She wiped her face with gloved hands. Her upper arms were covered in stippled marks, as though she were the product of an overenthusiastic sculptor. As she stood up, she heard a clink and grimaced. Two champagne bottles and an empty glass were lolling on the grass. That explained a lot.
Tallulah had loved the champagne the previous evening; bottles of bubbly served up underneath neo-classical statues tastefully arranged around a cavernous ballroom. High heels had staggered across the polished floor all night. Everyone who was anyone had been at the gathering: the Smethwycke-Smith-Smiths, the Chatterquales; even the Curlicue-Fripperies had made a cursory appearance.
And her: the Rt Hon Lady Tallulah Lock-Likely the 2nd, in a pink satin dress. Mind you, after her arrival, memory was little more than a fogged camera lens.
She had been riding since she was old enough to sit upright – as a girl she had not only asked her daddy for a pony, but also a customised saddle and reins, a large paddock, stables, a horse-hand, riding gear from Saville Row and an engraved hoof pick.
However, Tallulah wasn’t so used to holding onto a rapidly galloping horse with one hand, and clutching Bollinger and Moet in the other, while also pondering whether the hills actually did have eyes. The shrill call of voices behind her was soon hushed by the trees she sped through. On and on, until - with a sudden, dull thunk - a low branch swept her sideways. She was lying on her back, listening to the soft thud of hooves growing faint.
For the next few hours she had wandered, finally arriving at the edge of a forest, with unfamiliar valleys rippling dimly under the moonlight. What a squalid place. She hummed to herself.
“What to do darling, what to do?”
Tallulah did what any respectable member of the aristocracy would do – she slept on it.
The honking alarm clock chimed with the rising sun. All around her the birds were doing that awful singing business. Couldn’t they learn something a little more melodic? Mozart, say? Tallulah couldn’t make any decisions on an empty stomach, so she raised the champagne bottle to her lipstick smeared mouth.
Feeling better, she tried a tentative call.
“Hello there, umm, locals? Does anyone know the way to Stipplehuff Hall? No?”
A sheep bleated. Right. Time to put great-grandaddy’s safari skills to use. She was sure there must be a path somewhere, or a sign. She plucked up her fur coat and strode in what she assumed was the right direction.
She hadn’t remembered a stream. Or a clearing. No matter. Her blue blood was used to chilly conditions, and her feet were repulsively muddy. A quick splash would rejuvenate her. She felt like Captain Scott in a dress – going boldly where no lady had gone before. That was what he had done, wasn’t it?
Odd feelings pursued her through the trees. It seemed such a long time since Tallulah had left Chelsea. She wasn’t up to the tweed-jacket-and-dog-breeding-and-weekends-in-the-country lifestyle. Too much bother, too little noise. And yet, and yet... How long had it been since she had paddled in wild water?
There were sunglasses in her pocket - she slipped them on and scrambled up a hillock.
Ragged breaths matched the ripped hem of her dress. The sun hid behind bruised clouds. Tallulah wasn’t sure why, but she had the strangest urge to start spinning: to let the bottles roll away and the feathers in her hair take flight. She tried swishing the dress.
She felt as though she were back at the party – but instead of a muscled arm clad in a dinner jacket twirling her in pirouettes, it was the breeze that gave her a helping hand. Her sunglasses were whipped away as she shrieked in delight. It all felt so, well, dramatic. Nothing this exhilarating had ever happened before. She could have been in Wuthering Heights; a lovelorn Cathy staggering through the lesser known West Midlands. She was almost tempted to start calling for Heathcliff – but a dignified upbringing did have some use.
The dizzy dancing grew faster and faster - she was a whirring record, a roulette wheel. Her bare foot snagged in a root and she slipped over. Delight was replaced with disgust. Clichéd swaying grass or no clichéd swaying grass, Tallulah didn’t want to know what she had just landed in.
About bally time. How long did it take to find a befuddled aristocrat? If the rescue party hadn’t brought any freshly ground coffee with them then they’d be sorry. Tallulah put her arms behind her head, stared up at the sky and happily envisaged being found. There would be tears of course, and apologies. She would make absolutely sure of it with the amount of shouting she was about to do...
Disclaimer: No friends were harmed in the creating of this post. The champagne bottles were already empty and merely used as props.
Thank you to my ever-lovely, ever-gorgeous and effervescent friend Ellen for donning a vintage dress and necklace, gloves and feathers from the dressing up box and my faux-fur coat and sunglasses. She has previously appeared in my short photo-stories as a zombie and a painting.
In other news, I was featured on Grazia.it here and the Laura Ashley blog here.