something gilded.


Frances felt a little chilly. She was standing at the window looking out at the garden which was, she thought, a tangled mess. The cold came through the window pane and crept up her bare arms. She turned away, and resolved not to worry about the garden. When Bernard came in she was standing irresolutely by the piano, looking as if she might flit away somewhere at any minute. She was a tiny bird, a finch, a brightly coloured finch, hopping from perch to perch.

She had picked up a gilded photo frame from the piano and was inspecting the picture it contained.

“Memories, darling,” remarked Bernard, seeing what was in her hand. “That summer we spent in Balmoral. It was a good one, eh?”

Frances looked at the couple in the photo. She and Bernard, just a year ago. His swimmers were outrageously tasteless, loud-patterned board shorts; and he wore an equally tasteless Hawaiian shirt, unbuttoned. Frances reflected that at least he only dressed so crappily on holiday. Most of the time he was well-groomed; possibly even slick. Yes, slick. 

In the photograph Frances herself was wearing an orange bikini, a wide-brimmed straw hat, and her Valentino sunglasses. Looking at the photo she felt some satisfaction with her appearance. Frances could still look good on the beach. 

“Gin and tonic, darling?” asked Bernard, already mixing one for himself. He drank a little too much really, thought Frances. Yes, a little too much. For instance, he never stopped at one gin, and often not at two. It was a little, well, uncivilised.

“No, thank you, I’ll wait,” she replied, setting the gilt frame down amongst half-a-dozen companions on the piano. The other frames were silver, every one of them. The gilt jarred. Who had given them that frame? It was a trifle, well, gaudy. Yes, gaudy.

Frances looked over at Bernard. “The garden has become a tangled mess,” she said.




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