Friday, 27 September 2013

The little attache case
with letters overflowing
was shut and put in the attic.

Guillermo walked away with sadness in every step.  In his heart he knew Doris would never truly be his.  He married soon after and moved out of the area.

Our life carried on.  Herbert hated what his lovely daughter was doing to her husband.  She felt his disapproval: she knew, he'd never understand. Daily she made him the rice pudding he insisted on having. She loved him and wanted him to know the true story, which she just didn't feel able to tell.  Herbert died never knowing.

Our house wasn't anything like our neighbours.  My mother had flair, each Christmas we would have something different, never, ever a conventional Christmas tree.  One year, Doris got Dad to find her a large twiggy branch, which she painted white, it was completely unheard of in those days.  She decorated it with carefully chosen different chocolate tree decorations and interesting baubles.  Another year we had trellis fixed to the wall and decorated. Never the same thing twice.

Life in so many ways was idyllic.

The women like hawks, would  watch her every move, ever vigilant of their husbands.  Secretly they envied her style, her clothes, the way she carried herself, her raw sex appeal.


The next man was Don, a lot younger than Doris.  Once again we saw the signs, no letters this time, just adoring glances and Scheherazade and Nat King Cole played on the record player.

Dad and I went out leaving them to it. Happy together, with picnic packed, we explored the countryside. I sat, princess-like on a little yellow felt seat on the crossbar of his bicycle.  As I got older, we stayed on farms, at hotels and generally had a good and honest loving father, daughter relationship.  

Without the spectre of Doris, everyone we met might have thought that all was good in our world.  And it was, although in my heart I couldn't forgive my lovely mum for what she was doing.

As I was growing into a young woman, Doris warned all men of her acquaintance, neighbours as well as boyfriends, that  her daughter was strictly off-limits.  Living close to her brother and his family of girls, she worried that it might cause even more problems as we got older.  We moved away, still in the same  village, a few miles further into the countryside. That was the start of Doris' mental health problems.  She agreed to the move to protect me, at the expense of her health.

Doris never really settled, she constantly went back.  Although our new home was a step up, she didn't like the isolation that came with living in the country.  She had the first of many nervous break-downs.  My father didn't or couldn't understand her yearning to keep going back to visit. Even then, strangely I could see she loved him more than he loved her. That confused me even more... Why, did she do it to him?

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