quarta-feira, 12 de junho de 2019

9 ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously - chapter 9 _ PART I

hi, there.
This chapter is a turning point for Bertha. She starts to realize what the heck is going on. And with that, her mind loops even more.

For me, it was a lovely chapter to write. Edwardian London is such a modern elegant place to visit, isn't it? Wish I could make it longer and more eventful... Maybe some other time. 

Anyway, Bertha is each time more aware of her surroundings...



Nine ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously
WIP, modern (mostly), adult (you know me...), fun, fluff, heart healing stuff.
read chapter 8- part II
or START from CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 9
VI- Price is right _ PART I

After five rides, Bertha was starting to find it a bit more difficult to emerge from a belladama dream. Always relaxed and light-hearted, she felt sluggish – almost reluctant to face reality. That was probably what drove Lottie, coming to think of it.

A long shower and the last clean clothes she had taken with her to her parents’ fueled in Bertha her naked determination to reach out for her Belladama sponsor.

As she reached the kitchen, the big cat at her feet, Bertha found her father with an elder man sharing laughs and a drinks.

‘Isn’t it a bit early for booze, dad?’

‘Hey, Bertha!’ Her father waved. ‘Meet Darrygh, our friend from Highbury.’

‘Hello, how are you doing?’

‘Fine, and you, girl?’

‘Fine, too. Craving a cup of coffee.’

‘Have a dose of whisky with us, Bertha.’ Her father pointed the bottle at the counter. ‘We’re cooking the sea food I found defrosting in the fridge. Darrygh can prepare a great pasta.’

‘My children love it.’ The old man smiled. 

‘He's quite a cook, my friend!’ Bertha's father patted the other man's back.

‘Had to learn!’ He laughed. ‘My kids had a soft spot for summer vacations at the Keys, we used to go sailing and brought fish we caught ourselves.  Sea food is my specialty!’

‘I have some aprons custom made, will send dad some and he can give you if you want.’ She offered.

‘That is nice, girl. I would like it very much.’

Bertha smiled. ‘The Florida Keys, you said? Wow, from all the pictures and TV shows I’ve seen, it must be a wonderful place.’ 

‘Never been there?’

‘No. Too far, too expensive.’  She shared a sad smile with her father.

‘Nah.’ He waved his hand dismissively. ‘Whenever you'd want to go, stay at our place at Islamorada. My daughter lives at Big Pine Key, she'd be happy to show you around.’

‘I'd love that, thanks!’ Bertha walked to the coffee machine and served a big cup. ‘I took the sea food from the freezer, but ended up not eating it.’ She tasted the coffee and twisted her nose in disgust.

‘Did you eat anything at all, child?’

Mmmm… Actually, she hadn’t eat much. ‘I drank tea.’

‘You look thinner, Bertha.’ Her father accused.

‘I took up running.’

‘My daughter is always on a diet.’ The old friend said. ‘But my son is very athletic and he doesn’t need do much.’

‘Funny because they are twins, right?’ 

‘Yes.’ Darrygh smiled. ‘Twins but not identical.’
litter robot

‘Meeeow!’

Bertha spit out coffee. ‘Ouch, Ginger! I’m sorry for stepping on your tail but you keep in front of my feet.’ Bertha grumbled.

‘Watch out for my cat, Bertha, poor thing!’ Her mom yelled. ‘Come here, Fitz! Zeez, zeez, zeez!’

Bertha raised her shoulders and shook her head at the men. ‘I didn’t do anything, you saw it!’

‘You know he is always curious when you’re here.’ Her father pointed a finger. ‘But you ignore the animal.’

‘I do not!’

The friend chuckled.

‘She does.’ Her father joined the good humor. ‘When she was little, we had a big black cat who ran away. She was devastated for months. Ever since, she has been cold hearted for pets.’

‘Oh my God, dad!’ Bertha rested the coffee mug on the counter. ‘I had completely forgotten about this. What was the name of that cat? I loved him!... A male, right?’

