Rose Lane Ch22
Posted: 26 February 2004
Word Count: 2407
Chapter Twenty Two
"Oh please can I go, please I'll do all my homework and I promise I'll water the garden every day and take Cassie for a walk after dinner oh please, please, please just say yes."
Fifteen year old Melanie tried desperately to negotiate with her mother.
"No Melanie you're too young and that's final besides we don't want you consorting with those types. "
Melanie was thrown, she stood in the kitchen watching her mother mix a packet cake that was going to only end up a sad and sorry gooey mess that not even Cassie would eat. Pattie wiped her brow with the back of her hand and flakes of flour stuck to her forehead and hair, turning it white and making her look even older than she was.
"What do you mean types?"
Though Melanie knew fully well what Pattie meant, homosexuals.
"You know what I mean, I've nothing against queers, I knew plenty when I was working in the theatres but at your age I don't think they're a good influence, you're too impressionable."
Even though , Pattie had only been an usherette, she always referred to the films that were shown at her cinema as movies she'd 'worked' on. As though she was the director, cameraman or key grip. Everytime she caught a repeat on the television, she'd make a fuss and shout out to Sid and Melanie, 'Quick, come in, it's Rita Hayworth in Gilda, I worked on that." or whatever old movie happened to be on.
Pattie set about beating the cake mix like a demon. Occasionally looking out the kitchen window like some sort of robotic housewife. If you could read minds her's would be saying only one thing over and over like a mantra. Please make her change the subject, please make her change the subject.
But Melanie wasn't for giving up.
"What do you mean influence? I'm not some idiot who only does what other people tell them to do you know?"
"Aren't you?" Pattie glared at her daughter.
"No, I'm not."
"Oh come on Melanie, you can be so silly sometimes, people see you coming they do, let's hope you never go off travelling to America, those Moonies will be standing there waiting for you to come off the plane they know a sucker when they see one."
"Mum," whined Melanie, really upset now and hurt, this was obviously one of those mother - daughter arguments that was going to get personal.
Pattie softened, "Look darling, I'm not saying you're stupid, all I'm saying is I don't think you're mature enough yet to be in certain situations without being affected in some way."
Pattie had said the M word now, just like she did to Brian that day and that time when Melanie had been in trouble when she was in the first form and had got caught passing rude notes in class. Pattie went to visit Mr Morris the Vice Headmaster, obviously Mr Stevens , the Headmaster had better things to do.
"Mr Morris said he didn't think you were very mature for your age, he asked me if you'd...you know....matured yet and I had to say no."
Melanie's face burnt hot red like a bushfire with embarrassment. Her mother had been discussing her no show menstrual cycle with a man in his late fifties who clearly despised her . Such betrayal, such disloyalty.
"What, you told him what?"
"Now come on dear, don't be silly, it's a fact of life, girls don't know anything in this life until they become women, I was the same, I was a late starter, everyone else was going out with boys and talking about film stars and I was only interested in my dollies, mind you all that changed once I joined the army, that's the problem with your lot, you need a damn good war."
When the eventful day finally dawned, Sid proudly tapped his daughter on the shoulder and delebrately didn't look her in the eye.
"Your mum tells me you've become a woman, good on you."
Only she was wrong, all Melanie had was a very bad kidney infection, it was to be another six months before she could be called a 'mature' woman.
"Oh please mum, please, please, please."
Her mother shook her head.
"Besides it's too far how would you get home?
At that point Sid traipsed through the kitchen into the lounge room, gripping his spider killing slipper in his hand.
"Shoulda seen the big bugger I just got. Thought I'd killed it and dropped the slipper and the flaming slipper started moving on its own." Mel and Pattie gasped.
"Bloody cunning bugger had only curled itself into a ball right up into the grooves of the shoe, still alive, huh, but not for long though."
Sid finally looked up at his distraught daughter and utterly defeated wife.
"What's going on in here?"
Pattie, stood defiant in the kitchen her back to the sink and her arms folded tightly across her floury body.
"She wants to go to those acting workshops Brian's started over at his house in Randwick."
Sid signed and shook his head.
"I thought we were done with all that carrying on, why are you bringing it up again?"
"Oh please dad, it'll be fun, it's only for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon..."
But Sid stopped her in her tracks.
"No! First years and years of bloody ballet dancing a load of money down the dunny, and now she wants to be an actress, don't think I'm hanging around at the station waiting to pick you up at all hours, take up a decent hobby, basketball, chess, Ping Pong,something you can do round here, I'll teach you the Morse code if you like."
So Mel never got to go to Brian's acting workshops. She gave up dancing too, no time anymore. Not with schoolwork and her interest in art taking over, besides as her mother had said over and over again, it was time to grow up and get serious about life.
She did chat to Angela on the phone about it though. Angela had gone to the workshops twice with her brother Henry. She said they were very strange, lots of lying on the floor on their backs and breathing, then playing tag and making funny noises. It was boring, besides she had a boyfriend now at her new school and she didn't have time for all this nonsense, her brother didn't want to go anymore cause his mates stirred him about being a poof, she said she thought he might be because when she asked him if he'd ever kissed a girl he nearly vomited.
Miranda stared out of the lounge room window and across the harbour as she watched the boats bobbing about on the water.
It was Saturday afternoon and one of the first Saturdays for a long time that she didn't have a rehearsal for the society, she thought back to who she used to be all the way back to that little terraced two up two down house in Romford. To the cramped room she shared with her sisters.
Yes she'd come along way , a sublime apartment overlooking the most magnificent harbour in the world, a husband who adored her, enough money to live comfortably but her dreams still eluded her.
Yes the Rose Lane musical society had fulfilled a purpose for a time, after all she had been its brightest star.
