Echo from Mount Royal

Dave Riese

 

Chapter One

 

Of all the events that happened in the months after I met Sol, the first I remember is the day he sent me twenty-five roses. The bouquet was the first gift I received from him – in fact, the first flowers from any man. When Sol didn’t call me after the incident in the library, I worried that my angry outburst had given him second thoughts. For three days, I waited in agony for his call. I blamed myself and once again regretted how I often acted without thinking.

My mother was at home that afternoon working on a dress for a wealthy client in Westmount. Thinking back, I imagine her kneeling on the floor cutting out a pattern with her large shears, her tongue poking out to the side from between her lips. The doorbell rings. She stands and smoothes her house dress, wondering if it is Mrs. LeClerc, our next door neighbor. Opening the door, she sees a truck with a sign ‘Robichard Fleuristes de Montréal.’

“Fleurs pour Rebecca…ah,’ the delivery man examines the invoice, “Wiseman. Signer ici.”

Of course, I don’t know if the man hesitated, but in my imagination he does. My mind always enhances my memories until sometimes I can’t remember what is real and what I make up. I blame this exaggeration on my life-long habit of reading one or two books a week.

My mother tried to act as if nothing unusual had happened. I could see she was excited, but guessed she had a new commission for a dress. “Come,” she said and taking my hand, led me into the dining room. I smelled the roses before I saw them. The bouquet filled a deep blue vase in the middle of the table. The late afternoon sunlight, coming through the windows, seemed to illuminate only the roses. The red color of the delicate petals was hypnotic.

“From Dad?” Had I forgotten my parents’ anniversary?

She looked at me as if I’d asked a stupid question. “No, they’re for you. From Sol.”

“Sol Gottesman?”

My mother laughed, clasping her hands under her chin in delight. “Of course. How many Sols do you know who’d send you flowers?”

My hands trembled as I took the card from its place between two roses. I was annoyed I couldn’t be calm and sophisticated as if this gift were only to be expected.

Rebecca

A rose for each day of our budding friendship.

Sol

Echo from Mount Royal Description:

Montreal, 1951. A working-class girl, 18, falls in love. Her courtship with a handsome man, fulfills her romantic dreams and his wealth introduces her to a world of upper-class privilege.

But she soon discovers the simmering conflicts in Sol’s life, dominated by his mother and older brother. Rebecca loves Sol, but helping him stand up to the pressure from his family, puts her squarely in the midst of it all.

When class, sexual secrets and family conflict test their love, she struggles to control events. And then, a late night telephone call changes her life forever.

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