The Trunk – Part 3

$_57

Part 1

Part 2 

Sally reached for the wine glass and took another drink. Looking back at the letter, she read it for a second time,

“……………….I watched for your train, and the next. I waited under the clock for 3 hours before I realised you were not coming. Why Julia? Why let me hope, and then take it away as you did before? I explained my search was for answers, not recriminations. I have no wish to cause you pain but I fear my own sanity relies on your honesty……………….”   

If Julia was his mother, why didn’t she go, how could she leave him standing there, waiting? Three hours watching trains come in, then go out, people rushing past, never stopping. The first letter was so formal, but this one seemed more personal, there was pain in his words, she could feel it. Although they were strangers Sally felt strangely drawn to their story. She sat back, closing her eyes, picturing the woman who never arrived.

May 1941 –

The deafening sound of the roof collapsing drowned out the screams from the others in the shelter. A ball of fire whooshed upwards as concrete and tiles rained down on the crowd. Julia stayed knelt against the wall, her eyes tightly shut and her hands pressed hard against her ears. The noise was painful.

Coughing and brushing debris and what else from her hair, she looked up to find two men stood near. Their mouths were moving but she couldn’t hear what they were saying. They came closer, looking directly at her, their mouths still moving but their voices couldn’t penetrate the deafness in her ears. She groped unsteadily behind her trying to re-orientate herself in the darkness. A third man came forward, past the other two and put an arm around her waist, lifting her up, away from the wall.

The noise in her ears started to fade and she heard him call out to the other two men. “We gotta get outta here Mick, grab the bags and meet me back at Joes” The other two guys nodded, darted a look at each other and gestured to Julia.  “She’s hurt, I’ll just make sure the A.R.P’s get her, I’ll catch you up” The tone of his voice enough to get the other two moving and climbing over debris a second later, although she noticed a look between the two that suddenly added to her fear.

Lifting her, he half dragged, half propelled her over the scattered brick work and out into the street. Julia looked up at the darkened sky, angry and red above the fires blazing around them. There was a shroud of what looked like pink smoke, and now and again through a hole in the pink veil an absurdly, reassuring evening star. Her mind finally caught back up to speed. She looked at the dark haired man at her side, and swept her body quickly away from his hold. “Thank you, but I’m fine now, you can remove your arm from my waist” she raised her eyebrow expectantly, waiting for him to immediately release her. He didn’t.

His eyes, blacker than any she’d ever seen before, seemed wide with indignation, also humour she thought. He was laughing at her, she knew it, and she could feel it. She looked at him, about to repute him, but what could she say “I don’t like the tone of your eyes” for god sake the raid had left her demented. Then he smiled, a smile so incredible that her legs went weak and she almost swooned right back to him. He pulled her close, twisting a loose curl between his fingers; he brushed his lips over her ear and whispered ……

Come back next time to see what he said…………………………..

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When You Were Mine – The Beginning

Earlier today I wrote the poem ‘When You Were Mine’ and it got me thinking. Which is often dangerous, or so I’ve been told. Anyway, I started to think of the wider story and wrote this bit of prose to go with the poem. It’s something I think I might work on to make into a larger piece, perhaps a novella. I’m also thinking of incorporating an earlier poem ‘Below Stairs’ into it, got to get a bit of passion in there………..

The early morning dawn rose sleepily across the meadow. A heavy cotton mist trailed a blanket over the ground and the silence sang heavy across the earth. Jenny rubbed at her eyes, and then twisted her arms out high above her head. She savoured the emptiness of the early hour. This was her favourite part of the day; it was when she allowed herself to dream, to imagine she was somewhere else. There was no specific place or particular town she thought of. It was just the feeling of being free, away from here and the chains that held her captive.

She looked across at the sleeping bundle to her left.  She heard the gentle hum of his breathing as his small rounded chest rose and fell in slumber. Her breath caught, as it did every time she looked at the child. She had never truly known what love was until she held him in her arms. He had raced from her belly like the devil himself was charging. Her ferocious need to protect him had immediately banished the terrifying and bloody labour she’d endured on her own.  As she cradled his wet bloodied flesh to her own it was as if a hand had reached in to both their chests and melded their two hearts into one.  She was complete.

She heard his breathing change and quickly lifted the thin blanket and lowered her feet to the cold wooden boards. She shivered and pulled the blanket over her shoulders as she lifted him up and secured him to her chest. A little dimple quickly opened in his cheek as he suckled greedily. She closed her eyes and waited for fear to replace her dreams, as it did every morning when the household woke. That was when reality crept back into view. Below her she could hear the stable lads whistling, the sound of forks against stone, of straw being lifted and the tap of hooves on flags as the horses were led out into the morning sunlight.

Jenny opened her eyes and instinctively wrapped the blanket further round the baby as she heard feet on the steps that lead to the room above the stables. The wooden trap door slowly creaked opened and a flex of white hair appeared through the gap.

“Morning miss, how’s the wee un this morn” whispered the aging gardener, Bill Compton, as he propped open the door.

