Tom drove at speeds I can only describe as completely thrilling when the road was straight and utterly terrifying at each and every bend or corner. I pondered whether my death in a road accident would help my sister’s case at all….
Tom asked me lots of questions about her which I obviously couldn’t answer as I hadn’t seen her for two years, which seemed to disappoint him somewhat.
Personally I was more interested in how Tom knew Liza… and what about the “pash” he had for her?
Well that made no sense.
“She used to come over for the day with Nancy. Mitford”
What? Since when were Liza and Nancy friends? Liza hated Nancy.
“Then of course we just kept running into each other at house parties and night clubs.” He turned to look at me “She’s a devilishly good dancer, you know”
No, I didn’t and I was sure The Relics wouldn’t let Liza go out to meet boys at Oxford… or go to house parties and nightclubs? Not for the first time today I felt that all was not right with the world I had been expecting to return to. I began to wonder what awaited me at home…
It was dark by the time we swerved into the driveway that led to our house. My head banged against the window for the fiftieth time… I was going to have a headache…
I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed home until I saw it again. Home. Home! I was actually home… My feet hit the gravel before the car had even stopped and the side bit thing over the wheel caught me a glancing blow.
Flinging open the front door, well… putting my shoulder to the front door and ramming it over and over until it finally sprung open spilling me into the hall and straight onto my knees… I fell into the arms of Kitty.
Kitty, Kitty , Kitty. The first person I’d seen today that I was actually happy to encounter. I felt like weeping as she hugged and kissed and clucked and hugged me again. Finally! A welcome!
She hadn’t changed, still prim and neat and small and clucky. I really must tell you all about Kitty sometime. She’s been our maid for as long as I can remember. She comes from an enormous family in a grubby part of London somewhere and had never eaten any meat until she came into our employ. For all my Governesses and tutors and dear Miss Tregarth, the best part of my wordly education comes from Kitty. However, I’ll leave that for another time, for now I was too eager to see my mother and father.
“Oh Miss Lena, I’m not sure if she’s here… well, there must have been ten nor twenty young people in and out and in and out and… and if she is here she’s probably not up to receiving…..”
Not up to receiving? Goodness me she wasn’t the Queen.
“Don’t be silly, Kitty. Where is she?”
“She might be in the Drawing Room, I don’t know. There’s been such comings and goings… ”
I’d heard enough and rushed towards the Drawing Room and reached for the handle but… stopped. Gosh everything since I’d been back in England had been so very strange… I hesitated…
A hand on my shoulder.
He pushed open the door and walked in. Literally hanging onto his coat-tails I followed.
Jazz music, people and a brief glance of what I can only describe as the most devilish vamp before..
A shriek. A glass narrowly missed my face and smashed onto the wall next to me. Its contents spattered my neck.
“Tom you fiend! How dare you turn up here? Get out!“
I ducked as another glass smashed against the wall. Tom bravely stepped forward.
“Liza, darling….put it down!”
Liza? It couldn’t be… The shock shot me upwards and straight into the path of a flying Champagne bottle. Wham.
* * * * * *
From out of the darkness I could hear voices and… giggling.
“….Well you didn’t know her before…. she was always clumsy and walking into things…”
“You threw a champagne bottle at her head…”
“I know… but I didn’t know it was her. I only saw you Tom. Should we move her to the sofa do you think? Could you lift her? She seems awfully big….”
Well that! And more giggles… too much. I mumbled my disapproval.
“Oh she’s coming round, good. Lena, Lena darling are you all right?”
My hand was grabbed and patted. I snatched it away.
“What did she say?”
“Erm I think it was Get Off”
It wasn’t but that was close enough.
I opened my eyes but as that only made my head spin I closed them again, really I did feel rather woozy.
I must have drifted off because the next time I opened my eyes I had been moved from the scene of my felling and onto the sofa. I say moved but it felt more like dumped. One foot was on the floor, my arm most uncomfortably positioned underneath me and my skirt felt rather too high up. Shifting a bit and turning my head, oh dear that hurt, I was able to look at my sister properly. She was sitting with Tom at a card table. She was… ravishing. She was… everything I had come back to England wanting to be. How utterly annoying! I felt horribly outraged and wonderfully impressed all at the same time. Sitting back in her chair, smoking a cigarette from a long black holder in one hand and fingering a loose strand of pearls with the other she was… my epitome of everything. Urgh! The lamp behind her threw light onto her bare back. A long, slender back, simply edged by a gown of shimmering beaded silk. Her hair was bobbed and jet black. Oh what would I give! As she drew and blew her cigarette (such poise! Where did that come from?) I felt I was watching a film… I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Tom couldn’t take his eyes off her. Leaning forward across the table, he spoke in a low, earnest voice. He was obviously a man in torment… Oh how I wanted to make a man feel like that…
My head snapped round to the source of the voice and suddenly I was spinning again… spinning, in an almost lovely way…la-la-la-la spinning, spinning…. and then I felt sick.
“Are you ok? You look terrible”
No girl wants to hear those words from a man. Not even a girl who in one day has had her shin flayed by an errant porter, her toe broken by an angrily kicked door and her head assaulted by a champagne-bottle-throwing sister. I would have protested but I still felt sick and daren’t open my mouth. I said a few things in my head though.
“Are you always this much trouble?”
No! I recognised that voice… I opened an eye… oh no! No!
How? What? How…..? What!
I can’t begin to tell you how angry I suddenly felt. A huge wave of rage rose up and washed away all nausea and spinning silliness. I was irate. I was cross. I was sitting up now.
“You” A Short word but I made it long…. Yooooouuuuuu
“Liza! You’re awake! I’m so sorry!”
Oh and now her. Little Miss Perfect Vamp Sister.
“You” Short word but looooong.
“I say Old Girl! Are you all right?”
Short but looong.
I stood and pulled myself up to my full height, dragged there by my rage and head ache and the fact that no-one, no-one, oh well apart from Kitty, no-one, no-one had welcomed me home. No-one had been pleased to see me. No-one cared about me. I drew myself up to my full height and looked at them all and took pleasure from the fact that they all recoiled slightly and looked rather worried… I drew myself up to my full height, my hands on my hips, my chin held high and I… swayed. Seeing a lone champagne bottle I grabbed it … audible gasps… oh how I wanted to lob it… how I want to scream and shout… instead I felt tears well up and my lip begin to wobble. With one hand clutching the champagne and the other my pounding head, I essayed a dignified hobble to the door. Once on the other side I let the tears and dignity fall and wept my way to my room.
I drank all the champagne and then I lobbed the bottle.
My Dear Champagne-Bottle-Throwing Sister (who’s been arrested for murder – and quite what she’s doing at home sitting about looking ravishing and not languishing distraught somewhere in fear for her life I haven’t found out yet)