At the Tudor Rose Tearooms

Evelyn sank gratefully into the soft cushioning of the upholstered banquette; dropping her shopping around her. Her shoulders sagged as she stared at the green carpet of the Tudor Rose Tea Rooms. Her feet carried her here automatically lately.

Without her ordering, the waitress brought a tray of Earl Grey tea, lemon and extra hot water.

She eased her sling back off and surreptitiously rubbed her foot. Town was busy this morning.

She glanced up, shivering suddenly, as a shadow passed by the window.

It was just a bird.

She turned back to her table and poured the tea. Her stomach gurgled. Ignoring it, she filled the pot with hot water. Plenty of liquid. That’s the thing. Fill the gap.

This skirt cost a fortune; she couldn’t afford to replace it if she let herself slip. You had to look good in Town; you never know who you might meet. Or worse still, be seen by.

She drank her tea, trying not to gulp, but it was only when the second weaker cup was poured that she felt able to relax a little.

God, she was tired. So much to do. She had hoped it would be better with a cleaning lady, but she couldn’t let anyone see the house like that, so she just bobbed about before the cleaner came. Just the bathroom. And the burnt bits on the cooker. And Adam’s underwear. Well, that was only decent after all.

But this was nice. She’d first come here after Adam’s boss had recommended it as a suitable place. Glossy magazines to read too. She reached behind her and picked up the latest.

Yes I know it’s nearly Christmas Evelyn talked to the page; time to make the table decorations and shop early before the nicest things go.

It was always a funny time of year in their house, but it was always nice.

As nice as she could make it for Adam and the kids. It was the least that she could do. He worked so hard and all she had to do was look after the house. The three boys practically ran themselves. As long as the fridge was stocked up and she kept up with the shirt ironing, they didn’t care, didn’t notice.

She’d always felt that as a second wife she had to be that little bit extra careful. Well, no, not careful; just, you know. Don’t let standards slip. It cost nothing to smile and if some of the places they went weren’t to her taste, it was a small price to pay for all the nice jewellery and pretty clothes.

Adam was a good husband. As long as his dinner was ready when he got home. He always rang from the car if he was bringing guests so she could quickly defrost some extra courses, though it paid to keep her make up fresh to save time. And if he drank a bit too much brandy, well, he never meant to hurt her. Of course not, it was just that he hadn’t seen where he was putting that hot pan in all the steam. Her own fault, she should have opened the window earlier.

Evelyn looked up startled as the bird flew against the window, interrupting her thoughts. Was it really a Raven?

She dropped her gaze to the magazine on her lap and flicked through. The rich red satin of the gown the model was wearing caught her attention. It was fifties style, this season’s latest fashion, cut low over the full breasts; the warm glow of hot fire on skin complimented the colour well.

The model was lying on a white rug in front of a Christmas scene; Yule log, twinkling lights and a tray of dark wine in two crystal glasses.

How common, Evelyn thought to herself, blanking out the long dark hair cascading over the naked shoulder of the woman on the page.

You can tell she’s never pushed a pram. Evelyn’s eyes examined the rounded figure closely, feet bare with nails painted to match the dress.

Look at her! Evelyn’s contempt would have twisted her face but for the Botox. The face on the page had deep laughter lines and shining eyes.

Harlot, the picture screamed, wanton. Just like that harlot Lilian, Adam’s first wife. Insatiable, women like that. And where did her attitude get her? Out in the cold, that’s where. It’s all very well, off leading your independent life, but that was no substitute for a proper loving family.

It was a shame, really; her sister had not known when she was well off. Evelyn thought it had been good of Daddy to mould her into just the right kind of wife that Adam needed. If her sister Lilian didn’t want him, that was her look out.

Evelyn cleared up the dishes and took them back for the waitress, dropping all the change from her tenner into the tip jar. Better get a taxi home: she was already tired and there was still a lot to do at home.

From the roof of the Tudor House Tea Rooms, frustrated, the Raven watched for a while, then lifted effortlessly into the sky. The scarlet rays of the setting sun caressed the black feathers as she flew in lonely splendour.

Foo que Foo que Foo que Foo que Foo que

From the shadows Asherah watched Her sister/daughters take their separate paths. How to get them together? How to stiffen Evelyn’s spine, soften Lilian’s bristle. At least they were becoming aware of each other’s presence again. It’s still Adam at the centre of their revolving. Asherah lifted Her chin, pulled Her stole tighter and stepped purposefully back into the shadows.

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