|Dear Mademoiselle, |
I don't quite know why I'm writing this, it seems quite crazy really... But the news of Simone's marriage just brought everything back, and if I don't put some of these feelings somewhere, well I'll just bust. Out and out explode with everything, laughter and tears at once. And that would be something to beat the band, as Evvie and I used to say!
Simone's getting married tomorrow, you know. Well of course you know, if you are in heaven or wherever. I don't mean hell of course. But I think you Catholics might go to limbo? We didn't know though, at school. About Simone I mean, not about limbo. Didn't know she would be getting married. Or rather didn't realise it would be so soon, so sudden.
We collected together everything we could in the time, and I know Joey and the others have been working flat out to make her a wedding dress and meal. It feels a happy occasion, but ... also so strange, to be here, celebrating this, when you're not.
I never really thought about Simone without thinking about you, I know she is a very nice person, but I sort of felt quite mixed up about her, though I hope no one ever knew that, especially her. I know you loved her, and she you, it was obvious from how you looked after her, and how upset she was when you were ill. I do wonder how she feels, whether the fact that she has her own mother makes any difference how much she misses you. I wish I could ask her in a way, find out whether it is a confusing time, whether it brings your death home to her all of a sudden, all amongst all of her happiness.
Though I guess she might not be thinking of you at all. After all she has a mother of her own anyway, a sister, and all her friends fussing around her. Her mother and father can't get here, there isn't time. They'll be here in time for the return from honeymoon, so I guess that's something for her. She's hiding well, but she occasionally suddenly looks sad, when she thinks people aren't looking.
She's a teacher now, you know, and it isn't the sort of thing I could ever ask her, but I wonder sometimes if she misses you as much as I do. She was your real family, after all, knew you as a person, not a headmistress. Did you ever think of me as anything other than a Chalet School pupil? I guess I'll never know really.
Back again, had to go to a lesson, put this away for a while. You know, I was thinking the other day about my first few terms - I was a little beast, there's no two ways about it. I didn't deserve your patience, the way you tried to make me see the errors of my ways. I was agin the government, and to begin with that was you too. I was determined that I'd make Poppa remove me from the school as soon as term ended. Then all that situation with the caves, and that mad man, and everyone looked out for me, and I don't know ... I guess I mellowed.
I was still sure that rules were meant to be broken, were for other people, not for me. I don't know when that changed really. I think these things just creep up on you I guess. Now here I am, Head Girl no less. People looking to me as an example.
ME ! An example. Yes ma'am, Cornelia Flower, a figure of respect and a good example. I wonder sometimes if you would ever think that possible, with all of my scrapes. When I do think about things at all, I like to think you would be proud of me Mademoiselle. I hope you would be, after all I've done my best, and saints can do no more. It has been a funny old time with the school, and I hope I did the right things, paid attention where I should.
Would you be proud of me? Something in me wonders how I could make anyone proud. Aways been one on my own really, even in the middle of being part of our gang, of the Quintette. Perhaps thats why I did such mad things. Why knows! I don't know how so many of these girls do it, they seem to just know what they should and shouldn't do. It's rarely been that clear to me somehow. You made it clearest, you and Joey were real bricks to me, but everyone had a bit of Joey's attention, she couldn't be there the way you were.
You managed to make me feel that you really did care. Maybe you did that for all the girls, I don't know. I find it hard to see why you would make a special effort for the little horror that I was, that I sometimes feel I still am. But to me, well you did feel as though you mothered me, as much as I'd let anyone back then.
I seem to have bad luck with mother or mother figures, don't stick around long. Perhaps I deserve it. I've not always been an easy person to mother, I'd reckon.
I hope you'd be proud. I wanted to make you proud, but I was still such a kid when you died really, I just didn't realise how little time there was to show you I'd changed. I guess, well I THINK I've changed. I know I feel less angry towards people, more aware I have to behave a bit, and less inclined to be selfish. I know some of the staff and girls thought me to be hard, and perhaps I was, or am.
I feel a devil in me sometimes, that says now Mademoiselle has gone too what's the point, no one who cares really sticks around. I don't feel worth people's praise inside, though you used to make me feel maybe I wasn't quite that bad. I really hope that you would he proud of me now. Everyone seemed to think it was a good thing that I did with that plane, though I couldn't help that poor pilot in the end... I guess the selfish little girl who first joined the school would never have done that; So you did a good job with me, you know.
