The first day of the rest of their lives had turned in to two years later, Marigold and Mona had cleaned up the little shop and made it into a cute little boutique that sold handmade dresses. They both managed the shop together, Mona greeted the customers and attended to them while Marigold made the dresses. Mona had a way with people, a charm and mystique that mesmerized all the women that walked in the boutique. They loved her. Marigold sometimes would stop her work and take a peek when Mona was with a customer. It was enthralling. Marigold, came to believe Mona loved the attention and displayed her best allure to them. The women were captivated by Mona the moment they stepped into the shop. Why shouldn’t they be, Marigold thought. Mona was an extremely beautiful woman, and she knew how to enchant her audience, especially women.
Sometimes, Marigold wanted to be in the front of the shop, instead of being stuck in the back, but Mona would convince her she was not ready.
“Talking to customers is an art form,” Mona sweet talked to Marigold. “It takes a certain person to talk to these women. You don’t have it yet, but you will. Someday, you will take my place. You are beautiful and young. You have the rest of your life. You do pretty dressed. You are like fairy godmother… I am like a flower slowly withering. I don’t have much time left before I am old and forgotten… If you love me, let me be happy. For now, I do the talking.”
“Mona, why do you say forgotten and old,” Marigold said. “You will always have me… and besides you are only thirty five. You’re still the most beautiful girl in the room.”
“My sweet flower,” Mona lightly smacked Marigold’s face. “You have much to learn.”
Marigold, eventually didn’t mind doing all the sowing, as long as Mona was happy with her work. When the long day of making dresses came to an end they would close the little shop and retired to the back where they lived. When they finally had enough money to buy a house, they bought a farmhouse, 125 miles out of town. It was large enough for two single women, with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a large living room in which Mona used to entertain her female friends.
Looking outside in, most assumed Mona and Marigold were mother and daughter. Mona would introduce them as sisters, very close sisters. Mona, took a staunch stand in keeping her private life private, something she raised Marigold to do the same.
“They wouldn’t understand,” Mona would say. “All we have is our secrets. Our secrets are nobody’s business, and that is how I want it. Humor me, child.”
Mona, indeed had many secrets. Through out Marigold’s life they moved around quite often. They had lived in France for some time before moving to Spain then back to France. Then they lived in Germany, but Mona disliked the weather, and returned to France before moving to Italy. They lived in Greece at one point, but again Mona disliked the weather and the food. They moved back to France, always to the same city, until a year before Mona bought the shop, they left France for good and never returned. France had always been Mona’s favorite place to live, but that was a different story all together.
Marigold, on the other hand, disliked France and more so the reasons they returned there. It came to a surprise to Marigold when they moved to Belgium, the place where Mona was born and raised. The first day they arrived they visited a small house near the border of Belgium. The house was a shanty cottage, neglected by time and it’s owners. Inside, lived an old woman, bedridden, blind, feeble and in poor health. Mona, was dressed in her finest dress and high heel shoes. She looked marvelous as she always did, out of sort in the disregarded estate, as she did at the circus.
“Who’s there?” the old woman cried out.
“It’s me mamma,” Mona spoke in a meek voice.
“Who’s there?” the old woman could barely hear Mona’s voice.
“Come closer so I can hear you better,” the old woman instructed.
Mona, was careful and slow in her movements as she approached the old woman. She leaned close to the old woman’s ear, so close her red lips almost touched the woman’s skin.
“It’s me, mamma,” Mona spoke again.
The sweet demeanor of the blind old woman’s face changed before Marigold’s eyes.
“I have no daughter,” a deep croaking sound came from the old woman’s throat, as she clutched her bed sheets tighter, pulling them higher to her chest. She turned her face away from Mona’s “You are no daughter of mine, you succubus. Only the devil can give birth to your likeness…”
“Mamma, don’t, please,” Mona cried. “Please, stop this.”
The old woman’s voiced changed to a heartbroken one, “I have no daughter… she died many years ago. Go away, let me die in peace.”
“Mamma, mamma,” Mona wept, unwilling to leave the old woman’s side.
Marigold, understood how Mona felt and softly coaxed Mona away from the old woman and away from the cottage. They never visited the old woman again and when she died, neighbors that had be caring for her, called Mona to tell her the old woman passed away. The only reason, Mona returned to the cottage was to retrieve an old piano that had belonged to her great-grandmother. The rest she left behind.