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Rose Lane Ch23

by Jubbly 

Posted: 01 March 2004
Word Count: 2902

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Chapter Twenty Three

The next morning Melanie awoke to music, distorted, loud clubbing music. Her dreamy thoughts lapped her dozy brain forcing her up and out of bed and into the disturbing reality that she wasn't alone.
Of course, Elise, what the hell was going on? While she hurriedly dressed, the music stopped.

"I'm sorry," said Elise, pouring another coffee for Melanie. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"Thank God the nearest neighbours are too far away to have heard anything. Sarah would go mad if I upset anyone aroundhere."

Elise apologised yet again, "It's amazing this place isn't it, so quiet, like you could be the only ones left on earth, wicked."

"Yes, it's lovely" agreed Melanie.

"I hate London, it sucks."

"Sometimes we need a break from a big city, just the chance to slow down and breathe properly." said Melanie, sounding more and more like her Self Help book, every day.

"Don't you miss Australia?" quizzed Elise.

"Of course I do, especially the space, whenever I go back my dreams are bigger."

"Really, yeah I bet, this is such a tin pot little country it squashes everything, compacts it, it has the ability to stifles ones dreams. "

Melanie took a bite of toast.
"That's very poetic but a bit melodramatic, I love it here, that's why I've stayed so long."

"Why did you come over in the first place?"

"Oh you know the usual, to travel, experience the world and life."

"What about your family?"

" I thought I told you, I haven't really got that many any more, well apart from my two sons, my estranged husband and my aunt in Australia, we're very close. Especially now she's on-line."

"Cool, a like it when the wrinklies don't just give up and die."
Elise moved closer and Melanie feared she may be going to confide some terrible secret to her.

"So, found out any more about your missing friend?"

Melanie shook her head and told her they'd found out who the dead girl was and no, she didn't know her after all.

"Shame." remarked Elise.

"I'm sorry?" Melanie was amazed by Elise's reaction.

"Oh, I mean, you know...it's a mystery that's all, everyone loves a mystery."

Then unbelievably Melanie found herself telling Elise all about Tara.

"She sounds amazing, I wish I'd had a friend like that, wow, and so forward thinking all those years ago."

"Elise, it was the 1970's , not the middle ages."

"Melanie can I tell you something?"

Oh no, here it comes, what has this girl done? How will it affect Melanie? And what the hell will Melanie do about it?

"Sure, what is it?"

Elise beamed, "I've decided to have a baby."

"What? Who with? You're not even seeing anyone."

"Oh I see a few people, that's not the issue, I'll find someone that doesn't matter, that's not the point."

"But Elise, you're so young and having a child is an enormous responsibility what about your mother, what will she say?"

Elise's calm almost beatific face changed to one of fury. She stood up pushing her chair back in one movement and sending it crashing to the floor.
"She won't say anything, she never does!" Elise screeched at Melanie.

Melanie was shocked, she quickly reached for Elise, anything to placate her.
"Look please Elise, all I'm saying is have you really thought about this, everything motherhood entails?

Elise folded her arms across her chest, metaphorically sealing her heart from any pain and torment that might try and destroy it.

"Of course I have, I want a baby, I know how to love a child and I know that child will love me more than anyone else, what more do you need in this life, nothing, not if you've got that. "

"Oh Elise, don't be so naive, thousands of young girls get pregnant just so that they'll have something to love, but life's not that simplistic, looking after a baby is bloody hard work and if you're not adequately prepared you could be courting disaster."

"I'd never hurt my own child, what are you saying?"
"I didn't mean....
Melanie's argument was left trailing as Elise's mind made enormous leaps of logic , she stumbled from accusations to insinuations and back to assumptions, eventually she decided on good old fashioned stroppy teenager and stormed out of the kitchen.

"You're just like my mother , you're all the same, none of you want me to be happy."

Tears welled up in Elise's eyes, and her voice stuck in her throat. She began pulling anxiously at her clothes, as though trying to break out of a straight jacket, it was then Melanie saw the marks, scars, dozens of pale red lines, criss crossing Elise's arms. Reminders of all the times things had got too much and she'd cut right through her own skin to remind her she was still alive.

"Now come on Elise, calm down...

