“She figured that it must be this light, this warmth that reminds one of summer, of the tropics, smooth scents and blossoms of every color. That distracts from the pale winter, and shuns the thought of days spent behind heavy oaken doors, in halls of darkened portraits or corners stacked high with books. The light of her childhood, of running through the fields with Reginald, of hunting the servants with the bloodhounds, and throwing rocks at elderly women.”
By Brandon Weston
It was about 3 in the afternoon when Amelia, her father, and Reginald moved to the sunlit salon with the pots of blooming dahlias. As they walked, Lord Henry and Reginald discussed hiring more German immigrants to work the gardens, and as she walked behind them Amelia had the opportunity to remember, to hold such wonderful childhood events in the palms of her sweaty hands and cherish them briefly like roses whose luster would soon fade, and to admire, as well, Reginald’s shapely ass, barely contained in his slim trousers. She awoke from her thoughts as they entered the conservatory, filled with exotic scents that, at this time of the day, were magnified by the warmth of the sun entering through the tall windows. The heat made each orchid surrender its perfume into the air, the humidity made it mingle with drips of sweat on Amelia’s brow and neck, loosened then onto her dress, remaining there for days until washed away. Reginald, removing his jacket, sat at a small tea table next to an ancient fern, whose fronds touched and toyed with the back of his neck and shirt. Lord Henry sat next to him, still talking about the number of staff that would be needed this spring. Reginald wasn’t listening at all, but rather admired Amelia who was fixing a branch of jasmine blossoms into her black locks. As she moved toward the tea table, Amelia met eyes with Reginald watching her, and gave a little smile, noticing how much thinner he looked without his jacket on. He’s not so bad, she thought, sitting at the table and ringing the service bell, in fact, he may be quite attractive in a certain light.
She figured that it must be this light, this warmth that reminds one of summer, of the tropics, smooth scents and blossoms of every color. That distracts from the pale winter, and shuns the thought of days spent behind heavy oaken doors, in halls of darkened portraits or corners stacked high with books. The light of her childhood, of running through the fields with Reginald, of hunting the servants with the bloodhounds, and throwing rocks at elderly women.
If only he could always be in this light she thought, lowering her gaze to the glass surface of the table reflecting the image of Reginald’s unwavering eyes.
“Are you even listening?” Lord Henry shouted, grasping Reginald by the scruff with his words, pulling him back from Arcadia.
“Sorry Uncle,” he replied, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand, “I must have been elsewhere.”
Lord Henry pursed his lips, looking at Amelia who was desperately trying not to look at him.
“Yes, well, this servant business is important, and something you must pay attention to if you plan on living here.”
Amelia froze, looking at her father, “What do you mean live here?”
Reginald began playing with one of the fern’s fronds, it seemed to enjoy this gesture, though it would never dream of letting anyone know.
“Yes, my darling,” said Lord Henry, signaling for the servant bearing a tea-tray to enter the conservatory, “Your cousin has agreed to help run the estate, it’s much too difficult for me these days, what with your mother…”
“Don’t, father.” Amelia interrupted. There was silence as the servant, a boy of about 15 wearing what appeared to be a cat costume, set the tea-tray on the table before turning to leave.
“Stop!” Lord Henry shouted, the boy, head still lowered, turned back to the table. “And what do kitties say?”
The boy hesitated, his eyes twitching with shame, “Meow, m’lord, meow.”
“Very good!” Lord Henry chuckled to himself while pouring a cup of tea, “You may leave!” The boy turned and quickly ran out of the room before the madman had time to make him perform any tricks.
“Anyway,” continued Lord Henry with a mouthful of strawberry scone, “I could use the help, and your cousin has been most gracious in coming all this way from England to offer his aid.”
Amelia and Reginald locked eyes again as Lord Henry downed a cream puff. Both hesitated to smile. Reginald offered a small corner-of-the-mouth lift, almost asking Amelia for permission to finish the gesture. After a moment Amelia granted his offer with a chuckle, “Oh alright then!” she said, pouring two cups of tea, “It will give us some much needed time to catch up, cousin.”
“It will indeed.” replied Reginald, and as a cloud moved over the sun, dampening the light offered to the room, Amelia noticed through his smile, a brown and rotting incisor.