Friday, October 2, 2015 (original post date)
Mr. Winstead had a remarkable talent for disassociating with any situation that seemed even remotely unpleasant to him, particularly those situations involving an angry female member of the human race. Like the perforated edges of a bank statement, he fell away at the slightest tug and pull of conflict, and he would distance himself, sometimes even physically, to some unreachable realm of his subconscious. There, only pleasant thoughts of voluptuous women in lingerie, the long-since-tasted sweetness of tobacco, and the archery and equestrian pursuits of his old boarding school days occupied him.
Upon first meeting him, many found this the most frustrating aspect of his personality, but an otherwise a perfectly respectable gentleman, but those who lingered long enough would soon learn to dislike him on his own merits. It was, indeed, most unpleasant to occupy the same room as him and attempt small talk for the sake of your own entertainment in the absence of some other source of distraction.
His wife - for, like all gentlemen of character, he was, in fact, married - was a difficult woman to classify. She wasn't a Southern Bell, or a Big City Girl, or a Lady of the Suburbs, but she had an indisputable charm, the kind that had men waiting on her hand and foot, a frequent occurrence that left her completely befuddled. Her husband hardly noticed her upon first meeting, and in fact, it could be argued that he might not have ever set his sights on her had his best friend, Charlie, not coveted her so much; Charlie called it love at first sight, and she seemed quite taken with him from across the ballroom.
But Mr. Winstead, not one to be preferred over his, in his opinion, lowly and less charming comrade, immediately proceeded to court Miss Isobel, showering her with riches, compliments, and expensive excursions, the likes of which Isobel had never seen - touring London via hot air balloon, a cruise across the Mediterranean, brunch in Paris, and tea time walks alongside the Danube - and the likes of which Charlie could only dream of affording. As a result, Charlie relinquished all feelings for Miss Isobel; heartbroken, betrayed, and defeated, he hung his battered heart like a ragged hat on the hook of helplessness, and vowed to never associate with his childhood companion and his soon-to-be beautiful, blushing bride.
That is where our protagonist comes in, from the union of Mr. Winstead and Miss Isobel, now known proper as Mrs. Winstead. Theirs was a apt Christian wedding, with all the bells, white lace, trained doves, crystal chandeliers, exquisite marble centerpieces, top shelf booze, fine cuisine. The musical styling’s of the greats- Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Bach, and Chopin, among others- wafting around the reception hall from a live 20 piece orchestra. It was a night to remember, indeed. The honeymoon was to begin that very evening in Mr. Winstead's private island resort a stone's throw away from Turks and Caicos. Mrs. Winstead felt like the luckiest woman in the world. She spent her month long honeymoon basking in the Caribbean sun, gorging herself on the coconut and honey soaked seafood prepared by their Trinidadian live-in butler, Nico. Her evenings were full of music, good books, and mingling with locals. She fell in love with the Caribbean life and was rather sad to leave behind Nico and all her new friends. She promised to write and visit often, a promise no one expected her to fulfill.
Her bliss was happily restored at the news of her pregnancy some weeks later, which she excitedly wrote to Nico and Ariel, his wife, about. Mr. Winstead, who spent more time away from the island than with his wife for the majority of their honeymoon, casually mentioned that he might like a son. Mrs. Winstead secretly hoped for a daughter.
When their baby was born, Mrs. Winstead named her Nikki Jeanne-Marie, a name Nico and Ariel, who were unable to conceive, suggested. Mrs. Winstead immediately fell in love with her newborn and her beautiful chocolate brown hair, blue-gray eyes, and caramel complexion, all attributes Mrs. Winstead recognized from her own family lineage. "She's got my mother's eyes and my grandfather's lovely browness!" Mrs. Winstead made sure her daughter always smelled of pineapple and coconuts and sea salt. In her mind, Nikki was a pure Caribbean baby.