“As hungry as ever Mr Compton” she smiled back at him, adjusting herself trying to spare both their blushes.

“Cooks been asking fer ya already Miss Jenny, you betta get a wriggle on if you don’t want your hide tanned again”

She could sense the anger in his tone as he lowered his eyes and could hear him muttering to himself as he struggled to clear the opening and climb into the room.

“It’s not right Miss, and you and me know it”

She lifted the baby away and handed him over to his outstretched arms.

“Now Bill, enough of that, I have no choice, how else can I keep Jamie with me?”

The old man looked at the cooing bundle snuggling in his arms and he felt his heart break for them both. James William Lacey, had a mop of dark hair and piercing blue eyes, and if that wasn’t proof enough, that ancestral dimple of his surely sealed his paternity.

“Get yourself over to the kitchens and I’ll get the little un outta here and over to the cottage, Mrs Compton’s fair itchin for him” a beaming smile lit the weathered lines of his face.

Jenny couldn’t help smile back. The old couple were like family to her now and the only two who knew about little Jamie. But she knew what they were sacrificing to help her and she prayed they were never found out. The Duchess of Belcombe, was a cold hearted woman, evil to the core and Jenny knew if the Duchess ever found out she was still here her life would be over, literally. But what made her shiver to the bone was that she knew Jamie’s life would be over too.

The war with Spain had made widows and orphans out of many. The Duke of Belcombe had not been the only one lost overseas. Jenny swallowed the tears back down, she couldn’t think of him, not now. She had to protect her son, their son. She held her shawl tightly across her chest as she walked towards the kitchen. From an upstairs window a dark shadow watched the lone figure across the courtyard. Heavily made up features twisted into rage and a seething sense of hate prickled under her skin. The Duchess of Belcombe was thinking of murder…………

A Story Begins

This is the opening for the idea I posted yesterday, an historical fiction story told in verse alone.  This is the mothers tale. The daughter’s tale will be the main story, including ‘Below Stairs‘  and ‘A Truth Unheard‘. Not sure if this will work, it may just be a case of feeding my historical addiction and it will go no further….

Barefoot she walked in the shadow of slums,

The hunger, cold, and disease ridden lungs,

A life that existed through sorrow and gloom,

Knowing that death would be calling too soon.

*

A childhood that ended by a forceful decree,

Abused by a landlord who demanded his fee.

A force that ripped sunder the innocent child,

Bloodied and broken, a beast that just smiled.

*

Banished from shelter as her body did show,

For the fruit of his loins in her belly did grow,

Thrown on the mercy of the devil’s own spawn,

Who violated her body each night until dawn.

*

She gave birth alone, just a pallet on the floor,

Shielding the child from the blood and the gore,

The blood never ceasing,  she grew ever weak,

Whispering forgiveness against a small cheek.

*

Wrapped in a blanket she held close to heart,

She carried the warm bundle away from its start.

Her last breath was taken on steps of grey stone,

As she prayed that her daughter need never atone.

A Truth Unheard

I have a bit of a secret passion for historical fiction and am working on something longer at the moment, an idea for a story that’s made up entirely of poems. Including  ‘Below Stairs’ written earlier,

table

Come in, come in and close the door over,

Do not be afraid now, just step a bit closer,

I know I can help if you would open your soul,

If you only explain, if you would tell me it all.

*

So come a little nearer and sit by the fire,

Raise up your head now, a little bit higher,

I see in your eyes and I can see how you feel,

I know there is more that you need to reveal.

*

I must ask the question and I need you to speak,

I care not for falsehood, only the truth do I seek.

Did you lie with him willingly as an act of free will,

Or did he force a surrender and bid you be still?

*

You ask for forgiveness but don’t tell me why,

A voice that is whispered and then you do cry.

Your hands they do knit then unfurl in your lap,

Your starched linen uniform,  your lily white cap.

*

I care not for tears child,  for I see no remorse,

There is no redemption, there is no recourse,

I know that I speak for the good and the true,

Why would the Master come seeking out you?

*

Now you must leave, this place where you grew,

Knowing your sin is a stain that runs through,

A hoar is a hoar and your shame is your own,

And pray for your own sake his seed is not sown.

 

“Misty” Written by Helen Midgley

I’m really chuffed that one of my stories has been showcased on the fabulous ‘wePoets Show It’ today. Take a look over, there are some really great pieces. 

War brings tragedy – making widows of wives and orphans of children.  With courage and determination a young war bride helps to put families back together.  Until fate and the Luftwaffe bring Jane her very own heart-rending reunion……..

Jane was weary as she made her way home from work.  Her back was aching, low down and constant, her legs were heavy and felt oddly detached from her throbbing feet.  She had spent the best part of the day climbing the stairs between the first and second floor of the women’s voluntary service, a mish mash of offices constantly streaming with the desperate and the desolate. As the bombings intensified so too had the numbers of widows and orphans streaming through the doors.  Unfortunately with the increased numbers also came the growing mountain of paperwork and department checks that had to be signed religiously, then stamped then signed again, then countersigned…

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