Twenty Three Years Before
Martha was a beautiful young woman, fair of skin and gentle of heart. When she spoke bells chimed in the air and the breeze lifted up all souls, wicked and kind. Her wavy golden locks fell to her waist and she had eyes the color of cocoa. Many men loved her, though she was only thirteen years of age. She loved all around her, especially her dear Theodore. He loved her with more love than the world alone could hold. She loved him equally, more than children love play and more than a girl could ever love a boy. Theodore tried, as hard as he could, to feel her pains, as small as most where. Now, Martha had one main trouble, a dull knife embedded in her heart.
Her mother was sick, with cancer. She had been sick with it for a long time, ever since Martha could remember, Mother was sick, Mother in bed, Mother is dying, and never had it happened. Still, Martha felt that it was only a matter of time. For thirteen years her mother was dying, so how much longer could she keep this up? Martha knew the chores, the house, her baby sister, and all that needed to be done. This was because Mother was never able to be aware of those things; Father always too busy with money and doctors and Mother, so Martha simply took on the roll of house keeper. She cooked, gardened, cleaned, swept, and cared for little Lilac. Mother was ever weakened by the birth of her, and now seemed closer to death than ever before. It has only been two months, give her time to strengthen, the doctors told them, she will regain health, she will be fine in no time. But the doctors did not see the grey in her hair, or the dimming lights in her eyes. They could not sense the scratch in her voice or the darkness looming over the house, deepening as the days went by.
So while she baked bread, and Father was out, and Lilac slept in her cradle, Hope was gone from Martha’s heart. Though the tears never came, her soul creaked and ached with every move she made. Everything she did reminded her of her sorrow. Her mother. Her hopeless, despairing heart. This continued, a looming, depriving sense of despair, for another ten years. Theodore disappeared, gone from Martha’s world, just when she needed him most. Martha tried to be happy for her baby sister, unknowingly making things worse. Lilac grew in a home of sorrow and suspense; she never knew play or fun, only work and sadness. Now, Lilac was different from her sister. Martha had known Mother, and had begun her life in a time where Mother was not as ill, a place with a glimmer of Hope, something to live for. Lilac’s spirit, though, was molded over ten years, her entire life, with sadness and sickness and pain. Her heart became black with hopelessness, and jealousy for her sister’s cheer and laughter, unaware of the fact that this was simply a show.
“Lilac, please water the herbs and spices for me.”
“Why should I?”
“Child, do not be so pig-headed and water our garden.”
“Don’t call me ‘child’, you are not Mother. And this is Mother’s garden, not your own. And I’m not pig-headed, I’m young and beautiful and you are not.”
“Lilac! Where ever did you get that vain attitude?”
“None of your business. I have friends, Martha, and you do not.”
“Child, you know very well that you have not left this property in your life.”
“That is only what you think.”
“Lily, when Mother becomes better we will go to school, and then I shall marry Theodore and you will find a love and not be so selfish or lazy.”
Then, Mother died. She left Lilac and Martha and Father alone in the world. This event has different effects on Martha and her family. Father became ill and died within a month, of loneliness and broken heart. Lilac and Martha mourned, for only one year, as the custom was. Martha, as sad as she was, felt a great weight lifted off of her shoulders. For once, she was free, no Mother to care for, no Father to keep house for, only Lilac.
Theodore returned, and before Martha was a year over twenty-five they wed and moved into Theodore’s mansion. Of course, Lilac moved in with them. Lilac became an Aunt only two years later with the birth of Elizibella Cynthia Young. Martha became known as Mother, and Theodore was called Father. Ella loved and was loved and adored everything, even though she was a baby. Hope lived in her heart.
She sat on the top of the stair railing. “Auntie Lily, watch me!” Before Lilac could reply Ella, a child of one year old, slid down the wooden slide. Arms up and a glowing face with a four toothed smile; she squealed in delight, her wavy golden hair flowing right after her. “WEEE!!!!”
“Elizibella! Go clean my room. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, running around like a wild thing. Do something useful and clean my room.”
“Mother told me I could, Auntie-“
“And stop calling me ‘Auntie Lily’! If you can talk so young speak like a lady and say ‘Aunt Lilac’, like a civilized human being and not a baby!”
“I’m NOT a baby!”
“Then do not speak like one! Stupid little brat.”
