When Miss Abigail finally awoke, she was so busy preparing for her visit to the bookshop that she didn’t even look at Sheila until it was time to leave. Holding open her poke-a-dot purse, she reached to grab Sheila from the curio cabinet. That was when she noticed there was something dreadfully wrong with Sheila. At first, she thought Sheila ill, since she looked so frightful. But then she noticed that where her nose had been, there was merely a black smudge.
Sheila was looking more bewildered than ever.
Miss Abigail panicked, looking everywhere for poor Sheila’s nose. At first she sought the logical places, combing through the poke-a-dot purse, investigating the curio cabinet, but then she started to check rather absurd places, like the medicine cabinet and the toaster oven. She was down on her hands and knees, crawling about on the carpet when, with a whiff of that fresh pine scent emanating from the well-dusted antiques, Miss Abigail suspected the maid. But of course, now it was too late. The maid, as well as being punctual and determined, was also very efficient and had already finished her duties, grabbed her pay from the mantel and left.
Even though the house was clean, Miss Abigail was sorrowful. You can imagine how Sheila felt.
There was no possibility of going out now. How could she face Mr. Elliot, when the entire reason for the visit was to introduce Sheila who was now, obviously, un-introducible. So Miss Abigail sat down on the couch, and feeling all her joy fade away, ate herself sick on sour cream raisin pie.
Being Tuesday, and being that Miss Abigail seemed to have had such a lovely time the previous week, Mr. Elliot prepared for her arrival by selecting an appropriate book from the poetry shelf. He boiled water in the electric pot for tea and combed his mustache. He was sure that she would appear any moment and he wanted to be ready, to seem casual and surprised yet tidy and washed. But as the morning wore on and she did not appear, he become more and more despondent.
As we know, Miss Abigail was not on her way to Mr. Elliot’s bookshop. She was in her house feeling trapped, unable to go into the dining room where the curio cabinet sat for fear that she might catch a glimpse of Sheila. What everyone had so optimistically thought had disappeared forever, had in fact returned. Miss Abigail was once again caught in the full throws of the funk.
She ceased to care about whether it was night or day, about whether she showered or brushed her teeth or changed her clothes. Miss Abigail no longer greeted Sheila in the mornings, nor did she come to say goodnight. And, certainly Sheila could not blame her, for though she had not yet seen herself without a nose, she could only judge by Miss Abigail’s reaction that it was an atrocious sight.
Miss Abigail spent her days and nights on the fainting couch and for hours would not stir. Friends came by to visit, ringing the doorbell, trying to peek into the windows. Sheila could hear them outside, their muffled voices coming through the glass panes. “I hope everything is alright,” said one. “Well, it’s no surprise. After all, one does not just get over the funk,” replied another. And so they took their leave, and again the house was silent except for the ticking of the black cat clock, its eyes moving back and forth, back and forth, reminding Sheila of herself before Miss Abigail came along, when she sat in the thrift shop window for months, watching passersby, hoping that in one there would be a thread of compassion for her unbearably lonely state.
But now, as the days worn on and she remained in the curio cabinet, neglected, Sheila wondered if perhaps, she would have been better off having never left the thrift store window. This thought nearly brought tears to her eyes since she had grown to love Miss Abigail despite her shortcomings. But she knew that in the thrift shop window, she wouldn’t have been made to suffer so, missing both a nose and a friend.