A few days a go I saw the following painting by Edward Hopper in a Barcelona Exhibition at the Caixa Forum. I have written using Edward Hopper paintings as prompts before. When I first saw this painting on an internet site I knew who the woman was (for me). When I read the background to the painting at the exhibition her role in one of my ongoing stories was confirmed. May I present Beatrice, daughter of Alice, Mother of Steven …. This is part of her and their story….
Like previous chapters of this story it can be read on its own.
To follow this story from it’s beginning click the links at the bottom of the page.
The hotel room was basic but clean. Beatrice knew for what she could afford to pay that it was as good as it could get, at least the sheets were included in the rate and clean. Some places she had stayed were not that good.
From such lofty aspirations, Beatrice had reached another all time low. She had just received a letter from her mum. The letter had been following her around for a while as she changed addresses, finally catching up with her that morning. In the letter Beatrice’s mother explained that her husband, Beatrice’s father had died. Despite their estrangement for the previous few years Beatrice was heartbroken.
As she sat on the bed with the letter in her hands she considered her journey to this place.
At eighteen she had gone off to university to study the ins and outs of marketing with an intention to be one of the first women in that field. She enjoyed her studies and the new life the university campus brought with it. Her parents were lovely people but a bit old fashioned, at Uni she finally felt completely free, apart from the coursework.
Everything was going well. She was in her final year when she met Walter. She was at a friend’s party and had had a little too much to drink when she was introduced to the most beautiful man she had ever seen. He was tall, dark, good looking and charming. They started ‘stepping out’ together as her mum might have said. Although they rarely went to many crowded venues Beatrice was happy. It wasn’t long before the inevitable happened and they ended up in bed having the most passionate sex that Beatrice could never have imagined.
Just before Beatrice was due to take her final exams she started to feel unwell so went to the doctor on campus. He told her she was pregnant. She was devastated, but knew Walt well enough to feel secure that he would do the right thing. Sadly her faith in him was unfounded. When she finally plucked up courage to tell him it was in a very similar hotel room to that in which she was now sitting. As soon as she told him he left the bed and started dressing. He told her he would support her as best he could, but that she must have realised by that point he was already married.
In that instant Beatrice’s world fell apart. The man she loved belonged to another. She was pregnant with his child and had no way to support herself and a baby. Her best friend at the time told her she should ‘get rid of it’. Beatrice knew she could never do that. Eventually she plucked up her courage once more and called her mum. She couldn’t see any other option but to ask for her parents’ support.
Alice, Beatrice’s mother, was shocked and saddened at the news her daughter had shared but agreed that she could move back home until she found her feet. Alice also prepared the ground with Beatrice’s father, so she didn’t have to suffer his anger or disappointment. Beatrice completed her final exams and the next day moved back to her parents home, heavily pregnant. Alice continually asked a barrage of questions about the identity of the father. Beatrice never shared.
On the day Beatrice’s son was born, her parents, Alice and Harvey had another shock. Their new grandson was clearly of mixed heritage. Alice swallowed her prejudice and loved the boy like any other. Her husband, Harvey, on the other hand was a man of his time and could not accept the child into his family. He told Beatrice that she had brought shame on the family and that as soon as she was back on her feet she must find herself a place to live.
Leaving the hospital Beatrice moved back into her old room: Her mum suggested that perhaps Harvey would come round having the beautiful baby in the house, but the situation was untenable. Alice regularly took Steven, as the baby had been named, when Beatrice was at the end of her tether. Alice simply sat in the old rocking chair by the window and sang a gentle lullaby to her grandson. Harvey avoided both Beatrice and Steven, regularly making undisguised hints that it was time they left.
In less than a month Beatrice could handle her father’ animosity no more and packed up everything she owned and moved out. Alice was heartbroken, Harvey was relieved.
Day by day Beatrice felt less and less able to cope. She couldn’t find a permanent address. People were always nice to her face but she could see the look on their faces when they saw her beautiful dark skinned son. The places in which Beatrice could find a bed for them both were often the least savoury and it wasn’t long before she experimented with, then became dependent on drugs.
Eventually things became so bad she couldn’t manage any more and simply dropped Steven at his father’s door. She had hit rock bottom. From then on she moved around getting work, drugs and a place to live wherever she could. It was years before she ever saw her son again.
Then Jesus found her. He looked deeply into her eyes and told her she was beautiful. He told her he loved her and gradually weaned her off drugs. But he was no better than some of the other men she had met. He wanted her clean so he could pimp her out.
Prostitution was not on Beatrice’s preferred list of professions, and with the help of a new friend, Janice, she cleaned up her act and got a job in an advertising agency. The work was hard and the pay low, but it allowed her to pay for the hotel room in which she now sat reading the letter from her mother, the letter that contained month old news of her father’s death.