SUNDAY, 17TH - We have a good reason to wake up early in a sunday morning now because Mrs Castro is hosting one of her famous brunches at Copacabana Palace hotel. They're known for its sophistication and class , so remember to dress in your best. All Rio's elite will be there and no one wants to stay unnoticed.
I was in the process of hurriedly doing my hair when the phone started ringing, forcing me to try to talk through the bobby pins as I answered it.
“Darling are you here?” my mother asked on the other end.
“Yeah mom, I’m just getting ready,” I mumbled, trying one last time to achieve a somewhat respectable hair do for today before giving up and randomly placing the pins.
“Good, I was just calling to see how you were doing,” she said as I couldn’t help but scoff.
“More like calling to make sure I get in the car,” I answered, my mind running over anything I could have forgotten as I started filling up my little clutch with all of the necessities.
“Of course not sweetie,” she said, pausing before adding, “but you are indeed going, right?” she checked as I couldn’t help but laugh as I finally walked out of my flat, closing my clutch as I made my way to my prized convertible.
“I’m getting in the car right now,” I said, unlocking the door and quickly getting in. As I turned on the ignition, I realized for the first time how truly late I was as the time glared at me disapprovingly from the dashboard.
“Raquel Maria Antonelli, do you not have more common sense than to be driving while on the phone?” she suddenly shrieked into my ear.
“You are so right mom, I’d better go. Bye!” I said, quickly jumping on the chance to hang up. Sighing, I backed out of the driveway with ease, praying that I wouldn’t get too lost in the streets that were still fairly new to me. I had spent many vacations in Rio over the years but none that I had required me to be behind the wheel, making this day even more daunting than it needed to be.
It took me a little over an hour to finally work my way around the city and make it to Copacabana Palace. I didn’t even dare look at the time as I rushed out of my car, not wanting to know exactly how late I was, the approximations in my mind enough to make me cringe. Late was normal for me, but even this was pushing it. Of course, the first face I had to see when walking in had to be Mrs Castro’s.
“Raquel! We had started to lose hope that you’d ever show up,” she said as she walked towards me, the train of her long gown flowing dramatically behind her.
“I am so sorry Mrs Castro, I’m obviously still trying to get the hang of the streets of Rio,” I apologized before doing the traditional air kiss I had grown accustomed to over the years.
“That’s what you get for insisting on driving around here, what would your mother think?” she reprimanded, the idea of not using a chauffeur for any little thing probably alien to her.
“Her hair is graying no doubt,” I said simply, smiling back at her.
“And how is your father doing? I really do not understand this fixture on living in Sao Paulo when everyone knows Rio is the place to be,” Mrs Castro said before I could answer her question.
“Well you know my parents, never doing what’s expected of them,” I said vaguely, knowing fully well that the reason they chose to live there was to avoid Rio’s social scene.
“Well at least you’re here now,” she said as she smiled ever more brightly at me before looking around the room. “Now, I have no idea where Penelope went off to, I’m sure she’d love to have a word with you. It’s been so long after all,” she explained as she continued to search the room.
“Oh don’t worry about it Mrs Castro, I’m sure I’ll see her around,” I quickly said, not wanting for her to go fetch Penelope. Anyone here could tell you that if Pen wants to see someone she’ll find a way, one that didn’t involve her mother forcing her.
“Alright dear, make sure to come see me before you leave,” Mrs Castro said before moving on to the couple a few metres away from me.
Walking around the room, I couldn’t help the sense of déjà vu as I stumbled upon familiar faces, reminded of the many holidays I had spent with my family in Rio over the years. These where the only times were we were required to attend such formal events, my parents usually shying away from the social scene of Sao Paulo but having enough common sense and social standing to know that the same couldn’t be done in Rio. Having been dragged to countless events from a young age, I knew enough to be able to work the room with ease but yet couldn’t completely shake off the feeling of unease as I’d much rather be back at my apartment, music blaring as I worked on a painting.
I was about to call it a day and sneak out when Jerrica came up to me, obviously shaken.
“Is everything ok?” I asked worriedly, taking hold of one of her arms. “You have like a faraway look in your eyes.”
“Um, yeah, of course, I’m fine,” she quickly said as her hands moved to her face, wiping away the few straw tears that were about to fall, “I’m just a bit tired. That’s all,” she tried to assure me but her poor excuse left me uncertain.
Seeing clearly that something was wrong, I still chose not to push the matter, knowing perfectly that she’d tell me when she was ready. Pushing Jerrica before would be useless.
“Come on, let’s go get something to drink,” I said before directing her to the bar, hoping they’d have something strong enough to sooth Jerrica and save my morning.