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An entry or part of one from Nell's diary. Still rough and needs a beginning and a date, though that can wait until I've written more of the story. I've been rereading pieces I wrote from Erica's point of view from earlier this year. I'm still deciding if the final version of the 10K story will be evenly split between Erica and Nell or if Erica's parts will be bits of her diaries and letters that Nell finds or is given.


Was that man my father or was he just a German soldier who took pity on me, learned to love me?

If what my aunt tells me is a lie, I wonder, is she lying intentionally, in some attempt to spare my feelings? Is she trying to save me me pain of being certain that I am a Nazi's bastard?

Or is she perhaps lying without meaning to? Has she been taken in by the lie herself? Does she honestly believe that I am the lighthouse keeper's daughter and not the result of an affair my mother had with the dark haired man who is scattered through the memories of my early childhood?

We did live at the lighthouse. I remember that. Though I don't remember if we lived inside the lighthouse or in a cottage nearby. I believe we were there almost all the time, though, and I do remember slipping down the steps one time and being terrified I would fall all the way to the bottom. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, only a lot more painful.

I remember enough about the man who brought me up to know he is not the lighthouse keeper that my aunt talks about. He was a Channel Islander through and through, the son of a Guernsey man and a Jersey woman. They were something of a Channel Island Romeo and Juliet, according to my aunt. Only they weren't, because they had at least one son and didn't kill themselves.

My aunt doesn't know much more about him than that, except that my mother took his name for a time when she returned from the Channel Islands. 'Returned' is my aunt's word for my mother's nigh impossible escape from an island crawling with German soldiers. She makes it sound so sedate and easy, as though her sister simply hopped on the ferry rather than risking her life in a beaten up plane that she'd repaired herself.

These visits to my new found family are frustratingly short as I have to get back at the end of the weekend visits for school on Monday. I also don't see them quite as often as I sometimes hope but I really could not stand to be away from Auntie Lydia every single weekend, especially considering my so called 'real family' are still taking some getting used to.

The last time I was down here, I walked in on my aunt and grandmother (who keeps insisting having me call her 'Grandmama', but I haven't quite got my tongue around it yet) talking about my debut. It was such a moment of surreal daftness that I didn't think to write it down because I'll probably be having nightmares about it for years to come.

They brought it up again this time around, showing me photographs of my mother dressed in white among a gaggle of other girls who all look like they belong in a place like this. If they think I'll let them do me up to look like an anorexic swan and have me curtseying for the Queen, this Gardner lot have another thing coming.

At least I have a new photograph of my mother and there will be be plenty more when the servants have found the other albums in the cluttered attic above their quarters. It's strange to think that I must rely on these silent strangers to bring down for me the images of my mother that will be far more useful in my quest to find out more about her than my aunt's twisting of the truth that tries to make that wonderful life seem so dull.

I'll be home again tomorrow and I hope they will let me take those photograph albums back with me. I would much rather study the photographs with Auntie Lydia than listen to my aunt and Grandmama (there I called her it, if only I could remember to say it when I bid her goodbye) tell me which Earl and Countess were at what dinner party and which posh dressmaker's in London or Paris my mother had ordered her dress from. I don't care about all that guff. I want to know about my mother.

I'm being torn away now by one of the maids. Her name is Annie. She's the one who acts as my lady's maid when I stay here, though she's really one of the housemaids. It means that during my visits she has to help me dress up not only for dinner but also during the day as it seems I can't be trusted not to pick something wildly inappropriate. I believe these lot honestly believe the world will come to an end if I wear the same dress to more than one meal. And god forbid I should get the breakfast dress mixed up with the afternoon tea dress.

All the same, they are family, and I do quite like the blue evening dress that Annie has picked out for me tonight. I know it once belonged to my mother, that is one useful thing my aunt has told me. Many of my mother's old dresses are blue and most of them fit me, more or less. This will sound incredibly vain but it is quite thrilling to see such elegant dresses suiting me so well and, as Annie tells me, matching my eyes so beautifully.
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Alicia

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