The Making of Minty Malone

The Making of Minty Malone by Isabel Wolff Read Free Book Online

Book: The Making of Minty Malone by Isabel Wolff Read Free Book Online
Authors: Isabel Wolff
Tags: Fiction, General
watch. It was ten to four, and the train to Paris was at five fifteen.
    ‘I think you should go,’ said Dad again.
    ‘Why don’t you go,’ I said, ‘with Mum?’
    ‘I can’t,’ she said. ‘It’s the Anorexia Association Ball on Tuesday. I’ve got to look after Lord Eatmore, he’s the sponsor.’
    ‘Go with Helen, Minty,’ said Dad. ‘That way, if Dominic wants to ring you, he’ll know where you are.’
    Oh yes. Dominic would know that all right. The George V.The Honeymoon Suite. That’s what he’d asked me to book and, very obediently, I had. So that’s where he could ring me. He could ring me there and explain. Perhaps he’d even come over and talk to me in person. But deep down, I knew he wouldn’t – because I knew that Madge was right.
    In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne the heroine, Hester, is made to wear the letter ‘A’ on her dress. ‘A’ for Adultery. ‘A’ to indicate her public shame. As Helen and I swished through the Kent countryside on Eurostar, I thought, maybe I should wear ‘J’, for jilted. This would save people constantly coming up to me in the coming weeks and asking me why I looked so strained, and why I hardly ate, and why I had this mad, staring expression in my eyes. It would be the emotional equivalent of a black armband, easily read from afar, and leaving nothing to be said – except perhaps for the occasional, and entirely voluntary, sympathetic gesture.
    And I thought too, as I gazed at the sunlit fields, of how incredibly unlucky I’d been. I’d had more chance of being blown up by a terrorist bomb, or hit by a flying cow, than being deserted, in church, mid marriage. And I thought of Sheryl von Strumpfhosen and of how she’d got my horoscope so horribly wrong: ‘Your love life takes an upward turn this weekend,’ she’d written. Upward turn ? And then I remembered my marriage manual, Nearly Wed , and a grim smile spread across my lips. I thought as well of all the kind things people had said as I left the hotel. ‘Chin up, Minty!’ ‘Probably all for the best …’ ‘Expect he’ll come running back!’ ‘Thought you looked lovely, by the way.’ They had crawled and cringed with embarrassment, brows corrugated with confusion and concern. I’d felt almost sorrier for them than for myself. I mean, what do you say? And then, I realised, with a heart like lead, that it wasn’t just the people who were in church. It was the hundreds of others who’d read that I was engaged.
    Because it was in the papers, of course. In the engagement columns of both the Telegraph , and The Times. That had been the first cog to turn, setting in motion the invincible wedding machine. And then I regretted putting it in on a Saturday, when it would have been spotted by everyone I know. And so for months to come I would have to explain again and again that, ‘No, I’m still Minty Malone, actually,’ and ‘No, I didn’t get married, after all,’ and ‘No – no particular reason, ha ha ha! It just didn’t, you know, work out.’ ‘These things happen,’ I’d have to say, brightly. ‘All for the best and all that.’ Oh God. I was interrupted from Bride’s Dread Revisited by the distant clink of a trolley.
    ‘Please eat something,’ said Helen. ‘The steward’s just coming –’ She reddened.
    ‘Up the aisle?’ I enquired bleakly.
    ‘Please, Minty,’ she said, as he approached. ‘You didn’t eat anything at lunch.’
    Eat? I was still so shocked I could hardly breathe.
    ‘Champagne, madam?’
    Champagne? I never wanted to see another glass of that as long as I lived.
    ‘No, thank you,’ I said. ‘You have it, Helen.’
    ‘Lamb or duck, madam?’
    ‘Neither, thanks.’
    ‘Nothing at all for madam?’ enquired the steward with an air of concern.
    ‘No. Nothing for madam. And, actually, it isn’t madam, it’s still miss.’
    The steward retreated with a wounded air. Helen picked up her knife and fork.
    ‘I’m sure Dominic will be

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