The Mayor's Daughter

The mayor's daughter, Miranda DeLady, was a bit of a notability in Oasis Rock. Being the mayor's daughter gave her a certain aura of authority in city affairs, and the townspeople respected her. She was young, beautiful, and slender, but also elegant and dignified. She led the church choir, cut the ribbon on the new addition to the school playground, and rode the last float in Oasis Rock's annual harvest parade. To us children, she was like a legend, the closest thing to a celebrity that we had ever seen, and we idolized her from afar.

There were stories, too, that I had overheard a few times growing up, stories that were passed from neighbor to neighbor behind closed doors. The first time, I was playing in the yard near the kitchen window while Dr. Hartman's wife described to my mother the way that Miranda would sometimes fall to the ground and writhe for several minutes, as though possessed. My mother told my teacher, Miss Bailey, that Miranda had seizures, brought on by some fever that she had had as a baby. "The poor dear," said my Aunt Irena, chatting with the minister's wife one Sunday after church. "She's such a lovely girl, but I heard they've been getting worse."

Shortly before Miss Petula died, Miranda married George Robinson, the son of the county's sheriff who was a family friend of the mayor. It was a small wedding, but people all over town crowded outside the church to catch a glimpse of Miranda in her elegant white gown, stepping into a horse-drawn carriage. She waved to the crowd with the same smile she used in the parade every year, and I couldn't help but imagine her body sliding to the ground, shaking violently inside the folds of pearl satin, blank eyes gaping at nothing.

When she and George moved into Miss Petula's house, Miranda went to work fixing it up until it matched her charm. George painted the outside walls a lovely pale blue, and planted roses and blossoming trees all around the garden path. They were the perfect couple, building their perfect home together, and gradually everyone forgot the maze of statues and shards of seaglass that had occupied the lot before. 

The End

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