Burning Bridges

It wasn’t unusual for Mrs. Brockwood to release the staff early most days. As long as their duties were completed, she didn’t seem to mind paying them full salary if they left an hour or two before the end of the day. In fact, she often encouraged it. The only surprise about today’s dismissal had been the timing of it—before noon. None of the day’s work was finished, but Mrs. Brockwood assured them they would all be paid in full, so most left immediately.

Magda, however, couldn’t leave a chore undone. It was only after she prepped the chicken and made sure the delayed timer on the oven was set properly that she picked up her purse and exited the servant’s door.

Mrs. Brockwood’s gardens were so beautiful in this time of year. Magda loved the hydrangea best. Mrs. Brockwood had worked with the gardener for nearly a year to get the soil just right in each section so the hydrangea would range in color from pink to blue. Despite her attention to the hydrangea, Mrs. Brockwood had always seemed to prefer her daisies. They were planted in every spot of dirt in which they would grow. The hydrangea, lilacs and lilies were intoxicating, but the daisies were fresh, clean and smelled like sunbeams.

But sunlight wasn’t the aroma wafting over the flagstone. Magda determined across the path to reprimand the gardener. The only person allowed to smoke on the patio was Mr. Brockwood with his Bolivars. The housekeeper stopped short at the corner of the house, her mouth half open in preparation to scold.

Poised at the arched part of the path that crossed a small stream underneath, Mrs. Brockwood stood as if she had five encyclopedias balanced on her head, cigarette tucked between two fingers, a plume of smoke curling from her pursed lips, weaving its way across the flowers. Magda’s eyes grew.

As the ash reached the filter, Mrs. Brockwood tossed the butt under the nearest daisy, turned back and strode towards the house without looking in the housekeeper’s direction.

“Goodbye, Magda.”

(Other segments in the Kerrington short story series can be found here).

LKT © 2015

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