1. Australian. a false report; rumor.


  1. excessive plumpness; stoutness. French noun

The flight back from Sydney had been an unnerving ordeal. First class was spacious and the steak a perfect medium-rare, the flight attendants were even courteous and quick to respond, but Madeline Lee was feeling slightly despondent.  From the time she stepped foot outside of her house to arriving at the airport, the road had been free of cars and crowds. And now there wasn’t one camera pointed in her direction as she landed at Charles de Gaulle and met her driver, who was waiting for her luggage.

Madeline looked on through her tinted sunglasses as the paparazzi swarmed like locusts outside. They looked ravenous.

She used to detest the photographers as they descended upon her, documenting every move, every wrinkle, every pound, so that she could be torn apart. They would take a photo one day, only to have her image altered in pages the next, pointing out her embonpoint stature, spreading some filthy furphy about drunken nights.

Once there were so many photographers around her, they  blocked her way and almost knocked baby Charles out of her arms. That was 20 years ago. She had become a recluse after that, taking private jets, private cars to get from one place to the other, wanting to spare her family.

And now times had changed. She no longer attracted their attention because she no longer sold magazines. They were on to the next thing. She felt strange about that.

She took the absence of their pursuit as a statement about her career. There were still scripts coming in and requests for her to appear or promote causes, but the attention had been more short-lived than she had anticipated.

Madeline let the thought go as the driver approached with her bags. She had more important things to focus on anyway, like grandchildren with chubby cheeks and toothy grins.



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