First published in Deep South Magazine
The once-grand house now drooped in urban shabbiness, as did the rest of the neighborhood. At the turn of the century, the area had boasted Memphis’ carriage trade in graceful French Victorian homes. There had been glossy, black carriages, liveried servants, ships’ captains and cotton traders, ladies in velvet and silk who owned twenty pairs of gloves, elaborate parties, and spoiled children. Since that time, the gentry moved east. In the first wave of change, the houses remained neat, but clearly less than their former selves. They were occupied by large, noisy, extended families, multiple families or elderly remnants of the old life who were just hanging on to the pretense of long ago. In more recent years, some of the beauties were leveled for cheap apartment buildings. Others became boarding houses for the downtrodden. And some stayed in families who loved them despite their rapid decline. Seraphina’s house was just that.