Right, the only way I can do this is through a story. I hope it’s ok. If not, I’ll have to give it another go.Family Lunch
By Alexandra Riera
© 2008 Alexandra Riera
“Oh, I remember that day as clearly as it was yesterday” said Bettie as she showed her sister Claire an old photograph from a bunch of photos that were on her lap.
“Oh, no you don’t Bettie; you’re as senile as me” laughed Claire as she took the picture from Bettie’s hand.
Claire remembered that day clearly. She pointed to a sour lady at the far left of the picture. “That’s grandma,” she said putting her finger onto the lady. Then she moved her finger to the lady beside her, “and that’s mum.”
“Clever girl!” said Bettie sarcastically to her sister. “But I bet you don’t know why she looking at dad there.”
Claire looked alarmed for a moment. She concentrated on the picture and touched the edges. “Hu?” she said as she gave the picture back to her sister confounded by the question.
Her sister Claire thought she was senile but perhaps it was best if her sister believed her to be senile. Perhaps some things were best left unsaid. That day, had been Bettie’s birthday and they were supposed to have had a private family dinner at home and she was supposed to have had a present but instead, her father, who was sitting right next to Bettie’s mum had invited his brother Anthony together with his wife, the insufferable aunty Charlotte who thought she was god’s gift to women. She was forever insinuating herself to her, and Bettie hated her with all her might. One day, Charlotte had actually gone to her room and offered to rub her feet after a long walk in the woods. Bettie, who didn’t think there was anything wrong with that let her in her room and bared her feet to her only to see that Charlotte who had originally started with her feet, was suddenly travelling her way upwards to her thighs and private parts. Although Bettie had liked the sensation she felt revolted by the thought that a woman should have any physical contact with another woman, after all, that was not natural, it wasn’t in the bible, was it?
That day; the day the picture was taken, Juliet, her elder sister was taking the picture with her husband from the head of the table. She didn’t know anything about those machines but she liked to pretend she was important. Bettie thought that perhaps Juliet was playing games with Charlotte and knew what Charlotte was all about. Why, if not was Charlotte making eyes at Juliet in the picture? Madelaine was lusting after George, Juliet’s husband, as usual; her eyes were always on George. Bettie was sure that the child Madelaine had had was George’s in spite of all her sister denying it after the child was born. Now that she thought about it, Juliet had never had any children and wondered if that was why she and George dotted on Madelaine’s child as if he was their own. Madelaine was another loose stone in the family; unmarried and with a child, a shame on the family.
That day her father had also invited Hazel, their next door neighbour who according to everyone was a very marriable man; young, healthy, hard worker, well mannered and most importantly, he was well off. Her father had intended him for her sister Claire who was the apple of his eye but Claire was so busy doing her impersonation of a good shy girl that she never once looked at Hazel in the eyes during that dinner, she kept her eyes on their mother for any hint on what she should do but her mother never paid Claire any attention during that dinner; she was looking at her husband Alfred. She suspected him of being involved in his brother’s seedy business and since the two brothers were sitting together, she had probably wanted to hear everything they had to say.
Bettie was almost left out of the picture, only part of her showed on the picture but she was glad about it as she remembered clearly that that day she had a pimple right at the top of her lip; it was better to be remembered as half a Bettie than as Bettie with a pimple.
Bettie was still looking at the picture, remembering all these things when Claire took the picture off her hands. “I know why she’s looking at dad!” she told her sister.
“He was supposed to make an announcement that day…” Claire stopped; she clearly couldn’t remember what announcement her father had been about to make at that dinner and started fiddling with the picture.
Just then, a lady came into the room where they were both sitting. “Hello Bettie, hello Claire, how are you today?” she greeted them. “Oh, what’s this?” she asked them as she took the photographs from Bettie’s lap.
“Oh, just pictures.” Said Bettie quietly.
“Yes, just pictures.” Echoed Claire.
The lady looked at them sternly. You’ve been in my office again ladies, that’s very naughty of you. I know these are your pictures but you know perfectly well that you only have to ask to be given your things and that you can walk anywhere in the residence except the offices. You can not just go and get. It’s against the rules.” She scolded them.
Bettie and Claire looked afraid of the nurse but waited for their punishment in resignation. It was usually a no desert for a week type of thing so although they were worried about it, they knew it wasn’t serious.
The lady straightened up as she gathered the pictures close to her. “You will not be allowed any television for a whole week, you’ll have to go on walkabouts!” she said and then she turned around to leave.
“Yooohoooo!” Said Bettie. “Walkabouts!” she cried as soon as the lady was out of the room.
“Why are you so happy about walkabouts?”
“We’ll be able to smoke and not one nurse will see us when we’re walkabouts in the garden!”
© 2008 Alexandra Riera
August 4th - 2008