“Miss. Maggie, Miss. Maggie!” the maid yelled frantically from the back door of the house. “Miss. Maggie, you must come now!”
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The target of the maid’s admonitions heard her. Maggie always heard and Maggie always chose to ignore.
“Miss. Rutherford, please!” tried the maid once more. “They will not wait much longer.”
Maggie did not look up or turn towards the house. Obstinate like her Father and bloated with vanity like her Mother, the twelve-year-old girl remained seated on the grass serving tea to her three dolls. Within moments she heard the back door slam shut and Maggie pictured the maid timidly walking into the dining room to make her report.
Maggie leaned forward and picked up a little china teapot. “What’s she talking about, ‘They will not wait?’” she thought to herself. “They will wait. It’s my birthday party and if I want them to wait, they will! They wouldn’t dare go on without me.”
Carefully filling the teacups in front of her, Maggie pushed the hair out of her face. The mid-afternoon sun was comfortably screened through near-by pine trees. A momentary calm settled in the area; birds sang up above and somewhere on the large property Fisher, the family dog, could be heard barking at squirrels. All calm before the storm though; a tempest of brooded thoughts had already begun to churn and swirl within Maggie’s mind.
She picked up her teacup and took a delicate sip: “I don’t care how long they have to wait. They will not dare go on without me. For they know; they surely know.”
What did the Rutherfords know? Certainly, they knew that the past twelve years had been an endless stream of one trial and ordeal after another. They knew that since the day she was born, the entire Rutherford household had had to bend and mold itself around the sheer force of Maggie’s unusual will and determination. Fear had shaken the entire house – family and staff – forcing all to function under the stifling burden of restraint and composure when dealing with the youngest Rutherford child. They had all been stripped bare and raw to the bones with their fear.
Maggie offered one of her dolls a plate of imaginary cookies as the back door of the house squeaked open behind her. She closed her eyes as a new voice was raised from the porch.
“Maggie – Maggie Abigail Rutherford,” her Mother yelled. “Everyone is waiting! You will not keep us waiting any longer.”
The silence that followed was broken only by Maggie’s thoughts: “Stupid woman; She seems to have forgotten and that will not do.”
Still sitting with her eyes tightly shut, Maggie took in a quick, deep breath. Her eyes, flashing open, starred directly across from her at one of the three dolls. Appropriate choice! – the largest and the newest. Given to her that very morning by her parents as a birthday present, it had a large, beautiful face more mature than the others. Long brown curls ran over her shoulders and she was clad in an intricate dress based on the latest Parisian fashion. A grown-up doll for an almost grown-up girl. And, as Maggie had remarked earlier when she first unwrapped it: “Oh Mother, she’s beautiful! She looks just like you!”
With her fists clenched tightly by her side, Maggie intensified her stare at the doll. Still holding her breath, she began to shake. She clamped her teeth together – tighter! Tighter! – and The Shudder wracked through every inch of her frame.
The tea party had one less guest and in its place lay a heap of disintegrated porcelain under a shroud of silk, and brown curls. A set of long eye lashes sat on top and fluttered in the breeze like little moths.
Relaxing her fists, Maggie opened her mouth, let out her breath, and blinked. Breathing normally, she quickly stood up.
“Coming Mother,” she sang, using her pretty voice.
Maggie straightened her dress, turned, and quickly skipped towards the house.