- Vol. 04
- Chapter 01
Image by Hernan Bas
Another LifeMy mother wore gloves for every occasion. Lacy cotton in summer, cloth for in-between seasons, lined leather in the winter, mesh-backed driving gloves, buttoned at the wrist, suede gauntlets in the garden.
Her favourites were the opera gloves my father gave her one Christmas – black ruched silk that clung to her slim arms and finished with a velvet tie at the elbow. In her younger days, she wore those gloves to parties with an Audrey Hepburn hair-do, a cigarette holder, and a mysterious smile. When my father died, she wrapped them in tissue and put them away but sometimes I caught her wearing them in bed.
After her funeral, I couldn’t let the gloves go. My life had taken a downward spiral following a bad relationship. I had debts. Her glove collection represented everything safe and secure. I wore a different pair each day according to the seasons, but it was when I put on her opera gloves, that I slipped into another life. A 50s cocktail dress, court shoes and seamed nylons completed the outfit. Eyebrows plucked into a thin, startled line and with a slash of red lipstick, I went to society do’s, a powder compact in my clutch bag, my hair swept into a French pleat. I said little and smiled a lot.
At a summer party, I met Giles. Handsome. A charmer. I liked the way he held my elbow when he steered me on to the dance floor. Later, when we dated, he insisted on paying for everything, bought me flowers, perfume and diamond earrings, ‘for my perfect little ears.’ Most weekends he drove me to his country home in a classic Jaguar convertible. For the journeys, I wore kid gloves, and knotted a silk scarf under my chin, as if I were a minor Royal.
Another LifeOur relationship developed at a pace. At first, I enjoyed all the attention. No responsibility, no bills to pay. We made the gossip columns, an engagement was rumoured. My mother would have been delighted. At a summer ball, where friends thought he was sure to pop the question, I wore a low-cut retro gown, his earrings, and the opera gloves. Giles couldn't take his eyes off me. He slid a warm hand up and down my arm and drove me back to our hotel, early.
'You're not like other women,’ he said laying his trousers neatly on the chair and his cuff-links on the dresser like my father used to. 'You're so stylish, so refined. Stay the way you are. Never change.' There was a little smile on his face, one he wanted me to share.
I left the earrings on the dresser next to his cuff links and slowly peeled off the opera gloves. His smile broadened.
But his expression changed when I dropped them in the waste bin and headed for the door.