Early on this Thursday morning, Kensington is cold and overcast. It’s humid, putting a sharp chill in the air. Daisy Harrison-Mercury has just woken up and is still lying in bed. An old, fat Maine Coon lies at her side, purring loudly and kneading the comforter. She gently pats its paws, scolding it.
“This comforter is older than you are, Marley. Be kind to it,” she says. Her voice is tired but strong. She slowly sits, her back aching a bit but no worse for wear. She’s doing pretty good for a 63-year-old cancer survivor. She stretches before standing, slipping her feet into a pair of slippers. Crossing the bedroom, she can’t help but look out the window over the garden. It’s as well-manicured as it’s ever been, but there’s no Irishman pruning the bushes or pulling weeds. Instead, the Irishman’s photo is perched on the accent chest that’s pushed up against the same wall. She smiles sadly at it, a pang of melancholy sharp in her chest.
“Morning, Jimmy,” she murmurs, blowing the photo a kiss before turning and heading into the bathroom. Her morning routine only takes a few minutes, and when she’s done, she wraps herself in a plush robe and heads out of the bedroom. She descends the stairs slowly, her knees protesting. When she makes it down to the ground floor she immediately goes to the kitchen.
“It’s about time you got up, you lazy old bird.”
“Oh, shut up,” she quips to the man sitting at the small table, a tablet propped open in front of him and a plate of eggs next to it. He sips at the cup of tea in his hand and watches her walk over to him. He hums as she presses a kiss to the top of his head.
“How did you sleep, darling?”
“I slept well, my love, because I slept next to the love of my life,” he answers. She smiles down at him, cupping his cheek. “But I’m not sure that Marley slept equally as well, seeing as this old woman kept thrashing around like a lunatic.”
Daisy glares at him playfully, tapping his cheek.
“Freddie Mercury, ever the comedian,” she sighs, rolling her eyes. Linda, their housekeeper, brings over a cup and saucer and pours Daisy a cup of tea as she sits in her seat across from Freddie. She sips it as Freddie pulls his glasses off and sets them on the table.
“It would seem they’ve finally made a casting decision for this bloody biopic,” he suddenly says. Daisy swallows, raising her eyebrows.
“What young fools will be playing us?” she asks, thanking Linda when she sets down a plate of breakfast in front of her. Freddie turns the tablet, revealing two windows open. Daisy picks up Freddie’s glasses, setting them on the bridge of her nose as she looks at the tablet.
“Isn’t this the actor from that show with Chris Slater?” she asks, pointing at the picture on the left. “He’s handsome.” She looks a little harder at the young woman on the screen, her eyes narrowing.
“I think so, yes. And that young woman is your spitting image,” he replies, looking back at the tablet. Daisy props the glasses up onto her head and picks up her fork.
“Yes, she is. And she has no idea how much trouble that’s going to get her into.”
“Stupid goddamn bloody technology,” Roger mutters darkly, pressing keys angrily. Daisy rolls her eyes, crossing the room to lean over his shoulder.
“Roger, you're going to break the computer,” she warns, setting a hand on his shoulder. He turns around and glares at her, his blue eyes furious.
“I can't get this kid’s bloody sound test to open and we have to watch it before he gets here,” Roger groans, pressing a few more keys out of annoyance. Freddie walks into the dining room, sinking into a chair and reaching for the computer. Roger raises an eyebrow at him.
“What are you doing, old lady?” he bites, but Freddie just flips him off and takes the computer from him. After a few seconds of clicking and pressing keys, the opening chords of Keep Yourself Alive come floating from the speakers. Roger mutters “fucker” under his breath and Daisy smiles proudly.
“After all this time, still so good with your hands,” she says, drawing a gag from Roger. Freddie smirks at him, reaching over to pat Daisy's bum.
“Careful what you say around this old man, Daisy. Roger might have a heart attack.”
Roger flips him off just as the doorbell sounds.
“Well, I guess we're watching this with the kids,” Daisy says, smiling over at Freddie. He pushes himself up, groaning a little. Daisy's eyebrows knit but Freddie just waves her off.
“My back's just a little sore,” he reassures, reaching over to wrap an arm around her waist. She mimics him, her hand coming around to rest on his hip. “Guess you went too hard on me the other night.” He wiggles his eyebrows and Roger glares at him.
“Will you please not talk about your sexual exploits in front of the children tonight?” he warns. Daisy laughs out loud.
“Roger, they're playing us. Half of this godforsaken movie will be sexual exploits if it's done right,” she shoots back. Freddie giggles, and even Roger laughs along.
“Very true,” he surrenders, and the trio walks out into the foyer.
