New Life for Geraldine
By Evelyn J. Steward
Geraldine sits alone. Her new-found confidence belies the trepidation she feels when speaking about herself. But, she has gained a maturity of feeling she never found possible until now. Gently resting her head in the heel of her hand, she muses over what it has cost her.
She plays with her lower-than-shoulder-length auburn hair, recently given a 'light' perm by a friend. Its softness is comforting. She tucks her legs beneath her on the couch. It is a pose she adopts. The bright floral dress falls down over her knees, hanging across the front of the chintz chair. No fashion guru, her clothing does little to enhance her full frame.
Deep in thought, mindless of where she is, her rich hazel eyes, lightly flecked with acid green, stare out across the peach and cream decor of the room to the open window overlooking well-kept Edwardian houses. Summer-clad trees shimmer their bright green puff-ball branches in the warm breeze. The scene seems idyllic! How could they know?
Returning her gaze, her eyes widen as she speaks of her pain. She is now in control, as far as anyone can say they control their lives. For that, she is grateful. Geraldine has no fondness for the years of puzzlement and the more recent agony. Her shoulders are broad. She has dealt with the problem. Not in the most usual way, it is true, for she was not allowed that route. She coped in the only way open to her. It suited her purpose even though it was tough at first. She needed to make money, not just to live - that would have been easier. A purpose had to be fulfilled.
When younger, she was asked what she wanted to be. ‘A mother,’ was the reply. Many jobs had come and gone. Some were mere vehicles for her other life, she fully admitted what she had done. It meant little at the time. Sex was a passion then. As many and as often as time and inclination permitted. She was over that. Prostitution is a cure-all!
‘I don't do sex,’ she states categorically.
Curiosity waits like a crouched tiger. She does not elucidate. Yes, she has children. They were forbidden her some years ago. Without explanation, they were to watch her go, she was told. How could she do that to them? Liquid forms in those hazel eyes. She blinks and her long, thick, curling lashes other women would die for, gather prisms. Her maimed expression freezes for a moment. Memories flood back. Rivulets creep from each eye. It hurts when she remembers her children. Geraldine wipes at the wet on her cheek.
‘Someday,’ she says, ‘they may seek me out,’ hoping they will.
For now, her loneliness can be offset, she baby-sits her friend's offspring. She, the friend, is pregnant again.
‘Last time,’ she laughs.
Geraldine is happy to look after the friend's toddler. The child loves her, asking only love in return.
‘Sometimes he calls me mum,’ she intones gratefully.
She has achieved her early dream, but only in this way. What will Geraldine do now? Prostitution has served its purpose. She no longer sells herself in that way. She wants to move on, make a new life for herself. Forget everything else.
Rearranging her long floral dress, picking at a loose thread, she gathers up the marmalade cat who has wandered across the couch, cuddling it in a protective way. It nuzzles her face. It too appreciates her love. One thing Geraldine does know. She can now push back those old memories. They are past, her past. She can forget that once her name was Gregory.
© Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. February 1998.