Tag Archives: fiction

Faraway Places

It was 14 months since his wife died. Nobody had been convicted nor had the Police even arrested and charged anyone for the murder.

Initially, of course, he had been considered as the prime suspect.  Close relatives are always checked before anyone else, strangers or friends.  But he had an alibi.  He and his wife had been having a glass of wine with friends that Sunday afternoon.  And as usual, his wife left shortly before him leaving him to finish his wine and conversation with their friends.

The story was that when he got home he found his wife with her neck slashed.  Blood was everywhere but there was no sign of the murder weapon although there was one knife missing from the knife block on the kitchen bench.  The backdoor was unlocked but that was because he was expected home.

There were no clues as to what had happened in the kitchen nor why she had been killed.  Nothing had been taken and the house was in its usual state.

She was a simple person, happy with her lot in life, staying at home looking after the house as any good woman would, at least in her estimation.  Her days were spent in housework, shopping, helping at the library and lunch and coffee with friends in the village.

So with nothing to work on, after a few months the Police moved on to other cases and his life went back almost to normal.

He returned to work as solicitors’ clerk on Monday to Friday; Saturdays were spent in chores around the house and garden and Sundays found him following their practice of a walk followed by a coffee or more often, a glass of wine with friends.  And often on Sunday, he would end up having dinner with one or other of their friends.

So life was almost perfect.  He really didn’t miss his wife and her incessant chatter about friends and family and gossip about the village people.

Now he decided that enough time had passed and so one Sunday, arriving home to an empty house after dinner, he took out his maps and brochures and began to plan his trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, Guess What?

In March encouraged by a couple of my blogging friends, I decided to continue the story of Maisie Benton-Smythe and her friends.  And guess what – after making that promise and writing a post I completely forgot; that is until April 7 when I did, in fact, continue the story, in this post.

granny-cartoon

 

But procrastination is still alive and well here.  So without making any more promises, I am now continuing the story.

 

 

After Julia left to prepare for dinner with her fiancé, Maisie phoned Juliet.  After discussing their daughter and goddaughter for a few minutes, and agreeing that she was infuriating, they then said they had more pressing things to discuss.

“I think you should call Charles and ask him to come for lunch tomorrow.  It might also be a good idea for Hector to come too.” Offered Juliet.

And so it was agreed.  Maisie made the call and the invitation to lunch was accepted.  Sir Charles also offered to relay the invitation to Sir Hector, who he had no doubt, would accept.  Maisie filled n some more details for Sir Charles in the hope that further investigation would prove the man a fraud.

Sir Charles also suggested that Reggie be at the lunch too and with no idea that Reggie had moved out, added that she could discuss this with Reggie tonight.  Then Reggie, knowing all she knew, could call Sir Charles and some plan of action might be derived.

Maisie rang off and spoke to Juliet “We shall have to get together again before lunch.  Would you please call Imogen and ask her to lunch?  In the meantime, I’ll call Reggie but I don’t know how to broke the subject with him.  He will be furious but at least he will have time to settle down and think the problem through before he meets Charles and Hector at lunch tomorrow.”

Juliet readily agreed to call Imogen but thought it best if they didn’t attend lunch.  Reggie would not like to discuss these matters in front of Maisie’s friends, although he would know soon enough that they knew all about the claims too.

“Alright then, let’s go to that little tearoom in the High Street.  Shall we say 11 am?” with which they ended the conversation and each went off to make the next telephone call.

Maisie was not looking forward to calling her husband.  She knew that he would be angry that an unknown man would be making these claims.  She asked Jackson to bring her a Gin and Tonic and thought it best if she called Sir Reggie before he left for dinner and ask him to come to the house on a matter of some urgency.  She knew he would accept what she had to tell him better in a face to face conversation rather than a telephone call.

Sir Reggie was not at all keen to come to the house to meet with Maisie, but after she stressed that it was an urgent family matter, he reluctantly agreed.

After dinner, Maisie took her bath and then waited in her small sitting room forSir Percy to arrive.  This he did rather later than agreed and having had rather more to drink than she would have liked.

However, he poured himself a rather large whisky and got straight to the point.

“Now what is it, old girl?  You have me quite worried.  What family matter can it be?”

So, Maisie told him about the swarthy gent in the Panama hat, how he had come calling and been sent away while Sir Charles and his friend Sir Hector made some enquiries about him.  She handed him Fotheringham’s card.

She then went on to tell him what Sir Charles had discovered and then told him about Fotheringham’s claims.

“But that’s preposterous” yelled Reggie.  “How does he expect to get away with such nonsense.  We know the Earl would never have had any truck with a native woman.  The man is a charlatan and should be hounded out of the country.”

In time he settled down and in a more subdued tone asked Maisie what had she done.

She explained that Fotheringham had been sent off for a couple of days and that she had asked Sir Charles and Sir Hector to meet them for lunch the next day.  This would give them time for Sir Charles to look further into this matter and also to plan how to deal with it.

Pouring himself another stiff whisky, he said he would spend the night there sleeping in his dressing room and they could discuss this further in the morning over breakfast.  “And I suppose those two friends of yours know all about this as well,” he said.  “Why can you never keep anything to yourself?”

Maisie was quite pleased when he took himself off.  She felt she had handled it as well as she could and that the hours between now and breakfast would give him further time to cool down and seriously think how to deal with this matter.

It was now too late to call Juliet and so she would tell her what transpired with Reggie when they met for coffee the following morning.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

Are You My Mother?

Do you remember way back in January 2011 I started a series on Sandy and her adopted daughter?  At my writing course, I submitted the opening chapter with some slight modifications and among the suggestions made, was to write it in the first person.  So here it is, covering some of her thought and feelings during the unexpected pregnancy and now.

 

As usual, I had a quick look through the emails before starting into the day. Also, as usual, there were several trying to sell me something and so these were all deleted without opening. But there was one that jumped out at me. The subject line read ‘Are You My Mother?’ and for whatever reason, I didn’t send this one to the deleted box.

Without even opening the email I was transported back to a particularly hard time in my life. It was the 1960s – hedonistic time, no responsibilities, Mary Quant, Elvis, fun and free love, with no thoughts given to tomorrow.

I left home at 16, just as soon as I could. I felt locked into my parents’ world. Father took the 7.52 each morning to Paddington and returned on the 5.47 pm. Moher’s Day was filled with good deeds; raising money for poor children, arranging the flowers in church, whist drives or bridge, and book clubs. It was so boring and I couldn’t wait to get away.

I arrived in London where I met up with a friend who had space in her flat for me. Jobs were plentiful and very soon, I was enjoying this good life. That is until a few days after my 17th birthday when I realised I hadn’t had a period for a couple of months. A visit to the doctor confirmed it, I was pregnant. Because of the life we lived, I didn’t know who was the father. The pill was not freely available then. So what was I to do?

Maybe somebody knew of a way to get rid of the unwanted child. I had heard there were people who would perform this operation for cash. But I had no cash and didn’t know anybody from whom I could borrow some and most of all I didn’t know who amongst my friends and acquaintances would know where to find such people.

The alternative was crawling back to my parents. Mother would be ashamed and less than supportive and father would retreat into his study and let mother deal with the situation. No that really wasn’t an alternative.

I passed the church each day on the way to and from work. And that day, walking home after the doctor’s visit I saw the door was open and for the first time in many years, I found myself inside a church. I sat down in a pew at the back and quietly thought about my situation. How could I deal with it all alone?

A quiet voice intruded into my chaotic thoughts “You are troubled, my child. Perhaps I could help?” The speaker was an elderly clergyman who had noticed me sitting at the back of the church, deep in thought. His quiet voice interrupted my thoughts and I burst into tears. I then told him my problems. I had no family to turn to, no money and few friends and I was pregnant.

But of course, the clergyman had heard this tale many times. Young people thinking they were invincible and convinced that nothing bad could happen to them. He told me of a home for unmarried mothers where I could stay until the child was born. I would have to work while I was there in the laundry, kitchen or the garden until my time to give birth was close. I didn’t much like the idea of institutionalised living but really did I have a choice? No, the option being put forward by this clergyman was the better of the two.

The clergyman left me and then returned saying the home was a short walk from the church and so reluctantly I left the sanctuary and the peace it offered me. During the walk, the priest talked quietly “The home is run by the Anglican Sisters of the Community of St John. They will look after you and they will help you make a decision on whether or not to have the baby adopted when the time comes.” “Oh no, “I said. “There is no question of my keeping the child. It will have to be adopted.” We stopped in front of a two storey house that looked no different from the other family homes on the street. There was nothing proclaiming its role and obviously, those involved in running the home did so quietly. On any other day I would have passed it as just another family home.

He rang the bell and the door was quickly opened by a smiling older woman who embraced me and welcomed me to their home. The house was quiet and comforting. In the background was the sound of a baby crying but it didn’t disturb the peace I felt in this house. The priest left me then and I never saw him again.

One day, after the birth of my daughter, I went to the church to thank him but he was no longer there. He had been transferred to a parish miles away.

Life in the home was not hard. I had heard awful stories of the way some people treated unmarried mothers, but the sisters were kind and caring. They didn’t preach to us although we were expected to attend prayers morning and night and to say grace before each meal.

The sisters wore their uniform of long tabards and white wimples, girdles, and caps at all times. This made them very visible in the streets and they were often called upon to help in the community. When they were in the House they still wore their uniforms but without the caps and with aprons to protect their uniforms.

At the beginning of my stay I was placed in the laundry to wash sheets and towels etc. not only for the Home but also for the community as this was a way in which the sisters supplemented funds. it was quite hard and Sister Margret-Angela who was in charge of the laundry was a hard task master. When I was moved from the washing to the ironing area, she would check each piece before it was put into the basket for delivery to its owner. But she was also very quick to notice if any one of the women was in pain or in need of some help.

Then, later on, I was put to work in the kitchen. The meals were simple but planned for women about to give birth. Here I learned the basics of cooking that hadn’t been taught either at school or at home. Mother always had help and she didn’t want me disturbing the running of her house by talking to the help. And here I developed a love for cooking. I found a peace in preparing the vegetables and following the simple recipes put forward. This really has served me well in later life.

And then one day, when I wasn’t really expecting it, Mother Nature took control. Within a short time, I was rushed from the kitchen to the Maternity ward where what seemed like an eternity later, my baby daughter was delivered. I got to hold her for a short time before she was taken away from me and put with the other babies.

Sister Christine came to talk to the mothers individually shortly after they had given birth. She was kind and caring, and in no way tried to influence my decision. But I just knew that I was in no position to care for a child alone and the best option for my lovely baby girl was for her to be adopted.

The process was quick and although I was not involved I was told that baby had been adopted by two loving people who were unable to have children of their own. I had to work hard to stop crying when I was told that my baby was on the way to their home.

I left the home and put the birth of my daughter into the back of my mind.
Later, I met and married Greg and subsequently had a son Ian, whom I love dearly but through the years I had often thought of this daughter. Where she was and how she was living. Was she in a loving family home? Did she have siblings? What was she doing now that she had finished school? So many unanswered questions. But my experiences in those months spent in the care of the caring sister who ran the home convinced me that the couple would have been properly vetted and I just knew they would give my daughter a good home.

Greg, now my ex-husband had been told of the adoption but we had never shared the information with our son agreeing that he need never know.

Still not having opened the email, I went to bed with a million thoughts dancing around my brain. When I awoke the next morning I had no answers and was no closer to making a decision on opening the email.

I presumed that as she had written to me, she would want to meet me. What if we met and we took an instant dislike to each other; then old wounds would have been opened for nothing. What if it was a trick and how had this woman tracked me down anyway.?

But what to do? I remembered having met an ex-Nun at the Women’s Resource Centre when I dropped off some clothes that no longer fit. I’d had a long talk with her and discussed maybe volunteering at the Centre. Perhaps she would be a person to whom I could talk. I quickly finished breakfast and set off for the Women’s Centre before I could change my mind.

 

 

Continuing The Story

Two women on beach

Oh yes, they still had on their hats but…

Way back in March 2012, I started the story of Maisie Benton-Smythe and her friend Juliet Drummond whom we met having woken on a beach.  They had no recollection of how they arrived there but both were particularly pleased that they still had on their hats.

We learned that the day before, the two women had met up with another friend from school days, Imogen Carruthers.  In fact, these three were the scourge of the teachers and staff at their school, Struthers Hall, and were named The Terrible Trio.

