Aidelle places herself delicately on the edge of the seat. Her dark brown eyes rattle around the room, from the off-white walls to the floor as blue as the cushion under her derriere.
She folds her hands into her lap, trying to press away their tremors, and smooths down the ripples in her skirts.
Otherwise, she keeps her fidgeting to a minimum, and, for that, I am grateful. I eye her round face over the top of my spectacles.
“Miss Masters,” I intone, “what might I do for you?”
“Well,” she snakes a hand to one ringlet-end. “I am here asking about the criteria to study at the Physics Institute.”
My invisible words mirror hers. For a moment, sense is easier to believe in the words I want her to say, not those she has actually poured from her tongue.
“To study.” To study? “Miss Masters – Aidelle – you realise that this is most irregular.”
“I realise,” she replies, “and this is why I ask for the criteria alone. If I would have to dress up in men’s garb, I would.”
She wouldn’t. Anyone who follows the Masters family news knows Aidelle confines herself to dresses. She is as unbelievably feminine as the sky is unbelievably blue.
“The Freedom of Clothing Act has only—”
“I know for how long we have had the choice, thank you. That’s why I’m asking. If I were not a woman—”
I spread my palms outwards. “But you are. Physics is no employ for a woman, even if your father might pull some admissions strings here or there.”
She purses her lips, pushing them out beyond their natural shape. “I see. If that is how it is.”
“I am sorry,” I say. I find myself on my feet before the thought of dismissing her actually sweeps across my mind.
She stands up shortly with a small cough. Her hands meet again, and, as one, sweep from her waist downwards.
“I would appreciate it if you would not tell my father about this discourse.”
I blink. “Of course not.”
Then, my world is empty. She has carried herself out of the room, barely tipping the edge of her hat in the process. Florals cling to the air, reminding me of the girl I once knew. Timid and clinging to Deanna Masters, she had never been a great beauty, but one had assumed she would have grown into her body as her sisters had in their own teenage years.
Yet, Aidelle’s youth did not deny her adulthood. With arrogant grace she might have swept away, but with frenetic curiosity she had wandered through my door, as she had all those years ago, book in hand.
This started as an author-character conversation, but, as always, the piece took me its own way, and showed the theoretic of a scenario had Aidelle followed her first love.