Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Lie

 "Aunt Rosie will take care if it"  was one of those shorthand jokes that occur in families. It was based on the hope of an inheritance never to materialise. As with most such jokes it came with layers of irony which the Grands took for granted but were wasted on outsiders.   It was a joke that Patricia,  Patrick Grand's second wife,  did not fully understand.

To complicate matters  Patrick misled her about Rosie. It had seemed to him that a larger-than-life picture of his aunt might add colour to his own background, which he considered dull. So selecting and distorting the facts carefully, he used his imagination to turn Rosie from a  sour, sickly, crabbed, old woman,  into a gifted, eccentric with a large straw hat and a forthright manner.  He  even implied some substance in the inheritance story.  She left me the house in her will." he told Patricia adding vaguely, "but I never did much about it". Aunt Rosie, he said, had loved the view of the Channel which inspired her art and her conversation. In the evenings, he remembered,  she would sing to the setting sun.   She made sculptures out of fragments cast up by the waves. He described expeditions to the beach from which they returned loaded with frayed strands of rope, pieces of timber whitened by salt and  polished by the sea, bottles, corks, tins, you name it. Rosie had a shed full of the stuff.  She sold her work to holiday-makers. "Some people believed she was a genius waiting to be discovered", he said.  Somewhere in the story were remnants of the truth.

Like Bluebeard's last wife. Patricia was, in time overcome by curiosity. She  was reluctant to bring up the question of the inheritance,  but they could do with some extra money and it had not escaped her that Aunt Rosie might now prove useful. So she raised the topic obliquely by suggesting a visit to Spratston. "It would give you the opportunity to introduce me to another aspect of your past.

 Patrick laughed nervously. "Aunt Rosie you mean? ".

Reluctantly Patrick drove her down to Spratston one weekend in early June.  He shuddered. There would be some explaining to do. He remembered the road  to Aunt Rosie's. It had led under the railway bridge by  the station up towards a quarry. She had lived on the edge of  the quarry. Now there was a motorway to be crossed by a footbridge before reaching the quarry road.  They rounded a bend in the road, topped a ridge and there it was. No way to disguise the extent of his deceit.

 A small patch of brambles, a collapsed shed and some nettles.  And the house?  Part of the joke.  It was no more than a caravan. And now, its roof collapsed,  its panels vandalised, its wheels missing, it looked utterly forlorn and unwanted. There was no view, only a high wire fence,with "keep out" notices bordering the quarry. It was clear why no one wanted to buy this pocket of land. Even he,  a victim of self-deceit, remembering the path and  neat flowerbeds in front of the caravan, was shocked by its  present desolation.    Patricia looked at him in surprise, her surprise quickly turning to anger.

"This is something to do with trust," she said. " We seem to have a problem, Patrick. I've always trusted you.  Why the lie?

 He didn't know. He still didn't know.He looked up at the sky where the setting sun had formed a golden sea streaked with islands.

But there was no answer to his problem. And no Aunt Rosie to take care of it.                                                                                                                                              ...................................................................................................................................,,,,,,,,,

1 comment:

  1. But Aunt Rosie is taking care of it. Patricia is now introduced to whom her husband is.