Elise backed away from her.
"No you don't understand anything I'm going, I can't stay here, I have to go!"

Elise grabbed hold of her old black back pack, , it was only modest but inside it held her world.

"Elise come back! Come on, lets just sit down and talk."

But the wild girl fled, leaving Melanie alone and frightened for her safety.
Where could she go, perhaps she'd make her way over to the Simons's house, where she could inconveniently stumble in on them enjoying a cliched lifestyle moment in their idyllic country retreat paid for by the plentiful pink pound, how awkward would that be?

"Hello dear, love to help you but what with the Goose to stuff and the back garden to landscape there's only so much one can do."

Mel dialled Elise's mobile only to find it switched off, should she call the local police? And say what? There's a frightened young girl terrorising the country side threatening to get pregnant and inflict a life of insecurity and uncertainly on a child, she must be stopped right away.

Melanie got in her car in search of her, she didn't have to look far, further down the road, resting on a Cotswold stone wall and reading The Plague by Camus was Elise.

"Elise, get in the car, please. "
Melanie caught hold of the bedraggled wreck of a girl by her arm and pulled her back.
"If you want to leave fine, I'll put you on the train, ok?"
They drove to the little country station in silence , Melanie first having checked there was even a train, there was- just the one.
Melanie didn't dare broach the subject of the scars, not now, not when she was so distressed, that could wait.

"Here take this, just in case." Melanie handed over twenty pounds.

"Thanks," said Elise, "I'll pay you back."

Elise assured Melanie she'd be fine, she was going to stay with her cousin in Tottenham.

"Yeah, Joe, he's alright, he'll put me up, no problem, bye."

And she was gone.......

On returning to the cottage Melanie noticed a short man with a shock of blonde hair, striding up the path. His perfect summer tan and well laundered GAP clothing told her right away he was one of the Simons.

"Sorry we haven't been round sooner, only Simon's gone and put his back out at yoga, typical just when we've all the bulbs to re pot, methinks someone's trying it on." Simon T, patted the side of his nose with his forefinger. "Anyway don't hesitate to give us a bell if you need anything, ooh do you know who that young lass was soaring down the road like a startled banshee? Nearly sent me flying, I told her to mind herself and she told me to Fuck Off, kids today eh, do thank the lovely Sarah for the Olive tree and we'll see you round for Martinis, cheers."

As Melanie tidied up ridding the house of Elise's presence, she saw the crumpled business card stuffed behind a cushion on the sofa.
In Sarah's handwriting was scrawled a mobile number. Well, well, it looks like someone had been playing away after all.


One Sunday afternoon, Brian, Philip and Tara sat around a Formica table in an Italian cafe in the shadow of their hangovers.
It had become a habit. Brian and Philip the couple and hanger on but not joiner in - Tara Medway- Browne. They both enjoyed her company, Brian saw her as the woman he would have chosen had he been straight. She was beautiful, sexy and unbelievably charming when she wanted to be. If he'd had a sister she'd have also fitted the bill. Naughty, surprising, spectacular - in another life she could have been a fabulous queen, just like him. Philip liked her for most of the same reasons. She was his foil, she allowed the dark and bitchy side of him to blossom. She was so unlike the women he'd grown up with. The place for women is in the home, cooking, nurturing and procreating. That's what he'd always been taught. He'd never encountered a girl like her, a chain smoking , alcohol swilling, independent woman who was very secretive when it came to her stash of funds.

Today, Philip was even paler than usual and Brian had already thrown up twice. Even the invincible Tara looked the worse for the wear.
She chain smoked and ordered a third cafe latte. The trio had spent the evening in a fashionable alternative night club held in the basement of one of Sydney's most stylish shopping arcades. The club was a weekly host to any theatre/dance/musical/ or just plain bloody mad group of individuals that wanted to perform there. Last night they'd treated themselves to a piece, for there was really no other word for the offering, loosely based on the theme, 'Indulgence.' How very apt, bone thin girls or were they boys it was almost impossible to tell, danced half naked in the tiny space which also doubled as the disco floor. They draped purple chiffon remnants around their fragile bodies and darted barefoot in and out of the crowd, eyes wild with too much make up, lips whited out so they resembled nymphs who'd got a bit too enthusiastic with the toothpaste. An assortment of good looking European men paraded about looking gorgeous, caressing the nymphs and each other. One called Stellios, sang opera for no particular reason and two women in their late thirties recited fragmented poetry by candlelight. An extraordinary buxom blonde creature with luscious lips and painted eyelashes streaking down her cheeks sat on top of a ladder, she wore a long thirties satin gown and a swarthy androgynous type simulated oral sex underneath the swirls of her dress, at least they assumed it was an act. Brian assured them the man in question would certainly never commence such a project authentically, he just wasn't that way inclined.

