Following on from my last post where I wrote a summary of the story that Fay Weldon submitted to the BBC – to be completed by anyone. this is what I wrote.
ONE SIZE FITS ALL – completed by J.Higgs – 14.5.2004
And Ursula got to her feet. What happens next?
She felt quite unsteady, and wanted to block out what was actually happening to her. Trying desperately to buffer reality, Ursula began to dissociate herself from her surroundings. She walked trance like from the boarding bus, up the metal steps into the aircraft, to be guided to her seat by the air hostess. Opening a bag of would be goodies peeping out of the seat pocket in front of her, she discovered a black rest mask and slipped it over her eyes. Her fears began to focus themselves – not only upon the impending take off, but around the doubts and anxieties that she had been harbouring relating to recent events.
it was a moment that she had been denying, the dread of it had become part of her, weaving itself into her thoughts about David and the children. David had been fantastic about Allie’s two small off spring – knowing that few men would take on other peoples children without rancour, without resentment. Her fears took her to issues that opened a plethora of shelved events concerning her marriage – of issues not faced and dealt with. Yet in spite of her doubts, she could not deny something that told her that David always had – and still did – love her. She must have dozed off, lulled into slumber by the drone of the planes’ engine, along with emotional exhaustion.
“Excuse me madam, it’s time to fasten your safety belt, we’re nearly there.”
Blinking at the hostess that hovered above her, Ursula could hardly believe it. Puzzling over how she managed to sleep though the whole flight experience and thankfully put worries about David and Lola on pause for a short time, she gathered her thoughts and things together. Well, she concluded – there’s more to fear of flying than meets the eye, fear of change, of doing and being done to, which might be fears that turn into the stuff of night mares. Remembering the warning words concerning David which her mother Frances had spelt out, a pain in her chest suddenly seemed to restrict her breathing and at that same moment, she realised that the plane had touched down.
After the customs procedures at Milan airport, Ursula made her way to the Bureaux de Change and then the airport bar. She ordered a very stiff gin and a chicken sandwich. Usually a vegetarian, she gave herself over to the gravity of the situation, dumping her principles and preparing for things to come. Thus fortified, she joined the queue for a taxi, giving the address of the hotel where David was staying, before climbing into the cab.
The ride was a seemingly endless journey along a duel carriage way, which monotonously played back her state of mind – ‘no going back – no going back’ – for better or worse the decision to know – here and now, had been made. At the hotel desk, Ursula was given David’s room number in perfect English. Glancing around the glamorous hotel lobby, she reflected on her rather dumpy outfit, telling herself that she should have made more of an effort. The hotel receptionist repeated the room number, “room 131 madam” – “thank you” whispered Ursula and with a beating heart she entered the lift.
The rooms on the second floor sent out a mood of silence and anonymousness – of nothing being given away – the solid doors seemingly keeping intruders out and any hidden secrets well and truly inside. Ursula reached room 131, and stood staring at the blank wooden door listening for signs of life within, but none came. She breathed deeply, attempting to control the panicky feeling that swirled around in side her, whilst trying to conjure the state of dissociation that had helped her onto the plane. She knocked tentatively on the door, and waited. After a period of stoney silence, some vague rustling sounds could be heard; then David’s voice came. “Who is it? “Its me David” Ursula called, almost apologetically. She noted the strain in his voice as he answered using her nick name. “Ula, you made it, what a great surprise – just give me a minuet”.
David unlocked the door looking rather pale but handsome, wearing a very modern light grey Italian suit. Ursula glanced around the room, taking in any bit of significant evidence which might help her understand things and put her doubts to rest. She did this almost unconsciously, her art college training taking over, recording and calculating the visual clues. Two single beds, both covered with long golden silky counterpanes reaching down to the floor, reflected the afternoon light that streamed through the french windows, opposite the door.
David moved backwards to sit on the nearest bed, looking deflated, rather like a guilty school boy. As he did so, the heel of his shoe hit something that rolled from underneath the bed. It rolled toward Ursula and stopped with a short ‘click’, meeting the toe of her shoe. They both stared down at the object – it was a gold lip stick case. Suddenly Ursula was down on her knees rummaging under the bed. She pulled out: black tights, a fancy bra and knickers set, a see through negligee and a chestnut wig! At that moment Lola knocked and walked into the room without waiting for a reply. She stopped dead in her tracks at the scene she encountered. ‘Of course’, Ursula thought – staring at Lola, with her lovely renaissance face framed by a mass of red curls; her tiny waist wearing a one – size fits – all belt – ‘what a fool Iv’e been’. Ursula moved towards Lola, holding out the incriminating articles – “yours I believe?” she said. Lola slowly shook her head replying – ”no Ursula – they’re David’s”. After a breathless silence, Lola mumbled something about having to go, and quietly quit the room.
Ursula couldn’t refute Lola’s significance in all of this – she could just about cope with another woman but ….. she dropped the things, covered her face and sobbed – demanding answers at the same time. “I called Lola to come out here”, David said, whilst desperately circling around Ursula. “I had to, no one else could do the work, but what she said Ula – it’s true”.
The room encased Ursula’s mind, pressing her thoughts into a smaller and smaller space. “David, your my husband, she cried – we’ve been married for years, we have children, why didn’t you tell me, even Lola knew”? “Lola found out by chance, David said, she’s been marvellous – just accepting it as something that I need to do at times – dress up in women’s clothes. Honestly Ula, it doesn’t change my feelings for you and the children, can you believe that?”
Somehow the two of them sunk down onto the single bed entwined together. Ursula’s head and heart were reeling, she felt as if she were part of a plane crash landing, yet somehow her thoughts made their way back to the Italian belt of – Oh, so many years ago.
ONE SIZE NEVER FITS ALL – she almost shouted!