Saturday, 18 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 13

The next morning Pearl got up early, and leaving the children and Simon fast asleep, went upstairs to flat 5 D, where Mrs Markovish lived.

Mrs Markovish was the whitest woman Pearl had ever seen. Her skin was a milky transparent white, fine as a bride’s veil, and through it she could glimpse the delicate tracery of pale blue veins. Mrs Markovish’s hair was gossamer pale and fine, her eyes a milky gray. She was pale, pale…

When Pearl had first met her in the hallway she had thought her cold as a ghost, frightening in her frailty, but her smile had been incandescent, warm. She had invited Pearl for tea at her home. 5 D was an odd place indeed. The walls were completely covered with framed photographs and news paper cuttings from all over the world. The pictures and the clippings had only one subject: a slender blonde gracefully posed on ice skates; receiving flowers, medals or silver cups. Mrs Markovish. Slender, lovely, graceful and always with that same incandescent smile; and young, achingly young.

Peal pressed the buzzer and waited for the sound of Mrs Markovish’s high heels. The door opened on the chain and an eye peered out.

“Pearl! Come in!” A fumble and the chain fell, the door flew open and Pearl found herself in a perfumed embrace.

Pearl followed her through into the lounge. "Sit my dear, and tell me, what brings you here so early?"

"Oh! I am sorry! I did not think! You were sleep?"

"No, Pearl! I am old, my dear, I sleep very little! But sit! Sit!"

Peal sat obediently, straight-backed on the edge of a huge Chesterfield sofa upholstered in bottle-green velvet.

"Mrs Markovish, I need your help, Madam. With the children."

Pearl nervously pleated the dress over her thighs. "I must go to look for the Children's Home they came from, to get their papers so they can go to school. I looked in the Internet, they must have transfer papers, and identity papers or the school won't take them and I have no-where to leave them. I don't want them to be alone." She swallowed, and proceeded bravely, "Madam, I would ask of you if you could look after them tomorrow?"

"Of course Pearl, bring them up." The magical smile transformed her again. "It will be fun! I will make pancakes, and tell them stories from the old days."

Pearl recalled some of the stories Mrs Markovish had told her...
"Madam, of course...Stories about the skating, yes?"

Mrs Markovich giggled. It was a strange sound to issue from an old mouth. It was the naughty giggle of a young girl gossipping about a boy who wanted to go "too far"... "Oh Pearl! You are such a prude! I bet you have been living with that absolute hunk of chocolate for two months and haven't taken one little bite!"

Pearl drew her shoulders back and levelled on Mrs Markovish the flinty gaze that so petrified Simon. "I am a respectable woman, Madam. I do not bite."

Mrs Markovich giggled again, "Oh I do! Did..." she sighed, "But its been a long, long time..."

"Besides, Mr Thambisa is a very kind, respectful man. A respectable man."

"Respectful! My men were never respectful, or respectable...They were wild...I was too, until I married Mr Markovish (God save his soul)." Mrs Markovish added piously."Let me tell you Pearl, life is too short, so go ahead and bite! He is a delicious thing, too. He looks a bit like that Seal singer. Oh that body!"

"Mrs Markovish!" Cried Pearl scandalised.

"What? I'm old, girl, not blind! Or dead."

"We are friends. He has a kind, soft heart! Why just last night, he was so shocked by the children's suffering, he cried and threw up."

"He threw up?" Mrs Markovish shuddered fastidiously, "Ouch!"

Pearl was indignant "He is a sensitive man, a good man."

"Yes, yes...So did you comfort him? Hold his hand?" Mrs Markovish winked a mischievous smile.

"No, I embraced him. Respectfully."

"Well I hope you wiped his mouth first."

"Well, no! I didn't think about that at all. He was in pain."

"Oh my God! Pearl, honey, you are in love!"

Manuela Cardiga


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