The grey eyed Cinderella – Chapter 9
Posted by: Maria Atalanti
Published on: 22/06/2023Back to Blog
The lace shoe
Kalliroe was sitting on her veranda, gazing at the sea from afar. Her friend Elpida had returned to England, and she was alone again. The events of recent times, her reconnection with Elpida, gatherings with family friends brought to life heartbeats and feelings of her youth. Somewhere the tranquility of this age period was disturbed and while all the events were pleasant and filled her with joy, they also reminded her of what she had lost during her lifetime.
Her friend Elpida was initially not the person she met in her youth. She did not remind her of that young girl who powerfully wanted to conquer the world. She was tired, very tired, she had no dreams, she was just waiting for death to free her from the pains of life. She was naturally tired herself. But her reaction was different. In the carefree life she lived she enjoyed the beauty of nature and the people around her.
-Maybe I’m being unfair to her, she whispered. She too enjoys and loves the company of her children and grandchildren. But she mourns a great loss, which she probably doesn’t remember what it is and doesn’t want to look for it either. We all mourn losses in life! I have never managed to start a family. And one thing is certain. Life never turns back!
She got up from the chair and started to walk in her garden among the rose bushes. Their fragrance pleasantly stimulated her sense of smell, and their beauty sweetened her gaze, which flickered from the strong light around her. The summer sun burned her face and reminded her that every heartbeat begins with a small pain.
She returned to her chair. Her mind left Elpida and flew to Lady Raffiel. The other real friend she met in her life. The Lady who had changed her perspective of the world and introduced her to an aspect of life that she would never have known if the Lady had not offered her this opportunity.
She remembered with nostalgia when the Lady and she used to go out every week, to theatres, to concerts, even for tea in the luxury hotels of London. She would come with her driver and pick her up from home and when they got off at their destination no one could guess that this elegant girl who accompanied the Lady was just a dressmaker. It was not just the outward appearance. With Lady’s advice, and the breadth of knowledge she gained from the many books she read, she behaved like a cultured aristocrat.
And deep down she loved this role. It was a balm to the deep wounds of her soul from her childhood. She felt that she deserved it and that she could move equally among princes and lords, she, who was the most despised child in her village. What she never got over was that it was all an image. Deep down she was identified with that despised child. That child was the seamstress who worked in a factory. The beautiful lady who circulated among high society had no real substance. She was a vision. That’s how she experienced it.
She remembered how many times men looked at her with admiration and she was flattered. But up to this point. She did not want them to get any closer to her because she knew deep down that underneath the attractive image was a scared, insecure little girl. It was a strange combination that fortunately for her the people around her did not suspect.
Lady Raffiel might have understood something, for she always tried to protect her from prying questions and at the same time to give her courage to identify her inner world with her image. She wept at the thought of her beloved Lady.
-When I die, she thought, I will have two joys. One when I will meet my mother and one with Lady. These two women are the most important persons I had in my life. And there are both inside me. One circulates in my genes and the other keeps me company in my soul.
The association with the Lady lasted three to four years. At first they had an intense social life in all the cultural events of London. They had become a recognizable duo in the aristocratic circles although they diligently preserved the mystery of their relationship.. No one knew who Kalli Michelle really was and how she was connected to the Lady. No matter how much they commented on it at first, they slowly accepted it and stopped bothering. It had already become a given.
As the years passed the Lady’s strength began to wane and it became increasingly difficult for her to move around. But that did not stop Kalli from visiting her every week at her house and sitting with her, taking their tea together, and chatting. When she could no longer get out of bed, Kalli would sit by her side and read to her. And when she could not follow, she held her hand and talked to her. She was much more than her daughter.
When Lady’s death came Kalliroe was plunged into the same chaos she had plunged into when she lost her mother. At the funeral, the Lady’s children and grandchildren followed gravely, typically wiping away perhaps a single tear here and there, but Kalliroe wept inconsolably. The loss of Lady had devastated her.
For the first time after Lady’s death, she had sunk into depression. It took a lot of effort to find herself again. Her words kept ringing in her mind:
-Always be a lady in your life. A lady never collapses. She holds her head up high and knows that she has all the strength within her to face everything.
Words that sounded like her mother’s but had a subtle difference. Her mother’s words were meant to protect their wounded dignity from the malice of the world. The Lady’s words were intended to prove to the world, but above all to themselves, the undeniable strength of their souls. A soul that did not bend before anything. Because she was a lion soul.
So, little by little, Kalliroe found herself. Because first in her life she was a good student. Especially if she had a Lady Raffiel as a teacher.
At that moment the phone rang and brought Kalliroe out of her thoughts and the trip to the past. When she answered it she heard the happy voice of Kalliroe the younger greeting her.
-Good morning Aunt Kalli! How are you today; How are you doing now that your friend is gone?
-It is a great loss, but I am comforted by the thought that you will not leave me like this. We will talk online. Isn’t that so?
-Of course, my aunt! At least once a week, we will put you in touch. We have agreed with Elpida, the granddaughter. Tell me, on Saturday afternoon will you be home?
-Of course, I will be. It’s not easy to move anywhere without someone like you picking me up in their car. Shall we arrange a communication with Elpida?
-This time I want something else from you. I want to introduce you to some of my friends.
-Well, how about that? You will bring your friends here for the first time.
-These are very special friends, and I would very much like you to meet them. But I want you to become very beautiful. To wear those emerald earrings and the necklace that Lady Raffiel left you in her will and that beautiful blue-emerald dress with matching shoes.
-And why all this? Will you present me as a bride to be? It’s your turn to get married. I lost my turn many years ago.
