Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Song of Innocence; Vera;



Vera;
It was summer. My mother and father were very busy at work. I was to spend a part of my summer holidays with a family I did not know, but my mother knew them well. My mother said I had to be on my best behaviour every day and that I could learn manners which she thought were badly missing in my education.
She packed my small suitcase and without much fuss I was send away. It was not far to travel only to the next big town.
The house was in a very quiet road with gardens and lots of trees. It was a tall villa in a soft vanilla wash, mellowed by its age. The garden was small, ornamental with bushes cut to lollipops. The play area was small. I did not see any flowers like in my mothers garden. I do not remember the kitchen. There was a smiling woman in a flowery frock who did the cooking and a pretty girl who helped with all the chores around the house.
I remember the dining room. All meals were served in the dining room. It was friendly and sunny. Vera and I sat together on a sofa. Vera sat on a few cushions as she was smaller than I. The food was good. Lettuce was served with a bit of sugar on top. We did not drink tap water. Henniez was served, a bubbly mineral water, which I liked very much.
I learned quickly to watch my manners, not to lick my fingers and use a napkin to clean my mouth not with the back of my hand. I soon knew which fork to use for certain dishes. In the village, manners were very basic, most of the time disregarded. There was no time for it. We were to busy playing, ate our apples with big bites the juice running over our chins. Handkerchiefs were most of the time lost items or used for anything else.Here the apple was cut into neat slices and served on a plate.
From the dining room led a door into a glassed in Veranda, like a winter garden. It was furnished with wicker chairs. I spend a lot of time there curled up in one of the chairs with a book in my lap, reading and daydreaming. Most of the time I was left alone.
I slept in the same room as Vera. It was the most darling bedroom one could imagine. All the furniture was painted a soft blue and decorated with gold and flowers. The whole room smelled nice and fresh. I liked to look into her wardrobe filled with pretty frocks on hangers. They were all in light colours which would not have been practical in the village. Vera was a quiet girl, dainty, with blond straight hair and rather cool blue eyes.
As I was at this time reading the “Heidi” books I thought she was a smaller version of Clara Sesemann. When we went to bed, her mother always came to kiss her good night and she gave me her hand to say good night. Vera was afraid of the dark, a tiny nightlight was left burning. I told her stories about the man in the moon and the stars and their names. She loved it and wanted every evening the same story which was rather annoying as I would have liked to tell something different. She could not be persuaded and made a tantrum. I said I did not want to tell stories anymore, but she cried, so I relented.
With time I ventured outside to see if their were other children in the neighbourhood.
The house on the other side of the road looked similar yet the windows had no curtains and I could see the people moving around. It was the only house without curtains. It was a French family with one girl called Jacqueline. We played sometimes together. I asked Jacqueline's mother why she had no curtains on her windows like all the other houses. She looked at me puzzled and said she had not thought about it. She just liked her windows without curtains that was all.
Most of my time I spend with Liselotte. Her parents were German. She was as free as a bird. Her father was the manager of the only department store in this town. Sometimes we visited him in his office and we received sugared almonds. Her mother was always ill. Liselotte said that her mother did not know her most of the time.
I thought it was strange, that she did not know her own child. I questioned her why but Liselotte said she had to accept that her mother was ill. Her elder sister went already to university and did not take much notice of her either. Liselotte had enough money to go to the tearooms to eat ice creams. She always invited me and we used to have a lot of fun.
On one of my strolls around the neighbourhood I saw a girl on a swing. She waved to me and gestured to come into the garden. I opened the gate and walked towards her. I saw that she was taller and older than I. Her clothes were beautiful and her hair was cut with a long fringe like a Japanese doll I had seen. She had lovely eyes with long lashes.
I saw in her face that something was different. I was standing near the swing and she did not take any more notice of me. She made shrill sounds of laughter like a little child and spittle was running down her chin.
Her nanny came out of the house and asked me questions where I was from and my name. When I explained who I was she said it was alright to visit Ariane, which was the girls name. I said I must go home but that I will return tomorrow. Which I did.
When I arrived at the house Ariane was standing behind the fence. She wore a white frock and looked beautiful. She waved her arms around, her face was eager, her mouth twitching, she was trying to say, come. She took my hand and hold on to it like a clamp. I told her not to hold on so tightly as she was hurting me. I showed her how to hold hands. She was very exited and talked in a funny way, tried to tell me something.
We sat on a bench and just looked at each other. I asked her if she wanted to hear a story. She nodded yes. While I was elaborating my tale, she sat there, limp, her hands in her lap only her eyes followed the flow of my words. She looked happy and relaxed and made little gurgling noises to show she followed my story. When I finished the story I said I had to go and stood up to leave. Her face crumpled, it was wet from tears and saliva. She made moaning noises and was holding on to me.
It was awful to watch and I did not know how to handle such intensity and left her as quickly as possible. I decided not to go back.
When I met up again with Liselotte I decided to take her to Ariane. When we arrived, Ariane was in the garden and cried out when she saw me. I explained that Liselotte was my friend and we came to visit her.
I saw Liselotte was dismayed. She said she did not want to come here. She did not like this girl. Ariane was the idiot girl and nobody played with her. She can not talk properly and she slobbers.
Liselotte said to me come away now or I will never play with you again. I tried to persuade her but Liselottes mind was made up. Ariane was following our dispute but she did not cry this time. We left her standing behind the gate. I turned around and waved she was standing there watching us.
I never went back, as shortly after I went back home.
The first of August was approaching it is the Swiss national day. I was hoping to be home as it was rather a nice celebration in the village with a bonfire, lampions and fireworks.I used to receive small boxes of matches to do my own fireworks. I always received a few boxes in different colours and patterns. I was looking forward to it as I was expecting a new lampion, as mine had burned out the year before. It was not to be.
Living in the top apartment of the villa was Vera’s Grandma. I had never seen her before and I did not know that she was living up there. We were to celebrate up there with the grandma. I was told we will have an Icebombe to eat. I was looking forward to it. I had heard of ice bombs, but had never tasted them and did not know how they looked like.
I was warned not to look directly at the grandma because she was always in tears. We were sitting around the table when the Icebombe was brought in.
The bombe was raspberry pink with a Swiss flag on top. It looked rather small, I had expected something much more elaborate and big, which I mentioned and asked why is it called a bombe. The explanation was that the vessel in which the ice-cream is frozen is called a bombe. I was rather disappointed. It was cold and sweet with a raspberry taste .
I was supposed not to look at the grandma. But my eyes strayed towards the old lady with tears streaming down her face. Vera’s dad said to me do not stare at grandma. I tried to keep my eyes on my melting blotch of ice-cream.
After we sang the National Hymn we left. I was glad when the celebration was finished. I missed the first of August in the village with the other children.
Vera’s dad was very angry and blaming me. When we were playing in the garden, Vera disappeared into an other garden and everybody was looking for her. I was supposed to look out for her but I forgot as I was only a small child. I did not comprehend the responsibility they heaped on me. I was very upset and wanted to go home to my parents which I did. Thus my holidays ended abruptly and I did not say goodbye to Liselotte nor Ariane.