Tears filled the child’s eyes. Never had anyone spoken to her so, with such hate and anger. She pinched her lips and ran to her room up the steps before Lilac could see her hurt. She stomped as she went, to make it seem as though she were angry and not sad. Ella threw herself into her pink curtained bed and cried for what seemed like a long time.
Her Auntie, on the other hand, smiled and turned on her heel. She felt accomplished by hurting. Her heart was this way, so that she was angry all of the time, feeling no pity or mercy. She was only thirteen, but a woman still, and she was filled with rage and hate. Lilac hated her sister almost as much as she hated Ella.
“Lily, come and help me, please,” Lilac heard her sister call from the kitchen.
“We need our supper, do we not? Come and help me cook for Theodore and Ella.”
“Why is it not for me? Do not I eat as well?”
Martha rolled her eyes and laughed. Lilac heard her, and stormed into the kitchen. She saw a bowl of broth and a bowl of lentils. Affected by her sister’s laughter, she threw the lentils onto the floor and dropped the bowl on the floor. With another spin of her heal, she tossed her brown hair and marched to her own room. Martha sighed and called for Theodore to help her pick up the beans.
“Oh, Teddy, boy, I seem to have lost my beans!”
“Your beans or your marbles, Marth?”
“Theodore Young! Why you-“
But before she could finish he had planted a kiss on her pink lips and lifted the bowl into her arms.
“Teddy!” she chuckled.
Lilac, as furious as ever, had heard her sister once again. The nail in the fists she had made left deep impressions on her palms. Without a word of farewell, Auntie Lily was out the door and not to be seen for many joyful years. Outside the pearly stone walls, Lilac marched in her dress, for she dressed up for the least of occasions, through the streets of London.
Now, Lilac, though cold and black-hearted on the inside, was even fairer of face and charm than her elder. Though Lilac did not have the golden waves of Martha, her hair was as deep chocolate-colored as her liquid eyes. Lilac walked with precision, chin up, and a staid demeanor. With her white gown and proud face, on-lookers thought she might have been royalty. Years of jealousy had caused her to try and be straighter, taller, and more accomplished than Martha, than everyone. Lips pinched and eyes challenging anyone who dared try and better her, Lilac strode on to her unknown destination.
Away from here. Away from that ungrateful, childish brat and her mother and father. This is what her anger told her. And although she thought it must be, not in conscious mind but in her black heart, laughter and merriment and love were not against the law, or wrong in any way.
Meanwhile, in little Ella’s room, a sound came from downstairs. A dull knocking of wood, followed by a click, and then distant footsteps. Ella, being an adventurous and imaginative child, dried her eyes while she scampered down the steps as fast as a one year old could. She cautiously opened the door and slid outside after her Auntie Lilac, without making a sound. Across the street, where luckily there were no carriages, and toward the figure of her mother’s sister.
Elizibella was growing fast, faster than most children her age. She spoke as well as any adult and walked with the precision of an adult, as well. So this tiny person was running barefoot in a night gown through the streets of London, hair waving wildly behind her skinny little body. And then she looked up. Ella saw clouds deepen in shade, and shadows come alive. The sky had begun to darken, and that meant that supper was nearly ready at the house. As Ella realized this, she stopped and ran back to the house. Her change in mind and direction caused even more people to stare at the peculiar running baby. She made it to the house just in time to silently make her way up to her room and open a random book.
“Ella! Lily! Suppertime, girls!”
The book was now unnecessary, but Ella liked to be thorough. She threw the book down and ran down the stairs with amazing accuracy for a baby and slid into the marble-tiled kitchen. Her little bare feet moved effortlessly on the floor and carried her all the way to the table. She half climbed, half jumped up on her chair and licked her lips for effect. Mother chuckled and Father smiled, and then Father chuckled and Mother smiled. Nobody could possibly know how much they loved each other and Elizibella. Still smiling, Mother tried again to summon her sister.
“Lilac Evelyn! Come and eat, sister!”
“Mama? Auntie Lilac left.”
A look of worry overshadowed Mother’s smiling face. She looked over at Father, who looked back at her, and then they looked at Ella.
“Where did she go, do you know, Elzy?” asked Father.
“No Papa, I saw her open the door and leave the house from up the stairs. Why is Auntie Lily angry so much, Mama?”
“I’m not sure, baby. I’m not sure.”
To Be Continued!!!