Our Father

Our Father by Marilyn French Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Our Father by Marilyn French Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marilyn French
Tags: General Fiction
not that dumb.
    She turned back and tamped out her cigarette. She glanced down at the table, where Mary still lay, her head on her arms, quieter now, sniffling. Alex fetched some tissues and slipped them into Mary’s hand. She sat up and blew her nose. Nothing ladylike about that snort.
    Elizabeth gazed at her calmly. Mary looked back over the tissue. “I know you hate me,” she said in a quiet hoarse voice. “You’ve always been jealous of me. You think Father likes me better than he likes you.”
    “He does. Pretty vacuity, he likes in women. Like your mother.” She turned to Alex. “And yours. I’ve long since accepted that. Pretty vacuity entertains him. But you can’t love without respect and he respects me.”
    “My mother is not a pretty, vacuous person,” Alex said. “She may not have your education, Elizabeth, or your kind of brains. But she has kindness.”
    Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “Learning to fight back, are we? Might as well, you’ll get no pity here.”
    “And your mother?” Mary shot back.
    Elizabeth was ready. “That was my mother’s great flaw: she seemed a pretty bubblehead because she was so young. But soon enough her true intelligence appeared. That’s why he got rid of her so viciously.”
    “He got rid of her because she trapped him into marriage,” Mary argued.
    “What do you know about it? What do you know about anything?”
    “Aaaaaagh!” Alex cried, putting her hands on her temples. “Is all we’re going to do fight? Don’t we have anything in common? We’re sisters ! We share a bloodline, genes, some history, whatever you want to call it! Can’t we talk peacefully?”
    Elizabeth and Mary looked at her.
    “You’re right,” Elizabeth conceded, but continued before Alex, sighing in gratitude and relief, could speak again. “There are decisions to take, and we need to be able to speak civilly.” She tapped her pencil end on the glass tabletop. “We have to decide what to do. He could stay in a coma for weeks, maybe months. I have an important job, I can’t be away for weeks and months. On the other hand, he could come out of it at any time. What I propose is that we take turns—each of us stay a week, so someone’s here to visit him every day, and to signal the others if any major change occurs.”
    “So one person would be here alone, in this house alone,” Mary said, frowning. “Including Ronnie?”
    Elizabeth shrugged.
    The door burst open and Mrs. Browning rushed in. “Ma’am”—she swung her head from one to the others—“Miss Upton”—she settled on Elizabeth—“there’s people here from the papers and the TV Reporters. Out front. A whole bunch of them with cameras and all. They’re asking about Mr. Upton. What do you want me to tell them?”
    “We’ll see them, Mrs. Browning. Tell them we’ll have a statement in fifteen minutes. Maybe you could prepare some coffee for them.”
    “Oh. Yes. I can do that.” The woman bustled out bursting with the importance of the event.
    “Close the door after you, Mrs. Browning.”
    As soon as the door shut, Mary wailed, “I can’t see anyone in my condition! My eyes must be red, I’m a mess!”
    “You’re fine. You’ll look like the loving daughter. We have to appear together, worried, the Upton girls, remember? His queens, weeping for him. I’ll draw up a statement that says nothing, says we can’t predict what will happen, we are hoping for the best, grieving. …”
    “And praying,” Alex murmured.
    Two heads turned to her. Again the wrong thing.
    They look pretty good for a bunch of over-the-hill broads, the reporter thought, standing there together in front of the gray stone house that looked like it belonged in a BBC film, only one of them still young, thirties probably, blonde and slim, pretty. The dark one gorgeous, really stacked, if a bit short in the leg. Even the old one with silvery hair didn’t look bad—slim, elegant, grand, a power in Treasury. Famous when they were

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