Forbidden Love, Sunday

[Forbidden Love, Sunday is a work in process, a movable feast, written by a rotating cadre of guest authors. Submissions welcomed. The Editors]

Installment One. Where our ladies meet their maker, and wind up on a road show to some fresh hell.

Drive, She Said
hen you see the priest you always know. Odette whispered on the telephone to her half-sister Hennie. Odette’s full, lower lip trembled for a second, and she picked up the half-filled cup of coffee which she intended to drink, but instead wiped the pink lipstick stain off its rim. A priest and a policeman had appeared at her door, their shoulders hunched, their eyes averted, their big hands packed into the front pockets of their trousers, their tight trousers Odette might have said if one of them hadn’t been a priest. They called her Mrs. Maddox, which made her very cross. "An accident has occurred, Mrs. Maddox," the policeman said. She asked him to call her Odette. "A terrible accident, Mrs. Maddox," the priest said. She insisted they call her Odette. Her husband had been killed.

"My estranged husband," Odette corrected them. He was legally, if not actually, her husband.

"Christ," said the policeman. He chewed on the edges of his mustache.

"Our hearts beat with you my child," said the priest. He has such kind eyes behind his round wire-rimmed glasses. And such big hands. "This is a sorrowful moment."

This is the day of days, thought Odette.

She called her half-sister Hennie the minute the two men left. Her husband had just died and she suddenly felt young and girlish.

"Ghoulish?" asked Hennie, her voice a round robin of questions and accusations.

"Girlish," screamed Odette. She untangled the telephone cord which had wrapped itself around her left ankle. "I feel like Emma Bovary, all of a sudden. Before the arsenic, of course."

"I think you mean like Anna Karenina," Hennie said. "Before the train station, of course."

Emma or Anna, it didn’t matter. All Odette knew was that her husband had been killed and she was a widow. Odette liked that word, ‘widow.’ It evoked tragic moments, and made her feel young and brave and beautiful. She was 28 and wondered if that was too old of an age to be a tragic heroine. How old had Jane Eyre been, she wondered. But no, not Jane Eyre, that wasn’t the right mood at all. The only thing she could think of was a blinded Orson Welles clomping around through that burnt out mansion--probably just some old crates burnt behind MGM’s back lot, she imagined.

She was still an attractive woman, Odette told herself. Men whistled at her when she walked down the street. Sometimes. She was tall, her legs were in good shape, she was still slender.

Hennie coughed.

"All right, slender-ish." Odette acquiesced.?

"On the lean side of sloppy I’d say," Hennie threw in.

Odette decided to ignore her half-sister. She was tall. Her legs were in good shape. She was still attractive. And besides, she was famous, envied even, for her long golden-red hair. "My Titian bitch," her husband, her estranged husband, her dead husband Perry used to say. She knew what a bitch was, but Perry called everyone a bitch. She could forgive him for that. She didn’t know what a ‘Titian’ was, however, and had to look up the word in the dictionary late one night while Perry slept. She was certain it wasn’t a compliment and had half a mind to wake him up and let him have it, but then she found out it was just a fancy way of saying she had golden-red hair and decided just to let him sleep. Perry was always coming up with fancy words to prove he was romantic, as if fancy words were what she really wanted.

Odette imagined herself in a white lace dress and long blue ribbons fixed in her hair. Jennifer Jones,

then, waltzing through a stifling hot French ballroom. She sees her dress billowing around her, opening like an umbrella, and the long blue ribbons snapping as she turns. Someone throws a chair through one of the windows.

"You can’t wear white." Hennie said. "You’re a widow now." Hennie was always so practical.

Instead, Odette saw herself in a short black dress, and a little black hat with intricately detailed lace. Jackie then, without all those senators and circumstance. Being a widow wouldn’t be so bad. "Besides, black is so ... thinning," Odette said. And then she started to cry.

"I’m coming right over." Hennie shrieked. She just lived down the street.

"Sister of mine," Odette said as Hennie rushed into the kitchen. Hennie was wearing a short red jacket with a champagne mink collar which Odette liked very much. "Sister of mine, I could just about strangle you. I’m talking on the phone for ten minutes before I realize there’s no one there. Although, a more bitter woman than I might say that is always the case when talking with you."

"I forgot to hang up, I guess."

"I guess that would be a fair assumption." Odette poured herself a cup of coffee. Hennie asked for a cup as well. As Odette walked to the cupboard she suddenly thought of wine. She wished they had champagne, but wine was just as good. A little celebration. Single women only. "Red or white?" Odette asked as she stuck her head into the back of the refrigerator.

This was the day of days.

continue Forbidden Love, Sunday

tension big pile of bones
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