They'd drunk far too much and Tara who'd recently broken up with her dull boyfriend Dave, managed to seduce both the doorman and a visiting French student, all very sordid of course.
But Tara wasn't open for romantic nights in with strangers, after the initial act, generally carried out in a lavatory or back alley she'd spend the night back at Brian's. His mother Mary, was away visiting her brother in Melbourne so Philip and Brian slept in her bed and Tara had Brian's room. Such a plain clinical room for a man so immersed in make believe. He still had the little narrow bed he'd slept in since he was a child. The only other furnishings were a dressing table, chair and an old wooden wardrobe. On the wall was a framed photo of his parents standing with their backs to the sea, windswept hair and awkward smiles. Taken years before Brian was conceived, perhaps he kept it to remind himself of a time when he wasn't the centre of his mothers universe. When the girl in the photo looked relaxed, with no hint of the strain and disappointment she would wear on her face like a war wound in the years to come.

As they sipped their coffees and watched the freakshow that was Kings Cross go past, a shrill lone voice shattered the cosy atmosphere.

"Philip? What are you doing here?"
They all looked up, standing before them was a young girl about 18. She was wearing the most unfashionable assortment of clothes Tara had ever seen. Cheap brandless blue jeans and a home knitted coral coloured jumper over a checked shirt. On her feet she wore what looked like Clarks school shoes in brown and to top it off two unruly plaits, making her look like a demented urban Heidi.
Tara was shocked, this was the sort of person she'd giggle about, point out in the crowd while grabbing hold of Philip's hand and shrieking, Oh my god will you look at that!

Philip had gone even paler if that was possible for a human being with a beating heart.
"Judith," he spat.
"Hello Philip, Good gracious what have you done to your hair? I called your mother she said you'd gone out to the theatre, I must say I was a bit shocked."
The dumpy creature continued her monologue.
"Anyway I got back from the retreat the day before yesterday, did you write cause I didn't get any letters, mind you we were so busy I wouldn't have the time to read them properly anyway."
Brian sat up straight in his chair, he was clearly needed now.
"Ahem, Philip would you care to introduce us to your young friend?"
Philip blushed and looked away. "Mm, this is Judith Mostyn, mm, Judith - Brian Trinder and Tara Medway - Browne."

"Hello... has Philip been meeting with you?"

Tara and Brian looked confused.
"Mmm, you could say that," said Brian.

"Oh that's so good to hear," she took off her knapsack and opened it up inside were loads of leaflets, she took some out and placed them on the table in front of the assembled group.
"Philip I don't know if you've seen these latest doctrines? I got them from headquarters . You might want to take some for your group, I think you'll find them essential."
Tara picked up one of the leaflets and began reading aloud.
"The United church of all Gods children understand what you are feeling, we know what it's like to live in a world isolated from your God......ok, what is this?"

The chatty girl continued. "I'm visiting the", she winced looking for the right word, "you know, prostitutes up here and teaching them the good word of our lord, hopefully they'll see the light and turn their back on their wicked ways. Philip and I often used to come up here to work but I've been on a course recently and Philip has been studying so we've a lot to catch up on."

Philip was looking decidedly embarrassed, he stood up and grabbed his jacket.
"Come on Judith let's go."
"I thought we were going out for a drink ," said Brian.
"Some other time" and Philip steered Judith away from the group.
"Oh there's no rush," said Judith and took a seat,
"Please Judith, come on let's just go." Philip was agitated and his voice grew deeper yet quieter.
Tara noticed the tiny ring on Judith's wedding finger, a slight gold band with the most inoffensive of diamonds perched on the top, two tiny gold hands clasped the diamond, the same hands featured at the top of the leaflet Judith had given them.

