“Who does she think she is,” Mrs Gralove complained at once; “dressing like that. She’ll never change. Those skinny hips of hers know too much about a man’s.......”
That same conversation, shared with wine, friends, giggles and an inquisitive self-interest, might have filled Sophie with a wicked, girlish delight. As it was, she found herself employed once more as the prude of the Gralove household, stemming her mother’s bawdy bluntness and looking from the television to an indignant scowl. She wondered, as ever, at this sight, whether such a scowl would be hers to inherit. Mrs Gralove, meanwhile, had moved on; the shot of Crystal Favier was a mere prelude to a montage showing the French Prime Minister’s hectic European schedule. Mrs Gralove chose her next comment to suit.
“And I don’t trust him either,” she said; “sticking his nose into everyone’s business. He’s got his own country to run.”
Sophie smiled at this, leaning down to collect the plates from the ready-meal for two. Such dinners had become the norm, an escape from the propriety of her father’s days; and though the food was bland, more heat than flavour, Sophie had ceased to remark. Instead, she accepted the change in her mother, just as she did her share in the domestic chores; and moving with an idle, evening purpose, Sophie stood up to carry the plates to the kitchen.
“I’ve work to do,” Sophie explained without need; “I’ve an assignment to finish for Friday.”
“Of course. You get on, Dear.”
It was the Dear that stopped her, another shift in her mother’s mood, this time hinting at sadness. The emotion aged Mrs Gralove, her face drawn, lost in a display of false bravery. Sophie’s guilt rose accordingly, as if she was to blame, as if there was something that she could do to compensate for the regret that dominated Mrs Gralove’s thoughts. There was not, Mrs Gralove had her own life to live; but still uncomfortable, seeking to offer a distraction, Sophie turned her comments to the Music Awards.
“Myla Santos is performing at the awards tonight.”
“They say she looks great, back to her best; and she sounds great too.”
“She should do; she’s not that old, Sophie.”
In the past Sophie might have challenged this; and with a preference for a more urgent, even aggressive rock-style to her music, Sophie could have argued that Myla Santos belonged to a different age, one where a provocatively sexual woman was a surprise. She did not do so, however, taking up a copy of Especial Magazine and handing it to her mother; Mrs Gralove took it as expected, flicking the pages and pausing on Myla’s latest scandal, a love-nest outing with a toy-boy dancer.
Sophie knew the story already, though she was not a fan of such periodicals. The teaser said it all, the dancer’s mother outraged by her son’s association; but again Sophie did not comment. Her mother was busy, however briefly, and taking advantage of the moment Sophie continued with casual noises into the kitchen. There she rattled plates and cutlery, making it clear that she was close enough to be called. When she was done she returned to the living room, pausing at the door.
“I’ve work to do,” she repeated.
“Of course, Dear. You get on.”
©2013 Padraig De Brún