The two ladies looked across the table at each other, one admiringly and one not so much. The former put her hand to the back of her head to gently push in the straggly hatpin, hoping as she did so that Matilda had not noticed. Knowing that it was a forlorn hope.
Matilda smiled to herself. Yes, as she thought, nothing had changed. Freda was still haphazard and lackadaisical. Even after all these years. She patted herself on the head mentally and picked up the sugar tongs. ‘Shall I be Mother?
‘ she asked in her prim voice.
Freda smiled openly, ‘Oh Yes! Please do! So much like old times, Matty!’
‘Matty’ grimaced. Not this again. She had not heard that name since school and the last time she had seen Freda as she headed off home, taken out early as Freda’s parents could not afford the fees. Matilda had, surprising even herself, often thought of her old school friend.
Freda has always been a scatty girl and it had been Matilda’s duty (she had told herself) to take matters into hand and to give Freda a good role model. After all, wasn’t she the one from the good home going to finishing school once finished at this abysmal, dark, and cold ladies college?
Freda looked in awe at her old best friend. Even over 70, not a hair was out of place. The small hat, chosen with care to match the very expensive jacket, carefully pinned with precision at just the right angle. Suede driving gloves placed perfectly, finger over finger, on the chair beside them after they had shaken hands. (Matilda never did hug)
Matilda spent most of the brunch not eating, instead telling Freda of her successful life. ‘Of course Daddy put me straight in as a Director. Well, it was obvious wasn’t it. I mean, Daddy said………………’
Freda nodded, tried to surreptiously pick crumbs that insisted on being on her clothes instead of the plate, and hmmed and ahhhed in all the right places. Just as at school.
‘Did you ever marry, Matty?’ she blurted out in a gap between the decorator costs and the Mercedes outside, and Matilda stopped abruptly. ‘What a funny question.’ She looked just for one second Freda swore to her husband later, wistful. Then just as suddenly changed the subject to the view from her Vice- Presidents office.
Freda finished her cake and glanced sideways at the old clock on the cafe wall. As she did so, two happy voices cut through Matilda’s chatter and the clink of teacups.
‘NANA!! We see youuuuuuuuu’ The girls giggled and hopped to Freda who wrapped them in her arms and smelled in their little girl scent.
She looked proudly at them and then introduced them to her old friend. ‘Amy and Monkeyface, meet my dear old friend, Matty. Matty, these are my Great Granddaughters, Amy and Christine’
‘I am not a monkey face! retorted Christine and stuck out her tongue at a shocked Matilda.
A small bright woman appeared behind them. Eyes gleaming she beamed at Matilda and Freda. She picked up Christine. ‘You are too a little monkey’ she laughed and grabbed Amy’s hand. Come on you two, we will wait for Gt Nana over in the toy shop’
‘YAYYYYYYYYYY’ squealed the girls and, with a smile at the two old ladies, Freda’s Granddaughter led them out.
Freda went to speak to Matilda but stopped when she saw tears in the old ladies eyes. She quickly averted her gaze and pretended not to notice.
‘Well!’ said Matilda, standing up. ‘It was lovely seeing you again, Freda. I have to go now.’ She grabbed her gloves off the table and without another word headed for the door. Suddenly she stopped and turned back. Freda stood frozen as she was suddenly enveloped in a lavender hug.
‘It was good to see you again’ said a muffled voice in her shoulder. ‘I did miss you’
and then she was gone.
written as part of the Writing Skills Task 36 http://ourartsmagazine.com/literature/writing-skills-task-36/2017