“It is so lovely to see you here Mrs. Morton, I am Janet, Janet Montgomery” The woman’s voice was shaking slightly and in the silence that followed she took another sip of wine. “It was so very nice of you to join us for this little gathering”. Her voice had that reedy quality that harmed the eardrums when loud. Isabelle contemplated the woman, laughter in her eyes at the squirming specimen before her. Suddenly, the newcomer noticed Rose and seized by inspiration burst out, “Your daughter is the splitting image of you Mrs. Morton”. Rose felt a wave of sympathy for the woman as well as irritation at Isabelle and nervously gave a whispered “Thank you Mrs. Montgomery”. While she had not expected to be thanked for her feeble attempt at a conversation, Rose had certainly not expected the fury in Janet Montgomery’s eyes.
“Children should be seen and not heard.” she snapped furiously, but at this Isabelle laughed.“I do not see the point of being seen if you cannot be heard, Janet”. Janet seemed torn between embarrassment at having been reprimanded by such an important figure or indignation at the casual use of her first name. Unable to decide between the two courses of action she took another long gulp from her glass. Glancing at her mother, Rose wondered briefly if that had been Isabelle’s way of defending her, in which case this would be a rare example of her mother appearing to actually care about her happiness. Before this idea was allowed to grow Isabelle flicked her eyes briefly towards her daughter. Turning again to Janet she continued “Besides I find Rose far more enjoyable as an invisible mute. Dear, that was your cue to go to your father.”. Rose did not move instantly resulting in Isabelle - her eyes gleaming - to declare loudly “Rosie dear, it is vulgar to stay where you are not wanted. Shoo!”
Rose practically ran from the pair of them. Bile rose in her throat as the anger she felt towards Isabelle became a form of pressure expanding within her chest, constricting her lungs until she wanted to scream. She did not immediately go to her father, instead she went to a small side table that had miniature tarts and sandwiches neatly aligned in military formation and fighting the urge to sweep them from the table, she rested her clenched fists upon the glistening surface. She was not entirely sure why she was so enraged, she knew full well that it was irrational. Isabelle always found a way to belittle her, yet this time Rose had actually allowed herself to hope that she was gaining her mother’s approval.
Her breath came in short erratic bursts and it took conscious commands to transform them into a semblance of breathing. By this time a figure had appeared next to Rose. It was an unusual, willowy figure, with short wavy, black hair and deeply tanned skin. Large almond eyes were crinkled slightly around the edges due to an expression of mild embarrassment. “I hope my mother didn’t upset you. She does have a habit of being a bit... difficult.” Rose, originally intending simply to glance at the new-comer, ended up staring at this ethereal being.