‘Fitz, he was a Fitz.’

‘Isn’t this one Fitz?’ Darrygh pointed where the big cat had left.

‘Yes, all our cats are called Fitz. Fitzgerald, Fitzsimmons, Fitzroy, Fitzwilliam.’

‘Why?’

‘Places we have visited, actors, authors, characters. Maureen O’hara was Fitzsimmons, our first date we went to the movies to watch McLintock. We once visited a bar in the Fitzroy neighborhood of Victoria when in Australia, great booze. Fitzgerald wrote the Gatsby. Fitzwilliam is the great Mr. Darcy.’

‘Have the Austen hero makes sense if you had the Gatsby man.’

‘Exactly.’

That she remembered from school, how hard she crammed over the classics. Really understood it. Was that why she kept dreaming about Darcy and Fitzwilliam and Lizzy? Bertha was flabbergasted. ‘I need to…’ She pointed the door.

‘Are you insane, child? A storm is coming our way!’

‘It’s not raining yet.’ She opened the door, looked outside. ‘Not even heavy wind.’

‘Where do you need to go? See someone? Janet? Your mom has her on the phone, go talk to her.’ 

‘No, not Janet. Lottie.’

‘A friend.’ He told the friend. ‘Don’t take long, come back quickly.’

‘K.’

How long did she take to walk the five blocks to Lottie’s, Bertha couldn’t tell, but there she was in front of the little old house that was conspicuously similar to the grandma’s house of little red riding hood tale.

On the porch she took a deep breath, knocked on the door and waited. Then again. As she had no answer, Bertha glued her lips to the corner of the door and whispered. ‘Lottie, are you tripping?’

Silly thing to do. If she was, she wouldn’t hear.

‘Lottie!’ She yelled. ‘It’s me, Bertha. Come on!’

‘What do you want, B?’

‘Open up.’

‘Don’t want to.’

‘What do you think I am? The wolf from Three little pigs? Do you want me to blow your house away? Belladama don’t give me this power!’

The door flew opened. ‘Shut it!’

‘Ha!’

‘What came into you to talk about it out loud?’

Bertha smiled. ‘Hello, how are you doing, Lottie?’

‘You kill me, Bertha. Damn the IRS for making me visit your place. Should never have seen the mess you made of your life and given you my gran’s tea.’

‘Of course you should, it is so interesting, isn’t it?’ 

Lottie pressed her eyes.

‘But it has been making me think so much about myself. Almost more efficient than any shrink I could ever see.’

‘Of course, B. We know ourselves better than anyone else. We are our best advisers if we only hear our own reasoning.’

‘And belladama helps so much…’

‘Shshsh!’ Lottie put her index finger to her lips, looked from side to side and pulled her friend inside. ‘Please, don’t speak of ancient wild belladama with strangers. Have you?’

‘No.’

‘Bertha.’ She pressed.

‘No. I didn’t.’ She kissed her crossed fingers. ‘I swear.’

‘Huh.’

‘New couch, how big!’

‘I need to talk to you about what you’re doing.’ Lottie shook her head. ‘Gran is unhappy with your use of Belladama. Have you finished the dose I gave you?’

‘How come…’ Bertha blinked stupidly. ‘Your gran is dead, how come she’s unhappy in heaven?’

‘Answer me, please.’

With a weird sound coming from her throat, Bertha moved her head from side to side. ‘Almost. I didn’t use it all.’ Lottie gasped. ‘I was suspicious, so I used a pinch. A bit more than a pinch.’

‘That is so wrong!...’ Lottie pressed her fingers over her eyes.

‘You said the thing was very strong and hybrid, I feared it would make me grow another arm!’

‘Shut up, Bertha! And still you use it and get into my dreams and stop me from living a love story.’

‘What I remember was that the guy was gloomy and had a funny eye towards the naïve girl. I had to help or else I’d allow harassment and man power-’

‘It was the 19th century, silly! We go back and live that reality to experience different lives so we can improve our own!’

