Kickoff written by Joanna Michal Hoyt

Miching Mallecho

(or, Mischief and Murder Most Foul)

Mark locked his bicycle to the pasture fence next to Isabel’s, took a deep breath and tried to set his face in a pleased and unflappable expression. Isabel laughed, taking his arm.

“Oh, Mark, don’t worry so about this reunion! I just meant to give you a fair warning, not terrify you. We Morels have been giving each other fits for generations, and we never actually kill each other. Anyway you should be safe enough on your first visit. We’re perfectly sweet to people who aren’t family.”

“Meaning they think I’m not, and won’t be?” Mark asked. Isabel looked at him for about half a second with a hard expression he hadn’t
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seen on her before. Then she beamed theatrically and slipped her arm from his arm to his waist, waving vigorously with the other hand at the Volvo which was pulling in beside them.

“Marina!” Isabel trilled. The woman who climbed out from behind the wheel returned Isabel’s wave with a curt gesture like a salute. She had Isabel’s fine bones and deep-set eyes, but there was something uncompromising in the set of her chin and in the straight hard look she gave her sister.

“So you’ve gotten yourself another Angelo,” Marina said. “Handsome, too. How ever do you manage it?” Mark tried to remember if Isabel had ever mentioned
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another fiancé--another admirer, even--named Angelo.

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Morel,” he said, knowing as he said it that his words were too formal and his tone too warm. He had this feeling occasionally with Isabel, that he had somehow fallen into a play whose lines he was reading badly.

“Ah, I spoke too soon,” Marina said. “Maybe this one’s a Vincentio.” Mark blinked. He wasn’t familiar with that name either.

“Don’t worry, it’s just Measure for Measure,” a deep voice said, so close behind Mark that he jumped in spite of himself. He turned to face a darker, shorter, younger version of Isabel. “Marina’s picked
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up Mum’s habit of dropping bits of Shakespeare,” she said. “If you don’t recognize them she sneers about you, and if you do recognize them she uses them to sneer at you.” Mark tried and failed to think of an adequate response to this. “I’m Cordelia,” the girl said. “The rude sister.”

“Where’s Mum?” Isabel asked Cordelia before Mark had thought what to say next. “And Dad?”

“Don’t you know?’ Marina asked. Isabel whipped her head around.

It was at this point, as Mark later tried to explain to the harassed but patient policeman on the other side of the desk, that things began to go badly wrong.
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