By the time they left the apartment, they were a good fifteen minutes behind schedule. Lillian took Gabriel’s hand and hurried the boys to the Sisley sisters. She couldn’t risk falling out of their good graces. As it was, they had told her that they could only babysit through the end of the month, as they were taking on three more piano students in January and would not have the time.
She knocked on their door and leaned down to Gabriel. “Do not touch their piano stools. And you’ll have to stay quiet while they practice their morning scales. Perhaps they’ll give you cookies and milk.”
“Digestive biscuits,” muttered Tommy.
Though Tommy and Gabriel complained about the Sisley sisters, Lillian had a soft spot for them. They were small, delicate women, who wore their soft gray hair neatly arranged on top of their heads, in the exact same style. Lillian imagined them sitting before the same vanity mirror, their arm movements perfectly coordinated as they coiled and pinned their hair.
They were always dressed with a remarkable attention to detail. Early on, Lillian had observed that while their outfits were identical, there was always some small detail that set them apart – an ever-so-slightly different sweater clasp or belt or collar. Once, unable to locate the difference, Lillian had lingered, asking them inconsequential questions while she took a closer look. At last she discovered that Sylvia – or perhaps it was Cynthia – wore stockings with a barely discernable herringbone pattern, while the other sister’s stockings were plain. Subtle.
Today, they wore dresses in a pattern of pink and green flowers with ivory crocheted collars. One of them wore a pale pink cardigan, the other pale green. No challenge there. Lillian thanked them for helping out, and hurried to catch the trolley.
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