‘I’m starting to figure things out; you know? Like I must be dealing with grief.’ Bertha twisted her lips. ‘Please, don’t be so cross with me. I need your help. Just found out that my dreams are all centered in a single problem.’

Lottie sat down, breathed slowly. ‘You’re dreaming about something your mind is trying to solve, desires. Who are you grieving?’ She frowned. They’ve been friends for a long time, she’d know if someone close had passed away. 

‘A pet, when I was seven or eight.’

‘Who?’

‘Fitz, the cat. I made some convoluted connection with his name and literature and my parents’ weird pet naming issues.’
They were silent for a while.

‘Oh!’ Lottie smiled. ‘That fat fur ball you used to carry in a basket!’

‘Fitz…’ Bertha smiled. ‘I had forgotten about him; thought he wasn’t important anymore.’
istock


‘Mmmm… Your subconscious may be sending you a signal. Something silly could be simply a way to call your attention. Belladama opens your mind to help you think. Give your life a chance, Bertha.’

A sassy smile stretched Bertha’s lips. ‘Sounds so much like pot…’

‘Huh! Good thing you don’t have much anymore. You don’t deserve it!’ Lottie rose and walked inside. ‘Do you want something to drink?’

‘Coffee.’ She said still chuckling and saw from the corner of her eye a little bag of leaves. Belladama! Her heart raced. It’d be so lame to steal. But her friend wouldn’t give her anymore, she wouldn’t find it in regular shops… It was a small bag. ‘Gold in leaves’, Lottie had once said.

The wind whistled outside, a window banged, the trees danced, Lottie cursed from the kitchen, Bertha pocketed the bag.

‘Forget about the coffee, Lottie. The storm is arriving; I’d better get home.’

‘First help me lock the windows, it’s the least you can do.’


As she entered her parents’ house, drenched and chilled to the bones, Bertha heard her mother’s voice coming from the dining room.

‘She has always been too independent, ever since she was a little girl. Janet still needs me, but Bertha is her own woman. She lives by herself since college, works at the awful coffee shop, refuses our money more times than we care to offer. I felt useless as she grew up, you know.  There was a year, sophomore I guess, she got in deep trouble, such low grades; but I didn’t know until the English teacher called me to compliment the great work she had done for extra credits. What book was it?’

‘Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.’

‘Ah, a favorite of all times.’

‘Yes, everyone’s passion!’

‘So you have it. She worked on it alone, didn’t ask for help or opinion, composed a long essay, all very inspired and adult- like. So good it was that she was guaranteed excellent grades, all on her own. I felt so proud of her and also very… useless! After that, I learned how to deal with her spirits.’

‘She learned her lesson that year. My poor daughter was in big trouble, Austen really made an impression in her life.’ Her father chuckled.

‘I fully understand you. My children are very independent as well.’ Gia said. ‘They both left the house for college and never returned. Junior is over thirty and still single, maybe will die a single man. Giovana is as good as married but… we have to learn to accept their lives.’

There was silence.

Bertha considered if she should announce her presence. Darrygh, Junior, Gia, Giovana; what an unusual family. 

‘Meow!’

‘Oh, Ginger!’

‘Bertha, is that you-’ Her mother walked in the kitchen. ‘Good Lord, look at that!’

‘Poor dear! Wet as a pet!’ Gia gushed. ‘Go take a warm shower and I’ll have Darrygh prepare your bowl of pasta.

Well, that was a nice change, Bertha thought eating at the kitchen counter dressed in old flannel pjs eating hot pasta with sea food as the old folks chatted clearly inebriated. Wine, that was what they had. Plus the men had whisky before she left. Hmmm…

The dishes were left for her because the storm presented a funny entertainment for the boozed elders. Reassured by her stealing, as fowl as it was, Bertha lost her pity of spending one more pinch of Belladama and prepared a nice warming cup of tea. Small, half the cup because she didn’t want to mix the sources.

But a few sips were better than no sips at all.
The loud noise of the irate winds, rain and thunders lulled her into a deep slumber.


