Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Short Story: "The Return" by Edith Reveley
reprinted as "Mrs. Endicott" in future collection
a short story
Illustration by Peter Gibson
from WOMAN'S REALM magazine, Sept. 21, 1968, pg 43
First Sentence: "Are you ladies going skating?" Mrs. Endicott asked.
Last Sentence: "Oh, you know what was funny, Mrs. Endicott, honey," she said. "You know."
An extensive search on this author brings up virtually no information on her whatsoever. All I can glean is that she is a British author who published two novels and two collections of short stories. This story was published in her first collection "The Etruscan Couple and Other Stories", 1976 with a name revision to "Mrs.Endicott". I have compared the text through GoogleBooks.
This was an enjoyable story and explores a topic which many mothers probably experience but it is not one which is ever really spoken of. The same experience felt by fathers towards sons is quite well known and disproved of enough to have the subject of much media and psychological self-help material. Seeing the situation from the mother/daughter angle is interesting. Mrs. Endicott is British, married to an American, moved to the US and has now after many years moved back to London for a period while her husband sets up the business this side of the ocean. Mrs. E., before marriage of course, was a well-trained ballerina and could have gone places, but love won out, she has a great love affair with her husband still and carries herself with the grace of the natural born dancer. Her daughter, Clarrisa, however is everything Mrs. Endicott could have wished for, not! Heavy, muscular, horseish, stomping, short-legged, large-boned, unruly haired, Clarrisa has proven to not be the child of her dreams. Mrs. E. was unable to have any more children after C.
Now C. has a friend visiting her, another transplanted American, the lithe ex-Southern Belle Marilyn who eats like a bird and walks like a fairy and is everything someone like Mrs. Endicott could want in a daughter. The story takes place one morning as the girls come downstairs to have breakfast and prepare to go shopping for the day. During this short period Mrs. E. can't help but compare her daughter to Marilyn in everything she does. She isn't particularly fond of Marilyn as a person, she is uncouth and too American in manners, but her style, grace and looks make her compare M. to C. at every turn. She chides herself for this, but can't seem to help it. When her daughter was young she tried to bring her up to be a ballet dancer but knew her horse clomping around was not going to get her anywhere and somewhere along the way she gave up and excepted Clarissa the way she is. However, Marilyn's appearance on the scene brings up old emotions in Mrs. E. that perhaps she never really had let go of; perhaps she could help this uncouth girl with the slumped shoulders and cheap clothing to learn to present herself beyond her obvious station, give her the grace she, Mrs. E. was born with and her natural daughter was not. Mrs. E. also notes just before the girls go off for the morning that M. is more interested in her, than in her daughter, perhaps M. has a purpose in being here, in being friends with C. that Mrs. E. has just now thought of. As all three leave the house Mrs. E. and Marilyn observe an incident on the street that Clarrisa is innocently unaware of, this shared mirth shows that she and M. have a "sly" "collusion" between them. An interesting peek into the mind of a mother who wanted her child to be just like her and is disappointed when she doesn't live up to her expectations, even though she tries not to let it show. I would read this author again.