Dreams of Love and Intrigue

Compilation of Short Stories By Greta Ann Hughes

Contents
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Sofia’s Tale.....................................................................3 - 9 Kitty's Life......................................................................11 - 15 Saving Lucy....................................................................17 - 25 When Darkness Falls......................................................27 - 50 Money Can't Buy You Love...........................................52 - 65 Annie's Lost Love...........................................................67 - 163 A New Life Begins.........................................................165 - 180 There's Something In The Hedgerow.............................182 - 221 Megan’s Comeback........................................................223 - 233 My Time To Live...........................................................235 - 254 Spring Time Love..........................................................256 - 266 The Dog Walker............................................................268 - 284

Copyright © Greta Ann Hughes 2012

The right of Greta Ann Hughes to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her.

Sofia’s Tale

By

Greta Ann Hughes

Sofia’s Tale

Sofia awoke with a start. What had the dream meant? Could her darling Jeremy have been taken away from her just as she had got to know him again?

It had been a very lonely month without him. She had started to do some of the things that had been put to one side around their new home. It was an old farmhouse, which hadn’t been lived in for a long time. The main part of the house needed very little doing to it. A good clean from top to bottom and paint to brighten the rooms. The ceilings were high, with old-fashioned chandeliers, giving the place a look of grandeur, even though the house was way out in the country.

Jeremy had been the one to find the house. He had an eye for the unusual and was good at bargaining. They got the place for a song, even though Sofia felt very sorry for the old lady selling the property. It had been in her family for a long long time, but she had fallen onto hard times and with her health not being as good as it used to be, she was having to move out into a nursing home. With the little savings that she had and the sale of her home, she would be able to live at the nursing home without too little discomfort.

The house was called Theodora, which the old lady was named after. She told a tale of a sinister death, where even today the ghost was supposedly still seen. The death had been that of her great great grandfather, who after riding home late one evening came upon two vagabonds breaking down the front door. Behind this hid his wife, Matilda, so frightened that they would gain entrance and kill her and her darling son Frederick.

He beat one off quite easily, as the thief didn’t expect the sudden attack from behind. The other one had time to gain his ground and pull out the knife from the belt around his waist. He plunged the knife straight into the heart. There was no chance that he could have survived such a wound as that. He died almost at once, but as he lay there, he uttered a curse that who so ever may raise a hand against any female who was to live in the house from that day on, he would haunt, hunt and finally kill the assailant.

So having been told this and being young as they were, they paid no heed to the story.

Yet again Jeremy had been working late, there was always some urgent deadline to be met. You would think that in this day and age of the computer, the internet and e-mail, that the day to day running of an office should be easy. But this was not so. People still kept things to themselves until the last moment. Running in and wanting the job doing without even a thought for anyone else. And as usual, it fell on Jeremy to sort the problems out.

On this particular day he had had enough. Why couldn’t they for once think of the one they were dropping this off on? He rang Sofia to say that he was going to be late home, yet again. He may even stop off on his way home for a quick drink to try and wind down from the day’s mental stresses.

By the time Jeremy arrived home it was very late. He blundered about in the living room. He shrugged off his coat and left it where it fell. He went straight to the drinks cabinet and filled a tumbler full of whiskey. Damn it all, if he was going to get drunk, he

Although he was given to outburst verbally. this had been so uncharacteristic. Shivering in the cold as the heating had gone off. then turned and walked into the bedroom at the far end of the house. Finally fully awake she went hurriedly to their bedroom. Unsure of whether to go in or not. to leave damp patches on the bare pillow. This room was still unfurnished and was mainly used as a storage room until they had finished off the main part of the house. She hesitated by the telephone several times during the morning. the tears coursing their way down her cheeks. It came as such a shock to Sofia that Jeremy had hit out at her with such a force. She wanted nothing to come between them. She wondered again. When Sofia awoke the next morning. she made her way unsteadily to their bedroom. She lay down on the unmade bed. She went through the daily chores in a semi trance. There was a note left on the coffee table from Sofia saying that whatever time he arrived home to wake her and she would be there for him. They had such a close relationship that at times it was as if they were Siamese twins. Jeremy had gone. She wept silently. She knew the problems he had at work and said that she was always there to listen to him. she wondered where she was. they had been almost inseparable. His clothes were still where he had dropped them the previous night. why he had reacted like he had. wondering whether to ring Jeremy or wait to hear from . that she stumbled back against the oak cabinet and finally came to in the early hours of the next morning. It was so unlike him. Sofia hesitated at the doorway. During the last couple of months since finding out that they were to have the baby that Sofia wanted so badly. covered over only by her dressing gown. always against others and not her.might as well do it properly.

