Dearest, nearest, darling.
You must know that I love you.
It wasn’t an immediate bond, oh I’ll be the first to admit it! When Lavinia brought me round for the first time, you and I didn’t gel. She had told me all about you of course, but somehow I still wasn’t ready. I was busy drinking it all in – the white façade so soft, so appetising in the twilight, that it might have been made of marzipan; the polished noses of three Rolls Royces parked by the gates; the exquisite topiary beasts flanking the sides of the townhouse – and suddenly, there you were.
It wasn’t that you were noisy or demanding exactly, but you followed us round every room, and I struggled to bask in the glory of the Ming vases and the Grecian nudes with your big blue eyes watching us curiously. The minute you’d appeared Lavinia had been cooing and chatting to you, and when we entered the grandiose bedchamber dressed with those monstrous purple and orange tulips Lavinia favoured (poor woman, such a love of horticulture and yet a big zero in the way of tasteful flower arrangement), you tripped over. At this Lavinia scooped you up in her arms and cuddled you close, cradling and soothing you. You slept with us in bed on that first night. Hardly romantic for a man.
Nonetheless, I came back. Because, as you well know, I loved Lavinia. Loved her from that first moment I saw her at the checkout point of Harrods, stocking up on Egyptian cotton sheets. Yes, one could argue that it was textures that really brought Lavinia and yours truly together. She fell for the silk chiffon-trim of my cerise shirt that day, and I rather fancied the matte black of her plastic.
Back then you were very young, practically a baby, and I’m sure whatever impressions you have of that time are hardly accurate as a result. You can rely on me for the true account, I’ve never done you wrong. Well… I suppose there was that time… you’d gotten into the habit of playing with my favourite cravat. It was from Dior you know, a gift from my last… partner. It might seem like a small thing to you, but every time I came home I would find you once again drooling like an imbecile all over it. How you kept finding it or getting into my drawers I’ll never know. Well I threw my little tortoiseshell comb that I use for my parting at you then. I also threw my brogues. But let’s not dwell.
It’s all behind us. You blossomed! You really have blossomed into a beautiful female. You take care of yourself, you’re always clean, neatly presented and gracefully quiet, keeping yourself to yourself. And so we’ve lived quite well, Lavinia, you and I. Of course I never could shake the feeling that those hyacinth blue eyes of yours were always watching me… But I suppose it’s natural that you were overprotective about Lavinia. She hadn’t had a man in her life for so long. Anyway, that’s all in the past. As I say, for the most part, we were in harmony, us three.
Lavinia loved you. She loved you with her fierce, burning, motherly love. She was so proud of you, so doting. I’ll never forget those long hours we spent shopping for you, your bed, your baby pink wallpaper to match, your first ballerina outfit. I tried to tell Lavinia it was too much, that you didn’t understand, but it didn’t stop her. In the end, I really got into the spirit of the occasion. Remember on your third birthday, the one when we were all going through a French phase and you wore a little beret, styled askew? Or even better, the gingham years? Yes, those were the good days. Oh yes… Lavinia loved you alright.
But dearest, darling. You do know that I love Seth, don’t you? Ever since I saw him mucking out the stables, six feet deep in shit and still stunning. He’s a real stallion, a real lady-killer. (Not that I… it’s just a figure of speech!) Seth, with his roguish Essex intonations and his lulling walk of a cad. His waxed chest. His spray-tanned cheeks. His drawling “Whateva, babes”, whenever I asked him if he wanted to meet me later. Just friendly, you know. You’ve had your own dalliances, don’t think I haven’t seen you! Climbing over the garden fence to visit the boy next door! The two of you, lying on top of each other behind the shed! But I never breathed a word – in all these years, I never breathed a word!
You know what it is to love, and don’t pretend otherwise. So perhaps you’ll understand what I’m going to say next. Lavinia’s tragically quick sickness didn’t leave her much time for final wishes, but on her deathbed, she thought of you. She bade me to take good care of you for the rest of your years and to treasure you as she had. But since that didn’t go in any will and Seth’s allergic to cats, I’m afraid I’ll be taking you to the vet in an hour.