5 comments:

Kilauea Poetry said...

Haven't heard from you in awhile?
This was another insightful period of time post you've captured here. I liked the way you've weaved this experience.

Elfe said...

Das ist wieder eine interessante Geschichte aus Deiner Kindheit, liebe Titania. Es gefällt mir wie Du Geschichten erzählst. Na ja das muss eine angeborene Gabe sein, wenn Du das schon als Kind so gerne und spontan getan hast.

Erstaunlich wie Du die Details noch so genau erinnerst. Ich habe nicht viel Erinnerung an Kleinkinderzeit, vielleicht kommt es ja noch mit zunehmendem Alter.

Ganz liebe Maigrüsse an Dich, alles neu macht der Mai, wenigstens bei uns, bei Euch ist ja Herbst.
Elfe

Pacey said...

Beautiful flower here Titania.

Arija said...

I have missed you for a while.
I quite understand that diving into one childhood memories can disasociate us from the present.
In childhood theings often happen abruptly and most of us had to carry responsibilities which were too heavy for us. I like your story and am glad you are writing it down for your g-children and yourself.

Titania said...

Thank you Regina, for your interest and support.

Liebe Elfe, vielen Dank, es freut mich immer wenn ich deine Kommentare lese.

Thanks Pacey.

Arija, thank you so much for taking an interest. It is also quite a bit of fun to delve back into the past.