The House of Daria Vane

By August 18, Daria is gone.

Together, we managed to orchestrate a more permanent sale for her house. Daria gave me the money: I told her to keep it, that I didn't need it, but she insisted.

"Don't worry about me, I have accounts with over seventy years of interest on them," she said with a smile. "Save it for collage. Have you decided what you want to go to school for?" I shrugged. She handed me a bank certificate. "Well, no matter. If I were you, I would consider Real Estate."

She winked at me, and was gone.

Her buyer's name is Lamia Illmann. She seems to be a bit of a recluse, though I see her walking around the yard sometimes, with a large mug of coffee in her hands. Nothing's been repaired yet. The house is, if anything, even more disorganized than before, and that gives me hope.

I often wonder what happened to Larson, and Daria's other houses. They should be safe now, but for how long? Will this whole story repeat in another fifty years? Will the creatures show up at the house across the street? Who will they claim next time? And most of all, what's going to happen to Daria?

I miss her so much.

I found something in the mailbox today, wound in a lacy white scarf. It was an amythest perfume bottle, with my name engraved on it in twirling seventeenth century letters. The edges were worn smooth, as if handled often. When I pulled out the golden stopper, the most wonderful scent filled the air: lavender.

Am I any better off for having known Daria? Perhaps. It's strange, really, that it took something like the House of Daria Vane for me to finally find my way home.

Dad is in the study. His laptop is open on the desk before him, and his fingers peck hesitanty at the keys, almost as if he's forgotten how to type. There's a large stack of papers on the floor: most of them have been edited with brisk red marks. An open can of cola rests atop a leaning pile of books.

I lean against the door, letting my breath fog the glass. Dad looks up and me, and I pause with my hand on the doorknob. He smiles. When he speaks, his words are muffled by the walls, but I've never heard anything more clearly.

"Morning," he says gruffly. But his eyes sparkle. "You left your hair down today."

I nod. The curls bounce around my face, and for once, I don't try to brush them away.

"You look beautiful." His eyes add the words I've heard so often, but never believed more. Just like your mother.

I know, I say.

I open the door and walk in.

Thanks so much for reading, and thanks again for all the helpful reviews! I'd still like to know what you think of this chapter, and of the story in general. What's your favorite part? Where could the story use a bit more work?

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Bitter Irony

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