Coldly indifferent

December 6, 2011


The heroine in this story was named after my sister. As a young woman Sandra was beautiful. But unlike the character in this story, my sister was intelligent. And fiery. And easily broken hearted. With an addiction to laughter. I could go on about her but that would be boring. But it is odd how some siblings are so close. While others are at war. Or coldly indifferent. Like Presidents and First Ladies. Or at least that is my suspicion. And I was thinking the other day how much Hillary Clinton reminds me of characters that Katherine Hepburn played in movies. Independent, intelligent, charmingly arrogant.

……………………….

A POLITE PROPOSAL

When she was a babe. In arms. Sandra Hall was a great beauty. When she rose. Out of her mother’s womb. Like gas. The nurses sighed. Who cut the cheese? And the doctor couldn’t knock off that smile. The one that said. It wasn’t me! So beautiful. They put Sandra in a special room. A room by herself. And when folks arrived. To have a view. The nurse would point to the first room. Those are the babies. Ain’t they swell? But then point to the second room. But this here little girl. She is an angel. Take a number.

Word got out. The Daily Star put Sandra’s face on the front page. Next to the picture of the Pope.

The headline read. In Algerian type.

Pontif Dies.

And right underneath. In lovely Edwardian.

But look at who appeared at General Hospital.

To accommodate the crowds. The hospital administration insisted. That parties be organized alphabetically. And patiently the tourists waited. They were so well behaved. It was noted. Making small talk. Some knitted. Little booties. Some brought a lunch. Spread out a blanket and ate right on the floor. There wasn’t much sun, but it never rained.

It was like an undertow. All the way through school. Sandra was simply adored. In every Christmas pageant she was Mary. After a while teachers forgot her real name. Simply called her Mary. In every telling of Romeo and Juliet, she was Juliet. No one remembered who Romeo was. But the whole audience read his lines. Together. Out loud.

Tall, blonde, athletic, Sandra looked nothing like her parents. Her father was dark, with thick black hair. Eyebrows that fell over his eyes. Like doormats. And a moustache, prickly and bushy. Like a briar. Her mother was short. Some said portly. (Out of kindness to Sandra.) The mother was in the mayor’s words, built like a potbelly stove. With a very high forehead. Some would say she was balding. The family trees of both families retreated back into generations of look-alikes. All looked like turnips or wire-bristled brushes. Sandra was an abnominally. No such word? A freak then in the family tree. A miracle. The beautiful flower that grew through the crack in the sidewalk.

For years Mrs. Hall resisted. She would not put Sandra into beauty contests. That’s how Mrs. Hall had been brought up. She had never become preoccupied with her own looks. And for good reason. So she saw no reason that her daughter should become preoccupied with hers. She wanted Sandra to put more emphasis on her mind. Learn those skills. Learn those drills. Under pressure from her husband’s family. A group of bankers who knew how a buck could be turned. Over a new leaf. Sandra was put in the Miss Toronto contest. Sandra was 16. No one remembered who came in second. No one remembered who had won the year before. Sandra’s picture was placed on the front pages of all three city papers. The Telegram titled her. A refreshing break from the present government. The Globe was sure. The economy will rebound. How can it help itself? The Star was speechless. Circulation boomed. For all 3 papers. Several men died of cardiacs. Happily. Young boys read the front page. Before the sports section. Their older brothers took the news. Well. Into the privacy of their washrooms.

At college Sandra was every boy’s pin-up girl. Though she only had one date. With her fellow freshmen. Her calendar was filled with seniors. And college professors. Who for the most part, she found dull. They hardly open their mouths. She complained. And when they do, it’s to drool.

When she was 19 she went to a Leonard Cohen concert. And met the handsome troubadour backstage. And did not go home that evening. Or the next. But Leonard proved to be unreliable. He kept falling asleep over his Cheerios. In bed. And Sandra grew tired of sheets. That were always wet.

Through all those years, Sandra hardly said a word. What was the point? No one was listening. Until one weekend. In the mountains near Huntsville. At a retreat for recovering rich alcoholics. She met the universally handsome James Edwards. Waiting on tables. And the whims of middle-aged women. Putting himself through pharmaceutical college. Working weekends.

It could have been otherwise. The stars could not have been so aligned. Sandra had been hired by a rich recovering alcoholic. His name was Bruce. He was a well known man about town. Seen with every beautiful woman. Actresses were grafted to his arm. And the paparazzi loved to take his photograph. And so goes Sandra. Her arm inside Bruce’s. Except. There was no romantic link. Bruce was the city’s most eligible bachelor. He was also a closet homosexual. Terrified that someone might find out something. And he’d lose his glam.

One star down. How about two ? Sandra was afraid of being poor. She liked expensive restaurants, expensive clothes, distant vacation spots. And she realized that she had absolutely no skills. No talent for anything. Except being. Here or there. Looking good. Better than anyone deserved. And it paid well. If you could find the right sucker. And maybe James Edwards was a sucker too. Who cares when you’re in love? Was she too beautiful? James was not dismayed. He knew he was going to be rich. He could offer Sandra the life style, she had come to expect. And deserved. And while he placed a glass of water in front of her. He winked at Bruce. Then bent over. Discreetly whispered in Sandra’s ear. Nicely. Politely. Don’t touch the soup. And you will be the next Mrs. Edwards.

And then Sandra brayed. Like a donkey.

3 Responses to “Coldly indifferent”

  1. Jane Thorne said

    Beautifully written and so very different from the story I read yesterday…which style do you find comes most naturally to you? Jane

  2. Many years ago I wrote with a style I call ‘fat writing’. A lot of description. Then I read Hemingway and discovered editing. “Thin writing”. Later I found myself writing in a singular voice. Like someone telling a story. Lately I jumped to this new style because it mimicks reality in a new way. It allows intrusion into the story. As long as it doesn’t get out of control and your story loses all focus.
    I shouldn’t write about writing. Brings out the professorial voice in me. Pompous, and boring. In short, i don’t like writing that comes too easy. It means you’ve mastered all the tricks and you’re just repeating yourself.

    • Jane Thorne said

      Sorry it’s taken me a while to get to you here….I think you may be being a wee bit harsh on yourself. If writing comes easily then it’s natural maybe?? Whatever works for you but try not to put yourself under too much pressure…oh lordy it’s my maternal side coming out isn’t it? Off now – take care, Jane

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