Rose Lane Ch25
Posted: 07 March 2004
Word Count: 1556
Chapter Twenty Five
Melanie declined Simon T's offer of joining him and Simon B for dinner , and tried to spend the rest of the day being constructive, but she just couldn't get Elise out of her mind. By mid - afternoon she knew she had to do something other than potter around pretending to work. After yet another failed attempt to get through to Elise's mobile, she dialled directory enquiries and bingo, Elise's mother was listed, what the hell she thought, I've got nothing to lose.
"Hello, is that um..Mrs Rosheen? "
Melanie was surprised to hear her voice, as Elise had made it quite clear her mother was in hospital.
She sounded mellow and soft with no hint of the troubled neurotic Elise had described.
"Who is this please?" said Nathalie in her lyrical fading French accent.
And so Melanie explained.
"What?" said her quite normal mother, "but I thought she was at the retreat in Brighton."
"We have to send her there every so often , for her own good of course."
"Yes my husband , her father and I, the doctors recommend this treatment and usually after a week or so she is much rested and feeling better."
Nathalie gave Melanie a potted history of Elise's troubled young life, everything contrary to the bleeding heart tale Elise had spun .
Melanie discovered Elise came from a very decent, loving and caring family, a French mother and an Asian father, that much was true. It turned out that every so often Elise had an episode , so to speak. She was highly strung, prone to injuring herself and needed medication but with the right care and attention she should recover and go on to lead a perfectly normal life.
Yes, thanks for letting us know, don't worry, she's probably on her way home as we speak, give me your telephone number and I'll let you know how she is. "
"She said she was going to stay with her cousin Joe in Tottenham, I gave her some money".
"What, but there is no cousin, and as for money?" Nathalie's high pitched voice queried , "She has all her credit cards and her cash point card and we put quite a lot of money in her account just this week, she must have money, I will sort this out, once again I apologise for any trouble she has caused you."
Melanie passed on her number and Nathalie rang off , but Mel felt like a bloody fool.
How could she have been so easily deceived. Sarah was right after all, girls were difficult. Melanie went upstairs to paint, only coming back down when her tummy rumbled and the evening light faded.
While searching hopefully her overnight bag for another packet of cigarettes she came across her old diary, stuffed inside her handbag.
She leafed through , stopping at entry November 1977. The year of Sid's death, the year Melanie had started university but was still living at home.
On my way back from uni when to my utter surprise I saw Tara Medway - Browne in a cafe in George St. I couldn't believe it at first, she had dark hair again, like it used to be and she was sitting at a table with possibly the worst dressed girl I've ever seen. Her friend was wearing a pink and white floral smock over a red high waisted skirt that came down to her ankles, meeting little patent leather white buckled shoes with flowers like those party shoes we wore as kids. She had a scarf tied around her head, pulled back in a sort of gypsy style and looked quite mad. Tara didn't see me thank God, but I couldn't help listening to them. The mad looking girl was really angry , I couldn't hear what she was saying but she burst into tears and sat there sobbing with her head in her hands. Tara just stood up and laughed then she left the cafe, I wanted to go up to her but I was scared she wouldn't remember who I was so I just walked up to Central station to wait for the train home.
But after coming out of the ladies toilet and going to the milk bar for my usual chocolate malted milkshake to drink on the way home I saw Tara, she was sipping a can of tab and smoking. Before I knew it I said hello Tara, she looked up at me , even thinner than I remembered her, quite scrawny really and said.
"Hey, Melanie isn't it? Wow, you're all grown up."
We hadn't seen each other for nearly a year, which is a very long time in teenager hood. She asked me where I was going, so I told her that I still lived at home in the suburbs but hopefully not for much longer.
Nope, nowhere, no mention at all of a Cheryl Burgess. Melanie closed the book on her lap and thought back to that afternoon so long ago.
"My dad died recently," Melanie confided to Tara, "I want to move out, it's a bit much out there now, my mum's thinking of selling up and moving closer to town anyway."
"You should stay with your mum," said Tara, "She probably needs you right now."
"Yeah, well maybe but I'd like to get my own place, what about you?'
Melanie was secretly hoping Tara would enfold her in her bony arms and take her back to live with her in whatever trendy, fabulous place she lived in and her life would be as exciting and spontaneous as Tara's, but that didn't happen.
"Oh you know" shrugged Tara, " Still living all over, sometimes I stay in a big squat in East Sydney, it's pretty run down but the most amazing place, it was a mansion in the olden days, one of the Governors chief assistants and his family lived there. It was built for him, so it's like, really old, gorgeous and now we live there, lucky us hey?"
"Oh wow," said Melanie, embarrassed that she suddenly sounded like a cartoon character from some dippy American cartoon.
Tara continued, "Sometimes I stay with some mates up the Cross, or I just crash out at Brian's, I'm going there now actually."
"Really," Melanie was fascinated, " Does he still teach his classes?"
"Yeah, they're going well, he's building a big studio in his garden, and he wants to direct a play to put on somewhere soon, should be fabulous, so are you still at school or what? "
"No, I left, I'm at uni now, doing an Art degree."
Tara inclined her head to one side, her eyes searching Melanie, probably for some sort of indication that this shy, gauche , suburban girl could ever have a future as an artist.
"Really, well good for you, that's terrific, really it is. Oh, I'm so proud of you Melanie, you show them, yeah, you go change the world, yeah?"
Melanie blushed and shrugged and muttered that she didn't really know what she wanted to do and if she was any good, and maybe she'd just end up teaching anyway, blah, blah.
Tara stopped her meaningless babble by gently placing her hand on Melanie's shoulder.
"You can do whatever you want Melanie, we all can, you know what they say, 'If you think you can't do something you definitely won't but if you think you can, then you just might. ' we just have to go for it, yeah, you promise me you'll do that, and make sure I get an invitation to you your exhibition."
Melanie nodded, "Sure, if I know your address."
Tara laughed, "Don't worry, I can always be found."
Melanie knew she didn't really have anything in common with Tara any more but she wanted to be part of her world just for a moment.
"I think I saw you before in a cafe with a really weird looking girl, in George St. "
Tara nodded and lit a cigarette.
"Who was she? " she asked Tara.
Tara's eyes widened then she clicked her tongue and shook her head.
"Oh that dag, you won't believe this, you remember Philip? Brian's boyfriend? Well she's his fiancée."
"Tell me about it, stupid bitch doesn't even know he's gay she accused me of having it off with her precious Philip, saying that's why he's putting off the wedding."
"So I just told her."
" I just said the reason Philip has stopped going to church and won't touch you with a barge pole is because he's a raging homosexual and has been sleeping with Brian Trinder for the past two years. That shut her up, anyway got to go, good luck Melanie, take care."
The loud trilling of Sarah's old fashioned cottage phone startled her back to the present.
"Mrs Chase, it is Nathalie Rosheen, Elise is not answering her mobile and she has not returned home, please will you call me if she contacts you again, yes?"
Melanie assured the worried mother she would, then she packed up her things and went to bed, she'd go home first thing in the morning, this trip hadn't really been a very good idea after all.
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