Figaro! Figaro! Where is the silly fellow? If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him for forty years, stay here, keep still, a servant should be available at the pull of a bell, not running off on one scheme or another as if he were a young page.
by Linda Hepner
Figaro! Get me out of this chair! Where’s my cane? I’ll try rapping the floor. Suzanna! Ha! What am I saying? Dead these five years and I still call her. Oh dear, where’s my handkerchief. Tut, the lace is torn. There, that’s better, don’t weep for servants, Rosina. Remember the Count’s advice: when I am dead, Señora, you will have to be count, soldier, Master. Useless advice, dear husband, to gout-ridden bones. But Lindor was always full of empty phrases. “Forgive me, ” he’d say, “I love you Rosina, there is no other mistress of my heart.” Leaving me penniless, staring out of a cottage window at my ruined estate. Not a servant in sight! Half of them his bastards, and not one of them to bring me a bowl of goat’s milk.
Why, just over there under the grand oak I sat dressed as a shepherdess and the villagers brought me cherries!
One of the branches has fallen and smashed the lover’s seat. It must have happened before I came back from Paris, hateful place. The filth, the noise, the constant fear of being discovered: “Rat a tat tat! Citoyenne Suzanne, you are accused of serving a landowning mistress. Come with us! ” How I trembled in that cupboard. If Figaro hadn’t found me I’d be dry bones by now. Figaro! Where are you now I need you? Ah Rosina, be fair: he has always rescued me - from my guardian, from the nunnery, from Lindor’s jealousy and fury; in the garden, in the palace, in my bedroom.
If I stretch my neck to the right I might see it. There. There’s my balcony. The glass door is swinging in the wind. Where are my velvet curtains? Village dresses, probably. Pearls to swine. That ivy covers the whole wing. Cherubino could have climbed down instead of jumping into the greenhouse. Ha ha! I can see the glass panes below! My, what a splash of red! But the gardener is long dead? Ah, his geraniums must just be growing wild. The pane Cherubino smashed is still there! Why? Perhaps Lindor ordered it to remain, to remind me for ever of my infidelity. Once! One sin! And not that day, not that day! And this view is full of his betrayals! The toolshed - where he kept the axe to knock down my dressing room door. The injustice! The indignity! I was so innocent, so lonely. The path ….where Cherubino, sweet lad, ran for his life. That was the day Lindor posted him to the army; the last day I saw him until…. I daren’t look. Just a peep. I’ll stretch to the left… Yes, the arbor. So overgrown I can hardly see it. I met him that one night just to hear his plea… I was his first and only love: he died with my name on his lips… but surely my sin was erased by my sufferings? Morning after morning in that very arbor I would find tell-tale signs: Lindor’s missing glove, imprints of his boots, feathers from his hat. Petticoats, kerchiefs, crushed roses, even blood. Cursed, detested arbor! I shall never walk there again. Today I shall walk the other way towards the palace, to inspect Antonio’s ornamental shrubbery. I can hear my feet crunching on the gravel. Suzanna dear, fetch my fan! ! But the shrubs are so straight and formal, like soldiers… they are growing so tall, sprouting branches all over, grasping at me like street-fighters, violators… whispering, murmuring, roaring in my ears… I’ll beat them back with my stick…
Figaro! Figaro! My only friend! Save me! Where is that fellow when you need him? If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him for forty years…