Madness is My Friend

Chapter 1

It was the summer of 1853, London. I was doing very well with myself. I had finally opened the hat shop of my dreams, and was receiving a fair amount of customers. I had always loved hats from a young age. You see my father, Johnathon Young, had been a hatter as well. Hatting was the family business so naturally I developed a strong love and respect for hats of all kinds, and almost nothing could match my love for hats. Until she walked in.

Long beautiful pale blonde hair done up in a dainty bun atop her head was complimented her pale skin. She was like a porcelain doll, perfect in every way. Her head shape was much better than that of the cheap mannequins I worked on, and the texture and almost white color of her hair seemed to compliment any shade and tint of hat I could image. My fingers twitched with eagerness. I longed to hat that beautiful head, and it mattered not if I never could hat another if I could only hat that one head for the rest of my days.

Now I was known to be quite a charmer, I could talk a lady into buying a hat and out of trying for a discount with her smiling and giggling the whole time. But with this one it felt different. I thought her much too beautiful for me to approach her, until I realized that she was much too beautiful not to be approached.

“Hello madam, how are we doing today?” I asked, flashing a smile.

“Quite well thank you.” She replied, not even glancing in my direction. She was staring at a lacy red bonnet with a single white flower in the knot of the bow. It was perfectly suited for her.

“May I help you with anything?”

“Yes, actually I am quite interesting in this hat here. What do you call it?” she asked almost absentmindedly as she ran her finger delicately across the brim.

“Pardon me madam?”

She finally turned to face me. Her eyes were as deep and blue as the sea. A strange expression came across her face, as did mine I’m sure.

“What do you call it?” she repeated, her voice strong and clear this time.

It took me a second to process the question. I had never really thought to name my hats; most styles had a name already associated with it so I never bothered to name them myself. This woman was certainly strange, yet completely captivating. Unsure of what to do, I decided to lead with charm.

“What’s your name?”

“Anna Smith.”

“Then I call it the Anna.”

A slight blush colored her cheeks. “You certainly know how to make a sale sir.”

“I do know that, but actually Miss Smith my motives are little different than a standard sale. I was wondering if you would be my model.” I tried my best to keep my voice steady and my breathing even.

“I don’t believe I’m suited for such a job, Mister,”

“Young, Simon Young. And I believe that there is no other head on this planet that I would like to hat more than yours Miss Smith, if you don’t mind me saying.” I scolded myself silently for the rather awkward and slightly cheesy line. But thankfully a small smile rose from the corner of her lips.

“Well if you feel that strongly about it Mr. Young, how can I refuse?”

“You cannot I hope.” Hoping to seal the deal I flashed my best smile, meant especially for the wooing of young ladies and extended my hand.

“When do I start?” She asked, accepting the handshake. I could feel the softness and warmness of her hand in mine even through the sheer cotton gloves she had on. Her eyes met mine and it was if time stood still. I knew that this would be much more than a business relationship, this was fate.

Anna and I were married after a long year of courting. If it wasn’t for my nerves and social rules I would have asked that very afternoon. She was perfect in every way. Her beauty radiated from every pore of her, and I asked myself everyday what I did to deserve her. Every hat and dress she wore suited her; even the ugliest of hats would have looked finer than a crown made of the most expensive materials. She was kind and gentle, but not lacking in spunk and guts. We had tea parties every afternoon at three, just the two of us. We promised to have them with our child when we had one.

“Can you imagine, Simon? Tea Party for three at three, doesn’t that sound just wonderful? Tea for two is just fine but tea for three would be just perfect.” She would say excitedly, clasping her favorite tea cup in her hands. “But just three, I find large parties detestable. Besides, we don’t have enough chairs to accommodate large parties.”

“Not that I am disagreeing with you, my dearest, but I believe we have at least enough seating for a good ten people at least.” I would reply.

Then she would always give a playful smile and wag her finger saying, “No room, no room.”

Finally, after a year of marriage, she was with child. Both of us could hardly contain our excitement. I made greater efforts to increase sales at the store make bigger and better hats so I could sell them for more. Anna spent her days picking out what books she wanted to read to the child, drawing pictures to decorate the baby’s room with, and looking at cribs and baby clothing.

In April, a month after her mother’s birthday, Anna finally gave birth to a healthy but small baby girl.

“What should we name her dear?” I had asked, leaning down to plant a kiss atop her forehead.

“I suppose Present or Gift is a bit too out of the ordinary for a name, for she seems like a belated birthday present. The most beautiful belated present I’ve ever received.”

“Perhaps a bit,” I chuckled.

“Well, she’s no larger than a dormouse so how about Doris?” Anna looked up at me, and our daughter too seemed to look up at me at the same time. They had the same eyes, breathtakingly blue.

“I think she likes it.”

“Does she?” Anna looked back down at the baby, who had begun to giggle. “I believe you’re right” She took one of Doris’s hands and started shaking it gently while cooing at her. “You like the name, Doris? Well, Doris it is. My you are such a pretty girl Miss Doris Young, when you grow up I believe you will have a line of suitors three kilos long.”

“I should hope not. Anna, we might have a problem, our daughter is just too beautiful I don’t believe we can bring her out in public. We will just have to keep her here for ourselves. I will not have any dirty, uncultured boys attempting to woo my beautiful Doris.”

“What about the clean and cultured ones, dear?” Anna asked, raising an eyebrow.

“There are none. I am the only man Doris needs in her life.” I took Doris’s other hand. “Isn’t that right, darling?”

“I believe we have still got quite a long time before we have to worry about that, dear.”

“I don’t think any time is long enough. It can only be tea for three, remember? Not tea for three and a snot-nosed boy.”

“Yes dear,” Anna laughed and reached up to touch my face.

Everything in my little world was perfect, until that day.
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