and The Quest to See
Chapter 15 - Heart to heart
Rachael came bustling up the path and blew in through the front door,
Matthew struggling manfully behind with her suitcases until Louis and
Henry ran out to help.
'Kisses darlings!' said Rachael as the boys swept by. But it was
Priscilla that she was aiming for.
'Oh Priscilla, I've been so worried about how you found out what
happened, hello Granny Black, I do wish that you hadn't put her through
such an ordeal. I take it that Henry still doesn't know about... oh!
wretched little dog! Do get out from under our feet!' She was busy
ushering Amelia and Priscilla down the hall and into the kitchen, Harry
prancing and dodging in and out, as the menfolk banged their way through
the front door. 'A cup of Earl Grey tea would be heaven, and I really must talk to you
on your own Priscilla. I want you to understand...'
'I... ' Priscilla was about to protest, then thought better of it.
'Alright. Come up to my bedroom, bring your tea.' And before either
Rachael or Amelia could say anything she hurried out of the kitchen
with Harry at her heels and headed upstairs.
'Oh the poor child, she must still be so distraught about the whole
thing, especially keeping it from her little Brother and not saying boo
to Louis either.'
'I did what I thought was for the best at the time Rachael.' Granny
replied, somewhat subdued.
'Of course you did Dear.' Rachael gave Amelia a tiny pat on her hand.
'Could you send Matthew up with the tea. I must go to her.'
Popping her head tentatively around the bedroom doorway, Rachael found
Priscilla sitting at her little writing desk, looking out the window at
the afternoon sunlight streaming through the foliage of the great tree.
On the bed beside her sat the little black dog Harry. They were both
gazing in the same direction, their backs toward her as she edged her
way in. It was almost, Rachael momentarily thought, as if the two of
them were united in some mutual reverie.
'Please do pardon my intrusion.' She almost said 'both of you,' but
caught herself in time. 'It certainly is a lovely vista, the tree and
the sky, and down there on the other block is where Matthew... um, where
we want the swimming pool to go. You know, since we're all going to make
this our real home-base.'
'I hope so, I mean I hope that here will be our home base for a few
more years, with or without a pool.' Priscilla answered almost dreamily.
'Anyway Priscilla I... Do you mind if I sit down on your bed?'
'Harry, hop over here.' Said Priscilla, turning to take him on her lap.
'Your tea can go on this coaster when it comes up. Now Mum, what do you
want to say?'
'Well... Well you know now that I am actually not your natural mother.
That has been kept from both you and your brother for a long time and
with good reason, of which Granny Black has given you some knowledge
about what happened when... when... how your real mother died and I want
to tell you about what that did to your Father how it hurt him so
terribly how it tortured and worried him, the sense of despair, the
sorrow, not understanding why? Why? what really made your mother do
'When do I know you're not acting?'
'I... Priscilla, what do you mean?'
'I mean Mum, just that. You're an actress. It's what you do. Got to get
home, family emergency, fix that then on to the next thing. What are you
contracted to do next?'
Rachael drew a sharp breath, spluttered, drawing her hand across her
mouth and said, '"PostaGirl." It's a modern-day comedy about a
'Righto! Here's tea for two and two for...' Matthew blundered in with a
tray of scones, cups and a teapot. 'two...er tea.' He ended lamely,
looking from Rachael to Priscilla, and noticing that even Harry seemed
subdued. 'I'll just put it down here, and do you want me to stay or...or
perhaps not just now.' He finished, feeling the atmosphere. 'I'll... be
downstairs with Granny and the boys, call me, if...' He left that
hanging and quietly withdrew, his footsteps sounding a hasty retreat.
'That's what it's always about.' Said Priscilla quietly.
'Why what's always about what?' Rachael enquired, suddenly feeling out
of her depth and wondering how that could be so in the presence of an
almost sixteen year-old girl and a dog.
'It's always about you and your career and all of us as your background
accessories. That Happy Family of the acclaimed actress and her Director
husband. But when it comes right down to important things, issues like
this, who am I talking to? An actress or a real person?'
'Oh, I do see now Dear. It's what gets on Granny Black's goat too, me
the dizzy, champagne-swilling, one foot in the air, must rush, rush
headlong from one drama to the next, but don't you see dear? That is
really a part of me. It's my defense, my hedge against the big, bad
world. My guard, my disguise. I'm far too vulnerable without that outer
layer of froth and bubble. I only let my guard down very rarely. When I
have in the past, things often happened that were hurtful, damaging. Ego
is not a dirty word, or was that a lyric from some past pop song? My ego
took a beating when the man I loved just walked out one day, leaving me
stranded with a small boy to care for and precious little to do it with.
Then I met your father, and no, I wasn't hooking up with a sugar-daddy, I
was becoming the mother of two more children. But I didn't care. I
really, really loved Matthew. Still desperately do, although
unfortunately my disguise often fools even him into thinking I'm just a
vacuous air-head. And yet, deep down, he knows. Up until now, right this
moment, there hasn't been a need, an important need for me to say these
'You didn't have to say anything at all when you went to pray in church.
Monique and I saw you there a few years ago. You didn't see us.'
'Oh, well I never knew. Praying in a church? Not my outer persona, to be
on my knees. Doesn't fit the scatty image.'