I hope you know. Do dead people watch what is going on? I don't know. I've never felt really that my 'real' mother was watching from wherever folk go on to, yet I really do feel as though you are there, sympathetic, clucking a bit when I've been stupid about something. Ready to point me in the right direction when I've gone off the rails again.
Sorry, had to stop for a moment. Bit of grit in my eye...
Why am I lying? No one will see this letter anyway! I had to stop as... well it was all too much, thinking of you being gone forever. I think I need to let it out, but I don't know how. Huh !! I need your advice on how to cope without you and your advice ! Now isn't that something, says a lot really.
The accident was almost a good thing, you know. The shock of that allowed me to feel glad for the first time that you were gone, apart from I was glad before about you being out of pain of course. I know you would have been so upset. I think perhaps thats what real love is, don't you think? I would have been worried about you being upset than worried for myself. It was a way for me to cope, I suppose, feeling that way, but it did help.
Even as I write this, it seems sorta crazy somehow, that I can feel so close to you, miss you so much, yet not really feel I know you by your name. Oh I know what it is... What it was, I suppose I should say now... But I would no sooner think of you as Therese, or even Mademoiselle Lepattre as I would of calling you Napoleon, or Queen Elizabeth.
Those names might be you to someone else, but they aren't the way I know, well knew, you. You're Mademoiselle, and it's true, strange though it is, I only think of you by your title, yet you were closer than anyone but Poppa really.
It was a real shock, you know - when they said you'd gone. I still feel a gadwallopping fool for fainting as I did. There just felt as if there had been no warning, although little idiot that I was, I should have known - after all you were an invalid for more than two years before that. But the childish me couldn't process that properly. You might be ill, but you'd always be THERE. Then suddenly you weren't. You'd gone, and would never be THERE again.
I'd been so happy only half an hour before, enjoying being back, being Games Captain, wrapped up in such silly things. I'm ashamed to say that you hadn't even been on my mind, if I were to be honest. You see, you'd been so much better recently.
I wonder if you ever knew - a few of us were planning to go to Paris to see you, to spend Easter with you. I was looking forward to that so much, never occurred to me that it might not happen. Then all of a sudden you were gone, and I couldn't follow, couldn't visit or pick up a telephone to talk to you, clear my head.
I know you would have been in pain if you had lived, and now that I know that, I wouldn't change to have you slog on, be unable to cope with the pain. I know it's best, but... but it was so sudden. i fainted, you know, lost control, like an idiot. I hope that you didn't look down and think badly of me, I wasn't being strong and self sufficient them. I hadn't expected it, and then to hear it announced almost like a games fixture or school play. It was too much.
Back again. Had to stop for a while. couldn't quite get my head around those memories yet.
It won't be long before I leave here, you know. I know it's time to go, I've been here a long time already, I can't stay at school forever. But it feels...it feels more than the idea of leaving school. It's as though I'm having to say goodbye again, if I go. The school has been my home, like a family.
In a strange way, though I don't even know if you realised it, you were so much like I'd imagine a mother to be. Strict and firm, but always sympathetic, you couldn't condone my behaviour, but ... well ... you understood.
I don't love many people, I guess I'm too tough a nut to crack for that, even now. But I loved you Mademoiselle, and I wanted you to know that. Even if it doesn't mean anything to you, it does to me.
I guess I'm saying my goodbye in this letter. i never got to say a proper goodbye, this wedding of Simone's is bringing that home to me, however much I thought I had it buried. I hope you're watching, I hope you know how we all feel, felt, no - feel - about you. I'll not be showing this to anyone, they'd think I was soft in the head, writing to a dead person. But I'll know. I'll know I've said my piece.
Goodbye Mademoiselle, and God Bless. I'll make you proud, you'll see. It has helped so much to write this. I feel now that you are there beside me somehow. I'll keep trying to make you proud, I promise, if you'll just stick with me.
With Love, Dear Mademoiselle
Author's Chapter Notes:
This might be slightly over the top in parts. But thats the way it came out! Thank you all for reviewing and being interested. I hope it continues to work, thank you for reading.