Blythe's Prediction

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As Agatha had said, dinner began promptly at eight

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As Agatha had said, dinner began promptly at eight.

"Cora, Willow," Cora's mother called upstairs for them to come down as soon as the big hands on every clock in the house was no longer striking seven fifty-nine.

They both came down at a snail's pace. Cora led the way. Their entire house smelled warm and green, liked they'd been transported into the kitchen of a vegan restaurant. The meals had already been dished out into their best bowls and transported into the dining room.

"Here we go," Cora said, pushing open the dining room door.

"You really outdid yourselves," said Blythe. "This looks heavenly." She rubbed her hands together.

Out on the table were all kinds of non-meat meals, from pasta shells stuffed with broccoli to roasted potatoes, and cheesy vegetable chowder. The lit candles on the table pulled everything together and brought a soft glow to the otherwise dark room.

"Well don't just stand there," Stella said to Cora. "Come in, come in."

Cora had paused at the door, taking in the scene in front of her. The grownups stood behind their chairs waiting for Cora and Willow to join them so they could all sit and dig in.

Cora left the door with Willow following. She sat next to her mother. Willow sat next to Agatha, Blythe sat on Stella's right, and Mariam on Cora's left. There was one empty chair at the table, Tilda's.

"My Tilly isn't feeling well," Blythe said, as she folded her napkin across her lap.

"Do you want me to go check on her?" Stella asked, while she did the same with her napkin.

Cora and Willow had a silent conversation with their eyes again, asking each other what they should do. Cora's eyes said, "We lie, lie, lie."

They had no other choice. Cora wanted to keep Blythe's wrath at bay as long as possible. As the food began to be passed around and the grownups discussed Mariam's taste in dining room décor, Cora's nerves settled enough for her to enjoy her meal, which was delicious as Agatha's recipes often were. Cora was making her way through a second helping of the vegetable chowder when she felt it, a brush against her leg. She jumped, pushing her chair back as she did.

"What's wrong with you?" her great-grandmother asked.

Cora, not knowing what else to do, picked up her fork and dropped it. "I dropped my fork," she said. She widened her eyes at Willow, telling her that Tilda was under the table.

Willow dropped her fork as well, and they disappeared underneath the table to retrieve their utensils. Past her mother and Blythe's legs, Cora caught sight of Tilda. Was she smiling at her? Could mice smile? Before Cora could do anything, Tilda was climbing the leg of her chair.

"What in the world are you girls doing under there?" Mariam asked them. Her face appeared underneath the table. "Get up and finish your meals."

Willow and Cora's response was drowned out by a loud scream from Blythe. Cora wished to stay under the table until the end of dinner, but she had no choice now. She got up. Willow did the same. Tilda had climbed onto the table, onto her dish, as if waiting to be served.

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