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Keeping secrets has never been Maria's strong point...
I am a budding young author and wrote this story between classes! This is my first, though hopefully not last published work.
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (1)
Postcards From Italy (Short Stories) During an Italian sojourn, Anna Gilbert, a 20's socialite has a most unexpected meeting.... [1,646 words] [Literary Fiction]
I have never been any good at keeping secrets. Every time I open my mouth, I
can feel the words at the tip of my tongue. Even when I was younger I found it hard,
barely speaking at all through fear of discovery; today is no different.
My family eddy quietly around me, their faces indistinct and voices humming in
a gentle cacophony.
“ Maria!” I hear my name but do not glance up from the tiny, perfect features of
my baby’s face.
“ Maria, the cake!” Forcing myself to meet my mother’s frantic gaze, I am
presented with the crushed remnants of the Christening cake, its pale frosting
shattered and scarred.
“ I knew we shouldn’t have bought one, my cakes are perfectly respectable.” There
are few things in the World that my mother likes more than the opportunity to gloat
and her voice becomes pregnant with childish gleehrug my shoulders, inverting into
myself again. Extending a finger, I stroke my baby’s cheek, feeling skin softer than I
have ever known. Her tiny face breaks into a smile , lips budding in a rich glossy
“ Little Abby May,” She opens her eyes, the same cobalt as a Delft tile and
gurgles, a glistening stream of saliva soiling her antique Christening gown. Hurriedly
I pass her to mum, my patience dwindling as the stream becomes a raging torrent.
“You’ll have to learn to do this sometime!” The words are all to familiar and I
pretend not to hear, afraid of being confronted by my future.
“She is barely more than a child herself.” The grim timbre of his voice says all, I
am too young. But it’s too late now, the baby’s here and I must try to raise my
daughter as best I can.
The novelty jingle of the doorbell ricochets between the thin cavity walls, I leap
up, snatching Abby from Mum-motherly devotion is essential in front of guests,
whether or not it is an illusion is of no consequence-and rush to open it. To my delight
the pale, frost-bitten face before me is Alex’s.
“Hello.” He does not look at me, only the child I am holding. I transfer her into his
outstretched arms and stand back, enjoying the unadulterated domesticity of the
scene. I would like to say that it looks incomplete without me, but it doesn’t. Together
they are a single unit, the very image of familial tenderness. I feel , as always,like an
observer, an insignificant imposter trying to make windows into other peoples souls.
As we get into the car, my mother points a well manicured finger towards the sky,
“It’s going to rain. I said it was ridiculous to have her Christened in February.”
I am silent, praying for him to come and yet dreading his arrival. As we approach
the church’s gravelled pathway. I inhale sharply, gazing at the small collection of cars
in the drive, I cannot see his among them.
We all gather around the font , the first of Abby’s tears rolling down her cheeks,
‘I now baptise thee, Abigail May Western.’
A sudden click and the aisle fills with light, the latecomer slips into a pew,
quickly, but not too quickly. Alex turns on his heels and they meet one another’s eye.
Something passes beween them that I cannot explain , is it what I had hoped for, or
something else entirely?
When Alex turns back to me , the wounds that were always present in his eyes
have healed. The warmth generated by a good deed spreads within me.
“Did you know about this?” I give him a non committal shrug.
“It has been five years since I last spoke to him.”
“ The perfect opportunity then, at his granddaughter’s Christening.”
As we gather on the steps for a photograph, I stand between them and raise my
face towards the sky, it is the same rich blue as Abby’s eyes , I knew it would not
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© 2002 Aurelia Bauer
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