I try very hard to write stories with meaning, perhaps a little too hard, but it's difficult sometimes to get your point across without being blunt about it. I, however, don't like being blunt and prefer a more subtle approach. Well, I hope you enjoy and maybe even get the message underneath the story.
“I saw the Hannon girl in town the other day,” Beth said drawing away from the window in a bored tone.
“Which one?” her sister, Margret, asked not looking up from her needle point.
The third girl in the room ignored them both pretending to be enthralled with her book.
“Oh, you know!” Beth started with a wave of her hand. “The middle one. The one that married that farm boy.”
Margret gasped. “Did you really?” she replied looking up with a smile. “And how was our delicate little flower Samantha?” she asked, a cruel curl to her lips. “Did she look well?”
Beth sniggered. “Saying she looked decent would be too nice! Oh, Margret, you should have seen her! She looked absolutely dreadful. Her dress had a tear in it which she stitched up quite horridly! Her shoes and hem were caked in mud! And her hair was about as dull and lifeless as dead grass!”
Margret gasped again and then immediately laughed. “She sure did seal her fate, did she not!?”
“Quite! And to think she had the audacity to approach me in public looking like that. I would not have known her had she not called me by my name. I almost took her as a beggar for she didn’t smell much better than one.”
The two sisters squealed in laughter. A noise that grated upon the third girl’s ears.
“She seemed perfectly happy to me when I talked to her yesterday,” she said still looking down into her book.
The sisters huffed.
“Constance,” Beth said, “you can’t seriously think that she is content with her situation in life. The girl looked positively dreadful.”
She finally lowered the book and closed it keeping her finger on her page. “You have described nothing but what she may seem to look like on the outside. You described her clothes but not how she feels. I would bet you sixpence that you cannot remember more than ten words of the conversation you had with her.”
Beth narrowed her eyes a bit and pouted.
“My point exactly,” she continued. “When I talked to her she was overcome with a sense of freedom and true unadulterated happiness.”
The sisters turned away to hide a snigger.
“It’s true. The way her eyes lit up when I asked about George, that’s the name of her husband by the way, told me everything that I needed to know about how she is doing,” she said matter-of-factly. “She loves him and is positively happy.”
“Well of course she loves him,” Margret replied rolling her dull eyes. “She gave up her trust of thirty thousand pounds for that man.”
“Lucky for her sisters because they get to split it between them.”
The two girls giggled again.
“That man,” Constance said above their obnoxious noise, “is a war hero. He deserves your respect not your censure.”
“Yes, a war hero,” Beth repeated mockingly. “He fought valiantly killing Germans and such.”
“Hmm,” Margret said. “I would very much like myself a German. German men are quite beautiful.”
Constance tried not to roll her eyes. “You both are quite impossible.”
The two sisters shrugged and resumed what they had been doing before the conversation started. Constance stood and walked across the room to get further away from the other two.
Neither of the girls truly liked each other. Even the sisters had secret resentments towards one another. And yet the three of them would gather in this room to waste away their days. All three of them bored and wanting something different, something better and yet every day was almost always the same.
The room itself should be bright and cheery, found in one of the front corners of the estate with several floor to ceiling windows looking out into the front garden. But the clouds always covered the sun on the side of the house making the room grey and gloomy. It was a big room, almost too big, but on occasions like this when the tension was a little high the room was not big enough.
Constance stood a little perturbed with her arms crossed frowning at the portrait of one of the estate’s former mistresses. The eyes of the woman were cold and unforgiving. Her facial features stone-like. Set in stone. Like society’s expectations for us. She scowled at the woman as she thought about it. Things should never be set in stone.
She wasn’t really sure why she put herself through the misery of those two’s company. Neither of them had anything intelligent to add to any conversation. Though they were both educated women, neither of them had anything to say about anything that wasn’t gossip. Both of them were stuck in the past, stuck in the social stigma of how things should be a hundred years ago and it made Constance angry to no end. She gave a little huff at the portrait before making her way back to where she left her book.
She sat back down on the sofa and skimmed through her book trying to find where she left off.
“I heard our dear friend Mr. Andrews dropped by yesterday,” Margret said unable to take the awkward silence anymore. “Did you see him, Constance?”
Constance flashed her a look. “You know very well that I saw him, Margret.”
Margret gave a slight sneer. “And how was his visit? Hill said she saw him leaving your bed chambers.”
Beth whipped back around, a satisfied look on her face. “Constance! You did not! You sneaky little thing trying to be private! Well you shan’t keep things from us. This house has eyes.”
Constance blushed more from anger and annoyance than anything. “Whatever you think happened did not. He never touched me. He simply said what he had come here to say and then I sent him on his way.”
The two sisters smiled at her not believing her.
“It is true. Go and ask him yourself if you like.”
