The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler

Forums Yurara Fameliki’s Stories The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler

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      (And her struggles with editorial and cleaning staff anarchy)

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        Liz’s smile melted away when Roberto entered the living room, he was covered in dust and spider webs. What flustered her most wasn’t the trail of dirt and insects the gardener was leaving behind him, but that he was not in India.

        Liz threw knives at Godfrey with her eyes, a useful skill she had developed during her (long) spare time, but he dodged them easily and they sank straight into the wall with a thud.
        Finnley rolled her eyes and ordered one of the guy from the TV crew to take the knives off the wall. “Don’t forget to repaint afterward”, she said with a satisfied smile.

        Godfrey leaned closer to the door. Liz felt words of frustration gather at her lips.

        “I think I slept too much long,” Roberto said with his charming latino accent. At that time, Liz could almost forgive him not to be in India. “Funny thing is I dreamt I was doing yoga in India, near Colombo.”

        Godfrey raised his eyebrows and gave Liz a meaningful look, telling he had been almost right all along. He relaxed and smirked. She hated it.

        “Well, that must be a clue”, Liz said with a look at the butler. “Godfrey, Roberto needs to be in India, and we need to go with him. Book the plane tickets.”

        “Well, technically, Colombo is in Sri Lanka, not India,” said Finnley.
        “Small detail,” countered Liz.

        “What do I do with the knives?” said the TV crew man.
        Liz looked at the knives, then at Godfrey.
        “I’ll take them back, they can always be useful where we are going.”

        “What about the interview?” asked the woman from the TV.
        “We’ll need a charter,” said Finnley who liked very much to give orders.


          “What we all need now”, Liz was thinking out loud, “Is a more relaxed approach. We should stop trying to be proper clever writers and just blather.”

          “If it’s supposed to be relaxed blather, why did you just fix three typo’s?” asked Finnley, the annoying maid, who had once again been peering over Elizabeth’s shoulder, looking for something to find fault with.

          “Oh come on, that’s a bit much, Liz!” Finnley retorted, accidentally on purpose slopping Liz’s tea into her ashtray, knowing a pet hate of hers was a wet ashtray.

          “Do be careful, Finnely! snapped Liz.

          “Just taking a relaxed approach to being a maid, Ma’am,” she replied rudely with a flamboyant gesture with her feather duster, which whacked Liz smartly across the back of the head as she swanned out of the room with her nose in the air.


            “Charter,” said Finnley popping back into the room.


              “Chutney? Where is the chutney?” Godfrey had popped back from his exile to India.

              “I see not much has happened since I left” he added, with a hint of disappointment.
              “… Except dust, I mean.”

              Finnley chose to ignore him, and went on to bang a few more doors loudly in the hope it would wake M’am up.


                “We don’t make chutney anymore, Godfrey, we make plum liqueur instead. Bollocks to jam, too.”


                  Liz left her bed at 8:30am, wearing only her pink and blue doubled cotton night gown, a perfect hair and her fluffy pink blue mules. She had been thinking about her characters while the sun was trying to rise with great difficulty. Liz couldn’t blame the Sun as temperatures had dropped dramatically since the beginning of winter and the air outside was really cold.

                  When Liz was thinking about her writings and her characters, she usually felt hungry. Someone had told her once that the brain was a hungry organ and that you needed fuel to make it work properly. She didn’t have a sweet tooth, but she wouldn’t say no to some cheesy toast, any time of the day.

                  She had heard some noise coming from the kitchen, certainly Finnley doing who knows what, although certainly not cleaning. It might be the association between thinking about her characters and the noise in the kitchen that triggered her sudden craving for a melted slice of cheese on top of a perfectly burnished toast. The idea sufficed to make her stomach growl.

                  She chuckled as she thought of inventing a new genre, the toast opera. Or was it a cackle?

                  As she was lost in her morning musings, her mules gave that muffled slippery sound on the floor that Finnley found so unladylike. Liz didn’t care, she even deliberately slowed her pace. The slippery sound took on another dimension, extended and stretched to the limit of what was bearable even for herself. Liz grinned, thinking about Finnley’s slight twitching right eye as she certainly was trying to keep her composure in the kitchen.

                  Liz, all cheerful, was testing the differences between a chuckle and a cackle when she entered the kitchen. She was about to ask Finnley what she thought about it when she saw a small person in a yellow tunic and green pants, washing the dishes.

