Carl did not like his brother-in-law Phillip. Phillip always seemed to know things, almost like he could read Carl’s mind. From their first meeting, to the day of Susie’s wedding, to the funeral of Carl’s aunt a few weeks ago, Phillip had that smug smile. But now Susie and Phillip had arrived on the doorstep, and Carl could hardly turn them away.
Carl led them into the sitting room with the four chairs. Susie was chattering away as usual. Phillip just stared at the fourth chair and sat down.
“So you’ve moved in already?” Phillip interrupted Susie.
“Aunt Sally left me the place in her will,” Carl shrugged.
“We’re really glad you’ve settled down Carl,” Susie said brightly, “We know how hard it’s been for you.”
Carl closed his eyes. Did she really have to bring that up? The guy born with everything, throwing it all away. Lost friendships, lost years. He’d gone to rehab again, cleaned himself up. He hadn’t touched anything – for a while.
And his luck had turned. Look at him now, sitting in this grand old terrace house.
“Our new home is so big,” Susie reached out to Phillip’s hand, “I’m so glad Aunt Sally left this place to you.”
“Find it lonely here?” Phillip’s eyes were on the chair.
“Not at all,” Carl smiled.
“We’re so glad you’re okay,” Susie leaned forward, “We’ve been worried about you.”
Phillip stared at him.
“He knows,” came an elderly voice.
Carl felt the heat rising in his face. Couldn’t Aunt Sally just shut up? He stared at the fourth chair, where the nasty old woman sat, night after night.
“He knows I didn’t fall down the stairs. He knows you forged my will. He knows you’re already asking the lawyer for money. He knows you’re no good,” she cackled.
“Are you all right mate?” Phillip’s hand was on his shoulder.
Carl stared at him through his fingers, “Of course. I’ll show you out.”
His heart racing, he accompanied them to the hall, knowing that when he returned to the empty room, Aunt Sally would be there, watching from the fourth chair.
* * * * *
An exercise in micro-fiction – stories which run from zero to fifty
© 2014 M. C. Dulac