She sat in the same oak rocking chair that she had done every afternoon. Season after season, year after year, and the old woman was as much a part of the neighborhood history as the large elm tree that shaded the street. She had lived most of her life in the house in which she had been born, and most bet that she would die in it. She had left the embrace of the white, two-story house with its blue hanging gables only twice in her life, and only one of them, bore remembering. She looked up at the house now, its gables shining with their summer coat of paint, faithfully applied each year, as it had always been.
“But Aunt Maggie, if you’re in one of those homes . . . who will come to see you?”
“We will, you dolt!”
Maggie’s eyes may not have been the brilliant shade of green of her youth, but they were still sharp enough to notice the sharp elbow that Angel plunged into her twin sister’s ribs.
“Angel,” Maggie chided softly, “Christine was just worried that I would be alone, that’s all. No need to be so impolite – haven’t I taught you both how to behave as ladies?” Looking at the two young girls, they were all elbows and knees, caught in that awkward moment of time where they were not quite teenagers, and yet, no longer children. They both had bright futures ahead of them. A talent well-honed by time and practice enabled Maggie O’Shea to see into the future – their future was full of promise.
“Aunt Maggie, why didn’t you ever marry the man in the painting?”
Maggie simply smiled. She had been asked that very same question every day since the girls had been old enough to speak. Both Angel and Christine had run through her neighboring home like tame puppies, and both had always asked about the man in the portrait.
“Maybe he wasn’t good enough for her,” Christine mused as she chewed on her thumbnail through the force of a long habit.
“If he wasn’t good enough for her,” snapped her twin as she jerked the offending digit from her twin’s mouth, “why would she keep his painting all of these years?”
Two dark pair of eyes, each flecked with gold, gazed expectantly upwards at the woman by whose feet they sat. They saw, as they had always seen, a face that time had only added to, instead of diminishing. Perhaps her hair was no longer the color of rich autumn leaves, and the years had lent more pale gold to its russet waves, accented by streaks of silver, but her face remained unlined. It was as if time had gently brushed away the visage of youth only to pause in mid-stroke, leaving her with a timeless appearance.
Perhaps it’s time, she thought as she looked down that the two youthful faces that looked up at her. Maybe it’s time that someone knew how story – of the man that never was. But not today, I still have some time. 
Shaking her head as she glanced down at the slender gold watch on her wrist, she announced softly. “Tea time – and if you two bring home good grades on your spelling test, there will be scone waiting for you. Now, shoo! Go study!” She watched as with a soft smile as the two moved to their feet, racing across the adjoining lawns with coltish grace.
Tea time indeed!
Pushing to her feet, Maggie winced at the sharp pain in her hip that warned her she was moving too quickly, and that time was indeed running out. The screen door squeaked as it always had as she moved indoors, pausing so sigh softly at the dark green walls in the foyer as well as the scenic paintings that she had carefully collected over the years.
Soon, all of it would be gone – hopefully to people who would appreciate the paintings of soft rolling hills of green grass spattered with lavender heather. Some might wonder about the grand estate that dominated the tableau, and perhaps wonder if Penworth had ever existed.
But it had . . . just as he had.

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