                  Liz stopped right there, forgetting all about chuckles and cackles and even toasts.

                  “Where is Finnley?” she asked, not wanting to appear the least surprised. The small person turned her head toward Liz, still managing to keep on washing the dishes. It was a girl, obviously from India.

                  “Good morning, Ma’am. I’m Anna, the new maid only.”

                  “The new… maid?”

                  Liz suddenly felt panic crawling behind her perfectly still face. She didn’t want to think about the implications.

                  “Why don’t you use the dishwasher?” she asked, proud that she could keep the control of her voice despite her hunger, her questions about chuckles and cackles, and…

                  “The dirty dishes are very less, there is no need to use the dishwasher only.”

                  Liz looked at her bobbing her head sideways as if the spring had been mounted the wrong way.

                  “Are you alright?” asked Anna with a worried look.

                  “Of course, dear. Make me a toast with a slice of cheese will you?”

                  “How do I do that?”

                  “Well you take the toaster and you put the slice of bread inside and pushed the lever down… Have you never prepared toasts before?”

                  “No, but yes, but I need to know how you like it only. I want to make it perfect for your liking, otherwise you won’t be satisfied.” The maid suddenly looked lost and anxious.

                  “Just do as you usually do,” said Liz. “Goddfrey?” she called, leaving the kitchen before the maid could ask anymore questions.

                  Where was Goddfrey when she needed him to explain everything?

                  “You need me?” asked a voice behind her. He had appeared from nowhere, as if he could walk through the walls or teleport. Anyway, she never thought she would be so relieved to see him.

                  “What’s that in the kitchen?”

                  “What’s what? Oh! You mean her. The new maid.”

                  He knew! Liz felt a strange blend of frustration, despair and anger. She took mental note to remember it for her next chapter, and came back to her emotional turmoil. Was she the only one unaware of such a bit change in her home?

                  “Well, she followed us when we were in India. We don’t know how, but she managed to find a place in one of your trunks. Finnley found her as she had the porter unpacked the load. It seems she wants to help.”


                    “My key won’t work! Let me in!” shouted Finnley, banging loudly on Liz’s front door.

                    She saw a slight movement at the dining room window and spun around, just in time to see the new maid’s face furtively disappearing behind the curtain.

                    And then, with a shock of horror, Finnley realised what must have occurred.

                    “That stupid girl can’t even cook toast! You can’t just discard me after all these years of faithful and devoted service. Goddamit let me in!

                    “And,” she added loudly, “there is dust!” Finnley spat the word dust with great emphasis and contempt in her tone. “I saw it. I saw it when the curtain moved!”

                    “Well,” she said eventually, “I’m not one to stay where I am not wanted!” And just as she was about to turn away, somewhat huffily, the front door opened an inch. And then stopped.

                    Finnley Finnley! is that you?” hissed Liz croakily from behind the crack.

                    Liz? “

                    Finnley, thank goodness! You’ve got to help me! I’m sick as a dog and Godfrey is no good … he is completely under the spell of that awful new … “

                    Suddenly, the door slammed shut.



                      Finnley turned to her right, swift as a ninja. She was relieved to see Roberto, full of twigs and hay in his dark bushy hair. He had panda eyes.

                      “What happened to you?” she asked in a hush before realising she only reacted to the way he prompted her. “Is that the new…”

                      “No,” he said, “I just woke up from that strange cave with the moving roots and birth place of new characters,” he said rolling his ‘R’s like only he could. “It took me that long to come back into this thread. I just wanted to tell you the back door is open. I need to take a shower and clean the pool. Half of it is in summer, but the other seems to be stuck in winter.”


                        “Unhand me, you insubordinate wench!” cried Liz. “How very dare you manhandle me like that!” Liz struggled weakly to free herself of Anna’s vice like grip on her arm.

                        Godfrey told me to make sure you stayed in bed,” the new maid hissed, “So you don’t spread your germs to the rest of us. Please,” she started wheedling, “Come back to bed like a good girl.”

                        Liz sputtered in rage, her face turning an alarming shade of puce. “How dare….” she started, and then doubled over. “Take me to the lavatory this instant!”


                          Anna tapped on Godfrey’s door, pushed it open a crack, and informed him that she’d locked Elizabeth in the downstairs lavatory but was unsure if she’d be able to cajole her back to her bedroom.

