“Let this be the last time we have this conversation,” Malcolm spoke through clenched teeth. His mother sat gracefully in her wing-back chair, her hair in a perfectly tight coiffure, her mouth and the lines surrounding it even tighter.
She kept her hands loosely folded in her lap. Her face displayed her displeasure, but her hands . . . her hands showed she was not at all truly troubled nor threatened by Malcolm.
Her expression slowly melted into a placid picture of motherly grace. The corners of her red lips rising slowly. Her eyes, however, remained sharp. Her gentleness was not to be misread. She would have the last word and Malcolm would honor it.
“Darling, there is no need for you to behave so distastefully, nor to speak with such harsh tones. Please, do sit. You flutter my nerves when you are so anxious.” She patted the side of her head and her fingers trailed down and traced the line of her pearls as she lied.
She somehow took pleasure in the trouble she caused her son. She couldn’t help it. He looked so much like his father, his real father–Abbot Gray, not the man she had married. He had not let her be happy with him. She hated him.
Reticent, but wanting to show some level of respect for his mother, Malcolm acquiesced, taking the farthest seat in the parlor. Tension settled on his shoulders like a sodden wool blanket. He stretched his neck, his blue eyes staring sharply into his mother’s.
In the beginning, he had not understood all the years of hell she had raised around him. As a small child she had adored him, but when he had turned thirteen, as his voice and body began to give way to the changes brought forth by time, his beloved mother’s soft expressions and gentle touches transformed into cutting gazes, stiff hugs that were few and far between, and harsh words that could raise the dead.
He had begun to look too much like a person she hated. Malcolm thought things would settle and ease if he did whatever she asked of him, and he had. But nothing, nothing had ever pleased her. He had long since ceased the attempt.
Now armed with the knowledge of Abbot Gray, knowledge she had no inkling of him having, he would not dare bend to her whims again. He would not pay for another man’s sins nor his mothers. He would have Elizabeth and no one would keep him from that happiness.
Mother gazed out the window for only a few seconds, but long enough for a glint of satisfaction to spark in her eyes. That shine always came when she aimed to wound him.
“I have already sent word to the girl that there will be no wedding. I told her clearly so as to leave no room for misunderstanding that she was nothing more than a fleeting play, a turn around the ballroom of a man’s desires, and that you had not the heart to tell her the truth.” That is how Abbot Gray had made her feel.
Her jaw muscle ticked. “I received her response just this afternoon.” She let her gaze fall upon Malcolm again, hiding her own inner wound.
Malcolm’s face was stone. “Did you now?” Were the only words he could manage. They seemed to satisfy his mother. Pink crept through her pale color and flooded into her wrinkling cheeks. Her cruel heart had aged her greatly.
“I did. You left me no choice in the matter.”
Malcolm stood again and found his place near the fireplace he stared in to the flames. “Did you take the time to read the response. Mother?”
“No, darling. I waited for you to do so.” Her voice was light as if she were sighing. She was satisfied. “Shall I do so now?”
Malcolm glared hard at the back of her head. He skirted around her chair and stood only a few feet away from her. He wanted to see her expression when she read. His heart drummed against his rig cage as each penned word became married with sound.
He bit down hard into his lip stifling his own smile, no, laughter. Watching the color drain as she read the letter, his letter, penned by his own hand, notarized by the Parson, Abbot Gray, who had wed him and his beloved made him want to dance.
Balling the paper with white-knuckled fist, she sneered at her son with blood red eyes, her words somehow choked from her by the string of pearls around her neck.
Malcolm cleared his throat. “It is a pity, Mother that you could not have been there. Elizabeth was a dream in robin’s egg blue. Parson Abbot or should I say, my father, did a wonderful job with the vows. He did ask me to give you his regards.”
Not too sure where this came from. Vindictive mother’s, absent fathers, lies and revenge…Malcolm and his mother.
*This story was originally writing January 31, 2014, and has been revised.