"Are you engaged?" she asked Judith.
Judith, laughed, and her round cheeks reddened.
"Of course, Philip and I have been engaged for a year now, we're getting married next Easter, Philip's father will be doing the ceremony he's the vicar of our church , he wed Philip's sister Dymphna to my cousin Christopher, last year, our families are very close."

Well this was a turn up, Philip with a girlfriend, Philip getting married, Philip part of a chain that was a commoners version of the Royal Family. Brian looked hurt, Philip had told him something about Judith, but he said it was all his parents idea, he promised Brian he'd taken her aside, explained his dilemma, lied but gently let her down, saying he wanted to concentrate on college, maybe travel, that he was too young to settle down carefully omitting his real sexual preference for fear his parents might be upset. Even Brian understood his reluctance for complete honesty and said nothing, what did it matter as long as they were together and Philip rid of anyone who might come between them.
" I've got to get back to the house, I'll see you later. "
Brian stood up and walked away.
Judith called after him. "Please don't do anything you'll be ashamed of Sir, just remember all the things Philip has taught you."
Tara called after him, "Brian wait for me," she turned to Philip rolling her eyes, "See you round, bye," she said in a mocking obsequious voice, then reserving her best fake smile for Judith she left.
"Oh, they seemed nice, are they coming to a service?" asked Judith.
Philip started scratching, he suffered from psoriasis and the slightest irritation made him very itchy indeed.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 21:37 on 01 March 2004  Report this post
Hi Julie,

I found this part less convincing and not up to the usual standard. Writing + plot – the pregnancy thing… The body slashing – yes, Elise is attention seeking, but the pregnancy? Perhaps you are setting something else up? (btw have you checked her clothing in previous scenes – long sleeves etc because I remember it being hot weather when they met. Maybe foreshadow with Mel wondering why Elise wore long sleeves when it was so hot in a previous chapter?

I think you’ve been doing too much hacking and slashing and your grammar has gone haywire!!


Really, yeah I bet, this is such a tin pot little country it squashes everything, compacts it, it has the ability to stifles ones dreams. " = not sure about Elise saying this

Cool, a like it when the wrinklies don't just give up and die." = typo

"I'm sorry?" Melanie was amazed by Elise's reaction.

"Oh, I mean, you know...it's a mystery that's all, everyone loves a mystery."

Then unbelievably Melanie found herself telling Elise all about Tara.

"She sounds amazing, I wish I'd had a friend like that, wow, and so forward thinking all those years ago." = amazed, unbelievably, amazing - I’m not sure about these words.

Elise beamed = or this one

Melanie was shocked, she quickly reached for Elise, anything to placate her. = or this line

She stormed out of the kitchen… Tears welled up in Elise’s eyes… (we can’t see her?)


You’re just like my mother = full stop?

Elise grabbed hold of her old black back pack, , it was only modest but inside it held her world.

Where could she go?

Simons's = Simons’

Goose = why capital. Comma after landscape?

only to find it switched off, = but it was switched off?

Melanie first having checked there was even a train, = when? How?

When the girl in the photo looked relaxed, with no hint of the strain and disappointment she would wear on her face like a war wound in the years to come. = without when?

There are more. Look out for putting commas where you could end sentences and start new ones.

The Brian/Philip/Tara bit is better except the “well this was a turn up…” para which almost isn’t needed as Brain being hurt and leaving and what we already know about Philip, tell us this is news to everyone and Philip has been leading a double life.

Sorry to be so critical but I think it’s what you want!!

Jubbly at 07:05 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Elspeth, thanks for being so harsh, you're right it is what I want. What's interesting is that I thought this chapter was okay, compared to the others I mean, so that goes to show doesn't it? I'll do a rewrite, I'll rethink the pregnancy for Elise, I still want to keep it in but I think I need to build up to it more. Thanks as always.



Account Closed at 07:30 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Yes, in fact it's not the pregnancy I didn't buy but the way it was introduced - too blunt. Maybe if you built it up as you say and hinted eg 'When I have my child...' so that Mel has serious doubts.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading on...

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