Image from “Oracle of Visions” by Ciro Marchetti, 2011.
The scent of roses surrounded Antoinette as she sat in the morning light, sipping her coffee. This was her place of refuge, filled with quiet, and random splashes of color. She liked her life the way it was now … calm, organised, everything in its place. She drew a rose out of the vase in front of her, careful not to prick her fingers with the thorns. Such lovely, silky, intoxicating petals. She inhaled their scent, and allowed her mind to blur at the edges.
That was exactly how she always thought of it … as her mind blurring at the edges. It was never good to bring things into too sharp a focus … the hurt was always there, waiting to become real again. It was twenty years ago today that she had received the letter … a letter that was to change her life.
Geoffrey had been very kind, as he always was. He had invited her to his family estate … an open invitation. She was welcome to stay as long as she wished. His sister would be visiting for the summer, and he felt that it would be good for her to have a companion. Antoinette knew Virginnie well. She was a lovely lady, much too young to be dealing with the issues that she was dealing with … the death of her husband, and the very surprising details of his estate. Yes, the invitation had been accepted, but for her own reasons.
It would be good to be away from the city, away from all of the memories that pressed on her there. Her brother … well, she would not think of that. In time, her brother would regain his good name. Her father would see to that. Her mother chose seclusion as the method of preference for dealing with the situation, but Antoinette could not do that. She wanted more from life … which is why she had accepted Cyril’s proposal in the first place. He was dashing, well accepted in society, knew all the right people. Unfortunately, he seemed to also know all the wrong people. Her father tried to suggest as much, but neither she nor her brother had listened.
She had broken the engagement, of course, as soon as her brother’s troubles became evident. Cyril had not been touched by the scandal … he had seen to that. Paid people off, she imagined. No matter … her father would make things right. And in time, that is exactly what had happened. Her brother opened his own business, married well, and had a family. Her mother … well, she was ever changed by the things that had happened.
The letter was still in the drawer in Antoinette’s desk. She would take it out from time to time, just to touch base with reality. She had accepted Geoffrey’s invitation to stay with his family. It had been a lovely, healing time. At the end of the summer, Geoffrey had asked her father for her hand in marriage, and she had accepted. She had a good life …a lovely home, an adoring husband, three healthy children. But she always wondered what life would have been like had Cyril been what she thought he was, rather than what he really was.
Antoinette placed the rose back in the vase. It was time to start her day.
(c) July 2011 Bonnie Cehovet