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Portrait Photo - Eric Fefferman

Bottled Roses

Do I remember him? It was here I folded your letter, and crushed it. For days it has lain subtly unfurling in the corner where I threw it, a swatted paper moth. You don't ask about the London audiences these days, what the critics are saying to my Lady Macbeth, not about anything important to be now... but about him. Do you remember...?

Of the two women I am remembering, one knew the very secret of secrets, which is the art of keeping a secret; the other knew how to use secrets, which meant at some time or other she let them loose. I don't know when I came to understand how confused their secrets were with mine. But I sense there is a pattern to it that the four of us complete - my grandmother, my mother, myself and now you.

My grandmother was a formidable, Depression-made terror of a woman. I say it with respect; for whatever cause my mother and I both had to resent the old stinker, Nicolina Leone was more interesting than the whole pack of aunts and uncles put together. My grandmother and I shared an instinct for the theatre. That was what we saw in each other and it made a bond between us. Not that Nicolina ever went on the stage in any actual sense. But in a deeper reality, I don't know that she was ever off it.

The stories all relate to a central concern: a concern for women in their relations with each other, with men and with the world. The central problem these women have to deal with is how to adjust to their pain while remaining active, caring human beings.

By day, Darlene Madott is a solicitor; by night she's a writer. This is her first book of stories under the Oberon Imprint.

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