The sight of so many mouths opening and closing above the salvers of pork and ham made me queasy and I can still see Richard’s face reproaching me as I say I have a migraine and am going to bed.
In the blessed darkness of my room I imagine Olivia throwing back her head as she laughs, velvet straining against her solid curves and Richard refilling her glass with dark red wine. But everyone responds to Richard. He is like the director of a film, turning his flattering camera on them so they all perform for him.
The night is turning cold. The summer house window is banging in the wind again, but then nights in the village are never peaceful. Looking out I see the ragged silhouette of the old tramp crossing the street, flitting from one lighted window to another like a moth; and actually he is looking for a light. One summer night when I was reading downstairs late he thrust his bearded face against the window, pointing at his unlit stub of cigarette; but I was too frightened to give him a match.
It is comfortable to be alone in the dark, nestling in my blankets without responsibilities. Someone has put on riotous music: Richard’s guests never seem to want to go home…. Hail begins beating against the window as at last I am falling asleep and I remember that the geraniums are still outside by the icy pool, their vermilion petals drooping, falling.
Perhaps I have made a decision of a sort, so I smile into my pillow.
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