One Summer In France – Episode 04

An hour later she was putting the last of the books on the shelves when Bruno returned.

“Everything good at Libby’s?”

Bruno nodded.

“Broken hose,” he said briefly.

“I should have warned Libby about that machine,” Agnes said. “I didn’t think.”

“You’ve been busy up here,” Bruno said, looking at the empty boxes waiting to be thrown away, their contents now displayed around the room.

“I need to hang the curtains next. Maybe then it will start to feel cosy.”

Bruno sighed, hearing the downbeat tone to her voice, before putting his arm around her and drawing her close.

“Chérie, this has to be for the best. The auberge was too much for us now. Life changes and we have to accept that.”

“It is not such a big wrench for you,” Agnes said quietly. “I know you’re looking forward to living in your boyhood home again, but aren’t you sad about leaving the auberge? Our home since the day we married?”

Bruno nodded.

“Mais oui. It’s hard for you to leave, I realise, ma chérie, but it was time we retired. Took things easier.”

“I know, but we lived there for over forty years. All our memories are there. Already I miss it so much after just two days.” Agnes wiped a tear away with the back of her hand. “The only good thing is that it is Libby who buys. I am very happy about that. It will be good having her living here in France. I can’t help but be sad about leaving.”

“We bring the memories with us,” Bruno said. “Then make more here together. Life will be better for us in the village, you’ll see. Less work; more fun. We’ll be able to travel a bit. See more of Isabelle. Enjoy the freedom, and the rest of our lives.”

At the mention of their daughter, Agnes brightened.

“Visit her in Antibes? I would enjoy that.” She hugged Bruno back. Maybe there would be some compensation to leaving her beloved auberge after all.

“Bon. It is agreed we go soon,” Bruno said.

Agnes glanced at her watch.

“I’d better go and start lunch.”

“I have an idea, ma chérie,” Bruno said. “Why don’t we have lunch in the village café? Less work and it will cheer you.”


Suzette Shelby, the famous French ballerina, was in her Paris apartment soaking her feet. Ruefully she lifted her feet out of the water and studied them.

Misshapen old lady’s feet with bunions and callouses stuck on the end of her thirty-eight-year-old legs. Legs that were still shapely with the muscled calves and thighs of a dancer. Picking up the white towel that lay on the chair beside her, she carefully wrapped her feet in it and gently began to pat them dry.

The ballet company’s official chiropodist was always stressing about her feet, but aside from emergencies she refused to let anybody touch them. Removal of the calluses would only give her blisters. The bunions she’d deal with later when she retired.

Retired. A word that was entering her vocabulary frequently these days. It would happen soon, she knew. She was lucky to have lasted at the top for so long. Many dancers were finished by their early thirties.

Towelling her feet dry, Suzette grimaced. It was a constant battle to keep fit and strong enough to dance but stay fat free and trim. The last three weeks had been full of low-key exercises  after that last sprain in Covent Garden, but now it was time to get back on the treadmill again: hours of dance practice, long rehearsals and the need to network and publicise the next show. The first of the publicity stints was starting with this afternoon’s recording of a chat show at the TV studio.

Appearing on chat shows was not something that she did routinely, but Malik had assured her that keeping her name in front of her audience was essential and that she might even enjoy it. It could even lead to other things when she retired.

She’d hoped that Malik would be back in Paris to escort her to the studios, or at least meet her afterwards, but he was still down in Monaco. After tying things up there for the spring season he’d decided to stay on for a break. He’d asked her to join him, but Suzette had said no, preferring to stay up here in town and get her ankle in tiptop condition before going down there to perform in a few weeks.

Malik had been her dance partner until five years ago when, after one injury too many, he retired and became a choreographer. His reputation these days was so good he could be selective and choose the ballet companies he wanted to work with. Suzette loved it when they worked together and was looking forward to their short season in Monaco.

She missed dancing with Malik. They’d fitted together so well, understanding each other and picked up on each other’s vibes while on stage. Since he’d retired from dancing she hadn’t had a regular partner, dancing instead with one of the various male dancers contracted for the different ballets.

Away from the theatre she and Malik were friends, too. At one time everyone had expected their friendship to develop into something more, but it never had. Outside of dancing there were precious few people she could call friends these days.

Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.