Being inspired, maybe – 78
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, then, the words:
I was not one for naming flowers but the ones growing in front of me, what looked like part of a maze, were hydrangeas. I knew that because my mother grew them in her garden, but not on the same grand scale at this horticultural masterpiece.
I tried to guess how long it would take to build as sophisticated a maze in an acre. Too long. And it was distracting me from the conversation that didn't really interest me.
I told her I didn't care about the fellow she'd hit, and floored, though it gave me a little pleasure to see him laid out and by a woman no less.
This was despite the fact I knew she was very effective in self-defence and hand to hand combat. She had cajoled me into joining her for one of her training sessions, and that's where I discovered she was a formidable opponent.
But, in spite of that, and other warning signals now going off in my head, it wasn't a deterrent, but equally it was not what I was looking for in a female companion. I liked a little self-sufficiency, but I guess I also liked the idea of being able to protect her, and for her to think I could. Call it slightly chauvinistic, but I had an old-world upbringing.
It was not a game changer, it just added to the mystique that surrounded Heidi. Not that Heidi was her real name, which, I had to admit, threw me for a second or two when it was revealed in a rather strange manner.
Perhaps in my manner she had started to see the seeds of concern she had just sowed.
"I think, now," she said, "we might have got off on the wrong foot."
An interesting expression, and probably an understatement. Everything had been fine until she brought me to the festivities.
"I get it. Like your stepmother said, there's probably a lot of gold diggers out there, if they knew who you really were. I have to say though, I feel like I've been hiding under a rock not to even guess who you really were."
Perhaps in that regard, I was more annoyed with myself that her. I had the resources at hand to find out who she was and didn't use them, something both my father and elder brother would have no compunction in doing. Had they suspected her of being exactly what her mother was now accusing me of?
"It would be hard for most people, Henry, including those closest to the family. I have changed considerably in the last few months. Nor am I the same person I was then. That person wasn't worth knowing, I assure you."
That, of course, in a strange twist that leapt immediately into my mind, could also mean it wasn't her but someone posing as her. The financial stakes, I imagined, were very very high, and the rewards for such a deception would be infinite. The family, my father had once said, ran to billions, not millions, as it was the case for us.
I decided to keep that thought to myself. The fact she had been so readily accepted by her father and stepmother made it difficult to believe she was an imposter.
"But don't you think a relationship based on deception could cause trust issues?" It was another of those issues that had sprung into my mind now I knew her true identity. Or thought I did.
"Have I given you a reason not to trust me. I'm still the same person, only with a lot more money. And I hardly think you need money given the standing of your family."
"No, but you might have considered trusting me with your secret. I can be very discreet when I need to be. And there is some substance to your stepmother’s claims about me being a possible gold digger. Apparently, we're not as rich as some people think. We're supposed to be downsizing and it's going to have ramifications, not only for the family but also for the community at large. I'm not sure if that makes us suitable in at the very least your step mother's eyes."
Best to give her the bad news now rather than later. It annoyed me that no one in the family had the decency to tell me that we were going through a bad patch, I had to find that for myself.
"What my stepmother thinks of you or anyone else, to me, is irrelevant, and what my father thinks is for him to decide, and that will be based on your actions, and so far you've done nothing to change his opinion of you, otherwise you wouldn't be here. As for your brother and father, that's a different kettle of fish. Besides, if what I heard on the grapevine is correct you have nothing to worry about, from me, or from anyone."
Now she was scaring me. My dealings over the past few weeks were secret, so secret that none other than five other people knew about it. And I'd deliberately kept anything about it well away from everyone. And that was quite literally. everyone. Time to hose down the fire.
"You shouldn't believe everything you hear." It was a lame response, but I think a little pride had been pricked. "Besides, we're talking about you, not me, but for what it's worth, I couldn't care less about your net worth, whatever it is."
Which, in my case was true, but I doubt the same held true for my parents, because they would see this as an opportunity to more fortune and influence, which, for some reason seemed to matter to them, and I, unfortunately, my brother. But what really bothered me was the way they went about it. Surely you wanted the respect of everyone, not just your contemporaries as well as peers.
Maybe I was wrong, and still trying to live in a world where I was rapidly beginning to believe I didn't belong.
"And do you think I came back for the fortune and glory? If you think that then you don't really know me at all"
Perhaps I didn't. It wouldn't be the first time. It struck me that she would be more suited to marrying my elder brother. "Then why come back?"
"It doesn't really matter. Perhaps it's time we joined the hunt.
Was it a bad time to bring up the subject of being lost. The conversation had been conducted as we wandered around the maze, which wasn't part of the hunt, even though we had, at times, ran into others, and I hadn't really taken much notice of where we were going.
Then we stopped.
"Tell me you know the way out if this thing," I said, trying hard not to sound concerned.
Her quizzical expression wasn't engendering confidence.
"I did, but it seems there have been a few changes since the last time I was here."
"When was that?"
"A few years ago. But how much can a maze change?"
Quite a lot apparently, I thought, as I watched her expression change to one of, surprise and then bewilderment. I thought it best not to answer that question, and instead said, "I have complete confidence in you, show me the way."
It didn't help that our first foray was into a dead end. This was going to be a very interesting next few minutes.
© Charles Heath 2019