The streets were loud, on fire, and Lizzy was locked inside the house as caged bird! She bounced on her legs, all ten fingers on the glass panels, groans in her throat.

‘Stop these noises, girl, and listen carefully.’ 

‘He is an insufferable, insufferable man. Stop reading that, aunt Charlotte.’

‘I cannot, he used our good name in vain.’

‘He didn’t say Bennet or Collins. He didn’t even mention the name of father’s estate cousin will inherit. Let him be and help me escape mom.’

‘You cannot take part in another rally, Lizzy.’

‘I am a suffragist.’

‘He says here you are a suffragette!’

A loud groan escaped her. ‘Mr. Darcy of Pemberley road is the worst kind of politician there is, you know it. He is lord of a huge estate up North, it is said he explores a coal mine, but here in London, in the House of Commons, he is the symbol of all things proper. Single still, over thirty. I bet he has Lord Byron’s inclinations. Or even Oscar Wilde’s!’

A gasp expressed the horror of Charlotte Collins, actually married to a cousin of Lizzy’s father but considered aunt. ‘You do not mean it.’

Lizzy waved her shoulders. ‘He speaks his mind, I speak mine. Maybe I should send my thoughts to the paper as well.’

‘Don’t you dare!’ Mrs. Bennet yelled entering the morning room. ‘And get out of this window!’

‘Oh, mamma! Look, they are marching to the Statue of Achilles. And I am here… It is preposterous, we all should be there, protesting, fighting for our rights!’

‘Our right is to have a home, a husband, children, security.’ Mrs. Bennet bristled. ‘I dreamt of having this reign of my own.’ She waved around the over decorated room. ‘To have a pretty daughter like you, smart enough to accept the proposal of a prominent man of politics and connections.’

She groaned and sat heavily on a chair.

‘I dreamt my husband would be able to provide for me even if I didn’t present him a male heir. But dreams are not always meant for every woman.’ Mrs. Bennet complained. ‘Don't gloat, Charlotte. It does not become you.’

‘Oh, Agnes! You know I'll never throw you out of Longbourn. Not even when I conduct all the renovations the house needs.’

‘You'll never renovate anything, aunt Charlotte.  You hate changes.’

‘That's right.’ Charlotte shrugged her shoulders.  ‘That's why your mama will always be welcomed there.’

‘You get wrinkles around your eyes when you gloat.’ Mrs. Bennet pointed her own face.’ Definitely not becoming on you.’

Lizzy whined her impatience. 

‘If I had called her Jane, she'd be a sweet a compliant girl. Now I could say my daughter was Mrs. Darcy, wife of the most promising MP in the House of Commons. Instead, I allowed her father give her the name of the spiteful queen Elizabeth who refused husbands; married to the throne, the woman was.’ Mrs. Bennet despaired.  ‘A simpleton for a daughter, spinster!’

‘A suffragist!’ Lizzy corrected.

‘He wrote about her on the paper, Aggie.’ Charlotte waved the newspaper. ‘Broken hearted rant, it seems to me.’

‘Stupid words from a stupid man.’ Lizzy grumbled.

‘Shsh!’ Her mother ordered. ‘Enough independence from you, child.’ She turned to Charlotte. ‘Read it to me, please.’

‘BLIGHTED BY MILITANCY, TRAGEDY OF THE RUINED LIVES OF SUFFRAGETTES. 
Something must be done to correct the ideas and ideals of young ladies these days or Britain may suffer extinction in the upcoming decades. The history unfolds in front of our eyes as we witness the straying of brilliant girls capable of happy productive marriages and even careers in household help, education or literature – who could tell? – waste their forces in the pathetic loneliness militancy. Marred with the ignominious Suffragette movement, they try to stop the verdict of time in a series of misadventures that sully names and dreams giving evidence that the feminine mind is not fit for responsibilities as big as deciding the ways of the nation. I have come in contact with one particular case of a promising young lady who dismissed a spectacular connection that would save her family’s legacy for the prideful need to join the militant ranks.  Once more it rests on our shoulders the necessity to correct what is being withered like Dead Sea fruit under the malignant influence of militancy. Using my influence, I keep describing my efforts to render assistance to the women unconscious of their actions and how much guidance they need to find reason.’

