spectacle by ingridfnl

24 Oct

That summer, the town’s paper picked up on the story as a social feature and for the first time, Isa saw herself referred to as socialite. “Isa Brown, the scorned socialite.” She had a hard time understanding how his deception made her a scorned woman, but found herself somewhat titillated by the notion that she was a socialite at 16.  And despite the youthful intensity of her feelings towards Philip, her emotions about the whole thing were transient. In fact she reveled  in her small-town notoriety and took to walking languidly downtown, waving a fan to warn off the heat, her purse hanging from her wrist, with all of the affectation of an inexperienced Hollywood starlet. She wondered if she should start smoking with a long cigarette holder, just like Greta Garbo.

Their town, although large, was small enough that if she went out she inevitably ran into someone she knew. More than once she had passed someone and overheard, “… and he was already married,” spoken in hushed, sharp, scandalized tones and Isa found herself smiling to herself.

Her mother was less pleased, “As if you hadn’t already made a spectacle of yourself! Now you’re flaunting it. I won’t have a daughter of mine spoken about this way, but you are not helping this situation.”

“But mother, you gave your permiss…”

“Isa Brown, you gave us no choice… gallivanting all over town with Philip. Everyone knew what you were up to. How were we to know that he had a wife tucked away in New York,” her mother continued.

Isa let her mother rant. There was no point arguing.

“I don’t know how we’re ever going to marry you off, now that you are no longer… Now that you’re… I don’t know what we’re going to do with you,” her mother said.

“Now that know the ways of men,” Isa taunted. Her mother had slapped her. It was too much. Too far. Isa’s face was still tender, days later.

No, this rebuttal was not the wisest of responses. But Isa was tired. She was tired of her mother’s nagging. She felt quite certain that her mother was more concerned about the social shame than she was concerned about Isa herself. So Isa continued to wander downtown. She penciled in arched eyebrows and worked on developing what she thought of as a knowing smile.

It was this smile that first caught Harold’s attention. Harold was in Ferguson’s Fine Millinery shop dusting the shelves when Isa entered. Despite her pretense of experience and class, Isa looked like a young colt, a girl dressed in woman’s clothing walking unsteadily on high-heeled shoes, feigning indifference to a city that judged her youthful impulses. He admired her defiance.

She walked in with that smile and surveyed the fine hats covered with feathers and silk bows, the summer hats woven out of the finest straw and whitest white lace gloves, and then a smile broke over her face, she jumped up and down and clapped her hands with glee and Harold… Harold fell in love.

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