She had no living relatives. Sofia sat and listened to the wind. She went outside. lighting up the whole area she was able to search around the gardens. Sofia sat upright. came to her. which Theodora had told to them. The phone remained silent. Her hand groped for the light switch and in a flood of light the realisation that this was blood made her hand go to her mouth to hold back the scream which was waiting to come out. There came a loud crash. but until someone had been missing for longer than what Jeremy had. Sofia then started to get really worried. Her eyes came to rest on a dark patch on the carpet just in front of her. It sounded like someone who had gone mad. the wind had calmed and the moon was full and bright in the sky. When he didn’t show. Who could she turn to? The police would very likely think that she had gone mad. she solely depended upon Jeremy as her friend. She finally fell asleep on the sofa. which had begun earlier in the evening to howl around the house.him. Sofia prepared the evening meal expecting her husband to arrive home at the usual time. staring around madly. they couldn’t do anything. She rang his office. She rang the police. She was suddenly very afraid that ghosts could come back. Her echoes were the only thing that came back. The day turned into early evening. Suddenly a deep chill filled her heart. She went running from room to room calling out for Jeremy. It was then that she . as well as being her husband. but there was no answer. The memory of the story.

noticed that there was a light flickering out in the summerhouse. Who could be there at this time of the night? Venturing forwards, using the grass to cover any noise she may have made. She turned the handle slowly, although this was not used the door made little noise as it inched its way open. There lying in a chair in the far corner, she could make out a shape. Slowly and on tiptoe Sofia made her way to it.

Throwing back the cover she found Jeremy. His eyes shot wide open and upon seeing Sofia he reached out and held her tightly. His own eyes were ringed red by the tears he had shed. Once they had pulled themselves apart, he said that he had stayed in the summerhouse all day. Taking glances at the house and seeing the shadow of Sofia as she moved about. He was so ashamed of what he had done and not knowing if Sofia would be able to forgive him, he had remained there all day.

Now tired, cold and very hungry and still clinging to Sofia, they made their way back to the house. Sofia told him about the blood stain, which she had seen on the living room carpet, and on checking this they could find no trace of it. She also confided that she had thought about the story, which had been told to them by Theodora. After realising what the stain could have been, the reflection of the moonlight striking through the vase of flowers, they laughed.

The only thing the dead could do to them was to give them strange thoughts.

So now with the memory of Theodora’s story receding to the back of their minds, they climbed the stairs to their bedroom together and to share their love with the rising of the

sun.

The End

Kitty's Life

By

Greta Ann Hughes

Kitty’s Life

Kitty wanted for nothing. She was well cared for and loved by all the family. It was a large family. There was mamma and papa, with their three sons and two daughters. Jeremy the eldest son had been married for the past four years and had a two year old daughter of his own, Philippa. Marcia the second eldest daughter was also married and had recently had a baby , her name was Jessica. The other three children, two boys and girl were still at home. The youngest of the family, Katrina, had met with a fatal accident just six months earlier. She had been on a skiing holiday with some friends, when the cable car she was travelling in, had broken free from its cable and plummeted to the ground. Her closest friend Sabrina had survived the accident. Katrina was sadly missed by everyone. Each weekend the family got together and it was as if they had all been apart for months, instead of just for a few days. The house was always alive with laughter, even now after the tragic accident.

The house was a huge Victorian building, set in its own grounds. Within the grounds there was a small but wonderful woodland. Planted under the canopy of trees were delicate plants, flowering in an abundance of colour that caught the suns rays coming through the leafy boughs. All the children had played here from an early age, with little chance of coming to any harm. Within the woodland there were hundreds of butterflies, fluttering by and adding their own colours. The sound of bird song filled the air and you could also hear the scampering of tiny feet of the squirrels who were in search of food.

It was on one of these Sunday gatherings that late in the afternoon, all of the youngest

“caught you”. It wasn’t like when she had played hide and seek before. a small makeshift hut. when she knew that it was her own brothers. because for more times than they could count on. Quickly jumping in. They sat and chatted and told each other stories. she thought she caught a glimpse of someone very familiar to her. who was the shy one. She shook her head. peeping under the thick shrubs and behind the hedges. she still had the feeling that someone watching her. As she neared the next hiding place. She sat down and with a slight shiver she started to tell them all about the feeling of being watched. Indeed she had. Reaching the count of one hundred and calling out “coming. she heard quiet giggling coming from inside. As Valerie skipped along. peeping out to see if they were to be caught in the game. but it was only when the dark shadows started to show. as she hadn’t been asked along. Valerie.children set off to go and play hide and seek in the woods. it must surely be a trick of the light. Each one of them said that they had felt something too. Valerie joyfully shouted. But not one of them could pinpoint from where they thought they were being observed. ready or not”. As she began to count to one hundred. . they always ended up in the hut. that they realised that the hour must be late and they must set off back to the house in case they were missed. Valerie turned around quickly. But no one was there. that they themselves had made years ago. Kitty followed at a distance. was chosen to be the one to come and find them. hoping to catch any one of them who may have been standing behind her.

Once more the scream pierced the now deadly silence and a movement was seen just a little further in. They all stood and listened. their eyes roaming over the now darkened area. let me. A high piercing scream broke the otherwise stillness of the quiet late afternoon. she is caught in something”. Valerie looked at him and said. papa said to no one in particular. she gently cradled her on her lap. Kitty’s eyes suddenly changed and with a last gasp of breath. As papa bent down he felt a small hand on his shoulder. they suddenly stopped. Valerie knelt down besides Kitty and gently taking the awful old trap that she was caught in from around her hind leg. “It’s Kitty. but as they neared to where they came back into the garden. Quickly they ran over to try and help poor Kitty. for now I know who has been following me all through these woods”. With startled looks at each other. The sound came from within the wood. who by now was visibly shaking. From the nearby garden table where he elders sat. Looking up towards all their gazing faces. she slowly closed them. “Please papa. they too were stunned into their own silence by this shriek. They quickly dashed forwards to the opening of the woodland. they stepped forwards.Hand in hand they sang their way along the carpet of green grass. with her arms holding . For a long time no one spoke a word. “What on earth could have made that noise”. It was mamma who with a shaky hand to her throat uttered. Then slowly standing up.

were the eyes of our dear sister Katrina. “I am sure that you all must have seen the change in Kitty. Then there is also the name that we always called Katrina. which have just gazed at all of us. Valerie broke the silence and said. But for now they must make a grave for their recent lost one. And in silent agreement they carried onwards. I for one am sure that the eyes. For hadn’t we all. Tears glistened from all of their eyes. little Kitty. at sometime or other commented about these eyes.the now still form of Kitty. hadn’t she been our little pussy cat?” As they all made their way back to the house. The End . The loving looks which sometimes caught you unawares. all had their own thoughts on this.

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Saving Lucy By Greta Ann Hughes .

she said to herself. with little sunshine to be seen. This was her mother’s favourite saying. Not looking about she jumped over a small hole in the pavement. Her mother Becky had called to her to tell her to stay within the garden and not to venture out on to the pavement. . and the blue ribbon snaking and whipping about. She knew that she would get a telling off and that it was very naughty. All of a sudden a gust of wind caught the string and tugged it out of her hand. I could go faster like the cars if I used the road. the colours catching in the brief sunlight. She skipped along the pavement trying to keep her kite in sight. They could whip you off your feet before you could say Jumping Jack Flash. Her mother was not to be seen. She gave a little gasp of astonishment that this could have happened. Today was a grey day. Daddy had bought it for her from the church autumn fayre and she didn’t want to loose it. At the young age of 6 she tried to cram into her day everything and anything which she thought she might miss out on another day.Saving Lucy Lucy loved to play. Her mother had told her never to step off the pavement before taking great care of what traffic was coming. As she was busy chasing around the garden with her kite in full flight. Peeping over her shoulder. it bobbed about way up in the air. Carefully she opened the garden gate and as it closed behind her she once again glanced back towards the window. she saw that her mother had moved away from the window. I will only be a minute. but she wanted to try and get her kite back.

Becky remembered seeing him do this as she approached the car. Her golden curls falling about her angelic face. and leaning forwards she lifted Lucy's head. She seemed to jump out at me and all I could do was blast away on the car horn. No. her mother cried softly. Why had I not been more alert? Damn the stupid washing machine for breaking down again. Looking towards the left she saw the car. I didn't see her. she skipped further out into the road. In the distance the siren of the ambulance could be heard. Nothing else was to be heard. Staying as close to the parked car. she didn't hear the sound of the car horn. Becky finally looked about her.Taking one more careful look over her shoulder. her mother ran towards the man. . “I am so sorry. oh no. where are you?” her mother shouted from the garden gate. Her hand came up towards her mouth to stifle the scream which wanted to escape from between her tightened jaws. parked askew in the road and the driver frantically rubbing his hands through his hair. Seeing that there were no other cars about. Happily keeping her eyes on the string of her kite. I had only wanted to get rid of all of the holiday build up of washing.” He kept on rubbing his hair. Her mother collapsed on to her knees. “Lucy. She became scared and she froze on the spot. but as the car neared and she heard it's tyres screech. The pale face of the young driver was looking at her. It was just the sort of day to get such a job done. Lucy stepped off the pavement. she adventured further out. I. Lucy.

The paramedics took over.” Becky put her hand up to him. Time ticked slowly by. Andrew had been called away from the office and was now sitting by the bedside with Becky. She would get well back home. Gently lifting Lucy up onto the stretcher they put her into the ambulance. Couldn't he take her away from here. I can feel her breathing. but right now he was more than eager to get away. Such a long time seemed to pass by. I can see that you truly tried to stop. “There is nothing else you can do tonight. As he approached the bed he saw the anxious looks on the parents faces. I would advise you to go home and come back . Not from Lucy but from where he was. “Just how much longer do the doctors think that Lucy will be like this?” Andrew was staring straight at Lucy.“I turned the car as far away from her as possible. He had never liked hospitals. “Please. but ever so slowly.” No sooner had Becky had said this that the ambulance arrived. The doctor was doing his last round for the night. Surely they could tell that she would be well looked after. but the front bumper still caught her. It was now almost six o'clock in the evening. please just let us hope that the ambulance arrives quickly and they can save her.

Her reflexes responded well. Life as it was carried on back at home. Sleeping Beauty.in the morning. The man who had run into Lucy as she chased her kite had telephoned several times to . she was one of those children who was loved by everyone. Even there the other children missed her. The doctors seemed baffled as to what was keeping Lucy from awakening.” The doctor almost lifted Andrew from his seat. chasing after the pet cat Sasha. just like one of her favourite stories. How soon they had got there they had no recollection. There was never any change in Lucy's condition. Lucy is in good hands here and if there are any changes we will telephone you straight away. Her bright eager eyes and happy laughter made even the most grumpiest of people smile. but she seemed to be in a deep deep sleep. Lucy had chosen this name after having been told a story at the nursery she went to. Slowly Becky and Andrew made their way to the exit and in the next moment they were back at their own home. Maybe it was going to take a prince charming to make her wake up. but it was putting a strain on Becky and Andrew. Day after day Becky and Andrew returned to the hospital. All her vital statistics showed that she was fine. but it was awfully quiet without Lucy running around. Becky took care of the house.

see if there were any changes. but you must try to put this to one side. you put it to one side until it is too late. Andrew and I had been talking about getting a newer much stronger latch that she wouldn't be able to open.” Becky stifled a sob which was bubbling up. I feel absolutely dreadful. By all means you can go and see Lucy. Because if it hadn't been for me your child would be home with you. he again wished that he could go back to that day and undo the accident.” Becky was now looking through the window and looking at the gate as if it was the first time that she had seen it. “I know I shouldn't say this. . But like most things. these days I tend to stray away from what is going on at the present moment. I only wish that she will be able to tell if you or anyone is there at all. If there is anyone to blame then it is me. From all the accounts you were not to blame. “Obviously I will understand if you say no. One day he rang he asked if he could perhaps visit the hospital to see Lucy. “I had told Lucy not to go out of the gate. but without any success. My boss has noticed that my work is suffering and asked whether I should perhaps consider taking some time off in which to get myself back to normal.” Peter thanked her and as he put the telephone down on her. “I'm sorry Peter.” Peter's voice by now was quieter and quieter. My night's are taken up by sleeplessness and I try to put the accident away during the day.

He spoke softly. “little girl. Some weeks later as Peter was working alone late one evening at the office. After checking which direction the ward was. He popped himself down on the stool next to the bed and looked at the pretty little face laying upon the puffed up pillow. . “Yes.” Peter tied the balloon to the bed and left without looking back. not knowing if he was being heard. there will be a balloon painted with the picture of your favourite kite. Not wanting to overstay his time by the bedside. He lowered his head and felt the tears spring to his eyes just like they had been doing over the last few weeks. but tied to the end of your bed.It was late on in the following afternoon that Peter managed to leave his office early and make his way over to the children's ward at the hospital. I don't know if you can hear me or not. “Is that Peter Hastings?” a male voice said. how can I help you?” Peter thought that this could be a customer ringing in the hopes that someone was still working at the insurance office. he made his way to Lucy's bedside. he leaned over Lucy and said. I am going to leave now. Such a tiny little child. he hurried along. Goodbye little one. just right where you will look when you awake. Feeling very strange. He couldn't bear to see the shape of the small outline seen through the hospital sheets. Oh how so very sorry I am. but I hope you wake up soon as your parents are longing to have their little girl back with them. the telephone rang.

as each of them thought of the small child lying there in the hospital. The feeling of a great weight being lifted from him was only overtaken by the feeling of great happiness for Andrew and Becky. What they must have gone through for the last couple of months. Journeying forwards in time the pain which had showed on the three elders faces. you would like to come and see what she is really like. My wife and I have just returned home from the hospital and wanted to let you know straight away that Lucy has woken up. he could not imagine. and also for being so kind to me. with the sheer whiteness of the sheets against the paleness of her face. the one who has caused you this grief. Her first words were. Their each individual happiness took on a new role. Lucy's father. who was looking at him at the time. I hope that I am not disturbing you.“This is Andrew Smallwood. Maybe we could show others that not all accidents can turn into tragedies. I am sure that this would be good for all of us.” “Perhaps. The one that didn't just take each day for granted. when we have Lucy back home. “I am so happy for you both. where is my kite. but to seize every moment in . You can now hopefully put this to the back of your minds and in time perhaps to forget this bad period of your lives. I think I have lost it.” Peter seemed to shrink into his chair. The picture on Andrew's face told of the joy of having his little girl back with him. Thank you for letting me know. Becky. You should have seen her face when she saw the balloon which you had so caringly left for her.” Andrew offered this with a gratitude that could only be seen by his wife.

Anyone who feels low.full and take pleasure from it from start to finish. The End . live now and never mind the tomorrow's. take notice.

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When Darkness Falls By Greta Ann Hughes .

I always find that when a person is in their own environment. I would now like to book a date and time for me to come to your home. She set about and questioned Angelina in depth and for quite a length of time. preferring to find out first hand from the person concerned. Her parents had thought that she was making these things up. “After speaking to Angelina and finding out all that I can here. Eva wanted very few details about Angelina. closing her eyes. Once she had finished with her questions. For as long as she could remember she had had scary nightmares. always trying ways to stay away from going to school. thinking that these symptoms were all in her mind. When Angelina was 14 years old. After doing some research in trying to find someone who knew the field of psychic phenomenon. As soon as she turned out her night light. which never would in a clinical atmosphere.When Darkness Falls Angelina had always been afraid of the night. she then asked the parents to come in. she became aware of things moving around in the darkness of her room. also she had recently had a book published on how to detect some of the early signs in someone possessing the ability of psychic phenomenon. . where strange happenings and strange people visited her. then things will come out. she awoke one morning after having had a really bad dream. and had tried all sorts of diets for her. she found one who seemed to fit what Angelina needed. her mother then decided that she would have one last go and called in a psychic. They took her to see numerous doctors. Eva Gilbear came well recommended.

it doesn’t. trying to shut out memories or images. It’s just that I seem to get the oddest feelings when I have to talk about these visitations to strangers. because obviously that is when these happenings occur. say about 5.” Angelina seemed to be really down at heart. “Right then let me check my diary.” The doctor smiled pleasantly. It is as though there is a barrier going down. Madeleine said. she gave nothing away. How about this Friday. but sat there patiently waiting for their response. “Well as far as I am concerned any time would not be a bother to us. Does this visit worry you badly.I would also like to spend the night there as well. “Do you still want to go ahead with the appointment for Friday. It’s still not too late to . This was the first time that she had expressed her views about the people who she had seen over the years. the black sheep of the family that no one likes to talk about. I am probably the oddball.” “No mother.” said Madeleine her mother. After they had reached home. Perhaps it is my imagination.30 in the afternoon and then I can set everything up for the night. “you seem very quiet Angelina. the doctors and specialists. We would like to get this cleared up and hopefully Angelina can start to live a normal life. Someone who should be kept locked up in the attic. like everyone thinks.” With this settled they said their good-byes until they were to meet again.

I’ll see what this one can do.back out. Following her movements was Eva. After setting this up she said. Are your thoughts mainly on what may happen tonight? Do you think that any of this will affect how you sleep tonight?” Angelina propped herself up on her pillows and said. “do you ever track anything down. hear and feel them. this will only be set off by any entity that is not solid or warm. “No mother. Although you will pass in front of the cameras. you know. find something that is there. “please carry on as though all this wasn’t here. I can see. battering at me.” So Friday night came round and punctually at 5. It can’t be any worse that what I have experienced so far. So after Angelina had settled into bed. You know that both your father and I will always be at your side and any decisions you make. It act’s the opposite to an infrared on an alarm system. without having got anywhere. Does any of this . will be OK with us. only I know that something is there. Eva asked. “how are you feeling. It is as though I am being invaded in my mind. The way things are at the moment. When I wake I feel as though I have been running for miles.” Angelina got ready for bed. She unloaded all her cameras and ultra sound equipment.” Her mother was starting to look quite worried. It was the first time that Angelina had been affected this way. that no one else can see or feel.30 Eva Gilbear arrived. she had placed a couple of lights in the bedroom.

I remember once that we found a young girl. Sometimes the parents could be the trouble when trying to investigate. This is then sent off for further investigation. “is everything OK. like you. Eva kept watched. spanning several generations. Do you need anything?” Eva shook her head. Something like this can be sorted out eventually. She didn’t want Angelina to be disturbed. The camera does pick up signs sometimes. This then causes great excitement for us. At . Lots of patience was needed for this kind of job and dedication. Now try to sleep. At a little after 11. Soon after she was fast asleep. who had been named after her great great great grandmother.30pm she heard the parents making their way to bed. I am used to sitting very still. but there are times when we do find a spectre. smiled and waved them goodnight. you will bear in mind. so you shouldn’t be disturbed by me. she wasn’t going to stay quiet and let this go unnoticed.make sense to you?” “Some of what you are saying I have heard before from others that I have met. Madeleine popped her head around the doorway and whispered. She had plenty of both. everything went back to normal. things that look like fog swirling around. It was she who was visiting and giving nightmares to this youngster. After some time we found out why. Most times it is nothing. she made many notes on her pad. I hope that what I have just told. No one has heard anything or seen anything from that day. The spelling of the name was wrong and being of an old established family. The family changed the name and had it registered and as soon as this was done.” Angelina laid her head down.

