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Mrs de Winter

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Orchideen sind ganz besondre Blumen
Manchmal sehen sie aus, als wären sie tot
Aber irgendwann, ganz unerwartet
Blühen sie wieder weiß und dunkelrot

orchids are very special flowers
sometimes they seem dead
but somewhen, suddenly
they’ll bloom again, white and dark red

 


 

 

“Orchids?” Max gesticulates vaguely towards the flowers carefully arranged behind glass. “Isn’t that a little much?”

She doesn’t look up. “Stunning, aren’t they?” She turns the page. I love you, she writes. And my heart. “Mrs Danvers saw them on display when she went to town this afternoon. They are à la mode now.”

“Well, do as you think. I’ll keep my opinion to myself.” She hears the fabric rustle as he shrugs.

She laughs. “Will you now? My, my, Max, that would be a new development.” They rot and revive and they are hers and they whisper of her secrets until Max drowns in them. She folds the paper.

“Well, it isn’t of much use, is it?” He turns and pauses. “Will your cousin be visiting again this weekend?” She can hear his voice crack, he spits out the word cousin, twists and turns it until they both know it isn’t what he wants to say. Poor Eloise standing in the corner, listening to it all.

She thinks of alcohol stained dress shirts and sweat and crinkles her nose. He won’t see it. “No”, she says. “He has a previous engagement.” Eloise shifts from one foot to the other and Max turns around, eyes sharp. “Good”, he says. “There’s a derby on Sunday and it would be quite dreadful if you missed it.” He glances at Eloise. “Darling”, he adds.

She smiles. “Of course.” Danny, she thinks. Dannydannydanny.

Max leaves and deliberately doesn’t slam the door. He is always so uneasy, as if his parents would crawl out of their frames to personally supervise his marriage. What a fool.

“Eloise”, she says and rises from her chair. “Go and see if Mrs Danvers is free. Send her here if she is.”

Eloise bows. “Yes, Madam”, she says and leaves.

She sighs and traces the edges of the statue in front of her. Amor, the greek god of love. A wedding gift. I congratulate, Danny had said, a smile lingering at the corners of her lips.

“Mrs DeWinter? You called for me?”

She smiles. “Yes, I did. Please close the door behind you, Mrs Danvers.” She puts the statue down and waits until the lock clicks. Then she smoothes the folds of the black dress. “Max hates the flowers”, she says. “Danny, they are beautiful.”

“I’m happy I could be of assistance.” She stands rigid, back straight, face neutral.

She caresses Danny’s cheek and swipes her thumb over her lower lip. “You always are, you know that.” Her skin is soft and warm and she wants to smudge her mauve lipstick all over it. Instead, she draws Danny closer. “Those are flowers of love”, she whispers, a hand curled tightly around Danny’s waist.

Danny smiles and, oh, how she missed it. “They are also flowers of secrets, madam.”

She laughs. “Oh, Max will simply love that. How a man can be so blind I will never know.”

Danny scowls. “Men are often blind, in my experience.”

She kisses her. “Oh, do you remember Max’ horrible attempt at holding a conversation with you when we were newly engaged?” She giggles. “How is your husband, Mrs Danvers?” She smiles mockingly, a shadow of Max’ polite grin the pictorials swoon over.

Danny laughs, a warm, calming sound. Oh, how easy it is to forge wedding documents, how easy to convince the world of a man that doesn’t exist, of a young widow brushing the madam’s hair methodically.

She laughs, too, tucks a strand of Danny’s hair behind her ears. The white streaks seem almost silver draped on her pillows, falling down Danny’s back as she undoes the knot holding it together each night.

Danny, she thinks. Dannydannydanny.

“Please bring these to the post office.” She smiles and hands Danny the letters. “I’ll see you in the evening, dear.”

Danny nods and looks through them. The last one doesn’t bear an address. Danny smiles and puts it in the pocket of her skirt.

Danny, Rebecca thinks, each morning as she does her correspondence under the loving gaze of Amor, Dannydannydanny.