-Why such comments? Aren’t you the one who taught me that a woman should always look pretty, because that’s how she honors her very nature?
-Yes, I was telling you all this. The student passed the teacher!
-So, will you be pretty for my friends?
-I’ll do my best, don’t worry. But now it’s a little difficult to be beautiful. Beauty has long passed me by.
-Do not say that. Very few women your age have the grace and charm that you have.
Aunt Kalli laughed at Kalliroe’s clever quips.
-Do not worry! I will do my best for your friends, she told her. Bring some sweets to treat them! I have nothing at home.
-I will bring treats, I will also bring Demetra, my mother. I want her to be present too when you meet them. Of course, if all goes well, we can all go out to dinner later.
When they hung up, Aunt Kalli could not help but think:
-This crazy girl seems to want to introduce us to a future groom, since she will bring her mother along. Let’s see what is troubling her to want me to be present. Perhaps she is afraid that it will be difficult for Demetra to accept it. I wonder whom she chose and she had to organize this scene.
On Saturday afternoon Kalliroe got ready and put on the clothes that Kalliroe the younger asked her to wear. When she took the earrings in her hands she remembered Lady Raffiel again. After her death, she had the biggest surprise of her life when the Lady’s lawyer invited her to the opening of the will. She was greatly embarrassed when in front of all the Lady’s relatives it was heard that she was leaving some of her jewels to her. These earrings, a matching necklace, and a few others of lesser value.
The Lady’s son, the stockbroker, who understood her embarrassment, approached her, and said:
-You deserve these and maybe more. What you offered to our mother we have not offered all her children and grandchildren together.
So, in her jewelry box these very expensive jewels were added. And every time she wore them she remembered with emotion this wonderful woman who had changed her life.
But it was no time for emotions. Today was the day of Kalliroe the youngest. Today she dressed up for her. For her, she would wear her best smile to welcome the chosen one of her heart. She did not want to disappoint this girl in any way.
It was not long before she heard Kalliroe’s car pull up in the yard. She came out happy and all smiles and saw the girl greeting her in her usual enthusiastic way. An elderly gentleman and a young man also got out of the car.
-This will be Kalliroe’s groom to be, she thought. He looks very nice and aristocratic. And his father, his grandfather – I don’t know who exactly he is – is very impressive for his age. I don’t understand why she had arranged this whole scene.
Demetra also stopped behind Kalliroe with her own car. She also got down and was looking curiously at her daughter and her entourage. It was obvious that she did not know what was coming next, either.
Aunt Kalli was waiting for them at the entrance of her house, smiling. She watched them as they approached. Kalliroe was holding a packet of sweets and the old gentleman was also holding a packet. Demetra looked curious, as if she wanted to ask her daughter who they were, but she was reluctant.
When they were close enough to make out their faces, Aunt Kalli began to feel a strange feeling, as if someone had punched her in the stomach, but she could not figure out why. She was held at the door for a moment, and as soon as Kalliroe saw her movement, she gave the sweets to her mother and ran to her.
She helped her to sit on the sofa, meanwhile the others arrived. The most confused of all of them was Demetra who was now looking at her daughter in anger.
The old gentleman sat down next to Aunt Kalli and took her hand. Then he asked her in English:
-Don’t you remember me Kalli? I am Diego Gonzales.
And he opened the box he was holding and showed it to her. As soon as Aunt Kallie saw the contents of the box, she fainted. Kalliroe ran to the kitchen to get water Diego Gonzales was rubbing her hands and the young man had raised her legs. Only Demetra, unable to bear not understanding what was happening, took in her hands the box that Mr. Diego Gonzales had opened, to finally see what it contained. Her surprise and confusion grew when she saw that inside the box was a lace shoe with a broken heel.
At that time, Aunt Kalli was beginning to come to her senses. She sat down on the couch and asked for some tea.
-I will prepare for everyone, said Kalliroe and ran to the kitchen to escape her mother’s angry look.
Soon she returned with the tea and sweets. She treated everyone and sat down in an armchair, as far away from her mother as possible.
-How did you know? Aunt Kalli asked Kalliroe.
-I overheard you one day talking to Elpida and telling her what you did after Lady Raffiel had died. It wasn’t hard to understand. I searched, found him, and brought him to you.
-At last, shouted Demetra in irritation, will someone tell me who Lady Raffiel is?
The somewhat irrelevant question for the moment, broke the tension and made them all laugh.
-I will tell you everything, Demetra, Aunt Kalli replied. I see your daughter didn’t inform you about anything. And me, dear Kalliroe, you didn’t think that I could have a heart attack from the surprise. I am not so young to endure such emotions.
-I’m sorry, I hadn’t thought of that. You got it much better with Elpida. I thought you would just be happy.
-I was happy but my heart almost broke. You don’t know how much I’ve been hurt by this story, Not even Diego knows the truth about what had happened then. I thought it was a secret I would take with me. But before I begin narrating, help me Kalliroe to my room. I want to bring something.
Kalliroe helped her and soon they returned with another box. Aunt Kalli opened it and took out another lace shoe from inside. It was the match of what Mr. Diego Gonzales brought. Except this one didn’t have a broken heel.
-For the sake of the truth, said Aunt Kalli.
And turning to Kalliroe, she asked:
-Please introduce us to the young man.
-He is my grandson, also Diego Gonzales and also an architect.
-The young man made a small bow, took Aunt Kallis’s hand, and kissed it.
They finished their tea in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. As soon as Aunt Kalli put her cup down on the coffee table, she turned around, looked at them all and said:
-Everyone sits back. It is a long story, and I will tell you all of it. It is the time of purification. I’m glad I won’t take this secret to my grave.