Sunday Shorts: The Avid Reader
By Sarah Cate Anstey, Oct 16 2016 11:18AM
When acquaintances asked after Mrs Bardley’s children, she always had her answers ready. She had been given plenty of opportunities to rehearse them, when returning books to her local library. There she was met with polite professional enquiries after her family. Her daughter was continuously ‘doing well’ and always ‘working hard,’ (a useful euphemism for the ‘busy,’ Mrs Bardley perpetually received when making her tentative maternal queries.) She worked as a consultant didn’t she? It must be a demanding job. Yes, must be; Mrs Bardley would echo with a slight discernible edge. And her son? Still in Australia.
Over the years, Mrs Bardley had found ‘still in Australia’ a useful response, it garnered the right level of awe without further, unnecessary obtrusive questions. Being on the other side of the world, Mrs Bardley was not expected to know the ins and outs of her son’s life and the subject was left there, in Australia. As he might as well still be in Australia, Mrs Bardley didn’t consider it a lie. After the prerequisite update, matters would turn to Mrs Bardley’s books – had she enjoyed them? Here Mrs Bardley came into her own. Her knowledge of the characters went well past the authors’ intended plot. She knew the details of their lives more intimately than the imagination which had invented them. Recommendations were offered, new authors suggested. Mrs Bardley was willing to try anything and would leave, with an arm full of books to attend to and characters to console her.
© Copyright Sarah Catherine Anstey 2016