“Are you sure you’re not hiding something from us?” Beth asked. “You are a cheeky little devil, always speaking in half truths. I dare not believe half of the things you say.”
Margret nodded. “Nor I, for Hill told me he stayed in your room for above half an hour’s time and she even said she heard,” she sneered and lifted an eyebrow, “noises.”
Beth squealed in delight.
Constance tried not to show her rising anger but her nostrils flared and her hands balled into fists. “And why should you believe Hill over me? Hill is a poor servant girl. How is her word any better than mine? You scorn and don’t even listen to Samantha when she tells you about her life and yet you praise Hill for her stories on mine. This has hypocrisy written all over it.”
The sisters shifted uneasily.
“So then,” Beth started, “nothing happened?”
Constance averted her eyes.
Margret gasped catching it. “Then it is true? You and Mr. Andrews? Constance, you sly thing! How can you deny us such intelligence?”
“Whatever intelligence you have been denied is of your own doing,” Constance replied bitterly. “I’m not saying that nothing happened I am merely saying that it is not which you imply.”
Beth sniggered. “She can’t even say the word. Forsooth, your parents should have called you Prudence! It is only sex, my dear.”
Constance’s mouth twitched. “Mr. Andrews followed me up to my chambers after I refused his offer of marriage. The ‘noises’ which Hill heard were us arguing. Nothing else.”
Both sisters gasped this time.
“Refused?” Margret asked. “Constance, for shame! He is a man of great worth and you deny him?”
“If you mean he has very deep pockets, then, yes, he is quite worthy but not of me.”
“Lies! Lies!” Beth proclaimed. “Oh, Constance! What manner of creature are you?”
“The kind that does not weigh her life on a golden scale. I have my own money. I do not need his.”
Both of the sisters made faces as if they were in pain.
“It is too much to hear you speak sometimes,” Margret said.
The two sisters continued to laugh and joke at Constance’s expense while she sat there and took it. Part of her wished that she had accepted Mr. Andrew’s proposal if only for the opportunity to leave this place. But in a few years she will be of age and the money and estate that her parents left for her will be hers. She dreamt of that day. The day when she can break free from this prison and take charge of her life. Change. She dreamt of change.
Constance dreamt of a day when she no longer had to abide by the rules of the two girls that sat before her. When she no longer had to listen to their unfair judgment of others or their terrible squeals of delight. When she no longer had to be prey to their insidious nature.
Suddenly, a madness swept over her. A madness that sent a singular thought through her mind. She will never be free of either of them. The fear of forever being captive to these two women spread through her like a wildfire.
Her heart pounded in her chest and her breathing became shallow. She looked away from both of them trying to regain some sense of her sanity, but she felt as if they had both eaten it away. She stood back up on shaky legs and tried her best to stay calm.
The sisters continued to laugh and squeal plucking at the strings of what was left of her sanity. She covered her ears trying her best to block out the noise but it echoed throughout her entire being. She walked unsteadily over to the fireplace, the only source of warmth in that dreary room, and placed one hand on the mantle to keep herself up.
Constance stared at the flames and watched as they danced freely, carelessly. She envied them their freedom. The sisters cackled behind her and something inside of Constance finally broke. She gave a yell as she grabbed the fire poker in her hand running at the two girls.
She struck them both turning their squeals of laughter into screams of terror as she hit them again and again until her dress, hands, hair and face were splattered with their blood. And Constance could finally hear herself laugh a mad, terrifying laugh as she looked down at the lifeless bodies of the two women. She let the poker fall to the floor and spun around in pure glee at the silence of the room. She laughed again when she ran to the window and saw the clouds disperse letting the warm sun shine upon her.
Freedom! Change! They were both hers!
“Constance, are you even listening to me? What is that strange smirk on your face?”
Constance jumped in her seat at the sound of Beth’s voice. She blinked and everything was as it was before. The room was still dim and cold. The flames still danced freely amongst themselves, mocking her. Worst of all the two sisters still sat there squealing. She looked down at her clean hands and gown, ashamed and yet jealous of the thoughts that had just ran through her mind. Her heart sank and she sat there silently listening to the two of them and their supercilious banter.
“I dare say she deserved such a thing. She was never good enough for him. If she can’t keep him in her own bed then she has no right to complain of his running around on her.”
Margret squealed. “Sister, honestly you are hard on her. She cannot help that she has nothing to recommend herself to him beyond her beauty. She never really was smart for she lacked the means for a proper education.”
“Yes, her father gambled it all away! That family does seem to lack self-control.”
“Indeed!” Margret exclaimed. “The eldest brother has two bastards himself from two different housemaids. Though I’m sure they both conned him into it.”
Constance shivered as a chill ran down her spine and sighed a defeated sigh. Set in stone. Like society’s expectations, she will never be free of them.