BAREFOOT AND DRESSED in a simple but elegant Chanel black dress, Rachel Cellini stared at her reflection in the length of display window that reached from floor to ceiling. It offered a superb view out into the valley below, but the view of the soft lights twinkling in the gathering dusk didn’t hold her attention, rather the stark drawn features that were her own. The eyes were deep set, tired and full of suppressed emotions. Strange mixed emotions that she still hadn’t managed to get a handle on. Her dark auburn hair was, as was her usual want, cut in a soft bob in at the nape. She ran a hand through the kinked wave, brushing the bang that always threatened to fall in her eyes. It dutifully settled back in place.
Like her, dutiful. She gave a smile that was more a grimace.
She had one arm draped across her midriff, the other hand played idly with the twin string of pearls at her neck. A gift from her mother for her twenty-first birthday. A mother whose funeral she had just attended. She ignored the subdued noise of those gathered behind her; to pay their last respects to a woman who had commanded them all, even her. How ironic it had been to hear everyone singing her mother’s praises, so vocally, at the cathedral.
Her mother had insisted on a religious gathering before internment, even if she hadn’t stepped inside the confines of a church since she had married Rachel’s loving father, Roberto Cellini, fifty-two years earlier.
‘No burning for me…’
No, of course not. Rachel thought with a touch of bitter resentment. The vanity of the body. The body perfect her mother had maintained as in the work in creating perfection. A line of work she now continued. Though she herself did more pure research than hands-on as her mother had in splicing, dicing and manipulating genes, RNA and DNA strands.
With a wave of her delicate hand, Beatrice Cellini had quipped in an offhand manner to an interviewer, ‘I’m just a meat mechanic,’ when her mother had received yet another award of recognition from her peers and the Scientific Community at large.
How ever much no one had wanted to admit it, the domineering matriarch had made not one, but two of this century’s outstanding discoveries. Work and research that had quickly been patented and used under her father’s watchful eye to build an empire.
Though to call it technology was an understatement.
Playing God, the Religious Right called it.
Well, God had made his call. Beatrice Cellini had checked out in rather unusual circumstances. Rachel had never known her mother was capable of suicide. And was still unsure that a seventy-eight year old woman, still active in every respect of the word, would take her own life. However, a thorough investigation had been done and while every rock had been over turned at her insistence, her mother had lain in a fridge, on ice as it were, waiting. Three long strange months when, finally, nothing beyond suicide could be proven. Despite the long list of potential enemies her mother had made over the years.
A simple bottle of pills had won the day.
A bottle of pills swallowed on the day of Rachel’s birthday. Had her mother been trying to tell her something? She would never know.
Beatrice Cellini was interred along side her beloved husband in Memorial Fields in a media event that made newspaper and TV headlines across the globe.
Rachel Cellini now reached out a hand and laid her palm flat against the cool glass; it rapidly turned opaque blocking out the view. Blocking out her thin-lipped reflection. She was tired of seeing the woman she had become. Another genius recluse. Another? How many where there? She almost laughed at the absurdity of it all. She was no more a recluse than the next scientist lost in the depths of her work. And certainly no more of a genius than anyone else, at the top, in her particular field. However minute and narrow that field might be.
Not quite ready to face the throng, Rachel nonetheless painted on the perfect smile and went to greet her guests. Her mother’s guests, she corrected herself, and stepping down and away from the picture window, composed herself. If only one of them had made the effort to come and ask her how she felt. Or ask her what her thoughts were, or simply come to her and put their arms around her and given her a shoulder to cry on. It might have helped. As it was, she felt quite alone as she surveyed the gathered.
The recluse went to work the room. ❦