TEA WITH A SERVING OF MARMALADE

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
AN INTERESTING TALE ON FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Submitted: July 15, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 15, 2011

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A A A


TEA WITH A SERVING OF MARMALADE

I never married. Not that I didn’t have my share of proposals mind you. Firstly, there had been Cedric. Nostalgia flooded me as I recalled his amorous affections towards me. Silly boy; he had honestly believed that I loved him too. Yes, I liked him, but couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life with someone who had no ambition, no drive. No, I wanted a powerful man, but sadly in the town where I live, such men were and still are hard to come by.

Then here had been John. Such a sweet-natured man, but far too passive for my liking. He adored me, but we shared nothing in common. I liked dining out at top restaurants and visits to the theatre; he enjoyed safaris into the wild and hunting trips. I detested the African bush. It was always stinking hot. You were lucky to find a tree to shelter under during the sweltering heat of the day. Besides, after you’ve seen one lion or elephant, you’ve seen them all. So sadly, we too parted ways after spending a few pleasant years together.

Often, I wondered what kind of mother I would have made. Glancing across at my own mother, I smiled sardonically; definitely a damn better one than she, that’s for sure. But, she had seen to it that I would never know the joy of cradling a child in my arms. Even now, my breasts ached for the loss of never having felt a baby suck at my nipples.

Disdainfully, I glanced across at her, now an elderly woman. The sight of her nauseated me. Her chin had dropped to her chest, her mouth hung open and drool dropped onto her pink cotton blouse. She’d nodded off, her tea cup teetering on her lap. In a minute she’d have it all spilled on my new rug, not to mention soaked through to her skinny, stockinged-legs.

“Mother!” My voice was harsh.

She jumped; her pale, watery eyes flew open and to my annoyance quickly filled with tears. This was something new lately – whenever I chastised her, she’d cry and whimper.

“Oh, my dear, I’m so sorry. But, look, I didn’t spill,” she said in her syrupy-sweet voice.

Mother had a voice of an angel. Everyone said so. For years she sang solo in the church choir as well as participated in the local plays and musicals. Everyone adored Mother. Only because not one of them knew her as I did. I knew her secrets, the ones she so cunningly hid from all.

I glanced over at the piano, the top adorned with photographs of her in her younger, colourful days. Crossing over to the piano, I picked up one and peered at it. She had been rather beautiful; golden hair, perfect complexion. Standing beside her in the photo was none other than me; half my face hidden in her dress. I’d been painfully shy as a young girl. Even now all these years later, I remembered that day.

As with all thirteen year olds, I was gawky and gangly. Unruly auburn curls peeped out from beneath a straw hat. And because of a lazy eye, I had to wear glasses.

“Don’t worry sweetie – remember the story of the ugly duckling,” Mother would say, trying her best to reassure me that by some miracle, I would one day wake up as exquisite as she. And you know what, for years I actually believed that. I’d jump out of bed and dash over to my dressing table and peer at my reflection, heart racing. But alas, it was always the same long, bony face that I’d come to detest which stared mockingly right back at me.

I experimented with make-up and the like, but Mother always laughed at my attempts.

“Goodness gracious, Louise, rather don’t wear any, or rather ask me to help you, You simply have no idea!” she’d say.

Her husband at the time, I think I forgot to mention that Mother had been married many times, five to be exact; each time to a wealthier man. Let’s see now, she divorced three and two died. However, each one left Mother extremely wealthy.

Anyway this one, his name was Rodney, sometimes I forget their names. Well, Rodney would tease me mercilessly. I liked him, there was gentleness to his nature and when he looked at me, his warm, brown eyes always had a tender expression in them.

“Louise,” he’d say, “You’re too hard on yourself. Stop trying to be like other girls. You’re unique. Besides, you have character, something that lasts forever; unlike looks which quickly fade with time!”

Yes, Rodney had been kind, actually too kind for the likes of mother. She didn’t deserve him. By the time I turned sixteen, Rodney had died. He’d been ill a long time. Mother hadn’t mourned him long. It seemed like only a few weeks had passed and she’d begun chasing Mr Daniel de Villiers. I knew the reason why – he owned a huge farm up in the wine lands.

