,I want a cigarette.’
‘Cigarettes!Always a cigarette in your mouth,’Molly said.‘I don't like it.Cigarettes aren't good for you.’
Jackie began to smoke.She felt angry but she said nothing.She wanted her mother to be happy this evening,but it was very difficult.
Roger drand some more wine.‘Well,Mother,perhaps Mr Briggs is right.The garden is very big,you know,’he said.‘It's a lot of work for you.The house is big,too.You're fifty now.You need to be more careful.’
‘Roger!I don't need a nurse,you know!I work in the garden every day;I feel happy there.’Molly stood up.‘I know you all want my money.You come here for a free dinner,you don't want to see me.You don't love me.You want my house,and my money.Well,you can all wait.Nobody is getting more money from me,not before I die!’
‘Don't say that,Mother!’Jackie cried.
Molly walked across the room to the door.‘I feel ill now.I'm going upstairs to bed.’
Molly left the room.Nobody moved.
‘One day I'm going to kill that woman,’Diane said quietly.
Roger looked at Diane but said nothing.Albert moved his head slowly up and down.‘Ill!She's angry,that's all,’he said.‘Molly always gets angry about money.Why can't she be good to her sister?Annie's going to die soon.Molly knows that.’
Jackie finished her cigarette and stood up.‘Would everyone like some coffee?Come into the kitchen and let's drink it there.’