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Book Clubs in general
Book Clubs in general
Date: 29/01/02, updated on 04/11/02 (20 review reads)
I apologise for the fact that this review is clearly in the wrong catergory. Sorry - hope no ones offended!
PLEASE! Dont move to another opinion.
This, for me as a new meber of the DooYoo comunity is something that I deem to be a risk.
I dont know if this has been done before...and its either gonna work - or it aint.
I looked and as far as I can see there is no opinion catergory for short stories so Im putting this here, just because.
Im going to write a short story...please, any feedback will be great. I hope no one minds this, and I HOPE Dooyoo wont block it.
The fire was beginning to die out – it was getting late. Two young children, a boy and a girl, sat on the floor of the room, starring at the low burning fire. The young boy broke the silence –
‘Ask her’, he whispered to his sister.
‘You ask her Robin’ was his reply. ‘You ask…’ Robin began, but didn’t finish.
‘Ask me what?’ The old lady sitting in the corner of the room interrupted him. Silence.
‘Go on then’ – the boy nudged his sister. Cautiously the little girl raised her head and looked at the old woman.
‘We were wondering if you could tell us a story’, she asked apologetically. Again silence. Robin and Victoria sat looking at their grandmother.
‘Yes. But you must let me sleep after’ the old woman reasoned. Robin and Victoria both nodded. ‘Very well. This… this all happened a long time ago, before you, or your mother were born, in the winter of 1865…’
He came one night. I can still hear the sound of horse’s hooves clattering along the old dirt track, which led into Hampden. In such a small village, a stranger arriving was something of an event.
His name was William Jackson. He had jet-black, shoulder
length hair, and rode a black horse, named Midnight. He was always so pale – as white as a ghost. His eyes were always so understanding…and he spoke in a soft, gentle voice. His face I will never forget.
Your grandfather and I, lived in a small cottage, the across the road from the inn, where William was staying. Money was tight and your grandfather was turning to drink. I remember one night, him stumbling home at around two completely drunk. He wasn’t coming in the house in that state – he slept on the road, outside that night. It was a dark chapter in my past. I don’t think the marriage would have lasted if it wasn’t for William.
He came to preach to us about Christianity. We had a church, and a vicar at the time, but this didn’t seem odd to me at the time – I had other problems. Nobody talked to William – I saw him now and again around the village, but I never saw him talking to anybody else and I felt pity for him.
I can remember the first time we met properly - in the village shop. As I said money was tight and we were down to the bread line. He came into the shop as I was leaving. Not looking where I was going I walked straight into him, dropping my bag, the contents of which lay scattered on the floor. He was very apologetic, and helped me to pick up what I had dropped. We didn’t say much until
‘I’m William’. He spoke.
‘Ethel’ I replied, then an awkward silence. ‘So what brings you to Hampden’ It was a stupid question, but it broke the silence.
Robin and Victoria sat in silence not taking their eyes off their grandmother. Ethel looked like she was in a trance, like she was staring at something that nobody else could see.
Over the next few days William and I became good friends. He was my only ray of light in this black period of time. Frank, your grandfather, was out drinking most nights – an
d most days. I saw very little of your grandfather during this period – I’d usually hear him stumble in late at night. To be honest I’d given up caring. I didn’t know where I was going – or where I’d end up. I was Williams only friend – and he mine.
Another pause. Ethel looked pained – she stared into the future, or past with a look of great agony. Robin and Victoria looked at each other. The embers of the fire where the only things lighting the darkened room. She continued on – each word she spoke seemed to stick in her mouth and she looked in difficulty as she put effort into each word she spoke.
He stayed for just two weeks. Then he left – just like that.
Things were beginning to brighten up – then one day I woke up and he just wasn’t there. I went to the inn where he was staying, but nobody there could tell me anything. Nobody seemed to no anything about William – they couldn’t even remember him staying there. There was no one I could turn to – Frank was still drinking all night, wasting whatever money we had, and William had gone. It was in desperation really, that I went to see the vicar – there was no one else to turn to…
The room was very dark. It would have been pitch black, had there been no light from the full moon vaguely lighting the room. The children where scared now – what they saw before them was not their strong, kind, loving grandmother, but someone different. She continued.
