Despite its rather dramatic appearance, the title of this post is quite innocuous.
For Christmas Mum found me the loveliest ‘kit’, called “The Writer’s Retreat Kit”, it comes with a book and 24 cards, 20 of which are lists of writing prompts.
My friend, Shiloh, myself and Mum are using these prompts. And our prompt for today is this: “We must start now…”.
“We must start now.” She said, in her tiresome, oh-so-prim voice, the voice that irritated three generations of the family. She was the Matriach so it was verboten to argue or show irritation.
“You…” She pointed at the eldest. “You will do as I say, without any of your romantic notions. We do not indulge in such fancies in this family.”
“You, stop hiding behind the pillar, and stand where I can see you.” The First Son had been sidling away, hoping to avoid another dressing-down.
Second Son was sitting patiently, staring at nothing, his eyes faraway. Youngest Daughter was still young enough to have tasted little of the sharp side to Matriach’s temperament.
“You.” Matriarch returned her attention to Eldest, her heir and grand-daughter. “You will go, with the duenna I choose, and you will do it with the grace and character our family is known for.”
“But, Grandmother…” Eldest began.
“But nothing, you have known since weaning this is what you are expected to do.” Matriarch voice grew sharper. Eldest’s brothers cringed, knowing how quickly Matriarch lectures could turn into a harangue on every failing, flaw, and sin (real or imagined) of the one who dared question her, even if Matriarch was patently in error.
“You will not deviate one whit from what I have said. None of your complaints, whining or wheedling, you know what to do, and how to do it.” Matriarch’s voice was hard as rocks underfoot.
“Yes, Matriarch.” Eldest put as much acquiescence as she could pretend into her voice, hoping to allay Matriarch and thus save the entire family from being harangued interminably.
“Now… go and pack your things, and none of those silly paints or diaries. Pack your prettiest clothes, and all of your jewellery. Get some prettier slippers than those frights on your feet now! And while you’re at it, get yourself a makeover, you look frumpy and spinsterish.”
“Yes Grandmother.” Eldest stood and walked from the room, her grace and energy in every line.
“And walk like a lady, not an alley cat in heat!!!” Matriarch’s words followed her like vengeful bees, still intent on stinging.
“You!” Matriarch turned her attention to Eldest Son. “Have you done as I told you and ectricated yourself from that… that… moggy?” None of the ladies Eldest Son had been seen in the company of met Matriach’s exacting standards.
“Yes Matriach.” Eldest Son was a skilled dissembler, he had no intention of shedding himself of a charming, intelligent, and well-bred lady’s attention because of some imagined flaw Matriarch found.
“Good. I have arranged for you to meet some suitable young ladies tomorrow evening. Do be charming, and well-dressed. We can’t have them thinking that we cannot afford proper clothes.”
Eldest Son knew what that meant, another evening of listening to Matriarch pontificate to some weak, insipid femmes, with no spirit or passion.
“You!!” Matriarch turned to Youngest Son, who ferigned complete attention. “Hmmmnnnppphhh… I doubt you were paying attention.”
Younget Son rattled off everything that had been said, inflection-perfect.
“Don’t be impertinent, it is not likeable or attractive.” Matriarch never relented, or admitted that she might be wrong. “Go, and tell Eldest Sister that she needs to hurry, she will be leaving in just three days.”
Youngest Son left Matriarch room gratefully and went to Eldest Daughter’s rooms. She was giggling with the duenna Matriarch had chosen.
“We did it! We did it!! Matriarch is so sure we are fighting she wouldn’t consider sending anyone else!!” Eldest Daughter and the duenna embraced and threw themselves across the bed.