Sunday, May 12, 2013

“Enid’s Near Canadian Adventure,” a short story by Peggy Bracken

Mayfair Place
September 28, 1929

Dear Maeve,
Of course you have heard by now.  The whole town has heard by now.  Can there be anything more humiliating than misplaced love?   He has run away like the coward I now know he is.  Slinking off to some foreign destination to reinvent himself. No doubt so that he can torment another innocent heart in the future.

You can imagine the scene at home when the truth came out.  Mama took to her bed with a pitcher of martinis and Papa has been at the club for two days.  I am in disgrace.  I am an outcast, a social pariah (is that the right word?) and all of this so close to the Dovingtons Hunt Ball. 

I was desperately looking forward to wearing my new silk.  You remember the blue silk with the rosettes over the shoulder; you were with me when I picked it out.  Anyway it is doubtful now if I shall ever get another invitation to the Dovington’s Ball or anywhere else for that matter.

Darling, I am devastated.  I was sure he was the one.  Well, pretty sure; I was giving him some consideration. And really, how sure can one ever be?  But how could I have been so mistaken as to sow the seeds of my affection on such unworthy ground?  

I have learned a very big lesson, Maeve.  One which I sincerely hope you will never have to learn. Unlike me, you do not seem to be tripping over your feet to get to the altar.  Don’t laugh Maeve.  I know your feet are just too dainty to trip over, unlike my gigantic gunboats. 

It is hardly my fault.  You’ve seen Mama’s feet.  What chance did I have?  I think it is beneath you to laugh at me at a time like this.  What I am trying to say is that you are too discerning and wise to fall into such a trap, and  Lord knows when you have to make a decision the glaciers are speed itself compared to you.   

So I suppose you could never be in my shoes literally or figuratively.  Perhaps that is one reason why we are such good friends. Shoe size aside, I promise I shall never again be so taken in by a man.  I shall be impervious to dancing eyes, easy smiles and the, oh, so charming ways. 

No, sir.  That is all over for me.  I vow to become more like you, dear friend.  If only I could will away my size eights the same way.

Seriously Maeve, I am really most despondent over this. What is left for me here?  Who will receive me?  I simply cannot show my face in town or anywhere else for that matter.  I feel the need to escape; to run far, far away. 

No doubt my parents would be glad to send me anywhere for a few months (years?) in the vain hope that this will go away.  In my limited experience people have pretty darn good memories when it comes to the misery of others so I expect to be packing for an extended trip. 

Just last evening I heard Mama tell her maid that I “botched up any chance I had to make a really good match”, and that Papa said it was “a real doozy this time”.   So you see, dearest, I have no choice but to run far and fast.  I simply can’t face Paris again so soon. Besides half of our neighbours are there anyway.  Bad news travels fast. 

I have been giving Canada some thought.  I need some adventure, some excitement to drive all memory of that creature from me.  To think how close I came to walking down the aisle with a coward, an imposter and worst still a penniless, cowardly imposter.  It just does not bear thinking about.   

So what do you say to Canada?  Do you fancy a trip to the frozen north?  It might be fun tramping around the land of the midnight sun.  I have heard that they use dogsleds to get around. 

How quaint!  I am sure no one in our set has done that. The whole thing sounds very exotic.  

Please say yes.  You love an adventure as much as me although you are generally more reserved in your enthusiasm.  Come with me, please.  I need to let the icy wind blow out all thoughts of that man.  Hopefully my heart will freeze and I shall become impervious to the likes of Mr. J. H. Smythe the third. 

Write as soon as you get this letter and tell me that you and I are off on a chilly adventure. 

Broken hearted but thankfully not broke

PS:  Don’t they have that Bigfoot person in Canada?  Maybe I will fit right in.   Ever hopeful.

October 1, 1929
Wellington House

Dear Enid,
Well, I am glad to see you are handling this in your usual calm and collected fashion.  Canada?  Enid, do you even know where Canada is?  I am sorry to say it, but I don’t care where or when the sun shines, you can count me out of this escapade.  Our friendship has been put to the test many times but here I must really draw the line. 

Dearest, there is simply nothing that could induce me to follow you or anybody else to that frozen wasteland.  I have read about it and I am betting that is a great deal more than you have done.  There is simply nothing there.  The sum total of this country you are so anxious to visit is frigid wind, ice, snow and polar bears. 

I have also read that it is dark all the time (where you get this “midnight sun” thing is beyond me). The natives live on whale blubber and force their little dogs to tow them around on sleds.  No it is just too primitive.  I would sooner take poison.  Besides you know how I hate the cold.   That’s why I insisted Papa buy me another set of furs for my last birthday. 

It is so hard to look really good in the winter months, isn’t it?  Oh well, if I have to look like as big as a bear I might as well look like a rich one. 

Think of yourself; bundled up from head to toe.  Those extra layers will not be flattering to the shorter figure.   You will look like the tent at last summer’s garden party.  Please give this serious consideration.  You will be alone, eating blubber and looking a little whale like yourself. 

Dearest, I know your heart is broken – for this week anyway.  It is also not as “innocent” as you would like to believe.  Don’t protest.  You know you pursued him in the most strenuous fashion and made a fool of yourself.  Well, you are not the first to lose your head over a cad and you won’t be the last. 

I heard father telling my mother that your father is staying at the club until your Mama “sobers up and decides to get on with life”.  He also said he doesn’t give a “good God-damned about what anyone else thinks”.  He is just glad that you saw the truth before he had to pay the “stupid twit” to get out of your life.  Those were his very words. 

So bear up, dearest.  Life may not be over just yet.  Forget this nonsense about Canada and let’s book our passage to Bermuda.   I hear the Robertsons are going down and so are the Van Hogens. Charlie is such fun after a couple of cocktails and Dudley Van Hogen is home from Cambridge.  Apparently he is going to keep his parents company for the balance of the winter.  That should chase away your blues.

Dearest Enid, if there is one thing I do know about you it’s that you will never be impervious to dancing eyes and an easy smile. 

I will be in town on Thursday next.  Let’s give the gossips a run for their money.  Meet me at the Ritz for lunch and then a little shopping.  I think a new swim costume will be just the thing for you and I feel the need for a new pair of shoes.    

Your fair weather friend,

Peggy Bracken is a self-confessed “Jack of all Trades” who has the goal of living a creative life.  Writing has taken a back seat to fibre art, photography, baking and gardening, until retirement brought more time and freedom.  Taking a class with Brian Henry proved to be highly fulfilling, challenging and just plain fun.  She is looking forward to seeing where it leads.

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Gravenhurst, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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