Page 8 of Daisy Darker

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October 30, 9:45 p.m.

less than nine hours until low tide

If Nana didn’t have everyone’s attention before, she does now. Dad leans in, my mother sits up, Lily puts down her phone, and Rose stops making an origami bird with her napkin.

“This is my final will and testament,” Nana says, putting an envelope on the table and staring at each of our faces as though committing them to memory. “My solicitor witnessed me signing it earlier today and has a copy. I promise that I’ve thought about all of this, and all of you, very carefully, and I’m sure it’s for the best. Before I begin, I’ll remind you what I wrote at the start of my favorite book: ‘The future is a promise we can still choose whether to keep. The past is a promise we’ve already broken.’ I meant those words, and I believe that the present is my only chance to protect this family’s future.”

She turns to face my dad. “Frank…”

“Yes, Mother?”

“I have left you my clocks, all eighty of them, in the hope that you might use the time you have left more wisely.”

His mouth falls open, but Nana continues without waiting for any words to spill out of it.

“Nancy, my beloved daughter-in-law, you gave me three beautiful granddaughters, for which I will always be grateful. I am leaving you my drinks trolley. Like you, it’s now an antique but still good for holding liquor.” My mother’s face is a picture I wish someone would paint, a beautiful mix of shock and outrage. My sisters are both grinning like the naughty schoolgirls they used to be until Nana turns to them. “Rose, I am leaving you my unpublished artwork and brushes, in the hope that you might paint a happier future for yourself. Lily, when I die, all the mirrors in this house will belong to you, in the hope that you might see what you’ve become.”

Nobody is smiling now, including me. I’m terrified of what Nana might say next.

“Daisy is the only person in this family who never asked me for a penny,” she says, smiling in my direction. “I plan to leave a sizable sum to her favorite charities.”

“Thank you,” I say, and Lily pulls a face.

I am grateful, really I am, but I confess that I always secretly hoped that Seaglass might be mine one day. I don’t think anyone in this family loves this place the way that I do. Nana takes a sip of her champagne before carrying on.

“My literary estate will continue to make donations to my own favorite charities, as long as there are sufficient funds for it to do so. I will be leaving Seaglass in my great-granddaughter’s precious hands. I hope we can all agree that Trixie is the future of this family. My home will be held in trust for her alone, until she is older, along with any other royalties and future payments from publishers—”

“Hang on a minute,” interrupts Lily, lighting yet another cigarette. She takes a drag, then exhales a cloud of smoke. “You’re basicallygoing to leaveeverythingto my daughter, achild,andnothingto me? You’ve finally lost your remaining marbles.”

Rose smiles at the outburst. Unlike the rest of the family, she seems completely indifferent and unoffended.

Nana sighs. “Noteverything,Lily, and please stop smoking in my home. Before those tiny cogs in your small mind start trying to turn, the will prevents you from taking a penny of what will one day be Trixie’s. Besides, I’m not dead yet. You need to learn to make your own way in life, the world doesn’t owe you anything, and neither do I. But… it may or may not please you all to learn that I have started working on one final book.”

“You haven’t written anything new for years,” says Dad.

“Well, I didn’t have anything left to say. But now I do have one last story I’d like to tell. It’s about a dysfunctional family, not unlike ours.”

“What?” says Nancy.

“You’ve written a book about us?” Lily asks.

“I’ve started sketching out a few ideas,” is all Nana says.

Dad slams his glass down on the table without meaning to. “Well, I can’t imaginethatselling many copies. What I want to know iswhy? Why invite us here if all along you planned to leave us out of the will? I’m your son. Your only child—”

“Please keep your voice down,” interrupts Lily. “Trixie is already asleep upstairs.”

“Because the future of this family, and what I will leave behind when I am gone, has been on my mind for a long time,” Nana replies.

I think she’s about to say something else, but she doesn’t.

Instead she is silent and wide-eyed—like the rest of us—when we hear the melancholy sound of the wind chimes outside and the front door slam at the other end of the house.

It’s almost ten o’clock.

The tide is in.

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