Miss Squeenie McPimpalot (chaletian) wrote,
Miss Squeenie McPimpalot
chaletian

The Parcel, 28/?

“Oh, that poor child,” said Joey softly, as they heard the front door slam. “And poor Marie!”

“What do *you* care?” said Phil bitterly.

“Phil—”

“No, Con,” said Joey, waving a hand at her second daughter as she rose to her feet to face her youngest. “You listen to me, Philippa Anne Maynard! What I said to Marie in ’76 was cruel and hateful, and is fully deserving of anyone’s censure. But do you think I don’t regret it? Do you think that I don’t wish, every day, that I could go back and change it?”

“You just abandoned her!”

“Yes, I did. I can’t deny it; I wish I could. But in all honesty, it’s the truth.”

“She killed herself because of you!”

“Bollocks!” Joey, Phil and Con all turned, startled by the interruption. Ceridwen moved away from the doorway. “Look, you don’t kill yourself because your mother chucked you out. Not when you’re an adult. Not four months after the fact, for crying out loud! I didn’t know Marie. But, well, knowing about you lot – and OK, you can never really know anyone else’s family, but, well, you know what I mean – surely Marie didn’t think that she could never come back? That there was *no-one* who would help her if she needed it? Cuz frankly, that’s crazy talk. OK, Miss Maynard, you were aware, and so was Mrs Holden, but you were both coming back. Marie would have known that, surely?”

“But—”

“I’m not saying it wouldn’t have contributed, but it wouldn’t be *why*!”

“If she had to give Carey up for adoption then she was probably overwrought; she didn’t know what to do…”

“Well, maybe, but that’s not so much Mrs Maynard’s fault, all things considered. Like I said, it probably contributed, but… why don’t you blame the father, if you’re blaming anyone. Seems like he had a lot more to answer for.”

Phil bowed her head. “I know. But…”

Con intervened, gently. “But you didn’t know who he was. And Mamma was right there.”

“Yes. I think what she said was… hideous.”

“So do I. But so does she, Phil. Don’t we all make mistakes we wish could put right?”

“Phil, I never meant it. I just wish she’d known that. I know I don’t deserve…”

“Oh, Mamma!” Phil held out a shaky hand. “I’ve always been madder at myself than you! Four months! Four months between her leaving here and… killing herself. And she was my sister. I was supposed to love her, and I didn’t even notice that she’d stopped writing. Not till it was too late. I even phoned, did you know? In the autumn, when I wanted to tell her about the exhibition I was doing. One of the girls in the digs said she’d left. I thought she’d made a mistake, or hadn’t understood. I just couldn’t be bothered to check.” She was crying now. “And I’ve tried to make it all your fault, even when I knew it wasn’t. It meant I could pretend that it wasn’t anything to do with me.”

“Phil, darling!” Joey’s arms were around Phil, and stroked her daughter’s hair. “Sweetheart, don’t cry like that!”

“Oh, Mamma, I’ve missed you so!” They clung to each other while Con slipped out, and when they had sorted themselves out, there was tea waiting. Joey patted Con’s hand.

“Thank you, darling. Now, I think someone should go and look for Carey. It will be getting dark soon, and she was so very upset.”

“I can’t blame her,” commented Con as she poured. “To have heard all that about her mother… well.”

“I don’t understand it,” said Phil, bewildered. “I know dancing meant the world to Marie, but even with that in mind, I always thought she had looked forward to the baby. I suppose though, thinking about it, that wasn’t going to be the case. I just wish…”

“Oh, honestly!” Ceridwen set down her tea cup sharply, frustrated that these women didn’t seem to see what to her was obvious. “Who *says* she didn’t want Carey?”

“But Peter said…” Joey trailed off as Ceridwen raised an interrogatory eyebrow. “What his mother had told him. Yes. How foolish of us.”

“So it could all be a lie?” said Phil slowly.

“Well, not the part about the adoption, and the Howards and everything,” conceded Ceridwen. “After all, she had to have some way of knowing what Carey was up to. But what happened beforehand… well. He did say she wasn’t quite rational about it. Why should she feel the need to be truthful about it? After all, it makes it sound better if Marie had just given Carey up and left.”

Joey was swept with a sudden wave of urgency. “I think we need to find Carey. Right away.”
Tags: chalet school, fic
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