LeAnne Perrin considered herself the epitome of the have-it-all modern woman. She had two beautiful – everyone said so – children; a modest, diligent, loving partner – they consciously refused to wed, despite the emotional blackmail of her mother, declaring it to be a hang up of the patriarchy, and became civil partners instead; and her own business, providing a personalised opportunity for the eclectic-minded to rehouse forgotten treasures in their natural setting – and not a bric-a-brac shop as Objects With Attitude was described in the local trade magazine.
She also knew, with a spleen-deep certainty that Maud Aline considered her to be nouveau, trite and two-dimensional and, while maintaining her characteristically cool and primped facade, would do anything to make LeAnne look small.
The most recent example of this campaign of snide humiliations occurred on Thursday as LeAnne collected Prism, her eldest from school. She overheard Maud bemoaning the fact that her own daughter, Cotton didn’t have the right lips. Intrigued by the image of Cotton – who, even LeAnne admitted was a delight when away from her mother and a good friend with Prism – having a hitherto undisclosed deformity, she sidled closer. As she did so, she told herself that, of course, the last thing she wanted to hear was that Cotton was in any way defective, but the delicious notion that here might be an opportunity for some heartfelt condolence, laced with a tincture of schadenfreude was too good to pass up.
‘Mr Carstairs says she can’t be in the wind section, because her embouchure is compromised – that’s her father’s side coming through, of course – and the Strings are full so she’ll have to be hidden at the back.’
The other woman, to whom Maud was confessing her woes and who, just then LeAnne couldn’t place, looked suitably shocked. She checked left and right, missing LeAnne’s eavesdropping because LeAnne had sequestered a small azalea as camouflage and said, ‘Not…’ her voice dropped to something approaching but not quite reaching a whisper, ‘the timpani?’
Maud’s body sagged like a flaccid party balloon. It spoke volumes.
‘Mum, what are you doing?’ Prism bounded up and thrust her school bag at LeAnne. She took it and checked back at Maud and her companion and, seeing their expressions her heart soared.
But any hope of serving for the set was dashed when Maud smiled at Prism, ‘So are you in the orchestra, dear?’
Like a good barrister, the professional put-downers know the answer before asking it.
‘I wish. Mum’s too mean to pay for lessons, let alone the cost…’
‘Come on, darling,’ Le Anne began to frogmarch her daughter towards the car as she removed twigs from her hair.
As she led her now dancing daughter to the car, she mused with silent fury on how long it would be before the government decided hate looks should be criminalised alongside hate speech; after all, Maud’s stiletto sharp stare and subsequent venomous smile would have done for lesser women than LeAnne.
‘Where are we going, mum?’
‘Mr Exemplary’s emporium.’
‘To get you something to play. Just as long as it’s a wind instrument.’
‘And lessons? Dad said we can’t afford them.’
‘I may have to sell your sister but, believe me, we will find the money.’ LeAnne fixed her gaze on the car ahead. They’d buy a flute, find the best teacher and get Prism on an accelerated programme and into that bloody orchestra if it was the last thing she did.
Prism turned to gaze out of the side window. ‘Nah, mum. Let’s not bother. I can’t see me doing the practice, can you?’
LeAnne looked at her daughter in the rear view mirror. Maybe she should sell her and get her sister into the orchestra. Everyone was going to have to make a sacrifice, otherwise there would be blood.
This piece was written in response to the latest #blogbattle prompt