Amanuensis Part 1 Chapter 7
Part 1 Chapter 7
The sun was burnt orange and slightly lower in the sky when we reached Southampton. Its Titian light danced across the rippling waves like a line of chorus girls. A brackish mist replaced the musty smell of the train as cries of yellow-billed gulls pierced the air. Flapping and fluttering above the docks, they were in for a disappointment if they expected the usual handout from this vessel.
I said goodbye to my parents at the end of the jetty. Then turned to make my way up a ramp that led to the silver belly of the amphibious Yankee Clipper. But my mother tugged on my parka mid-step, pulling me towards her.
“Did you remember to pack wool socks in your holdall, Rita?”
The question was as bizarre as it was bizarrely timed. If I had forgotten them, what was I expected to do, run back to the flat?
“Yes,” I lied. “Just like you told me to.”
“Good. It could be chilly on the flight, you know. And you don’t want to catch cold before you arrive for your assignment.”
I turned to go, and she stopped me again.
“And Rita dear, just a word of caution about American men. Cheeky, the lot of them. I remember when they came over during the last war. They’re notorious cads with no manners whatsoever. You’ll want to watch out for them.”
“Thanks, Mummy. But Uncle J. said we’ll be quite sequestered most of the time. I don’t think there’ll be a problem.”
“And Rita, Houseman probably won’t want you calling him Uncle J. when you’re working together,” my father said. “You’ll need to be professional at all times.”
I knew what was happening. It was what they’d done ever since Freddie died. I couldn’t blame them for wanting to hold on.
We stood at the end of the jetty, feeling the water’s undulating sway beneath our feet. Three sides of a scalene triangle bound by blood and bereavement. Acutely aware that once upon a time there had been four.
“Yes, I do know, Dad. I’ve never called him that in public, ever. And I don’t plan to start now. But I’d better go, you two, before this plane takes off without me.”
My mother let go of my parka, and I threw kisses to them before turning again toward the ramp.
End of Part 1, Chapter 7
©2021 Andrew Jazprose Hill
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