you let them press for too long. I reach for a breadstick and rip off the cellophanewith a crackle, then split it and hand over half to my sister. “Thanks,” she says,and white crumbs fall down the front of her blouse.I pick up my fork and make little stabbing taps on the tablecloth. “I wishshe’d hurry up with the food,” I say, even though I know that if Nora actuallyappeared at that moment with our orders, it would be hard for me to swallow.This is the way they died: our father went into Meggy’s bedroom on a drizzly Julymorning, and shot her in the back of the head with a gun none of us had ever seen before. Then (all of this came from the police report afterward, when they hadtalked to Mr. Hausler next door) Dad walked around the house for a while andthen went outside to trim the rosebushes; but after he trimmed them he cut theroses off, too. Then he went back into his own bedroom and shot himself, puttingthe barrel of the gun to his head. Nobody heard anything, no gunshots, no screams,no bodies falling. Christine found our father when she got home from a party thatnight, and the police found Meggy when they came a few minutes later.It wasn’t until the next day that the police gave us the letter, which began:“By the time you read this, Meggy and I will be in a better place ...” The womanon the TV news said the letter was blood-spattered, but actually it was very clean,considering, with only a light trace of something reddish and pale on the topcorner. It was folded neatly, and originally it had been addressed to Liz-Christine-Meggy, but then the
had been crossed out and the sentence about the twoof them being in a better place had been scribbled at the top of the letter. I don’tknow where it is now. I suppose our mother got rid of it after the funeral, or the police have it somewhere as evidence.“How much do you think about it, now?” Christine asks me. She is fiddlingwith the cellophane the breadstick came in.