Mother obviously found his wealth more appealing than his appearance as he was extremely ugly. Tall and thin, with a face that looked like it had been deliberately stained with the red wine his farm was famous for. The birthmark ran from above his right eyebrow, all along his right cheek and ended on his long, pointed chin.

By now I’m sure you’ve gathered that I didn’t like the man one little bit. He, on the other hand, seemed to like me, a little too much though and this fact wasn’t lost on Mother.

And you know what? She didn’t mind in the slightest that her beloved Daniel couldn’t keep his beady little eyes off me. In fact, she encouraged the despicable man’s interest in me.

“Take Louise for lunch, dear,” she’d say, or, “Louise loves to sail on the lake. Why don’t you take her on your yacht?”

Yes, you’ve guessed it; the loathsome Daniel de Villiers readily obliged, until finally doing with me what he’d desired all along. The result being, yes you guessed correctly – pregnancy. Mother had been delighted. I was appalled at her response, “We can adopt it; raise it as our own, Daniel.”

Was the woman deranged? I couldn’t believe my ears. He too seemed repulsed by Mother’s outburst and flatly refused, insisting I have an abortion. At first Mother fought him all the way, until finally she relented. I can only assume that her love of money was far greater than her love for me, her only child.

“I suppose it’s for the best,” she’d said and made all the arrangements.

Returning home, she’d stood in the entrance hall, her eyes narrowed as she said, “Don’t worry my dear. I’m sure you’ll have another when you marry.”

It wasn’t what she said that upset me. It was how she said it. Her eyes were cold, her tone even icier.

I think that was the moment that my hatred of her intensified. I vowed that day that I’d get my revenge; no matter how long it took. After all, don’t they say revenge is a dish best served cold?

A couple of years passed and Daniel met with an unfortunate accident. Mother had appeared devastated to all, except me. I’d studied her carefully. Oh, she made the perfect grieving widow in her designer black outfit. The crying and wailing seemed genuine enough; although I must confess that when she fainted at the graveside, I almost believed her anguish. Yes, I’ll give her credit; that performance almost fooled even me for a while. That is until later that very night when I’d accidentally stumbled across her and some strange man, I don’t even know who he was, in the guest bedroom.

But I knew Mother’s secret. I had known all along. From the time Rodney had died. Her actions during his illness had been deviously evil to say the least. I’d watched from hidden places as she added drops of who-knows-what to his meals. As for Daniel. I will leave it up to your imagination as to who had been responsible for his fateful accident.

I hugged my arms around my chest; the best of all was the fact that she knew I knew. Each day I smelled her fear. She could never relax, never be completely sure that I wouldn’t go to the police and spill her dirty little secret. That would be too easy. I preferred it the way it was; me constantly tormenting her.

Oh, I know I could very easily do away with her. I could poison her; even have her meet with an unfortunate accident. But I won’t; instead I prefer watching her die a little each day. Yes, her terror is beginning to show; each day a little more. Recently she has begun to refuse to eat. She’s scared I’m going to do to her what she did to poor Rodney.

“Have a piece of toast, Mother – I made the marmalade,” I murmured as I shoved the plate under her nose.

She shook her head.

“Come on, you haven’t eaten properly in days,” I said as I took a bite.

I could see the hunger in her eyes. But she shrank back into her chair, the knuckles on her fingers turned white as she gripped the arm-rests.

“What are you afraid of?” I chuckled as I popped the last bit of toast into my mouth.

She didn’t reply.

I leaned in towards her and placed my lips next to her ear, “We both know the answer to that, don’t we? Could it be that the old saying maybe true – you know the one,” I sniggered as I added, “Like mother, like daughter!”

She stared straight ahead.

“Well, we will never know for sure about that one, will we, Mother?” I asked as I opened the lid of the piano and began to play TIME TO SAY GOODBYE – one of Mother’s favourite pieces of music.41

THE END


© Copyright 2018 Bernice DeLucchi. All rights reserved.

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