3rd November 2015
I have found that the blank page is intimidating for most writers even experienced ones so I have thrown down a gauntlet and challenge anyone to send me a line and I will write a story starting with that line. I will write whatever comes to me. I welcome comments and also perhaps to encourage you to start writing too. You never know it may unlock something special….
This line was sent to me by Shaun : There was something about the way the light fell across the room that reminded me of her.
Here is the story:
There was something about the way the light fell across the room that reminded me of her. Sixty years have passed since I saw her last but my body lifts as though in greeting. Genevieve, my sister was my muse. She danced when I walked stolid as suet. She floated through her inadequate allotment of years and left me gasping for more.
“Tea, Ma’am?” The waiter said navigating the imaginary pebbles in his mouth. I nodded, resentful of his intrusion. He bowed and left but she had already fled. Tears filled my eyes although I know I have mourned more than was good for me. When would I stop missing her? Time has done nothing to fill the hole that she left although I have lived an expansive life. As she predicted I would without her.
I squeezed my eyes shut and when I opened them she stood once more in front of me. A shaft of sunlight touched her flaxen hair tenderly and a grin flickered in her green eyes. The years and my aching joints have vanished and we are scampering up the wooden stairs and squealing like piglets. Gina weaves away from my grasping fingers.
“Girls! Decorum at all times! Genevieve, Madeleine stop that noise and come downstairs this instant.” Miss Claudine’s voice is a sharp bark. Gina flicks her head and disappears. I am frozen to the banister. That was the first of three private schools we were asked to leave. And not for running on the stairs to be fair to those institutions.
Father was in name only. His involvement with us was brief and brutal. If we were to continue to disrupt his work we would be placed in a reformatory. We had one last chance at becoming ladies. It was our choice. His moustache, stiff with wax, trembled but his blue eyes were cold.
He never forgave us for killing our mother.
It wasn’t murder but bad judgement. Although whose fault it was is debatable. We came together, Gina and me. It proved too much for her. We had one sepia photograph of our delicate mother, which we pored over to commit her into our memories forever. It was the only possession we fought over. Almost translucent from our yearning, it also pricked at our guilt and made us fractious with each other.
The new school was even further from Father than before. I decided that perhaps the way into his heart was to become a lady. Genevieve struggled to conform. Her body juddered with the effort of sitting still. I shook my head at her attempts to lure me into mischief. I placed my finger on my lips to silence her inappropriate outbursts.
“Maddy, I can’t do this. I should never have come.” Gina said tears flowing down her cheeks. I refused to walk arm in arm with her anymore. I made other friends and spoke in modulated tones. I flushed when they pointed fingers at my sister’s solitary wanderings in the manicured gardens but said nothing in her defence.
She crept into my bed at night and we slept in each other’s arms. When alone together we held our mother’s photograph and each other. One night about three weeks into the term Gina turned to me. The moonlight shone on her hair forming a silver halo around her head. She smelt of peppermint and sunshine.
“Maddy,” She said. “It is time for me to leave. I’ve always muscled in where I shouldn’t be. Even in the womb. I don’t belong here but you do. You will live a bigger life when I’m gone”
“Don’t be silly.” I said. “Maybe it was me who muscled in? One way or another we were destined to be together. We will both have a big life, you’ll see. Go to sleep.” Then I turned onto my side away from her and fell asleep.
It was dark outside when I awoke and the moon was gone. So was Gina. I leant over and touched her bed. It was empty. ‘It’s time for me to leave’, her words echoed in my mind and I felt my way to the door. I was struggling to breathe and a painful band was tightening around my ribs.The hallway light illuminated the staircase and I pattered downstairs. The front door was gently drumming against the doorstopper keeping it open. I walked outside.
A cool summer breeze lifted the edge of my nightdress. I heard a faint sound above me and looked up. Gina was on the roof standing close to the edge.It took me a few moments to realise her chilling intention.
“Gina no!” I screamed as she flew in slow motion, the white nightdress buffeting like wings splayed out behind her.
The waiter placed the bone china cup and saucer down in front of me. I stared down at the amber liquid and wiped my eyes.