Crystal Sands Marshall pounded on the locked door for the third time.
Iris didn't answer—didn't even acknowledge Crystal's presence with a peek between the curtains.
She slammed her fist against the heavy wood door and shouted, "You're not keeping me out, so you might as well open the door."
Still no response.
She glanced at her white high heels. Hoping her shoes wouldn't get ruined, she stepped carefully off the cement steps onto the rain-soaked ground. Even though it was mid-afternoon, the blazing June sun hadn't evaporated the moisture from last night's downpour. Balancing on the balls of her feet to keep her heels from sinking into the soft earth, she teetered toward the kitchen window. Damp, knee-high weeds caught on the full skirt of her white dress. She batted at them with her hands, stifling a curse before it could escape her lips. Uncouth language on her part would be a win for Iris, who lived to torment her. Still, Iris always answered the door, even on the rare occasion when Crystal showed up unexpectedly.
So why was today different?
After reaching the side of the house, she gave a frustrated tug on her skirt to dislodge a nettle from the material. The threads pulled, leaving a run. The dress was ruined, and it was all Iris's fault. Crystal cupped her face with her hands, pressed them against the grimy pane, and scanned the dim room, muttering, ticking off her sister's faults—obstinate, arbitrary, hateful, controlling, eccentric, bad-tempered—then her gaze locked on Iris's still form on the floor.
"Iris." The name came out low, scratchy, not much louder than a whisper. "Iris!" She managed a shout this time and prayed Iris could hear her.
Her sister didn't move.
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