EVE IN EDEN 1



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The lean Scot, hesitated as if unwilling to leave a woman alone in this place, then relaxed.
"Well," he said, "if Mrs Borenson is coming to meet you, you`ll be alright. Gordon keeps a strict rod, and has her well in hand."
Before Eve could recover from the insultingly patronising tone of his remark, he had made his farewells and walked off to his waiting car, as she sat and seethed.
When they`d roomed together at college, Daphne had made no secret of the customs of the island, and women`s position there; how every woman, whatever her age, must have a male protector and how all, whatever their station, were subject to hot rods on bare bottoms, and other physical forms of discipline, but somehow it seemed remote and unreal. Anyway, it was different hearing it from a woman. She resented this man`s oblique allusions to it, just as she resented his `old world charm`, his careful solicitude for her comfort, his attention to manners, stepping ahead of her to open doors, taking possession of her carry-on bag. She found it wholly patronising. She wondered in fact if his anxiety over leaving her alone in the tiny airport arrivals lounge was not so much a matter of caring for her security as a dislike of leaving a female visitor, a loose cannon, at large without some firm male hand in control. She was glad to see him go.



His presence had been a burden to her since they had first come across each other on the mainland, when he had appointed himself her guardian for the flight to L`Ile de Paradis. As a liberated woman of twenty-eight, with a successful career and two husbands behind her, she particularly resented his patronisingly `protective` attitude. At any minute she expected to be addressed as `little woman`, or `my dear young lady`. In fact he proceeded to address her as `gurll` in his pronounced Scottish brogue. She tried to tell him that it was `inappropriate` but he swept her protests to one side and pressed on in his male arrogance. In her present mental state it was too much hassle to try and reform such an antediluvian MCP; after all she was here to get over the trauma of a second failed marriage, and they were only committed to a few hours of flight together.
Looking back, she could see that she should have anticipated a meeting with a male of this variety; given the reputation Eden had been given by her roommate at college. She was in fact here at Daphne`s invitation, persuaded by the sympathetic and understanding letter she had received, in reply to her own, with its news of yet another failed relationship. Actually she was surprised that Daphne was not there to meet her, but an immigration officer soon explained the absence.
"If you would just wait here a minute," the official said, after consulting her papers, and the letter from Daphne`s husband sponsoring her while she visited the island, "Mrs Borenson has some business to conclude in the traffic section. It should not take long."
She already knew the island`s reputation for strict immigration controls, and that she was only permitted to land by the sponsorship of Daphne`s husband, Gordon, and must stay at all times under his protection, or that of his representative, in this case Daphne. Ordinarily she would not have put up with such blatant discrimination against women, men were not subject to anything like the same restrictions, but she was here to mentally convalesce, and was prepared to over-look such out-dated attitudes for a while.
As the hum of the departing Scot`s car faded, total quiet fell over the deserted arrival hall, save for the faint cries of birds in the trees on the far hillside. The quiet was pricked, though hardly broken, by a small sharp sound as of a folder slapped down on a desk, or a sticky drawer thrust home. It seemed to come from one of the anonymous offices a yard or two to her left. There it was again, that small crisp snapping sound. And again. It seemed to have a slow rhythm of its own, a ten second clock beat, that caught her attention and had her straining her ears to detect the next. Four came and with it a small animal sound. Five ticked by in step with four, a faint punctuation mark in the otherwise still hall, then six, and with it the animal sound again, though louder this time, and followed by what she took to be a female voice, though she could not make out any words. The silence drew out, and she thought whatever had caused the snail slow metronome beat was over when a seventh sharp cusp of sound came to her. This time the animal mewl was higher and louder, something in pain, and it was followed by two female voices, one making some sort of statement, the other merely acknowledging, then more silence, or did she detect a shuffling sound.
Suddenly Daphne was there, straining blindly in the doorway, oblivious for a moment of her guest, her body rigid, her head arched back, her face twisted in a grimace of pain, her hands bunched into fists by her sides as if she fought some desperate urge to bring them behind her.
"Daphne." Eve called, conscious that her friend had not seen her, even though she was seated barely five yards away.
"Hello, Darling," Daphne called, seeming to suddenly come back from some distant place. "Sorry to keep you waiting, but I`m afraid I had a parking offence to clear. Ouch!" she groaned, clutching her behind, "That stings."



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