The Family That Always Saw Calico

August 20, 2007

The family of Mr and Mrs Calico, were not like other families. Mr and Mrs Calico (which was not their family given name, but just the name by which they were known) Mr and Mrs Calico, lived in a small, 2 bed-ed, semi detached cottage, discreetly positioned off a main road in Leicestershire. They moved there shortly after getting married.

Theirs was a marriage made in Calico, from the Calico dress and double breasted suit, made by Mr Calico, to the Calico bunting, cake frill and ceremonial marqee, made by Mrs Calico. When Mr and Mrs Calico each exchanged their vows, they gave thanks for Calico, and as Mr Calico lifted his wife’s Calico trimmed veil, their well primed guests released a flock of Calico scarved, Calico white, doves. Such was the significance of Calico.

The Significance of Calico

When Mr Calico (whose real name was actually Bob) was a small child, he went with his family (whose real name no longer matters) on a holiday to Aberystwyth. It was strange kind of holiday, what with it being November and what with the family of Mr Calico, electing to camp in a rather bleak and frozen field, where even the largest mallet could not crack the solid, iced up earth. Still, the young Mr Callico enjoyed the break, and spent many hours of it roaming the hills and vallies of the surrounding region.

It was on one such rambling excursion that young Bob found himself far a field of his parents, divided by frozen mists and dark weather and fully lost, half way up a coastal mud track.

The boy must have sat on that mountain for hours. He watched the light fade from the kind of preternatural yellow (common in such places, at such times of the year) to a disturbingly viscous grey. There was no light and there was no sound, save the increasingly booming crash of foaming tide, far below.

So hopeless and resigned to the prospect of tragedy – nocturnal hyperthermia, permanent loss from the memory of his family, or death by mountain lions (for Mr Calico was young and did not yet know that Mountain lions did not live in Wales) – so lost to all hope and reason was the young Mr Calico, that he was quite overwhelmed when the young Mrs Calico (whose real name was actually Elsie) appeared like an angel, to thrust her small and frozen hand into his.

Mrs Calico

Mrs Calico (Elsie) had come to live in Aberystwyth, shortly after her 10th birthday. She had moved to Aberystwyth with her mother and step-father. The step-father, who was the kind of man on whom fairy tale villains were built.

Married to her mother, not long after the tragic death of her real father, Elsie’s step-father hardly ever talked to Elsie. When he did, it was usually to suggest that she go elsewhere.

Faced with such circumstances it should as no surprise to discover that as a child, Mrs Calico was to become an accomplished explorer. She would often take herself off, away from the disapproving glare and brooding atmosphere of home, and into the craggy outcrops of coastal cliffs, that lined the sea like so many rows of monstrous teeth.

Other children may well have found such places dangerous and frightening to explore, but not little Elsie. What Elsie liked to do, more than anything else, was run away from home, climb up into the cliffs and sit on the mossy pinnacles, even frozen as they were in Winter.

Perfectly happy with her own company, Elsie seldom took friends on such missions. In fact, as her step father didn’t believe in education (at least not for Elsie) she rarely saw other children. So, what else could Elsie do, when climbing up to her favourite lookout, she found the strange boy; about her own age, curled against a rock and sniveling into his sleeve.

Taking the freezing bundle by its damp and curled up hand, she led him back down the mountain and to a place of safety. The exact place of safety chosen by Elsie was an industrious lean to, build with her own fair arms and hidden inside a sucluded alcove. The shelter was made of Calico.

Mr and Mrs Calico

After the wedding, redolent in Calico as it was, Mr and Mrs Calico honeymooned in Wales. They did not of course stay long. Leisure was all very well, said Mr Calico, but back home in the Midlands there was work to be done. And Mrs Calico agreed.

Back home in the midlands, there was the small, two bedded, cottage to consider. There was removing into the new born home of a house, the many possessions that each Calico had individually amassed. There was the picking out of carpets, and curtains, and fixtures and fittings. Mr Calico, who was as you’ll know from his fabulous wedding creations, a fabulous tailor, had plans for calico blinds, and envelopes for cushions and even smooth, magnolia, calico wall coverings.

Often, in the weeks in which it took the Calico’s to settle, Mrs Calico would find things. She would find notebooks and pages and the corners of random printed leaflets, spilling over with architects drawings. The drawings would be for Christo like wrapages. Dear, said Mrs Calico, on one particular occasion, I love Calico as much as you do, but really, we probably shouldn’t cover the house. Mr Calico had sighed at this and patted his wife’s gentle slope of a stomach.

Mr Calico

What Mr Calico wanted, more than anything else, was a child. At night he would often lie awake and trace the shape of a baby, silently and using only his eyes. The baby would be suspended in the air before him. In these invisible moments, he would see the tiny curve of it’s head, the delicate round of it’s body, hooded and supported and swaddled, in Calico. Flying before him, it was much like a parcel, or a mysterious piece of delicate origami. Mr Calico had always been fond of art.

Mrs Calico

What Mrs Calico wanted more than anything else, was a child. At night she would often lie awake and see it, small and soft and pefect, projected on the ceiling, like a baby’s mobile. She would see it in the sink as she washed the dishes; on T.V, as she and Mr Calico sat down to watch the evening news. Sometimes, as she was bustling around their calico lined living room she would scoop up the sketches made by Mr Calico. She would look at the wrapped up chimney and roof of their cottage, turn it this way, then that and suddenly see something different. She would see a child, wrapped up like a present.

Mr Calico and Mrs Calico

It was not that Mrs Calico was unable to have children. Neither was it that Mr Calico was infertile. Of course, it was not that either them had been tested. They just knew. The unborn child, that was theirs and their alone was floating in ether. On windy nights it would throw itself at the baywindows. They would hear it, tap, tap, tapping on the doubleThey both heard it. Neither said anything of course. Some things didn’t need to be said.

Still in progress…..

One Response to “The Family That Always Saw Calico”

  1. embarrassingfriend said

    Lovely, Lydia. Unfortunately, I’ve only managed to get half-way so far, as various factors (i.e. cretins) in this bloody library invariably prevent me from concentrating on anything I really want to lose myself in, as with this, but I won’t let them defeat me. Well, I’ll try not to. Hard.

    Having said that, there’s a particular idiot..oh never mind, I’ll just finish this on my own blog, as I don’t want to spoil the tone of yours with my irascibility.

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