Monday, April 14, 2008

Margaret and Johnny Were Lovers

It's something she never talks about.

Long ago, and far away, our Margaret had a secret life. It started the summer before she and Neville married. They had met at a mutual friend's home...she found him dear and sweet, and knew from the moment they shook hands he would be her future husband--a man of stability and kindness and, she knew, never ending British middle classness; she knew and accepted that would be her place in the world.

She yearned for one bit of life to hold on to, the thing she knew in her bones she'd been created for, the something to take out of her memory chest late at night in her old age... that she could roll over in her mind, so crisp and clean she'd again be able to taste and smell and touch all that occurred in that time.

Our Margaret wanted An Adventure.

So, in her Gap Year, she took her future in her hands, packed her bags, and hopped the train and boat to Paris with her best friend, Amanda Smythe-Barnes of the Malmsbury Smythe-Barnes', going there to seek their fortunes.

Amanda fancied herself an artist, and our Margaret was svelte, and blessed with clear skin and intense eyes. They roomed in a garret in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, surrounded by students, artists, and jazz clubs. They absorbed everything around them, dwelling in that place of living forever you have only once in your life. They were alive and careless of that fact and nothing could touch them.

Margaret found modeling for the House of Dior and Oleg Cassini along with other famous designers, she was never a top model, still, she made enough to make her portion of the monthly bills. She and "Mellie" spent their nights dancing with the various friends they made or being taken out to dinner and being wooed by a few of those older, wealthy men who purchased the designer clothing for wives and mistresses; this was, of course, Paris.

Margaret wrote Neville, who was slogging out at University, light frothy letters telling him of the art work and simple things, never mentioning the men who asked her to be their mistress, or the artists who begged her to become their lover, men she laughingly refused. Her way of defusing the situation was always so light, egos were never damaged, friendships ensued, she carried on immersed in all that was young, free and Paris. This was going to be a part of her life she would never share, a part that would shape her, changing her from the untrained dabs of Mellie's art to the defined intensity of Dali.

Tragedy struck, and Mellie was called home, her Father had gout, and her Mother needed help getting the dogs ready for the round of shows coming up, the spaniels always listened to Mellie's brash voice, and off she went, her time done, ready to face life as a country wife. With a month left on their lease, Margaret chose to stay on, to finish out Spring in Paris.

It was two weeks later, on the 14th of April, it happened. Walking down the street, the last of her modeling done, determined to do nothing more but enjoy Paris as a tourist, the heel of her shoe broke, she tripped... and fell into the arms of a man so beautiful, her breath caught in her throat... He tried to speak to her in terrible French, and she laughingly told him in her clean British tones she was fine. He insisted on giving her a taxi ride to her flat... by the time they reached it, they were in each others arms, something a small portion of Margaret's mind told her was very, very wrong. The larger portion said, "Fuck it." and she sank into the world she'd waited for, prepared for, longed for--this was what she had been created to find.

They spent the next two weeks lounging about, talking, touching, passion interspersed with laughter as it should be... doing all the things you do when you are young and in love and in Paris. Sprawled on her bed, drinking wine, strolling the City of Lights in the dark, holding hands. They spoke of their lives before each other, but, never mentioned a future--they knew they didn't have one. It was the now that consumed them.

One afternoon, she went to meet him, and their embrace was so intense, so telling of a couple bound to each other, a photographer snapped it, giving them a copy that Margaret keeps hidden away; it is the essence of all they were to each other.

Time is not always our friend, it was not theirs, and, like all love stories, this one has a sad ending. The man had to go on to his future, mapped out for him long before he met Margaret. She closed up the flat, touching the sheets, looking out over the roofs, breathing in the last of him in the air around her.

A month later, Neville proposed, she accepted, they married with a beautifully done wedding, her dress a gift from Cassini. They waited to have children... she wanted to see if she'd ever find the same layers of knowledge in this man that she found in the other in those 14 days... Although they found comfort and a deep respect, with Neville adoring Margaret, and her initial knowledge of who he was in her life settling into an abiding love... she never understood him in the same way, and he found her looking over the garden at times, wondering what she was thinking about.

He wondered about the interest she took in American politics for a time, and supported her belief the bright young President would change how America took on the world. He was puzzled by her deep grief and depression following that day in November, putting it to her pregnancy and her soft heart.

She thinks on those days in Paris, and feels his presence, waiting for her.


Writeprocrastinator said...

I only had a brief moment to glance over here, but Quin Browne?

I am blog-crushing on you-



What is it like being the best thing in the world, today?

Anonymous said...

Sweet, Quin, so sweet! I love this piece, and admire your amazing talent!

Quin Browne said...

wp~happy's for you!

cr~i'm blushing, seriously! thank you. a lot.

it's odd, really... i had no intentions of this going this way. i put this together in around 10 minutes, did an edit or two... and was surprised at what turned out. our margaret surprised even me.

constant drama said...

You know, its kinda odd now reading this. Margaret and Neville has evolved to become full blown characters. They started being nosy neighbours and now you gave them dimensions.

Im in awe.

austere said...


Bud said...

You scare me with your goodness, Quin.

Quin Browne said...


i'm feeling all weird now.

Peter Varvel said...

This makes me think of that scene in The Princess Bride:
"Boo! BOOOOO!"
"Why do you do this?"
"Because you had true love . . ."
(ask Golfwidow!)

And BRAVA! to Quin Browne for her skill at making us care about her (fictional, hmm?) characters.

Grateful Guy said...

Wow. Reading that, I'm jealous of Margaret. Ouch.

Prince Gomolvilas said...

Terrific writing. Full of suspense. And the final reveal of the photo is really great. Thanks.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

Wow....that was an awesome entry. Thank you for the great read.

golfwidow said...

This is so good I said a whole bunch of bad words out loud.

Deb said...

FMD!!!! This actually made me cry! I agree with Peter and golfwidow! Neville's bewilderment at the depth of her grief...while she was PREGNANT and the photo did me in.

MrHarlequin said...

Not the best thing you've ever written

But bloody close

Thank you

Anonymous said...

This made me misty, too. Margaret surprises me sometimes. Neville is a lucky man.