“Amelia, sweetheart, don’t stray too close to the railing,” Roger warned nervously, tugging on the sleeve of her new dress. “It’s bumpy out here; we wouldn’t want you to fall.” Rolling her eyes discreetly, she silently obeyed her husband, though from the corners of her eyes, she still observed the rolling waves, longing to feel the gentle spray of water on her face. It’s not easy being married, she concluded, gritting her teeth as she took Roger’s arm reluctantly, feeling her entire body tense up in frustration.
“It’s just so beautiful out here,” she ventured, choking back the words that she really wanted to say. “How much longer is it going to be before we reach Australia?”
“Um, can’t say, exactly. The entire journey takes about forty days, my dear,” he started, and Amelia knew that this was the beginning of one of his endless monologues. Taking advantage, she allowed her mind to wander, surreptitiously peeking at the sights around them.
It wasn’t that Roger wasn’t a bad person, per se, but he was dull. Incredibly dull. But… he was a lot nicer than most of the men she’d met, and he was her ticket out of England. Australia meant, in Amelia’s mind, a world of new opportunities. At the tender age of seventeen, she was a lot more self assured than most other girls her age; after watching the monotonous rut that was her parents’ marriage, she decided early on that she wanted something better. Unlike most of her friends’ parents, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron advised her to wait a bit before jumping into marriage. Deep down, Amelia knew that a lot of it stemmed from the impending empty nest syndrome that awaited them, as she was an only child. Still, when Roger Mahler came around and showed interest, she jumped at the chance to claw her way out of certain monotony. She also was no fool; at twenty five, she knew perfectly well that young Mr. Mahler was in no position to waste time.
Allowing him to court her for all of seven months, Amelia patiently waited for the inevitable. When he finally proposed, one chilly late fall morning, she acted surprised, as if she hadn’t been plotting practically since the day they met. Oh, yes, Amelia Aaron had done her research on her beau. His father, a decorated veteran, had come home from the war addled, and his doting wife stayed staunchly by his side… except for Sunday mornings when she slipped away for an hour or two with the milkman. They lived off a comfortable pension, and Mrs. Mahler’s family also owned a few jazz clubs in Sydney. Roger’s sisters were both married with children of their own, which made it all the more odd that the middle child remained a bachelor. Presenting her with a modest yet elegantly designed ring, she excitedly accepted, imagining herself owning and managing a hip nightclub, dressed in the latest fashion and with her raven black hair cut into a stylish bob like the flappers she’d admired for so long.
Five months later, nothing was as Amelia had imagined. Between a slew of society teas, interminable visits with her in-laws, and the mind numbing day to day life of a housewife, she was sorely disappointed. Roger had thrown her for a loop, revealing at the last minute that he’d started his own construction company, leaving the nightclub business to his relatives. Her dreams of owning a jazz club had long since fallen by the wayside, replaced by the dubious task of running a household.
“Madam, your breakfast is - “
“I’m well aware, Darla,” she snapped irritably. “Has Mr. Mahler been served yet?”
“H-he left early this morning. I made him some coffee, but - “
“Fine. I’ll be down shortly.” Throwing the young maid a significant glance, Amelia waited patiently for her to excuse herself.
Strutting into her bathroom, she went about the daily task of primping and grooming. Carefully pinning her hair up into a neat chignon, she applied her favorite bright red lipstick and a subtle pink blush, double checking to make sure that she was perfectly put together. Really, she didn’t have anybody to impress, but it was the highlight of her otherwise mundane days to make herself presentable. Tossing her nightclothes aside for the maid to collect later, she threw on a dark pink sundress, loose and airy for the warm day. Tucking a stray curl out of her face, she flounced out and made her way down the stairs.
“Oh, Madam… your mother in law called… I’d forgotten to mention it to you earlier…” Stopping at the bottom of the stairs to toss the maid a cold, hard glare, she felt a slight twinge of satisfaction at the sight of the young house help cowering. “I do apologize.” Holding her gaze for a few more uncomfortable seconds, Amelia arranged her face into a cruel, joyless smile.