Maisie eventually recalled that the two of them went to Imogen’s house where they had tea and after that, Imogen suggested they raid her husband’s wine cellar.  After several hours and several glasses of Sir Percy’s special wines, Imogen suggested a ride in her new, racy little Jaguar roadster to the County seat of the Carruthers family in Horley.  They all agreed.

Arriving at Sir Percy’s country retreat and having managed to outrage the housekeeper with the way they were acting, and the fact they had nothing to change into for supper, they decided to spend the night

After consuming a bottle of wine at dinner, Imogen declared that more wine should be brought from Sir Percy’s cellar and unfortunately, in getting the wine, she slipped on the cellar steps landing quite heavily on her shoulder.

An ambulance was called and Imogen was taken to hospital where she spent the night.

We are introduced to a very angry Sir Percy.  Mostly angry because he thinks the activities of his wife and her friends, react very badly on him, his position in society,  and his reputation.

There are some rather risque friends, or acquaintances, and a hilarious encounter in a house of ill repute.

But really to read the rest of this “gripping” saga, you will have to read the blog posts.  Much more fun than my just telling you here, without all the frills and furbelows that accompany the story.

And starting tomorrow, I shall continue the story from where we left off in January 2013, having been confronted by the swarthy gentleman in the Panama hat

Those related posts:

Hats on;   Hats On Again;  New Hats; The Beach;
The Bonnets; The Bonnets 2; T he Bonnets 3;  The Bonnets – Lost;
In Search of the Bonnets;
Found at LastYet More on the Bonnets; Keeping Promises;
The Swarthy Gent in the Panama Hat;  The Swarthy Gentleman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..

Changes

“A man, a plan, a canal – Panama!” ~ Leigh Mercer, 1948″

100-word-challengeTara at Thin Spiral Notebook says “For this week’s challenge, pick two (2) palindromes, or one (1) pair of semordnilaps for your story. Do not include your palindromes or semordnilap pair in your word count – so for this week, you get a 102 word limit.”

I chose diaper and repaid and so.

As I walked into the room, I saw Mother lying on the bed staring into space, showing no interest in anything.  How her life had changed in a few years.  This once vibrant, busy, strong woman was now reduced to this frail old lady lying quietly on the bed.  The illness had taken its toll and would continue to do so.

She was past recognising me and hadn’t for several months. And, as I changed her diaper I reflected on how many time she had changed mine when I was a baby and now she was being repaid as I changed hers.

I Don’t Cry At Funerals

I suppose it is because I was at a funeral yesterday and I was thinking of death and funerals, when this came to me in the shower this morning.  Real stream of consciousness writing.

*******

“I don’t cry at funerals,” she said to herself.  But she must have spoken it aloud as her son gently squeezed her shoulder in comfort.

It seemed that she had been to so many funerals.  She had seen friends some buried and others taken off to the crematorium.  Her young husband had died several years ago and though she had loved him, she didn’t cry even at his funeral.

But here she was watching the young men of the family lift her Grandmother’s casket and walk it out of the church.  And here she was crying.

She thought of that wonderful old lady.  She had been there for her since her mother had been taken away to hospital screaming about ghosts and terrors.  It was she who had taken the young girl into her home.  She was not really the Grandmother; just an older, caring neighbour who saw that the young girl had nobody to care for her.  She told the Social Services people that she was the grandmother.  And they, being overloaded with work and too many children to be cared for, accepted that she was whom she said she was.

The peace and quiet, the loving and caring of this new life totally enveloped the young girl so that memories of her mother, the noise and constant barrage of voices as her mother argued with unknown and unseen imaginary people began to fade and she wished/hoped she could live with Grandmother forever.

She had never known her mother’s family nor indeed her father’s.  There had just been the two of them for as long as she could remember.  And for a long time, all was well.  But then her mother started to abuse people in the street and shops where they bought their groceries. She had constant usually abusive, conversations with imaginary foes often in the early hours of the morning.

For several years, the girl hated going to bed knowing that in a few hours the noise would start and her mother would end up screaming.  And often she would awaken to find her mother standing over her yelling at her.

As her mother became worse, she couldn’t concentrate and found herself avoiding school as she stayed home to be with her mother.  Many times, her mother didn’t recognise her and would abuse her.  The final straw was when her mother picked up a kitchen knife and threatened to remove the girl’s tongue so that she wouldn’t argue with her anymore.

In total fright, the young girl fled to the house next door.  It was very early in the morning but the older woman was up having heard the noise, the screaming, and shouting. She took the young girl into her arms and sat her down in a comfortable chair while she called for an ambulance.  And from that time she had lived with Grandma.

But now, so many years later, she was at Grandma’s funeral.  And she wept openly as the coffin passed her in the church.  “Goodbye Grandma, ” she said “Thank you for loving me for so long.  I shall miss you.”

There is no end.  There is no beginning.
There is only the infinite passion of life.
Frederico Fellini.

Note – There’s a review of a new book  I received from my daughter.  It’s The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe.  Set in Stockholm it’s a must read.  Click here to read it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

……

 

A Wintry Wind – 2

Well, WordPress is having fun.  I wrote this post and published it yesterday but all you can see is an empty page.  So I’ll start again.  Thanks Chris at Bridges Burning for letting me know.

100-word-challenge

This week Tara has excelled herself. She has set us another 100-word challenge.
Well, in fact, it’s two words – WINTRY WIND.
If you want to play along here’s the link to Tara website, Thin Spiral Notebook.

So here goes again:

A wintry wind blew making the washing dance on the clothes line.  The sun had been shining when she hung it but now the wind had taken over. 

She watched as the large trees around the house began to shake and then the small bushes she had planted, took a lesson from the trees and started to move.

And the noise from the badly fitted back door reminded her of the blows she had suffered and she wondered if this new house was really safe from him.   Would he find her here or could she be really free this time?

Now a question – Was it worth waiting for?

And as it still raining here I thought I’d share my rainbow although we haven’t seen any rainbows here recently.

Rainbow

My rainbow

 

To see what Tara and others have written on the subject, go to Mr Linky

 

 

 

 

His Eyes

100-word-challenge

Once again, it’s time for 100-word fiction  I really love the challenge set by Tara each week, and of course, the challenge of sticking to 100 words.
If you want to play along here’s the link to Tara website, Thin Spiral Notebook.
This week’s challenge is EYES.

So here’s my effort:

Her mother had told her always to look into the eyes of the person being introduced.  This would tell that person she was really interested and you could tell about a person by looking into their eyes.

But now that she knew him she saw that his eyes rarely looked at her.  He was always looking around the room for the next interesting person to catch and when they were alone his eyes still wandered, looking at a book, the TV, never at her.

Perhaps she should have listened more intently to her mother. Had she missed an important step?

To see what Tara and others have written for this challenge, go to Mr Linky.   Then write your 100 words and link back so that others can read your effort.  Enjoy!

The Diary

100-word-challenge

This week’s 100-word Challenge is to use the word RECORD
in a story of 100 words.  And as Tara Says “No more, no less”.
If you want to tag along and get involved,
visit Tara at Thin Spiral Notebook 

Tara Says:

Using “record” for inspiration, write 100 Words – 100 exactly – no more, no less. You can either use the word – or any form of the word – as one of your 100, or it can be implied. Include a link in your post back here, and add your story to the Mister Linky list. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your submission in the comment section, or as a Facebook status post. Remember to keep spreading the love with supportive comments for your fellow Wordsters.

Now here’s my effort.

She hasn’t kept a diary since leaving school many years ago, but now her life is so exciting, different and challenging that she thinks she will record everything so that when he leaves her, as no doubt he will, she will have these memories to look back on.

But as she writes in her diary day after day she begins to think that maybe this time will be different.  Maybe he won’t leave her as the others have.  But so taken is she with these thoughts she fails to notice when he becomes less attentive and yes, he leaves her.

Almost Perfect

100-word-challenge

This week’s 100-word Challenge from Tara at Thin Spiral notebook
calls upon us to use the word WINE in a story of 100 words.
And as she says “No more, no less”.

It was very important to impress this man who was coming to dinner.  Her husband’s future and therefore, hers, was dependent on him.

She’d spent all day cleaning and tidying the house and preparing the special recipe Cindy had given her.

The dining table was set with flowers, their wedding crockery and silverware and the perfectly ironed napkins the colour of the flowers; it looked lovely.

Now, all that remained was for her to shower, dress and present herself as the perfect corporate wife.

But then a frantic call was made to her best friend, Cindy.  She’d forgotten the wine.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…