The Last House on Marigold Lane
'Carol is making stew and it's absolutely delicious.'
The last house on Marigold Lane was the biggest in the whole town. The "Davenport McMansion," it was dubbed, because Dr. and Mrs. Davenport were the richest people that had ever lived in Willow's Valley. A surgeon and a lawyer respectively, they were wonderful at their jobs. When Andrew's wife needed a C-section the month before, Dr. Davenport was the one who performed it.
And, although she hadn't survived the procedure, Andrew thought it would be polite to deliver a thank-you card. Julie had died on the operating table due to complications during the birth of their second daughter, and Dr. Davenport did everything he could. A card is the least I can do, Andrew thought, considering the good doctor had paid the grossly expensive hospital bill.
"You really shouldn't have," Mrs. Davenport said as Andrew handed her the card. She offered him a seat on their luxurious leather sofa, and then Dr. Davenport handed him a cup of coffee.
"It's the least I can do, honestly. I'd have lost my house if it weren't for you."
"We didn't want you out on the streets, Andrew," Dr. Davenport said with a sympathetic smile. "How are you doing?"
"I'm alright I suppose. Winnie is taking it rather hard. She's six now. Keeps asking why her mommy isn't coming home. Baby Eliza is healthy and happy. She has Julie's blonde hair."
"How adorable," Mrs. Davenport said, passing Andrew a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies.
"Thank you. I mean, the service was lovely. Julie's mother sang, she's an opera singer, you know? I gave the eulogy, of course." Andrew grabbed a cookie from the plate and then took a big bite. "I don't know if Winnie really knew what was going on. I mean, not understanding it, you know?"
"Right, right. Hard for kids to understand."
"Oh, Andrew, you really must stay for dinner," Dr. Davenport said as he poured himself a glass of neat whiskey. "Carol is making stew and it's absolutely delicious."
"It might make you feel a bit better," Mrs. Davenport added. "I'm sure the sitter wouldn't mind watching Winnie and baby Eliza for an extra hour."
I might as well, Andrew thought. He hadn't exactly been out of the house much lately. Besides work, there wasn't much he had going on besides taking care of the girls and staring at pictures of Julie.
Mrs. Davenport really was an excellent cook. The scent of stewing vegetables and a plethora of spices filled the air, and Andrew's stomach growled in anticipation. His friends, colleagues, and neighbours had delivered more than enough dry, crumby casseroles as their form of condolence, but it had been a long time since he had a proper home-cooked meal.
"It smells wonderful," Andrew said as Mrs. Davenport put a big, hearty bowl in front of him. The three of them sat at the table and dug into the stew, letting the flavours dance in their mouths.
The meat was unlike anything Andrew had ever tasted before. Imported, apparently. The good doctor knew a butcher in town that brought in exotic meats from faraway countries.
"I'm sure she's in a better place now," Dr. Davenport said as he dunked his spoon back in the bowl. Andrew nodded silently, wishing he could have just one more day with the love of his life.
"So, where did you put the urn?" Mrs. Davenport asked.
"Nowhere yet," Andrew sighed. "Charles, from the crematorium on 7th street, he keeps giving me the runaround. Said he lost the ashes and can't find them anywhere."
"I'll ask him," Dr. Davenport said. "Charles and I are close friends."
"You're a good man, George," Andrew replied as he picked a long, blonde hair from his stew.