The winter was unusually cold and a mist surrounded the village. I decided to go to the church late one evening – I can recall that walk so vividly – every detail stuck in my memory… The church was a ten-minute walk from the house.
I hoped talking to the vicar would help, maybe even solve my problem. I had no answer to what I was about to see…
I was alone as I walked down the dirt
path from the village to the church. It was freezing cold, and beginning to get dark. I must admit to feeling scared – was I paranoid? I kept hearing noises and seeing flash backs to the past with William. I hurried my pace and eventually ran the rest of the way to the church. By this point it was late evening, and dark.
There was a full moon that night, as I opened the gate to the church graveyard. I was very relieved to have finally made it there. The gate creaked as I pulled it open and stepped inside. I wanted to find the vicar quickly. I walked through the graves to the large wooden church door and knocked – but I received no reply.
Trembling, Victoria, the younger of the two, grabbed Robins arm, terrified.
I knew that if the vicar wasn’t here he’d be in the vicarage. That was a small cottage round the back of the church.
‘Can I help you?’ said a warm voice. It was the vicar. He’d heard the banging on the church door. I had planned exactly what I was going to say to him, in my head, on the way there – but I lost it all and just broke down weeping.
‘Ethel?’ he said. I was a regular on Sundays. ‘Come inside, out of the cold’. We went into the small cottage behind the church, where he lived.
I told him what had happened to me in the past weeks…about Frank and the drink, about our troubled financial situation, about how depressed I was…and then about William.
When I told him about William, the priest changed – from an understanding, gentle man, to a worried and confused mess. I told him all about William – what he did, what he looked like – everything.
The priest just sat thinking, with a worried frown upon his face. After a while he spoke –
‘William Jackson…jet black shoulder length hair…black horse named Midnight…Christian Missionary…’. He said
all this as if he was trying to work something out in his mind. Then suddenly he stood up.
‘I know where he is’ he said.
My heart jumped.
‘Come with me’.
We walked out into the churchyard. The vicar stopped.
‘Here’ he said, standing before a gravestone. I paused, unsure of what he wanted me to do. ‘Down there’ he said. Slowly I got down on one knee and read what the gravestone had inscribed upon the grey stone covered with lichen -
1825 – 1855
Beloved Friend In
Time Of Need
I let out a scream. William had died, and no one had told me - I wasn’t thinking straight. I couldn’t make any sense of it – what did this mean? The vicar spoke first.
‘A William Jackson, just like the one you described to me, died in Hampden of Tuberculosis, ten years ago’.
It was then that the truth hit me – and it hit hard. All this time, William had been dead. All this time, he was a ghost.
Victoria let out a scream. Why was their grandmother telling them this? This wasn’t the story she had wanted. Still Ethel continued…
The vicar let me stay with him that night. I couldn’t have managed the walk home, alone.
There were so many things that I didn’t understand – but I think I now do.
The old lady came out of the trance. The children’s grandmother was back, talking in her gentle understanding voice again. She looked at the children, and then spoke to them, as if explaining something.
God sent William, to help me in my time of need. He was almost like my saviour. Without William, those two weeks could have been my last two. Then neither your mother or you, would be here now.
Now that the grandmother she knew was back, Victoria felt braver.
‘What happened after, with you and gr
anddad?’ She regretted saying it immediately, but Ethel just smiled…
Your grandfather quickly cleaned up his act – I fell pregnant with your mother and we put the past behind us.
‘Bed!’ said Ethel enthusiastically.
The small cottage the three were staying in had only two small rooms. The bedroom was upstairs. Ethel took Robin and Victoria up the stairs into the small bedroom. They were all tired and slept soundly – except Robin who awoke just once…to see the shadow of a horseman, holding a cross, on the bedroom wall, and the sound of horse’s hooves on the old dirt track below…
Thats it! Probably be blocked in an hour or so, but any feedback would be much much much appreciated.
Thanks anyway! Rhys.