‘Granny! Granny I’m here!’
The voice came from the door I’d left ajar in my haste. A foolish mistake, but then again, I am a fool.
‘Granny? Where are you? Mother sent me!’
Closer now. It’s the child I think. Scarlet, if I recall correctly. It’s been months since she was last here.
I remember that day only too well, I had only recently met the dear old woman, and I was making soup for her. She could walk then, with effort, and still liked to sit in the rocking chair in the hall.
The door opened, and that girl walked in. In the kitchen I heard their talks and deliberations, the forced platitudes and the awkward silences. She was not happy her granddaughter had come.
I had no choice. She would enter the bedroom eventually. I had to get it done with.
‘In here child. Your granny is in here.’ I called out, almost hoping I had somehow gone unheard.
‘Who’s that? Who the hell is in there?’
I heard the stomping footsteps of the teenage girl, and then her form burst around the corner, her snow white face fixing on me in an instant.
She glared at me for a brief, dragging moment, before her face turned blood red in recognition.
‘You.’ The malice in her voice almost made me shake.
We had only met once before. The day she visited her granny, she offered in bittersweet and dulcet tones to put away the food she had brought. Into the kitchen she came, and we met.
She misunderstood so much that day. My intentions, my desires, my purpose. She was so very certain I was just like her. Perhaps it would be better if I was.
She chased me out. Spoke words I’d never heard before, and words I haven’t heard since. She accused me of taking what I wanted from her grandmother. Of course, only she could ever do that.
On our second meeting, her gaze lingered only a second. She was ready to be furious at me, and then she glanced over at the dear old woman I had grown to cherish. At the dear old woman who lay dead, almost sleeping, upon her bed.
For the briefest of moments, I could swear a smile flickered across her faced. I’m almost impressed that she could have faltered so for even a second.
The following minutes, hours and then weeks went by in a blur.
First there were the false smiles of kinship and thanks. I was invited to the funeral, and even asked to say a few choice words, as long as I didn’t overstay my welcome, and so long as I did not even consider attending the wake afterwards.
Then the will was read. The dear old lady who had shared so many stories of her life with me had kept hidden one fact, something known only to her beloved daughter, and her daughters daughter, who had all but abandoned her until her sickness struck.
She was rich. During the war she had made some of the wisest investments possible. This dear old lady was a sharp wit and inescapable eye.
This, I suppose, was my downfall. This brilliant woman saw right through her granddaughters petty offerings of support, and left the bulk of her possessions to her daughter and to me.
Quickly then, came the accusations of manipulation. The lies of my involvement with her grandmother. Tales of dark and depraved deeds, actions I could never consider, let alone muster the awful nature to enact.
But, this dear sweet wolf in red had grown up with a false smile and hidden fangs. She knew how to ruin, and she swiftly brought mine.
Oh the things they think I’ve done. The lives I’m told I’ve ruined. The good names and dear treasures I’ve apparently besmirched.
They’re coming, are they? Then I’ll be swift, I’m almost done anyway.
Because that’s it, you see. I do not claim that I am a prince, charming my way not to hearts but to coffers. But that’s the way it is, now. Truth is in the eye of the public these days, so that is who I am. I am the beast now, the spinner of gold lies who ruins young girls.
Little Scarlet has torn her way to a happy ending, and I am left to fall through the pages.
Oh, I’m sorry. I know you have others to see today. I’m done, thank you.
Forgive me father, for I have loved.