Monday, January 12, 2009
The New Girl
Alicia Graves ignored the stale quiche and scooped up the last of the marmalade fancies. She ate quickly but methodically, depleting the buffet with the efficiency of a student three weeks after his grant had run out. Her salary did not permit her such luxuries and making the most of free food was an undergraduate skill she’d have got honours in at Trinity.
“Fabulous spread, isn’t it?”
Alicia froze, her free hand hovering over the pyramid of coconut slices. Reluctantly, she withdrew it and turned to face the speaker. “Marvellous,” she agreed. “Far better than I managed on my Boxing Day Open House.” While not strictly a lie, for she had invited all her friends over on Boxing Day, Alicia’s social group comprised herself, her neighbour Mrs. Tolly and her cat Mephisto, and Mrs. Tolly had been at her sister’s for the week.
“I’m sorry I missed it.” The speaker was a stout gentleman with a moustache that went out of fashion on the forties.
Alicia touched him lightly on the arm and smiled. “You must come next year,” she said, “though I can hardly emulate your wife’s skills in the kitchen.”
“Oh.” The man smiled. “Do you know my wife?”
“Only by reputation,” said Alicia. “You talk about her often.”
“Do I?” The man frowned. “Do you work at the school then?”
“I hope so, Headmaster.” Alicia pulled her glasses from her pocket and put them on. “I teach the Classical Literature classes. You hired me last September.”