The car door slammed. For a moment the headlights blazed against the alarming bulwark of the Fairbairns’ shrubbery, undecided as to whether or not they wanted to switch off, and we lingered, Ethan and I, in their backwash and squinted up through the chilly middle darkness at the house.
“You struck me as a coffee person,” she announced, flinging coffee-freckles against the porcelain rim of her cup with a jerk of the spoon. “I suppose you take it black.”
“Ethan takes anything,” I interjected with a sideways grimace, “as long as it’s strong as murder.”
“...Lizzy can cover for Lady Macduff and Banquo. She’s very good at dying.”
“A great many people die in this play,” observed Ethan out of the hum of the harp-strings.
There seems little point in commenting overmuch on the girls; they were your typical college students, eminently forgettable in company with their two older sisters. The one was ginger, the other, shockingly, brunette—only I cannot for the life of me remember now whether it was Mabel who was the brunette or whether it was Brianna.
The door beat against the frame and a figure joined me with the silent assurance of a witch’s familiar, come to top off my coffee out of a white carafe...
“I hope,” I went on, fitting the kettle spout around the rim of the faucet and turning on the tap, “I hope we didn’t do too much damage.”
“To Philip’s face, you mean? Oh, I don’t think so. Lizzy took care of all of that; I’m not much for the sight of blood. Anyhow, he deserved it.”
We were agreed on that, at least, but I did not comment.
I stared after her rudely, and it occurred to me with mingled admiration and bitterness that she had got the whip-hand of me once more.
“Devil,” Ethan commented, pouring himself his coffee.
The smell of fresh wood burst free like the scent of an orange when the skin is peeled back: sharp and sudden in your nostrils.
“Up the hill,” Ethan said, “and around behind the house. Steady…”
“Don’t criticize my driving,” I snapped, getting us out of the rut with a jolt and a surging of the engine.