“I’m so glad you could join me for lunch, Lucas.”
“No, thank you for inviting me out Esther. I needed to pull myself away from work.”
“You always were so engrossed in your work,” she said.
Lucas hadn’t spoken with his wife’s family much since her death five years ago. Their father was suspect of the circumstances, though her sisters believed the strange tale of demons and tea. Esther sent him a letter a weeks or so ago asking to catch up.
They stopped by a cafe off of Tabberty Street and sat on a table outside. The winds were dead today, so the tables could be setup without the customers being pelted by sand. There were soft sounds of violin lessons in the background. They were clearly lessons because of the repetitiveness and yelling between breaks.
“So whatever happened with Auto-Marie?”
“I’m actually wrapping up our plans to sell the company off,” Lucas said.
Esther looked immediately concerned.
“No, no, I just need to focus on the automatons more and I’m very well acquainted with the woman who’s going to be in charge,” he explained, “Things change.”
“Indeed they do,” Esther sighed, “our father just passed away.”
“What? I didn’t see the obituary. Are you okay?”
“It was just before I sent out the letter. We wanted to keep the funeral private and quiet. The obituary will be printed soon actually.”
Lucas wanted to give his former sister-in-law a hug, but both being seated made it really awkward.
“I wanted to apologize for my family,” she said.
“Whatever for, dear?”
“Well, I wanted to let you know, have you come to the funeral, but with your image so public, and you not having visited us much these past few years, the rest of the family thought it inappropriate,” she explained herself, looking somber and sheepish, “and I wanted to apologize for myself. We used to be such good friends back when Delia was alive. I should have come to visit you more afterwards.”
“Now, please, stop. There’s a torrent of emotions right now. I understand that. I’ve dealt with many types of death and loss over the years and we all handle them poorly as can be,” Lucas tried to say with a little authority to snap her out of her mood, “I pray we may never get enough practice to actually be good at such things. I’m no exception.”
Esther wiped her eyes with a handkerchief and straightened her posture. “Yes, well put. You’ve a way with words, Mr. Buford.”
“Not nearly. You should hear my good friend, William.”
“Do you mean Dr. Bittersworth’s nephew?” she asked.
“One in the same. I sometimes visit when he holds poetry nights at his place; you should come some time,” Lucas offered.
“I’d like that very much.”
“Good. I could use a friend. My life has also been hectic lately, dear Esther.”