Chapter Twenty Eight: Francesca's Secret Project.
It was one of those days when Francesca slept in. The Lion Twins woke up early and were chattering over breakfast.
"No, but I know she should come out soon, or we'll forget about her."
"She's going to make an impression by writing poems about us. Now, don't let her know that you know, she only told me," Isabel said with a big grin. "I've no idea who she's going to start with."
The Lions cleared up their plates and went back upstairs, chattering away. Hera got up and helped herself to a sandwich. She stood by the fridge, whistling tunelessly.
"Herakaris, lady of grace," Francesca mused as she looked at the blank book. "The maker and muse of soliloquies and sonnets."
She wrote a few more lines and went up to her room to check them in peace. Hera's lines flowed very smoothly for a first draft.
She went out of the room, her mind full of ideas to gently poke fun at her cousins. "Nothing mean, just humorous because I don't hate them."
That afternoon, Francesca tried to get into Attie's frame of mind by running. "She has sports on the brain," Francesca puffed, "I really have to get into my friends' minds if I'm going to write nice poems as presents."
The Lions were away at work and Hera has having a long nap. Francesca set the treadmill high, higher, and higher still. Francesca fell down, crash, bang. She groaned. "Not again," said her brain. "Get up, don't fall over your feet."
She scribbled the lines about Attie for safekeeping. "I'll work on them later."
That night, Francesca wrote to her unknown cousin through Facebook while working on Attie's poem at the same time:
Dear Prudence,Prudence soon wrote back:
I know you'll find this message sudden, but I received a link to your profile from my parents, who got it from my aunt, who apparently got it from your grandmother. I'm Francesca, one of your cousins in the United States. You can see what sort of things I like on my profile, and from the looks of it, you're not too keen on modern pop culture or alternative either.
Hey there.Francesca blinked when she saw the remarks. "What song?" she wondered, then looked it up. "Oh, an old Beatles hit."
First of all, don't "Dear Prudence" me! I don't like that song at all! Second thing, I don't follow alternative culture because my dad's strict about my religious upbringing, he says it's not proper.
She wrote again:
If you don't like being called "dear Prudence," what would you like me to call you? Do you even have a Japanese name?The reply:
I hardly use it because it's got an awkward story behind it, but my Japanese name's Norimi. Thing is, my mother became a Christian because she loved my dad too much to consider anyone else, so my grandparents didn't like it and wouldn't talk to her much.
My mother also couldn't participate in the Shinto rites because my dad's opinions are very strong. The long and short of it is that my grandparents and dad have finally relented last year and decided to get in touch with my grandmother's sisters.Francesca messaged again:
My grandmother (Nona-oba) mentioned that one of her sisters ran away to England to start a business selling hats. Was it your grandmother? That was adventurous, not to mention dangerous.The reply was an enthusiastic yes. Francesca then asked:
Why did your grandmother run away?Prudence's reply was a bit snippy:
She wouldn't tell me at the moment. Anyway, I have to go now, there's a society meeting my dad's bringing us to. Did I mention that he's got relatives among the nobility?Francesca shrugged, and sent one last message before signing off:
No, you hadn't until now. Enjoy the meeting then? I have to go too.She spent an hour poring over Attie's poem before finally snuggling into her bed.
Next chapter: The First Bloom.