“My boy’s first word was ‘chandelier,’” Margaret said, brushing out her velveteen brown hair and speaking to the maid standing behind her via her reflection in the mirror.
“It pleases me to think that, for most other people, the first word their child says is usually something along the lines of “mummy” or “daddy,” or “bobba,” but for my David, his first word was “chandelier.” Don’t you find that interesting, Judy? You have children, don’t you? I’ve never thought to ask before.”
“I do Ma’am. Three of ‘em. And they eat me out of house and home. But I love ‘em regardless.”
“And Judy, tell me, is your eldest a boy?”
“No, Ma’am. I wasn’t blessed with any males. Three girls. My eldest is called Mary, after my mother. If memory serves, her first word was ‘no.’”
At that Margaret lost herself in laughter, putting down her ivory hairbrush and removing a cigarette from the silver case next to her.
“That’s very funny, Judy … But I didn’t ask.”
“Apologies, Ma’am. My tongue gets away from me sometimes and well, you’re very easy to talk to.”
“No, no, Judy,” Margaret says, turning to her maid to address her head on for the first time that evening. “I would hate to ever give you that impression. You should never, ever think that anything about me is … easy.” At that Margaret approached the woman, put a hand to the back of her neck, and pulled her close to her own face. “Do I look easy to you, Judy?” Receiving no response from the now terrified maid, Margaret took the flesh of the woman’s right cheek between her fingers, pinching it until the blood came to the surface, giving her half a rose glow to sharply contrast the napkin like pallor of the rest of her moon-like face.
“You can leave. Now. Judy,” said Margaret, as though she were a waiter who had just asked if she’d like more butter, and not the woman who had helped raise her.
Now alone in the room, a rare thing to happen in Windsor, Margaret went about putting the finishing touches on her outfit for the evening. At 10pm, the rest of the house was either in bed, or getting ready for it, but not her. She was going out. Her husband, Tony, was nowhere to be found, on another one of his “trips,” and the children were, she assumed, tucked safely in their respective beds, like little birds in little flannel nests. She sat back down at her dressing table, carefully applying her lipstick, watching her own eyes carefully in the mirror.
“Easy. Easy. A go-er. Easy,” she mouthed to her reflection, like a spell.
Walking to her armoire she pushed through coat upon coat, looking for the perfect one. Silk. Satin. Linen. Sheepskin. Rabbit. She loved her white rabbit coat, a gift from her husband, but it was a bit too short for the season. Even though it was April, and spring had technically arrived, there was still snow on the ground. Looking out the window she thought of last Christmas, and how Tony had told her the story of how the coat had been custom made, just for her. Sitting together on the floor, under the 12-foot glimmering tree wedged in-between their adjoining rooms, he had told her that he personally shot and killed every rabbit that went into the coat, but wasn’t able to get enough of them to make it more than waist length. He chuckled telling her that as he laid on his stomach in the snow during the hunting process he’d count off sections of the coat based on each splatter of rabbit blood to steam the snow.
“Splatter. Collar. Splatter. Left shoulder. Splatter. Right shoulder. Splatter. Mid-section,” he’d recounted, trying to shock her.
Buttoning the very coat in question, and then situating a matching hat on top of her shining hair, she recalled what she’d told her husband at the end of his story that night.
“Tony. This coat is beautiful. But next time I want the snow to steam for weeks.”