Margaret Callaghan Quotes in I for Isobel
Birthdays, injustices, parents all vanished. [Isobel] sat on the floor reading till the noise of cups and saucers in the kitchen warned her that the grown-ups would be coming in for afternoon tea, then she went to the little room where she and Margaret slept, next to their parents’ bedroom. It was too hot there, but if she went outside to the cool shade of the fig tree, Caroline and Joanne Mansell would come asking her to play with them, or Margaret would want her to go for a swim. Besides, it wasn’t hot in Baker Street. What a lucky thing that she had found this new place in time to spend the birthday there. Presents didn’t matter so much, if life had these enchanting surprises that were free to everyone.
“Take that dress off, Margaret,” said their mother from the doorway. “It belongs to Isobel.”
“But Isobel said I could have it.”
Isobel said, “Aunt Noelene will never know.”
Her mother gave her a look of hate as she walked
towards Margaret, who did not know what was happening and stood like a good little girl having a dress fitted till she heard the dull snap of threads and the tearing noise. She cried out then as if she had been hit.
“Damn you,” screamed Isobel. “Damn you, damn you, it was mine. It wasn't yours to tear. It was mine and I gave it to Margaret. Damn you!”
She saw the look of peace and relief on her mother's face as she walked away and she knew what she had done. The old sick closeness was back and she was the same old Isobel.
Margaret was sitting on her bed dressed in her slip, stroking the torn yoke and sobbing.
“It's only a dress,” said Isobel. She had lost more.
“Oh, you shut up. You didn't want it, anyhow.”
It wasn't only a dress. It was much more, and it was gone, and so was the state of grace.
At that moment, Isobel thought such things were not for either of them.
Dead, thought Isobel, trying the word again. It still meant only silenced. There was no hope of calling up any decent feeling from her evil heart, which was rejoicing in the prospect of freedom and even of new shoes. She picked up Shakespeare, Byron, Keats and Shelley and carried them into the bedroom, where Margaret was sitting on her bed, dazed and weeping, silently and slowly tears dripping like blood from a cut finger.
“Do you mind if I take the Shakespeare? It isn't mine but I’d like to have it.”
Margaret shook her head, sending two tears running quickly down her cheeks. It wouldn't do to tell her to cheer up. Somebody should be giving Isobel the opposite advice. Yet there was in her, deeper than her relief, a paralyzing sorrow, not at her mother's death but at being unable to grieve at it. That one was going to stay with her; she looked for distraction from it in the cheerful business of packing and buying new shoes, but knew that any cheerfulness was, in the situation, shocking. She feared she had shocked Aunt Yvonne already. Perhaps the funeral would touch her feeling and make her a member of the human race.