“Don’t let it happen again.”
Shortly after a light breakfast, followed by her usual morning coffee, she heard some commotion in the yard.
“Darla! Mr. Richardson!” she called out to her staff, annoyed at the interruption. “Where the hell are they?” she asked herself, jumping to her feet. “Why on Earth do I have to answer my own door?” It hadn’t taken her long to get used to being a woman of high society, and she made sure that she took advantage of every commodity at her disposal. Marching towards the front door huffily, she opened it, surprised to see her sister in law’s husband smiling sheepishly.
“Sorry, I think I knocked over one of your plants there,” he apologized. “Is Roger around?”
“No,” Amelia answered slowly, not moving to let him in. “He’s left already. Why?”
“Oh. Elaine needed a hand at the club, so I figured I’d come get him…” A tiny twinge of suspicion gnawed at her, but she was shrewd enough to push it aside. For now.
“Well he’s not here,” she replied brusquely. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Uh,” Ernest stammered, unsure. “Not really… I’d have to run it by Elaine…”
“What is it that she needs? I’m quite sure that it can’t be the biggest thing in the world,” she insisted, flashing him a half smile.
Finally stepping aside to let Ernest inside, she crossed her arms under her bust and stared up at him expectantly. He was nowhere near attractive, with an almost simian face and pencil thin lips. But, if Amelia’s instincts were correct, he could be her chance to fulfill her dream. Hopefully.
“In that case, go ahead and use my phone,” she offered. “I'd love to learn
a little more about our family business.” Putting a bit more emphasis on the word “our,” she smiled up at Ernest, batting her eyelashes. He pursed his lips and nodded, brushing by her into the parlor. Darla appeared then, looking flustered and out of breath.
“Madam?” She said respectfully, to which Amelia rolled her eyes.
“You useless fool,” she sighed. “I've no use for you now. Back to your duties, then.”
Under the guise of giving Ernest his privacy while he made his call, she walked around
her modest garden, enjoying a few minutes of solitude. Settling on the rough, handmade bench under the willow tree, she slipped her shoes off and rested her feet in the grass.
“Amelia? Amelia? Are you there?” Her eyes flew open at the sound of
her name being called. Struggling with her shoes, she was still barefoot when Ernest found her a minute later. “Ah. Enjoying the fair weather, are we?”
“Excuse me,” she blushed. “I know this is quite indecent.”
“Oh, not at all,” he laughed. “I’m a firm believer in letting your hair down once in a
“Oh are you?” Amelia giggled, covering her mouth daintily. “Nice to know.”
“Uh huh,” Ernest agreed. “Anyway. I tried calling my dear wife, and she, apparently, is otherwise occupied.”
“Is she all right?” Arranging her face into a believable expression of concern, she nodded slowly along with Ernest, pretending to care. “Hm. Well. It looks like the two of you have things under control, so let me get back inside; it’s getting hot out here and - “
“I was wondering if you’d come with me?”
Allowing her jaw to drop, Amelia was jumping for joy in her mind. It was all she could do to keep from shouting out “yes!” immediately. Hesitating, as if she were thinking it over, she grinned brightly at her brother in law.
“Sure. Let me just… grab my hat and my purse.” Back in her room, she stared at her reflection in the mirror, the blush on her cheeks making her look like a schoolgirl excited over her crush. Carefully redoing her lipstick, she was ready. Donning an ivory white hat, she strolled down to the front hall where Ernest was waiting, his arm held out for her, which she took gracefully.
“You don’t have to do this, you know…” he reminded her, though the twinkle in his eye said otherwise.
“I’m aware,” Amelia replied haughtily, a smirk playing around her lips. “I’m well aware.”July 3, 2017, midnight 0 Report Embed 0
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