ALWAYS WAITING. | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Short Story - Twilight Zone Bookmark and Share


Lulu reclines on the chaise longue; Monsieur Leopard and his wife are out for the day and she can rest and look around or lie on their bed or look through Madame Leopard’s clothes and try on her new dresses and feel the silk underwear and hold them between fingers, smell her perfume. Lulu looks around the room at the paintings on the walls, the figurines, the furnishings. Monsieur would recline here, she muses, imagining him there beside her, close to her because of the small space, his lips brushing her cheek, whispering words. She often dreams this; imagines these things. She tries to forget she’s a maid, tries to pretend she’s Monsieur’s secret lover, his piece on the side. No, he would not; he loves his wife too much. Dotes on her too much to consider any other. But Lulu can pretend; she often does, even while working. Imagines while she’s changing their bed covers that Monsieur will come into the room and throw her onto the bed and have his wicked way with her. Dreams of course. Nothing ever happens because he never comes in and on the few occasions when he has, he blushes and goes out again. She sits up and sighs. Work to be done. They’ll expect her to do something. Madame will want it done anyway that’s for sure. She’ll go around checking once she’s back; seeing what’s been done and what hasn’t. She’ll even run her fingers on the surfaces to see if there’s dust or dirt. Where’s my blue dress with the white patterns? Madame Leopard will ask. Why is it not here? Where have you put it? Always the questions; always the moans and complaints. But Monsieur, he does not complain. He suggests things softly; maybe this could be done or that or maybe, Lulu, he will say, after you have done the dishes you could help find my book on fossils I left in the library. That book. Yes, of course, she says, I borrowed it. Fascinating read. Oh, Monsieur says, no rush, you have found it fascinating? He asks looking at Lulu, taking in her blue eyes and that innocent gaze. I never knew, he would add, holding his hands together as if he would have touched her as a form of saying well done if he released them. She gets up from the chaise longue and walks to the window. It’s raining. They’ll get wet maybe. Come in like drowned rats. Her especially with her face of thunder and will say, get me out of these wet clothes, girl, don’t just stand there with your mouth open, gaping. Lulu runs a finger down the windowpane following the raindrops on the outside. The street below is deserted. No one in sight. She knows she ought to go and work, but she wants to look around while they're out, investigate their rooms, sort through their things, rifle through their drawers. She walks away from the window and goes out of the room, along the hall, and up the stairs taking two steps at a time. At the top, she pauses. Where to go first? What to do? Last time she went through Madame’s things trying on the new dresses, posing in front of the huge mirror, and pretending to be a lady. She also went through the drawers of the dresser looking for something of value. Nothing much, at least nothing that Madame wouldn’t miss. She decides to go into Monsieur’s room. She opens the door of his room, enters, and closes the door after her. It has his smell. She goes to his bed and lies there stretched out. She shuts her eyes and pretends she’s lying beside him. She puts out a hand and feels along the cover. No one. Empty space. Her head lies where his head lies on the pillow. Soft yet firm. His cheek lies here, she muses touching the pillow with her fingers. Once when they were out she undressed and reclined on the bed completely naked and felt aroused by the feel of the cloth beneath her and her imagination going wild and wondering what would have happened if he had come in and seen her. But he hadn’t and she had dressed and was ironing when they came back and came in search of her. She gets off the bed and look in his cupboard. Coats, suits, hats, ties. She breathes in the air. Sniffs a coat. His smell. She brushes it against her cheek. She looks beneath the coats and suits and finds shoes neatly placed. She sorts behind the shoes, moving them, looking beneath and around them. Nothing. She closes the cupboard, goes to the window and peers out. She can imagine him standing gazing out, his hands behind his back, his head held slightly to one side. The rain is coming down hard; it hits the windowpane. She sighs. She must get on with the work before they return. Dinner to prepare, washing to be sorted, ironing to be completed, dusting of furniture, cleaning of the bath. She turns from the window and he’s there looking at her. Monsieur wet through, his clothes hanging on him as if he’d been dragged from the sea. He looks at her in silence. No words come from him, just his eyes searching her, his lips opening and closing like a small fish. He wipes water from his eyes, rubs his hands on his wet coat. She stands gazing at him as if seeing him for the first time. He is trembling, his hands shake. She rushes over to him and to remove his coat, undoes the wet buttons, pushes it back, goes behind him and pulls it off his shoulders. He stands there shivering, his waistcoat stuck to his shirt, his trousers soaked to his legs. She puts the coat the floor and removes his waistcoat and all the while he just stands there shivering and trembling. She turns him around, removes the tie, and unbuttons the shirt, all the time looking at him, at his pale face, the deep-set eyes, the lips opening and closing. After a few minutes or so, he’s completely undressed and wrapped in a towel and sitting in a chair in front of the fire warming his hands. Lulu has taken his clothes downstairs to the laundry room. Madame is not about. No sign of her. No wet clothes, shoes, or coat. When she returns to Monsieur’s room, he isn’t there. There’s no sign of him. The fire blazes alone. He often comes back like that and Lulu always pretends he isn’t a ghost and that one day they will both return despite the fact they drowned the previous year off the coast of Italy.

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