“Well, shit,” Freddie murmurs. Daisy knows exactly how he feels as soon as she catches sight of their doubles. The four just stare at each other for a moment before Daisy speaks.
“Well, that's just not accurate,” she says, looking at the young actress set to be playing her. Callie Hernandez. She really is Daisy's spitting image, and right now she looks terrified. So does Rami. “They are so much more attractive than we ever were.”
Both seem to deflate, laughing. Daisy pulls away from Freddie and walks over to Callie, holding out her hand.
“It's such an honor to meet you, Mrs Mercury,” she begins, but Daisy shakes her head.
“Call me Daisy,” she instructs. Callie nods, and Daisy laughs, pulling her closer.
“Don't be nervous, darling,” she reassures, smiling warmly at Callie. Callie visibly relaxes a bit.
“Sorry,” she apologizes. “It's just… I'm a really big fan of yours. And your husband's, of course.”
Daisy smiles at her, squeezing her hand.
“Thank you, darling. But don't forget, at the end of the day, we're just two old farts.”
Callie giggles and Daisy thinks the casting team is brilliant.
“Come, let me introduce you to the old queen,” Daisy says. She gently guides Callie over to Freddie, who's talking with Rami. Daisy smiles at the latter.
“So, you're my second husband,” she teases, and Rami grins.
“I guess so,” he replies. “I just hope I can live up to the title.”
“Darling, just act like everything is the end of the world and that everyone could be a good shag and you’ll be fine,” she says. Freddie agrees with an ‘exactly’ and everyone laughs.
Later that night, once everything is quiet at Garden Lodge, Daisy finds herself lying awake and staring at the ceiling.
“What’s the matter, lovely?”
Freddie’s voice is soft, and Daisy’s still mildly surprised that he can still read her though it’s pitch black and silent. Daisy turns onto her side, facing him, and rests a hand on his chest.
“It’s just-” she begins, knowing exactly how she feels, but not knowing exactly how to say it. Freddie wraps his hand around hers, lifting her hand to his mouth to press a kiss to it and she decides she’ll try.
“I guess this movie is making me feel old,” she answers, scooting a little closer to Freddie. At 70, his chest isn’t quite as plush as it used to be, but she turns her head to press a kiss to it anyways.
“We are old,” he replies, and Daisy sighs.
“I know. I guess I don’t like to be reminded of it.”
Freddie’s silent at that, but Daisy can feel him tense up. She knows the question that’s coming and yet hears Freddie ask it all the same.
“Do you regret any of it?”
Hearing the words spoken out loud sparks a sharp pull in Daisy’s chest. She maneuvers herself so that she can prop herself up on one elbow, looking down at her husband.
“Not one single moment, Freddie,” she says wholeheartedly. “Do you?”
Freddie pauses for a moment and Daisy knows exactly what he’s thinking of: that day in November of ‘81. Daisy hopes he doesn’t say it out loud.
“Only letting you keep that ugly pair of bell bottoms as long as I did,” he finally says, and Daisy laughs, relieved.
“I still haven’t forgiven you for that,” she replies. She lies back down, wrapping her arm around Freddie’s waist again.
“I love you, Daisy.”
The words are soft, and Daisy’s heard them a million times over the past forty-two years, but this time they feel different. Daisy feels her throat tighten and has to swallow back a lump before she can speak.
“I love you, too, Freddie.”
Daisy stands over the desk in her home office and takes a mental inventory:
Favorite fountain pen?
Old diaries for reference?
Cup of tea?
Freddie out of the house for most of the day?
This had actually been his idea, so perhaps she shouldn’t be too hard on him. He is a bit of a pest, though, especially when he gets bored. She sighs, sinking down into her desk chair and opening the new journal to the first page. She picks up the pen, unscrewing the cap and pausing, trying to think of the right words.
“Oh, fuck it,” she mutters. The moment the pen touches the paper, they come freely. Just as they always have, when the moment was right. She writes just a few lines on this front page, then stops to read over it.
I’ve decided to give you a glimpse into my life as Mrs Freddie Mercury, beyond what you’ll find in any book or tabloid archive. This journal is my gift to you (well, it was Freddie’s idea, but if I give him all the credit his head will get too big to fit through the door). Either way, this is our story. It’s from my perspective, of course, and there are a few things I’m not going to include. But everything in this journal is going to be truth. I know how Hollywood works, and I know that the movie is not going to be entirely accurate, but I want you to have all the tools to give the best performance you can. I also want you to know that I don’t regret any of it, not even the things you might think were negative. My life has been a full, beautiful one. Even one small decision made differently could have changed everything. Just remember that, that things happen as they do for a reason.
All the best, my darling girl,