For the first few months of Nikki’s life, Mr. Winstead could not seem to muster any feelings of pleasure or admiration. “She’ll make a beautiful young woman someday,” was all he could manage when his wife nagged him to say something about their daughter. “She’ll make a wealthy bachelor happy, I’m sure.” Mrs. Winstead rolled her eyes and her husband’s antics. He had such a plain way of thinking. She hoped their newborn hadn’t inherited such an unlikeable trait. Mrs. Winstead often sat by her daughters crib and instead of lulling her to sleep with simple lullabies like a sensible mother, she would read to baby Nikki. She read everything, from poetry to philosophy, from novels of adventure to biographies of extraordinary people, and Mrs. Winstead tried very hard to not avoid the subjects of math and science, subjects that, while fascinating and highly important, eluded Mrs. Winstead greatly. She kept a dictionary handy when reading such tomes to Nikki; she feared that a single mispronunciation would confuse little Nikki and forever crush her potential love of the sciences. The nannies often wondered – behind closed doors and under their breaths, of course – whether Mrs. Winstead was trying to put her daughter to sleep or get a university education for herself.
Nine weeks after Nikki was born, Mr. Winstead began to proposition his wife for another child. He knew Mrs. Winstead was quite pleased with the girl, but he stressed the importance of sons. Mrs. Winstead cleverly avoided his attempts to sire another child with her. First she moaned that Nikki was too young and that another child so soon may hinder Nikki’s development. “You don’t want an idiot for a daughter, now, do you? Think of how she’ll embarrass her family! No, no, Nikki needs my complete attention at the moment.” Mr. Winstead agreed that a daft daughter would not suffice and so he conceded.
After Nikki celebrated her first birthday, Mr. Winstead tried again. But Mrs. Winstead was cleverer than her husband ever cared to notice. She was well aware that Mr. Winstead had fired several of their staff and that knew this meant he was having some financial difficulties. “But darling, look how expensive raising a child is! Another baby now would mean another mouth to feed! Who will feed him if you’ve gone and fired all the nannies that you can’t afford to keep on?” Terrified at the idea, Mr. Winsetad threw himself into his work eagerly.
Mr. Winstead’s financial troubles continued, and although he didn’t fire any more of his house staff, all thoughts of a second child left his mind for quite some time. Then Nikki turned five and Mr. Winsted tried again. Many of his closest friends and cousins had sons and he was beginning to desire one of his own. He approached his wife about it one evening. Mrs. Winstead had to really dig deep for an excuse that time. “But dearest, our little Nikki is five now. She’ll be starting school soon. She’s a clever little girl, as promised, but she’ll need help with her schoolwork. And lets not forget that we’ll have to pay tuition to send her to only the finest institution. Never mind all the books and materials for her studies and the uniform as well! I know we’re back on our feet but we’ve only just recovered. We need more time to feel financially well to raise another child.”
Mr. Winstead was fuming now at his wife’s words. “My dear woman, it’s been five years since we’ve last laid together!”
“Six,” his wife corrected. She couldn’t resist.
“Six, then!” Mr. Winstead sputtered wildly. “Recall, if you please, that I am nearly 15 years your senior. I am growing older by the day and with no heir to take my place – ”
Mrs. Winstead’s blood boiled at his words. “You have an heir!” she corrected him vehemently. “Or have forgotten your daughter already?”
Well, Mr. Winstead was quite taken aback. Never had anyone in his life spoken to him in such a manner. Mrs. Winstead realized what she had done and she saw the look in her husband’s eyes change right in front of her. Mr. Winstead stared for a second and then, with needless flourish, he snatched that day’s newspaper from his wife’s vanity and got under the covers. He wouldn’t say a word to his wife for the rest of the week and he never again tried to proposition her for a son. In fact, upon ending his cold shoulder treatment, he replaced the bed he shared with Miss Isobel with two separate ones. Miss Isobel did not protest; in fact, she rather enjoyed a little distance between herself and her husband.
To be continued... (?)