Ms. Williamson has been captivating the hearts of readers for decades. Her heroes are strong and daring while the antagonists, diabolical!
After the Memorial Services …
Rev Westbrook finally ends his rhetoric which in fact seems more like an hour instead of only twenty minutes. The people in charge of the remains takes a single deep-red rose and hand it to Rachel. She looks at it as if it will come to life and scold her for some transgression. Her daughter Kate is sitting to the left of her mother and Karen is at her right. Cedric sits next to Karen. It is Kate who gives her mother a slight nudge.
“It’s alright mom, she can’t hurt you anymore.” Kate whispers.
“Yes, she’s gone.” Karen affirms rubbing her mother’s arm.
Rachel displays a solemn look as she holds the single scarlet rose from a floral arrangement in one hand and grips the memorial program in the other hand. Her husband’s face maintains the same controlled mask he wore throughout the entire ceremony. Her brother slowly walks toward her and replies.
“Are you alright, Ray? Is there anything you want to say?”
“She’s fine, Patrick.” Cedric responds and Patrick nods. He then returns to the podium slowly as he guides Rachel by the elbow. Rachel looks around at the small crowd and then at the vase that contains the remains of Claire. She is finally able to recapture her ability to speak.
“I would like to thank everyone for coming to this requiem for my sister Claire Monique Westbrook. It means a lot to me to have you all here today.” Rachel manages a weak smile then returns to her seat.
“The interment will take place immediately at the Maple Grove Mausoleum. Services have now ended.” Rev Westbrook pronounces.
As her daughters Karen and Katie move hastily from the cathedral; Rachel remains close to her husband walking sluggishly.
“I still can’t believe that she’s finally gone.” The words are barely audible as they emerge from Rachel’s lips.
“Yes, my rose Claire is gone. However, I still feel that her evil legacy may live on in the lives of many of us.” Cedric murmurs to his wife.
“What can we do?” There is a slight quiver in Rachel’s voice.
“I don’t know if there is anything we can do, my rose. I believe that only time will tell.” Cedric Osbourne replies as he follows his petite wife to the waiting limo.
The drive is quiet as Rachel rests her head on the window. Cedric decides to give his wife this time to reflect. In another part of the limo Karen and Kate sit also contemplating the events that have taken some by surprise and others in disbelief.
“You saw her the day she died didn’t you Karen?” Kate asks.
“Yes, I did, and it wasn’t a very enjoyable visit. As usual she was insulting and demanding.” Karen recalls.
“So, it was about Wyatt and me wasn’t it.” Kate can tell by her sister’s mannerism that this is in fact true.
“Yes.” This is all that Karen will volunteer.
“I never meant to drive a wedge between Aunt Claire and you. I can’t understand why she was so obsessed with the notion of you and Wyatt. Especially when you are perfectly happy with Jonathan?” Kate queries.
“I really think it had a lot to do with the fact that mom married dad.” Karen whispers to her sister.
“Right. Aunt Claire had a ‘thing’ for dad, didn’t she?” Kate is remembering the conversation their mother had with them. She explained the rivalry and how she was an unwilling participant. It seems that although Claire took special interest in the upbringing of her little sister after the death of their mother, she also envied Rachel’s relationship with Cedric. However, there was very little she could do about it.
The final resting place of Claire Westbrook is a specially designed crypt. There Rachel carefully places the silver urn. While the others hurriedly head toward their waiting cars and deserting the Maple Grove Mausoleum, a solitary gloved individual remains. This lone soul lingers until the workmen have completed their duties. Then the person carefully fingers each letter of Claire Monique Westbrook’s name as if etching it into the brain.
The workmen, now having completed their task, hurry away leaving this person alone. The individual takes one long, hard look at the plaque and says.
“You thought you were so smart. You believed that you possessed all the cards. I pleaded with you just to be patient, things would work out. But no—you had to threaten to play your hand. Well, look at you now! Nothing but ashes in marble behind a bronze plaque. Unable to do anything. Who has the final word now!”
The lone figure walks away.
Later that night, Rachel Osbourne takes her key from her purse and opens the doors of Claire Westbrook’s Manor. Claire’s house is strangely quiet. Silently Rachel climbs the stairs and enters Claire’s master bedroom looking at the place where she is told the pills were spewed onto the immense Oriental rug. She visualizes how it all must have looked. She then shivers involuntarily.
Rachel has now positioned herself at the foot of the bed where Claire gasps her last breath. She has a determined look on her face as she stares at the large picture of her deceased sister.
“You will never be able to manipulate and control me or anyone else again.” Rachel whispers confidently to the portrait. Rachel is now no longer alone in the bedroom. A second shadowy figure has appeared in the room and is nodding her head in agreement. It is Amanda!
“What are you doing here Rachel. Does Cedric know about this?” Amanda questions looking strangely at Rachel.
“No, he doesn’t. I just had to make sure that the horrid nightmare was over.” Rachel shares with Amanda.
“Then you came here alone to face your sister, Claire. Why Rachel?” Amanda probes.
“I have never felt confident whenever I had to confront my sister. Even now, I am very happy that you are here with me Amanda. But I knew that I had to come. I knew I had to look at her image and close the door on my feelings.” Rachel responds.
“I understand.” Amanda smiles. “So do I.”
Both women stand in silence for minutes observing the portrait of Claire. The smile on her face as she seems so completely in control of the situation is capture quite well by the artist. They are both mesmerized and unable to move. Each is remembering an instance in her life when that smile meant the recipient had condescended to her will of iron. Then, the sound of a limb brushing against the bedroom window suddenly brings both women to the present. They both agree that Claire is no longer a threat—or is she?
To Be Continued ...
Requiem for Claire 5
- Requiem for Claire 5
There seems to be quite a few people profiting from the demise of Claire Westbrook. Any one of them has a motive for wanting to put an end to her meddling. Yet, her death has been deemed a stroke due to complications from a severe migraine episode.
© 2019 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS