Marjorie and Renee recovered their composure. They stopped laughing, the tension of the language lesson dissipated.
“That was fun,” said Renee, dabbing her eyes with a silk hankerchief.
“The lesson or the laughing,” Marjorie said. They were still sitting like schoolgirls at Renee’s dining room table.
“Both.” Renee got up and moved toward the sitting room. “Let’s have some tea. I’ll go ask for tea.”
Marjorie followed her friend. She plopped down in a soft chair and looked out at Renee’s garden, a fantasy of flowers and shrubs bearing red and orange blossoms. Even the path was lined with blooms as pale as fresh snow. How did Renee manage to make this all for herself, Marjorie wondered. She could barely point to the space around the pond and say flowers. Not which kind, not what grows here, not what is possible. The view of the garden was a view of her own failure. Another failure here. She lacked imagination. Had she ever have it.
“You look so serious, my dear. The tea will be here in a moment.” Renee said, and sat down opposite her friend. “So should we do our homework together now?”
“God, I can’t think any more. Eleven vowels, how will I remember them? Actually not the sounds, the letters.”
“The first time I studied with a tutor, I put my book next to my bed. That way I looked at the chart when I woke up and before I went to sleep.”
Another easy solution in Renee’s life. “Perhaps I’ll try that. I can imagine Ash’s comment when he sees these scribbling lines next to the bed.”
“He’s the one who wants you to speak.”
“Only because he doesn’t want to have to come fetch me from the police station when I get lost again.”
“Planning on getting lost, then?” They laughed together. It hadn’t been funny, getting lost. Marjorie had never been so frightened.
“What would have happened if they hadn’t found me, or they hadn’t figured out how to reach Ash.”
“Stop it, everything works out. There’s a way. Maybe another year here will wear down your fears.”
Now Marjorie did more than laugh. A choking sound came from her mouth. “Another year here and I’ll be mad.”
Now Renee laughed.