Ellie sat waiting in traffic as the sun streamed in, blinding her as it rose in to the position of becoming an annoyance. She was heading to the farmers market on the main street in town, they was an antique sale going on that weekend and she loved vintage postcards and anything old that could be bought for peanuts. She reached over and grabbed her sunglasses, fumbling around in her overstuffed bag and finding them, settled them to rest on her nose. The morning radio news spewed their normal routines, canned laughter that made her roll her eyes and she looked over to the car that sat tied up alongside of her, only to see a very irate man shouting into his phone. She had sat there, not moving for what seemed like eternity and was getting irritated. Must be an accident up there she thought to herself, and when the car ahead of her nudged forward a little, she decided the market could wait and eased her Toyota into the oncoming lane to pull a U-turn. I’ll go later, she thought as she gently pulled out and around heading back home. She made it about a quarter-mile when a small sign ahead grabbed her attention. “Estate Sale” it said and she looked down at the dash clock and realized it was just starting. “I will be the early bird that gets the worm” she said with a chuckle and turned down Bard Street, a road she had never been on. The large elms spread themselves creating a canopy of shade which after sitting in the sun with her car whose air conditioning only spread light cool, it was a welcome relief. There were a few cars parked along on the side of the road ahead and so she joined the line of parked cars and got out to head to the small white stucco house with the sign in the yard. Three people waited at the door and by the time she got there, they had already gone in to peruse the offerings. She walked through the stately glass doors and felt the hair on her arms begin to rise. The front of the house opened to a beautiful foyer and in the middle stood a table with a Chinese vase filled with orchids. She looked at the ornately carved legs and knew she had seen this before somewhere. Another woman came in behind her so she left the table and continued on to where voices could be heard in the room to her right. The large lit room was a library of sorts. Tall shelves went from floor to ceiling and the musty smell of old worn books dusty with tired bindings filled her nose, the furniture was in immaculate shape but she wasn’t here for furniture. At the far end of the room was a stone fireplace. The mantel was hand carved and had some small glass knickknacks sitting on it, but what drew her eyes was the portrait that hung above it in a stunning gold filigree frame. Two young girls gazed into her eyes and she stood in shock as her purse hit the floor with a loud thunk. Eyes turned to look at her but she stood there transfixed on the image before her.
A gentleman in a worn grey suit walked up to her and placed his hand on her arm, drawing her attention from the image to his warm green eyes. “Is everything okay Miss?” he said and bent down to pick up her bag. Ellie took a small breath and watched as he pushed a book and a tube of lipstick back into her bag and then he rose and held out the bag to her. “My name is Michael and I work with the firm handling the estate of Elouise and Jadis” he said, holding out a small business card that he tucked into her shaking hand. “I see you’ve seen the girls in their portrait, it is rather beautiful is it not” he said as he looked over at the image. “And you are?” his empty hand held out waiting to be politely shaken, and Ellie, slowly catching her breath tentatively took his hand and introduced herself. “Ellie” she said quietly. He shook her hand softly and withdrew it with a nod, “Let me know if I can be of service, if you’re interested in purchasing anything I’ll be happy to help you”. He walked away with a smile and Ellie returned her gaze to the photograph. The young girl on the right wore a small locket and Ellie reached up and lightly touched the same matching one around her own neck. It felt warm to the touch. She took a few steps towards Michael who stood over by the bookshelf watching her. “Excuse me, could you tell me a little bit about Elouise and Jadis? If you don’t mind that is” and Michael cleared his throat and began.
“Elouise was the oldest sister and Jadis was born one hour after Elouise. Elouise passed away ten weeks ago on her birthday, she lived to a grand old age of 97 and Jadis passed away an hour later. It was quite strange the way that all transpired, they were twins at birth and died the same way. Neither of them ever married, no children either. It was told that Elouise ruled the home and unless a young man passed muster, no one was to be with her sister. they died old maids. They both did a lot in the community and were kind and loving souls. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard of them. They were both actresses in the local theater and devoured books like ravenous crows, the two of them.” Ellie just absorbed every word that Michael spoke, tales of their plays, their good deeds, they were a piece of history that had now come to an end. “How much for the portrait?” Ellie asked, knowing the price would be far above her price range. “One hundred dollars, but you could make an offer and it may be received” he answered with a smile. Ellie reached into her bag for her wallet and still not believing what she was seeing, counted out exactly one hundred dollars. Her budget for groceries now severely constrained but worth it. “Don’t you want to even make an offer lower than that” Michael said. He watched her with curiosity, as anyone in their right mind would try to low bid it, but she shook her head no and handed the money over to him. Michael pulled out a receipt book and asked her some information, tore off her copy and handed it to her with a 20$ back. She looked confused but he just smiled. “You seem like a nice young woman and no one is going to want a lot of this stuff, it’ll just go to auction and I’d like to see you get it, as it seems to have moved you in some fashion and I know you will treat it like the treasure it it.” He walked over to the fireplace and carefully removed the image. Ellie held out her hands to take it, watching as her hands shook, she took the faded image carefully and thanked Michael and turned to leave.
“I hope to see you around some time” he said to her retreating back and Ellie turned and gave him a soft smile. “I hope so too” she said and walked out the door. She set the framed piece carefully in her car, smiling to herself that a traffic jam led to such a find. Her car moved through the dark canopied trees and light beams fell softly in her windows landing on the locket around Elouise’s neck in the image. She reached out a hand and touched the sun spot then touched the locket around her own thin neck. I can’t wait to show Jadis what I found, she thought to herself and went home to see her younger twin. Better late than never she thought, a ten week old late birthday gift for our wall.