                          “Drat!” exclaimed Godfrey, “What on earth was she doing downstairs? You know I can’t bear seeing her when she’s sick! And why weren’t you watching her as I instructed?”

                          “Well, I was, sir, but I heard a commotion outside by the pool. I was on my way to investigate, when I heard a loud knock on the front door. By the time I got there, Liz had answered it, so I slammed the door shut, and locked Liz in the lavatory, and came straight here for further instructions.”

                          “Who was at the door?”

                          Anna hadn’t noticed, but didn’t like to say. “Oh it was someone selling toasters only.”


                            “I must say,” said Godfrey, “Toasters notwithstanding… your english really is coming along splendidly!”


                              Anna batted her eyelashes and beamed with pleasure. “Shall I sit on your knee and whisper English in your ear?”

                              “Oh, I say, steady on!” replied Godfrey, reddening.

                              “Sorry, sir,” Anna said quickly, “I’ll be doing the needful. Er, I mean, getting back to my work.” Mustn’t rush this, she chided herself.


                                “Not so fast, Anna” said Finnley, intercepting the maid as she left Godfrey’s room. Just as Roberto had suggested, the back door was indeed unlocked. “I think you have had far too much time on this thread!” And without further ado, Finnley stuffed the protesting maid back into the large trunk.
                                “Good thing you are so small. You should be fine in there, I think, and I’ve popped in some food and water for your trip too.”
                                I am so much kinder than she deserves, thought Finnley proudly.
                                “Please, Miss Finnley! This is not honourable of you. Please revert me to the outside of the trunk at once!”


                                  “Wait! I have a doubt!” came the muffled cry from within the trunk. “I have a doubt!”

                                  What on earth is the daft bint talking about, wondered Finnley. Doubt? What an odd time to be worrying about a doubt. Finnley shrugged it off, and went to telephone the parcel delivery service to come and collect the trunk. But as she reached for the phone, she paused, consumed with curiosity about the doubt the girl had. It didn’t make sense.


                                    “Hold right there!”

                                    Liz’ looked over her shoulder to see the too familiar trenchcoat of Walter.

                                    “Blimey! What are you doing here, lurking in the dark, you gave me a mighty fright!”

                                    “It’s the Good Thoughts Police! Freeze your pen right where you are! We had our eyes on you ever since you started introduce all the queer characters!”

                                    “What do mean, silly goose. All my characters have been queer, and I mean that as a compliment!”

                                    “Shush now! Blatant racism, and hints of sexism and female coercion, you can’t deny that now! Black on white -err, I mean… Look at what you’ve done to the poor maid! You better write this off before the rest of the Political Correct Bureau is sending the cavalry!”


                                      “Crikey, Liz, you’ve gone and done it now,” said Finnley.


                                        “How did Miss Liz get free from the lavatory?” came a small muffled voice from the trunk. “I have the key to the door.”


                                          Roberto, silhouetted in the frame of back door, smiled smugly as he fingered the skeleton key in his pocket. He was glad he’d brought a few artefacts back from the doline.

                                          He sauntered up to the trunk, whistling a tune about his mother, and tapped on the lid.

                                          “I ‘ave a key that opens everrrrything, including trrrrunks,” he whispered.

                                          “Who are you, please sir, I have a doubt,” the muffled voice inside the trunk replied.

                                          “I’m not surprised,” Roberto replied, somewhat cryptically.

                                          “Please, I need the lavatory only, very quickly need it,” Anna tried another approach.

                                          But Roberto had wandered into the kitchen to confer with Finnley and didn’t hear her.


                                            “Oh, rrrrrrright. So now somebody wants to conferrrrr with me,” said Finnley petulantly, clearly still galled about the key fiasco. Not to mention the small-maid-in-the-large-trunk fiasco.

                                            “Oh okay! I’ll confer,” she conceded quickly as Roberto started to wander off again.


                                              “Good!” said Walter, rubbing his hands together. “A bit of cooperation wouldn’t go amiss around here!” he said, unbuttoning his trench coat and closing the door behind him.

                                              “I wasn’t talking to you, I was conferring with Roberto”, she replied crossly, but it was too late. The disappearing gardener had vanished again.

                                              Walter draped his coat on the back of a kitchen chair and sat down.

                                              “Do sit down”, said Finnley with unmistakable sarcasm. “I’m far too busy to join you, I have dusting to do.”

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