Shammi polishes the red fruit with her sleeve. Her arm moves in slow and precise movements, but her eyes are far away, crowded with thoughts that bunch up around her brows. The fruit bowl is in front of her. It is walnut, smooth and round. Four shiny red apples sit still in it. When she is done with the fifth one, she’ll place it on top of the pile, a red fruity pyramid.
Years ago, at the start of a particularly difficult financial patch, her mother taught her that window dressings take the eye away from the stains and secrets. She taught Shammi how to put pretty things where expensive ones used to stand, but with a discrete touch. Shammi has used that old lesson aggressively over the last year, living a life she can’t afford.
In another two days the people from the bank will be here to take stock. But for now she adjusts the fruit bowl carefully against the fading wall, and waits for the ladies from the Book Club to arrive. The house looks beautiful, as always.