For obvious reasons they do not invite the vicar, and have given the butler the evening off. They eat a small supper consisting primarily of bland root vegetables before the guests arrive. It is not a large party: the Hampsons, poor Mrs. Giffard, young Roger, and—the pièce de résistance—Lady Enid from the big house. (She takes a grave interest in the otherworldly.) Mr. Hampson resents the lack of any sort of comestible. He is here only to humor his brittle, semi-invalid wife.
The party is, as a whole, eager to take their places around the small round table in the parlor. (Upon sitting, Lady Enid notices that the chrysanthemums on the mantelpiece have sadly faded, but is too well-bred to let her gaze linger on the bowl.) After the requisite jostling of the table by young Roger, the séance begins in earnest. The sisters issue invitations to spirits familiar and unfamiliar. Poor Mrs. Giffard gasps. (She is very sensitive to atmosphere.) There is a sudden rap on the window. What can only be described as a vaporous stream issues from Gertrude’s mouth and forms a halo around Agatha’s head. The parlor maid (who has, unbeknownst to her employers, secreted herself behind the curtains) faints.
Tara Roeder teaches writing in Queens, New York. Her most recent chapbook Every Bird Is A Miracle, a collaboration with visual artist Arman Safa, is available from DIAGRAM Press.