Friday, April 3, 2009

The Quality Of Mercy

Welcome sunshine glitters on the furrowed sea. A gentle, salty breeze ruffles the dark plumage of a cormorant drying its angular wings as it stands on a barnacle-clad post.

“What poise,” thinks Carmelle. She is sure she can incorporate some reference to the statuesque quality of this motionless seabird into her latest piece of writing, which she has entitled “The Soulful Sea”. She will discuss her latest ideas with Darius when she meets him in The Ship. She enjoys their verbal entanglement and is keenly anticipating the delicious frisson generated between them. She is ready, eager, for more than that now, and Darius cannot help but have noticed, surely? She has put clean sheets on the bed and flowers in the room.

Carmelle has stayed on at Greyling Bay longer than she intended, having found the sympathetic eye and ear of Darius, whose particular interest, fortuitously, she has discovered, is the written word (when Laura, a slim, long-limbed student from the university had made his acquaintance at a fund-raising barn dance last summer, his particular interest then, usefully, had been political history. Greyling Bay has a veritable polymath in its midst).

Enjoying the unexpected warmth and stillness of the day sit Frances and Mercy on a bench at the edge of the sand. They watch Carmelle walk past, antelope-like in her fluid gait, hips swaying and arms gently swinging. Oh, how they wish they could regain their youth. That bloody war took their husbands and now all they have to contemplate is a fortnightly visit from the chiropodist and a chip supper with entertainment in the community hall on the first Tuesday of every month. Failing joints, false teeth and thinning hair. Loneliness. That is the reward life bestows for hard work, loyalty and stoicism. But still, they can laugh and feel the warmth on their paper-thin skin, grateful for their friendship.

They could have been something, Frances and Mercy.

Faith Bretherick


Nicola Slade said...

Love it, Faith, but I think Carmelle's on a hiding to nothing with Darius who seems a bit of a cad.

And maybe Frances and Mercy could get together with Gwen - and not for bingo or an old folks' outing either, that's not Gwen's style!


Douglas Bruton said...

Oh, Nicola. I protest. Methinks you are too harsh on our Darius... a laugh and a racconteur and a drinker (sometimes drunk) and a bull if angered... but I assure you he is no cad... he has a heart and a soul. (didn't you read 'Cor-Blimey Corinne'? There's a poet in our Darius, and a poet's sensibilities).

Besides, characters don't have to be clearly black or white... as with people, they can shift. Darius is also fun to be with... I think he would call Carmelle, Caramel, like the toffee wot sticks in your teeth.

Well done, Faith.


Nicola Slade said...

Oops, sorry Douglas! It's probably an age thing - when I was sixteen or so I'd have thought a poet was the last word in romance, so I expect he's used to his students having crushes on him. Nowadays getting cornered in a pub by a poet would be a signal for a very large Jameson's!

Nicola Morgan said...

Ooh, I love this! As the person who brought Carmelle to Greyling Bay, I love that you've done this with her, though I hadn't expected it. I always knew I had little respect (though some impatient sympathy) for poor deluded Carmelle and now she's proved me right. On the other hand, she doesn't deserve to be treated as carelessly as she surely will be by the bearded one. Maybe I'll have to rescue her from his grasp. (Douglas, you haven't won me over to DB yet!)

Anonymous said...

Faith – a really interesting development for Carmelle! I had some ideas for her myself but think her interest in Darius (which I would never have thought of) is entirely plausible- though maybe the new sheets are a bit previous - ?! My only real issue is the point about Laura which I read (perhaps wrongly?) as an authorial comment and which jars a little with me when we are in Carmelle's point of view. Still enjoyable, though! Ali B