It occurred to Polly that many American women would kill to spend Thanksgiving in stately Coulson Manor, in the company of millionaire Brad Coulson and his mysterious British wife, Emily.
When Emily Coulson, better known in the guise of superhuman vigilante Britannia, had heard that Nurse Polly Travers was spending Thanksgiving alone, she had insisted that she come to stately Coulson Manor for their Thanksgiving meal. Having planned on a t.v. dinner and a beer, Polly was rather grateful for the offer.
It was definitely the most finely prepared Thanksgiving meal that Polly had ever experienced. Having a professional cook to prepare your meals was definitely an advantage. The meal had been washed down by a wine that probably cost half of Polly's monthly wages. The nurse felt a little uncomfortable with such luxury. She had grown up in a blue-collar family in a small town. As much as she was familiar with both the generous chairman of Hanover and the eccentric British vigilante, eating at the Manor felt like being transported to some strange alien world.
Emily had insisted that she was not actually celebrating Thanksgiving. British people didn't celebrate Thanksgiving. She was simply eating the meal. Her husband had ridiculed this and during the meal they broke out into an argument about the historical facts of the festival.
Polly was amused by Emily's emotional distance from Thanksgiving, but she could relate to it. She did not quite feel a part of Thanksgiving. She had a few nice memories of Thanksgiving from her childhood, but during her teens it had become painful.
Polly remembered her mother being too drunk to cook the turkey and her father lashing out at her for it. In her late teens, she had given up trying to enjoy Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family and instead hung out with friends. In those days, Thanksgiving meant not turkey, but a joint or some Speed, with a bottle of vodka for good measure.
Polly wanted to forget those times and just enjoy the occasion, but it seemed more like she was with Emily, eating the meal but not celebrating any of it.
After the meal, Emily and Polly retired to the lounge. Her hostess got her to try a Scotch mixed with something called Stone's Ginger Wine. Yet another of those medicinal British drinks. Emily cracked on an old Ozzy Osborne album as the two women settled down into the luxurious armchairs.
Polly looked at her hostess. She was dressed in a long grey-green dress that contrasted with her fiery red hair.
Emily had always hung out with the other nurses at Hanover. She liked metal and drinking beer. She had been out to bars with Polly plenty of times. Yet after her marriage to Brad, she seemed a more distant figure.
Polly knew Emily felt a lot of compassion for her, knowing of her troubled past. Sometimes she gave her advice. But it was awkward. The compassion seemed to heighten the gulf between them. Emily was a British woman from an apparently wealthy family. Now she was married to a millionaire philanthropist. What could Emily understand about the life she had led?
Polly sipped her whisky and ginger wine and then glanced down at her socks. They were lime green and clashed terribly with the black trousers and top she was wearing. Emily had asked her to take her shoes off before stepping onto the precious carpets of stately Coulson Manor. Having come from the Pacific North West with their harsh winter weather, she was well used to that. She had read somewhere that people took their shoes off in Norway. She found it odd to imagine the black metal bands she so adored padding about in their socks.
"Have you got a boyfriend at the moment?" asked Emily.
"No. I saw this guy a few times, but he's re-joining the USAAF. I don't want to be a military wife," replied Polly. "Back to looking again," she said with a sigh.
"You know, Michael Nosferatu is single," suggested Emily.
Polly sighed. Emily was not the first person to hint that the Hanover Institute's Public Relations Officer might be a good prospect. Did people just assume that a black metal fan was going to hit off with a Goth?
"He's a Goth," replied Polly.
"Is that such a bad thing?" asked the red-haired woman.
"Goths listen to boring music. And they give themselves stupid names like Lilith, Nephilia.. or Nosferatu," said Polly.
"Unlike proper names like Count Grishnakh, Fenriz or Euronymous," said Emily with a wry smile. "I'm sure you can convert him to black metal."
"He's also a slick corporate type," insisted Polly.
Michael Nosferatu came across as a bit too smart, a bit too confident and a bit arrogant. It was not a surprise. He had worked for Lexcorps for three years. Lexcorps had never been tolerant of weirdness in their employees. If Michael could thrive in Lexcorps with a silly made-up name and a habit of wearing black, he had to be pretty good at his job. He was just the sort of hopelessly middle class guy she despised.
"Yes, he is a bit slick. But he has just given up a very well paid job with unlimited possibilities for promotion to work at the asylum," said Emily. "Maybe there is another side to him."
"Yeah, he thinks straitjackets are kinky," said Polly. "He's not putting me in one."
"Maybe he'd like you to try one on him," suggested Emily.
Polly was not sure she was going to win this argument.
"OK, maybe he's not so bad. But he does have that stupid goatee beard. I can't stand that."
"You can always make him shave it off," suggested Emily.
They both laughed.
"Alright, I'll ask him for coffee," said a defeated Polly.
"You go for it, girl," said Emily.