They only came together when they had to, which was hardly ever. Holidays didn’t matter anymore.Beginnings and endings in the form of births, weddings, and deaths were the only ways the entire family were together in one setting. So this occasion was highly unusual, since no one was getting married, no baby was due, and a death in the family seemed remote.
Each nuclear family of the extended Caillebotte family had received identical letters exactly two weeks prior. Lavender envelopes, scarlet ink used to write the Caillebotte name and each particular address. No stamp, no return address. Given that the family was spread over 300 miles, this was a fairly impressive feat. Inside of the envelopes were identical replications of a necklace of the matriarchy of the family: Grandmère Caillebotte. Growing up, she was the fashion icon of Brittany before moving to America. and was the stern and loving mother of her three daughters and two sons. She had made her comfortable lifestyle by being a successful art dealer for over four decades. The original necklace in question was only brought out on her birthday and on the birthdays of her children.
But it hadn’t been seen in over four years, as Grandmère had died while on holiday in the Azore islands. Since before the funeral, the necklace was locked away in a vault, waiting to be presented to her youngest granddaughter, Camille, on her thirteenth birthday. Two teardrop pearls hanging one on top of the other from a fine chain of white gold, with an amethyst placed in between the two. There was also a note, written on ivory cream archival stationery.
It gave instructions to meet at the family estate, a Victorian house outside of Providence, Rhode Island on May 16th, at 4:00. A five-course dinner would be served at 4:30. What intrigued the family and actually got the full attendance wasn’t the necklace: it was the inscription on the note that was included, as it was the same inscription included on a golden plaque on a portrait of Grandmère, completed as a wedding gift to her husband. Written by St. Teresa Avila, it was “In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails.” Since very few people had ever seen that portrait, the intrigue was enough.
And that was how, around 3:45 PM on a fine Tuesday afternoon all 42 family members of the Caillebotte came to be uncomfortably squashed in the dining room of the estate. It was quickly determined no one knew who had sent the letters, and it was almost as quickly decided that if the sender wasn’t revealed by 4:02, a private detective would be hired to find out who in fact did send the letters.
But there was no need. Before the second chime of the clock, the quick clack of stiletto heels were heard in the entrance way and moving towards the dining room. Each family member craned their necks to watch the arrival of the sender. When she was in view, Matilde, one of Grandmère’s daughters, audibly gasped.
Natalia Roscoe, wearing a sky blue shift dress walked into view. She had been the veterinarian for Grandmère’s three beloved spaniels and was Matilde’s ex-best friend and source of estrangement between Matilde and her mother. Natalia walked in, closing the doors and turned to face the assembled family. “I know you all have been wondering why you are all assembled here today. By now, I’m sure you have all concluded it was I who sent the letters and the necklaces. As some of you know, I was very close to Grandmère. She had entrusted me to divulge this information to you all once a certain number had been reached. As of two weeks ago, that number was reached. But what number, do you ask? And what is it related to? Let me show you. Beneath each of your chairs, there is a small box. Find it, and open it.”
The Caillbotte’s did as they were told and did in fact find a box. It was oblong in shape, and the same lavender color of the envelope. On the outside in gold leaf, was an emblem of a long arrow. There were audible gasps. Inside each box was a unique dildo. They were unique because each dildo’s handle was molded in the shape of a different cat species. Scottish Fold. Maine Coon. Persian. Norwegian Forest. Some of the Caillebotte family were so young they either had never seen a dildo before, or didn’t even know what it was.
Natalia cleared her throat and began speaking: “These dildos are handcrafted. The original design: by Amelie Caillbotte, your beloved Grandmère. This house, her fortune, your inheritances did not come from her work as an art dealer, though she was successful. It came from her dildo business. Two weeks ago, the company became worth twenty million dollars. It was at this point that she wished for you to become aware of her franchise. And to possibly enjoy her product.”