Published at Shakespir
An Anglo/American who has been living in France for over 30 years, she began writing as soon as she retired. She recently spent seventeen months in London, UK caring for an aged relative. She is now back in France. Writing follows her as easily as her laptop. With her daughters, she is a vegetarian and a supporter of animal rights. She is also an admirer of William Wilberforce.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Cover Design: Suzy Stewart Dubot
Photo: Lynn Greyling —
With a flick of her wrist, she had changed everything. The white room had become green, the modern, ‘design’ furniture had been replaced by comfortable, appeasing pieces which had the look of having been used and appreciated. To be sure, she sat in her favourite armchair with a sigh of satisfaction because, from there, it was also possible to look directly into the garden through the bay window. The Victorian-styled garden, with its informal assortment of flowers and shrubs, was a delight to the eye.
Without any detailed effort, her mind had encompassed what her desire had been, right down to the diamond paned glass in the bay window and the low-beamed ceiling.
A light knock and then a rattling sound beyond the door made her turn her head just as it swung open. A tea trolley was being wheeled in by a young woman in a maid’s black and white uniform.
“Tea, Ma’am? It’s four o’clock.”
Germaine nodded, delighted to see the fine china waiting on the trolley. Without looking she knew it would be Spode, bone china. It had been her favourite porcelain since finding a plate in perfect condition in a charity shop. Her set was trimmed in gold.
Peggy, the maid, drew a small, oval table near to her mistress before serving from the trolley. Accompanying the tea were a selection of cakes and biscuits. It was that childish part of Germaine that asked for the little Madeira cake with the pink icing and crystallized violets sprinkled on its top. She stifled the laugh of pure joy at her own indulgence, not wanting Peggy to think that she might have done something wrong.
“Will that be all, Ma’am?” Peggy asked, ready to serve her mistress.
“Yes, thank you. If I need anything else, I’ll ring for you.”
Germaine gestured to the elaborate silver hand-bell on the tray. Her answer sent the young maid scurrying from the room to re-join cook in the kitchen.
Germaine was having fun with this game. She was ‘lady of the manor’ with servants at her beck and call. She could order, eat and drink whatever she fancied, because she had the wealth, the power to do it. She quietly sipped her delicately perfumed tea while she reflected on what she would really have liked in her life. She was oblivious that the teacup had found its place back to the table, while she let her thoughts wander.
She had always wanted a son and yet each of her pregnancies had only given her girls. She glanced at the oak, double doors, her hands now folded in her lap. She refrained from moving, hardly breathing as she saw the brass door handle turn and the door open gently. It was a pointless effort because the two golden retrievers had found the breech and had forcefully pushed their way into the room. The doorstop prevented the door’s momentum from doing any damage. Germaine was not looking at the dogs but at the man who followed them.
“Jamie, can’t you keep them under control? You are way too easy-going when it comes to your dogs. They know it and lead you on a merry chase!”
She scolded but the grin on her face contradicted her words. The dogs had come over to nuzzle and lick her, and she hadn’t discouraged them. She threw her arms around Chalky’s neck and breathed in his doggy, fresh air smell.
The table with her Spode tea service, the cake plate of her favourite desserts and everything else had moved out of direct danger from the energetic dogs.
“You spoil them yourself, Ma,” Jamie reposted. “Next, you’ll be feeding them with your fairy cakes and giving them tea from your precious china saucers. Don’t deny it! I’ve seen you do it.”
He laughed so heartily that Germaine joined him as she peeled away the paper on a fairy cupcake. She gave half to each of the brutes. ‘Peine perdue,’ a waste of time, because their mouths were so large, she was convinced they hadn’t even tasted the cake before they swallowed.
“Come sit with me a minute, Jamie. Tell me what you’ve been doing with yourself. Making lots of money, I hope!”
“Actually, I have, Ma. Who could have guessed that the business would have done this well? Pa, perhaps. I’m just sorry he isn’t here now to reap the benefits…”
“Your father would have been very proud of you, Jamie. He often told me he knew you would make something of yourself and I always knew he was right. You’re a wonderful son that anyone would be proud to have. Now, if you would just set your mind to it and provide me with a brace of grandchildren, life would be perfect.”
She would leave that desire for another time. She was feeling a little tired after all the excitement. She loved her son dearly. How lucky she was that he was so attentive.
She was hardly aware of moving to her bed. The feather duvet was light and yet warm and comforting. Suddenly she was in a darkness that put her mind to rest. Her last thought was wondering what she would do with her freedom tomorrow. A smile graced her lips as she slept.
“Her condition has been diagnosed as a state of catatonia,” the nurse explained to her replacement. “She is not aware of anything that goes on around her and hasn’t been for the last three years. You won’t have any trouble with her at all; she never moves from her bed at night.”
The nurse tucked in the sheet and blankets, making sure that only Germaine’s neck and head showed.
“She’s a puppet in a sense. We lead her around, feed her, wash her, sit her on the toilet and she always complies with what we expect. Other than that, her days are spent sitting in a chair. I often wonder if something goes on in her mind, because sometimes we see her smile. I doubt we’ll ever know, though. Poor thing — a prisoner in her own head…”
Copyright © Jan. 2013 Suzy Stewart Dubot