But she couldn't play ingenues forever, in deed she'd be lucky ever to play one again, in this life anyway so these days the only way to appear optimistic was to have a firm belief in reincarnation.
She wasn't the type to settle with character roles, the quirky cook or daffy maid , the moaning granny or the dour dowager. Besides Maureen had chosen to take the society in a different direction, operettas and witty reviews and the like.
Since Maureen's mothers death and the legacy of a very handsome estate , the life long producer of the society no longer relied on donations from wealthy dentists to keep things rolling over, so Miranda had no more control within the society . Instead of a resident artistic director, Maureen decided they would have guest directors from other companies. These directors brought with them guest artistes, people they'd known and worked with for years and had built up relationships with, people they trusted, just like she and Brian. So poor old Miranda the Diva made the only decision she could, she left the society.
"Geoffrey?" , Miranda turned to her long suffering husband, who had mistakenly thought he might be able to read the Saturday Herald in peace.
"I intend to go professional. " Miranda announced dramatically.
Geoff looked up from his paper, confused and slightly thrown.
"But dear you are a professional."
"Only in attitude, I'm going to work up an act, acquire an agent and get myself some bookings ."
Miranda was in her stride now, quite literally , she paced up and down in front of the window and the glorious harbour view. With each step she grew more and more determined.
"Bookings where dear?" asked the bewildered Geoffrey.
"The usual places, working men's clubs, RSL's, should have done it years ago. Move over Lorrae Desmond, step aside Jan Adele here comes Miranda Allerton."
Miranda was very excited now, she'd grabbed a pad and pen and began making copious notes.
"First thing I'll do is get myself on that awful telly show, Pot of Gold, you know with that dreadful Bernard King judging, I'm a shoe in to win , then onward and upward."
One Saturday afternoon a year after Melanie left Rose Lane for good, she saw Tara. Melanie had gone into town with her school friend, Linda. They were clothes hunting at Centrepoint, it was there she saw her, in a little cafe, she looked fantastic.
Tight, tight blue jeans scooping up her petite frame and a simple black long sleeved skivvy, teamed with a huge oversized pink mohair jumper, gold kitten heels cradling her tiny feet. Her dark oriental style hair was now blonde, exactly the same style, but Ash blonde.
Seated beside her was a young man, probably her boyfriend Dave, tall, dark, tanned, jeans and white t. shirt, but then Mel recognised him, it was Philip, Brian's very good friend.
"Tara!" she called out alarmed at her own voice.
Tara turned and stared at her with that familiar suspicious sneer Tara had down to a tee. In an instant Tara had looked her up and down, judging, pricing and no doubt re-styling Melanie's entire look.
"Whose that?" asked Linda with her very own suburban version of Tara's upmarket sneer creeping into her voice.
Melanie was torn between running away and marching right up to Tara and taking a seat next to her, she chose to stand quite still, rooted to the spot and do nothing.
A broad smile spread across Tara's face and she waved.
"Oh hello, little Melanie isn't it? How are you?"
Melanie crossed the arcade and stood there, hovering over their table, it was one of those cafes that would be deemed open air if it was actually outside but as it was there were no doors, just a cordoned off area measured by a thick red rope attached to several metal poles.
"Yeah good, just shopping." Melanie managed.
Tara turned to her male companion, "You remember little Melanie Phil?" She repeated the pet name as thought Melanie was a cartoon character in a children's comic book. Phillip shrugged his well defined shoulders.
"She was one of the ballet girls from Rose Lane." Tara prompted.
"Oh yeah," Philip looked tired, ill in fact. He was very pale and his hair was as black as Tara's was fair, they were not only a negative image of how they used to be but of each other as well.
Philip stubbed out a cigarette and immediately lit another.
"We're just off to hang out at Brian's, you should by come one day." Tara smiled.
Melanie shook her head. "I'm not allowed."
"Oh come on, what are you?... 16, 17?"
"We're 16." said Linda proudly.
Tara took a long drag on her Dunhill.
"When I was 16 I was out every night."
" But you were a slut," laughed Philip.
Tara jumped to her own defence.
"I didn't say I was out screwing everything that moved, but I was just out.....having fun."
Linda rocked from foot to foot, she couldn't have been more bored. Melanie and Linda had known each other since primary school right through to now. They lived close to each other in down town Engadine and had been friends forever. Trouble was, Linda had never really understood Melanie's need to dance, or draw or do anything really that didn't involve the beach or boys. But as much as Linda wanted to be the ideal surfer chick, she just wasn't. She was overweight, with red hair and glasses and a mass of freckles that covered her whole body. She was intelligent despite pretending otherwise and often made extra cash at school by doing homework for the tough and scary girls. That wasn't there official name, but a very good description.
"Can we go?" whispered Linda, tugging at Melanie's sleeve.
"Sshh!" snapped Melanie.
"Are you going anywhere interesting?" quizzed Tara.
Before Melanie could answer, Linda piped up. "Shopping, for clothes, we're going to a dance next weekend."
"Really, a dance, where?" Tara actually looked quite curious.
But Melanie could take no more and set about ending this topic pronto.
"It's just a .....private, fund raising thing at school, no big deal."
"Oh," said Philip, inclining his head to one side and pulling a face reminiscent of an injured puppy. "They're still at school, how sweet, hadn't you better run off and do your homework girls, don't want to leave it to last thing Sunday night now do you now?"
Philip winked at Tara and she kicked him in the shin under the table.
Melanie and Linda said their good-byes and continued their shopping spree.
"God you know some weirdoes," said Linda, dragging Mel into a boutique, Melanie recognised it as the very shop Tara had taken her to that time they'd become accomplices and broken the law.
"No, Linda, not here, it's too expensive, let's go to Sportsgirl."
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