‘Oh, no. He is really broken hearted.’ Mrs. Bennet whined. ‘He will never speak to her again.’

‘Probably not.’ Charlotte shook her head.

‘Not something you might want to happen to a pathetic militant anyway.’ Lizzy stood to gawk at the window again.

‘Well,’ cried Mrs. Bennet, ‘have it as you choose. He shall choose another woman and you shall die a spinster.’

‘A spinster with the right to vote!’ She raised her fist moving in marching steps around the room.

‘Headstrong, foolish girl!’

‘So I may be.’ By then she was close to the doorway which was side by side with the front door and she escaped outside before her mother could stop her.

Dressed in white with a thin green and purple belt around her slim waist, Lizzy walked the streets bearing a proud smile fueling her brave spirit. It was a big fight to be fought, women knew it wouldn't be easy, but united they'd win. Not all men voted, women's voices were ignored as the insane, poor and criminals. What gal did an elite of men have to compare women to convicted criminals? Or demented!
Portrait of a lady, 1910 - christie's

They shall be heard, they shall make more noise, be louder, speak to whomever they could. That day, that Sunday, was going to be the day!

Each corner she turned, more women joined her. Soon, a small march was formed and kept happily engorging. Unknown, they only had in common their gender and the color in their attire: white, purple and green. Purity, loyalty and hope. One had to show great bravery to wear those colors in public, specially that day, even in little details such as buttons, hat feathers or scarfs.  Lizzy felt a bit ashamed of her thin belt, of her meager efforts for the cause.

‘Votes for women!’ Someone shouted. The others answered spurred by the urge of the fight. And on they walked towards Hyde Park, the rally was surely going to change the views of women such as her mother and aunt who still saw suffragists as ugly impolite creatures.

The policemen also knew that was the day and Hyde Park would be the place. Orders had been given to stop militants before they gathered, identify more incendiary elements, lock up in prison the ones prone to cause more damage. 

What are women to batons and manhandling? 

Under heavy attack of brutal force, they scattered and ran as cockroaches searching for shelter, Lizzy shouted calling out other women to stay together, to form a turtle as the Roman fought, to resist! But, a heavy blow hit her shoulder from behind. Frightened, she ran as well. 

Eyes shiny with tears of pain, the nearer address she could find was of Hades. At any other moment, the option was unthinkable, but at that moment, she punched the blood red door with her fist, it opened almost immediately and in an instant she was safe in the arms of the greatest evil she could face.

‘My darling!’ He pressed her to his chest. ‘My fool, fool darling.’

‘Ouch!’ She winced. ‘My shoulder.’ A whine.

‘Did you get hit?’

‘Just once, but it hurts very much.’

There was loud banging on the door that startled them.

‘Open up!’ An angry male voice shouted from outside. ‘I know you're inside, I saw you entering!’

‘Please, don't turn me in.’

‘Why would I take this risk?’

‘Open up!’ More banging.

‘I know the price for you and for me.’ She whispered cowardly. 

Her dear face brightened by the exercise and fear twisted his heart. He undressed his silk dressing gown and extended to her. ‘Go to my study, you'll find everything that pleases me.’

Lizzy nodded at the tantalizing vision of the tall handsome man in his shirt and pants, no tie or any formality in his dressing. If her face could get redder, it would.

‘Open this door! This is the last warning before we break in!’

‘Go, you know the house, you've been here before.’

She knew he meant the ball in which they first shared a kiss, her first kiss. Or maybe he meant the dinner party when he proposed intending on a hurried union before whisking her away because of his need to leave the city.

‘Lizzy!’ He raised his voice. ‘Wait for me, prepare yourself for what is to come.’

- continues -

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