'What about the serious actress? You were really good in "Child's
'And I come out of character as if it was just that easy. All part of
the disguise. Inside I'm actually bursting apart. There have been times
I went off on my own and threw up, or cried. Never! Never let that be
seen. Be professional, be controlled, be what the public want! A serious
actress, a dumb-blonde? Whatever keeps me working. Just be one step in
front of the critics, the public and yes, sometimes even family and
'I've never been this frank with anybody. Do you believe me, or do you
think that you are still talking to an actress? I really do, with all my
heart, want to keep on being your mother. Henry too. You get to see me
now, without the walls. I so much want you to believe me.'
Priscilla held back a sob. It was as if a veil had been lifted and
suddenly here revealed was another human being, stripped of protection,
laid bare. For a moment a brief hint of suspicion crossed her mind and
was swept away. 'You won't want me to tell anybody about this
conversation will you? Not Dad or Gran, Henry, Louis. Nobody?'
'Nobody. Because it's between you and me Priscilla. I want you to know
what lies behind the actress. I still want to be your mother. And I want
to help you get through this awful time.'
Priscilla's shoulders rose as she inhaled and fell as she released her
breath. 'So you're not as cracked or driven or self-centred as your
publicity makes out.'
'Of course I am! But that's just my publicity, not what I really am
behind the mask. Please believe me dear Priscilla... Cilla?'
'I believe you... Mum.'
'Oh that's so good to hear Darling. I just... What?'
'Now that that's OK I have something to tell you, something for all
the family. I've found out things that none of us knew and I want
everybody to get together downstairs before dinner so I can explain.
Don't worry, it's all good. It's better than good, and it's sad too, but
it will help us all to see.'
'... and it's because of these two little books, hidden in amongst
Mum's... Oh! I'll have to get used to using Loretta or First Mum and
Second Mum Rachael... anyway, these diaries give us answers to questions
that would have never been asked. Loretta didn't jump off a cliff in the
mountains, she was killed and thrown off by... well by her Father.'
Priscilla knew she had to be careful not to say more than was possible
for her to know and she had Harry sitting obediently beside her, his
fore-paw pressing lightly against her foot, while he casually licked at
his hind quarters. 'I think that if the Police or whoever have kept the
original note it could be looked at again by their experts and shown to
have differences in the handwriting and also the age of the paper itself.'
'Can't vouch for the paper, but I can for the handwriting.' Said
Matthew, rising. 'I kept a photocopy of the actual note, the authorities
allowed me to have it at the time, it's here in my wallet. I've had it
with me all... ' He gingerly began unfolding a sheet of paper that
appeared to have been kept, untouched, for a long time. '...these years.
Getting a bit ratty even in my wallet, here.' he began smoothing it out
on the dining table, 'Let's compare it with Loretta's early writing and
her last entries.'
'It's not actually script writing, it's just all upper case capitals.'
'She only ever wrote in capitals with the beginning letter of sentences
just bigger than the rest.' Matthew said. 'Sadly it all looks much the
same to me.'
'No!' Said Granny Black, peering at the writing from the first book and
the second book. 'It is all capitals to begin with, all the same size,
it's only later toward the end of the second book when the capitals for
the beginning of sentences become larger.'
'And the note is all in same-size capitals!' Exclaimed Louis, his arm
about Henry's shoulder.
'It must have been written when she was younger!' Henry chimed in.
'I never noticed that.' Said Matthew, surprised.
'It's regular through her other works,' Priscilla said. 'There are
plenty of examples, early to later on including the diaries. So now we
all know that Loretta didn't abandon Henry and me. Dad, I think you
should talk to the police about this.'
The following weekend when Priscilla and Monique arrived, Matthew
informed them of what had taken place in the past few days. 'I took the
diaries down to the local station first thing Monday. The Police
Sergeant I spoke with was really helpful. He said he'd get all the
information into the data base and probably would need the help of the
Central Melbourne Division and maybe interstate as well. The Cold-Case
police might get on to it too. Princess, I'm so happy that you and
Amelia spotted what was right there in front of my eyes, if I'd only
bothered to look instead of accepting the official verdict.'
Priscilla gave Matthew a big hug and he noted that she was springing up
so much that he hardly had to bend. 'Boy! You're almost level with my
'Genes Dad. Loretta was tall like a model, from what she said you said.'
Matthew wilted a little in their hug. 'She was... She was...' He choked
back his memory. 'I wish you could have know your mother. But...' He
sighed, 'It seems like I'm holding her right here, right now. I look at
you and I see her.'
'Me? I'm just a Plain-Jane. What about Henry!'
'Henry's me. Same mouth, same swagger, same self-confident braggart
attitude. And you aren't a Plain-Jane. Not to me. You're my Princess.
The product of Loretta and myself, the ongoing project that is mine and
Rachael's. She really isn't as dotty as she makes out.'
'Dad, we had a Mother to Daughter chat...'
'Oh, one of those. I'll have to get together with Henry soon too...'
'Ho-boy Dad! Not that kind of talk. And anyway Henry can probably let
you in on a few thoughts of his own, like helium filled condoms. No this
was strictly her to me and me to her and I took what she had to say on
board and it's all good with me and Mum. Like I know she's not a
'And she knows I've been sort-of long-time pissed-off about you and her
being all over the country and leaving us wherever with Gran and...'
'Sorry Dad, but yes, I'm old enough to use... to express myself.'
Matthew shook his head slowly. 'Princess, I wish I could send you off to
a Swiss Finishing School and make a Lady out of you, but somehow I guess
that you're going to go your own way.'
Monique, in the background, noted Matthew's contented smile as he and
his daughter embraced.
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