She first walked into the manor, in her denim skirt and old leather, sucking on a cigarette, carrying a painting, a nude no less…a distinctly unladylike pose…she’d clearly been the model, but who was the artist? That’s the question they all want answered.
She doesn’t go into raptures at the sight of all that money, doesn’t listen to them when they try to tell her what’s proper. She’s got all those books piled up everywhere, she goes to the theatre for the sole purpose of watching the play!! Not to be seen, or so she can casually mention it in conversation later. She actually eats food, eats like she enjoys it, like food isn’t the enemy. They couldn’t believe this impossible fact at first and concluded it must all come back up at some point later. They’ve even tried to catch her at it, but so far with no luck.
She smokes, she drinks (not in the privacy of her own quarters but in company!) although perversely they don’t actually mind it, since her accent consequently becomes more pronounced and they can shake their heads in confusion and pretend not to understand her. There is no end to the pettiness of women when they feel threatened.
That accent is positively whorish, quite apt since French women learn all the tricks of the trade practically from birth, it’s a known fact. It’s in her showy eyes, the movement of her hips when she throws herself on the couch, that raucous laugh. It doesn’t occur to any of them that calling her a slut might be considered ironic since they spent years using daddy’s credit cards while actively looking to marry into even more money — irony is lost on them. What they understand is shopping, designers, gyms and mingling. She refuses to play the game, doesn’t mingle, eschews small talk and walks in the woods rather than get a personal trainer. Their frozen faces would look offended if they could — you know, if frowning wasn’t an impossibility.
There she is again, talking about…Salinger? They’re not sure, but think it’s a dirty word. She doesn’t come from good stock, swears like a shock, horror, sailor. What is she saying now? Urgh! Meritocracy, now that, they know is a dirty, ugly word because they’ve heard her elaborate on it before – it’s one of her ludicrous pet ideas.
Why did he have to leave the circle and, of all people, choose her? He looks at her like she’s a rare flower. It’s sickening, disgusting, if flower she is, she obviously grew on the compost heap.
She’s looking at them now, like she knows exactly what they’re thinking, and she smiles…the bitch smiles at them, so they smile back…only not with their eyes, their eyes are full of rancour. They know better than to voice their real feelings. The first time they tried, she replied with far too much candour. She’s not well bred, she clearly hasn’t been taught that women should hide barbs under a semblance of niceties. He thinks it’s charming, loves her honesty, but they know she’s just really helplessly vulgar, even if he can’t see it. So now they content themselves with nasty talk when she’s not around, a thousand knives stabbing her in the back, but to their infuriation and their frustration, she walks among them and their barely veiled hostility with a calm face and a confident pace.
What really gets to them is the knowledge that she might judge them, as much as they judge her. And of course they’re right, she does judge them. She wonders at a world of inherited privileges, cannot comprehend how, with the means to live such an interesting life, they barely scratch the surface and never explore anything deeper than the superficial. They’re all raging anorexic, they live for the gym, shopping, parties, status and money…They lead utterly vapid, boring lives. The thought that she could ever have been one of them is suffocating, she’d rather die than live like they do. She knows they dislike her with the natural visceral instinct of their particular class, yet she mostly pities them.
So they stand outside the manor, in the fragrant beautiful garden on a glorious British summer day, ravaged by hunger, embittered by anger, while the fucking working-class foreigner (never mind that she’s just from across the channel) laughs and smiles, daring to look happy, looking like she thinks she belongs, when the sad reality is that she’s invaded their world while refusing to be made to feel inferior.
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