The cameras and recording equipment tripped into action. it would be a fluke. She then touched Angelina’s forehead. The hair on the back of Eva’s neck seemed to stand on end and a shiver ran through her. No sound seemed to be coming from her. she was almost coming to the conclusion that if anything happened at all tonight. It was like a block of ice. One of her favourite authors was Stephen King. With only the moonlight shining through the closed curtains. she must be running a temperature. it was red hot. Eva could make out wisps of something which looked like mist.the age of 40 she felt that her days of hitting the night-clubs was way behind her. As she thought of him. there was a bright flash and she had to close her eyes against it. When she opened them again. It was as she was making her way back to the chair that she turned and looked at Angelina. Her eyes stared straight ahead and the rooms’ temperature dropped drastically. all . but there was a noise coming from the doorway. a nice horror story. She crept forwards to the side of the bed and ran her hand down to where the pillows lay. Just as she was going to slip out and use the bathroom. The thought of a singles bar gave her the creeps. One of her thoughts was that it could be more of the imagination of the parents. Eva thought as she took her hand away. Her lips were moving rapidly. No. Angelina suddenly sat bolt right up in her bed. As she glanced over that way. as opposed to it being Angelina’s. As the hours ticked by. Surely some of those who visited such a place had to be complete nerds. rising up just behind Angelina’s head. for her relaxation she enjoyed to snuggle down with a good book. she smiled. some might think that she could be the nerd. her mind focused on the film of The Shining.

she told them of the activities that had taken place during the night.” Looking at Angelina she said. is there anything you want to ask me before I go?” . As soon as I have some thing to tell you. “I doubt that it is a possession. Did she just dream the last few moments or had it really happened. It could be the passing of someone. She stretched and then let herself out of the bedroom quietly and went to the bathroom. Hurry up morning was what she thought. I should be able to tell you more. where should could start to have the film and recordings analysed. it should take no time at all. Angelina looked relieved that something had happened. once I have got all this back to the office and get it linked up to the computer. Eva was then ready to pack everything up and get back to the office. She must have dozed. After washing and changing into fresh cloths. The bedrooms’ temperature was just right. She wrote everything down which had happened over the last few moments into her notebook.was back to normal. their spirit form. I will phone you. “Do you mean that there is a ghost or some sort of possession taking place?” asked Madeleine. Angelina was once again lying down and sleeping peacefully and a quiet was felt in the room again. “ are you OK. She felt quite excited. seemed to be taking this the worse. The father Gareth. because the next moment she heard the faint sound of an alarm clock going off in the next bedroom. Over breakfast with the family. Where as her parents had shocked expressions on their faces. he sat twitching and picking at his finger nails. which Angelina must have some sort of link with.

let’s now make a start on the recordings. It was as she looked around at the tired faces she said. to really enhance this to get a definite picture. I am just glad that you have found something which you can try to identify. They had sent out earlier for sandwiches and drinks and the empty packages lay about in heaps. “I hopefully have sounds and pictures.” Back at Angelina’s house.Angelina looked better than of late and answered. I have never had anything like this before. see what that can tell us. her parents were just getting ready to go out for a meal. like small garbage dumping grounds. “Wow. they finally brought into focus a faint outline of a person. “Right then. It seems remarkable. I think we could all do with some air and to have some shut eye. she could never understand why it always took her . “lets call it a draw for tonight. which should keep us busy for several hours. See you all in the morning. Eva ploughed through the photographs which she had taken.” Back in the office. especially after only one night of surveillance.” Eva’s face was lit up in amazement at her good fortune in getting this case. there were dozens of them. Just ring as soon as you can please. Angelina had been ready for ages. Scanning and re scanning them. “I’m alright.” Eva rang ahead to the office and told them to get everything set up.” They all worked until early evening. It would take several more hours and more takes of the photo.

the waiter arrived with their drinks. his only wardrobe was a small space in the box room. “Actually mother. which he had made into a dressing room and small study for himself. “Why don’t you try the house speciality tonight?” said her mother. too short. He also had been ready for some time. but there again nothing so far in her life had been very ordinary. he seemed to shrink and mutter any responses to her. Never mind. if it made her mother happy.” After her father had placed the orders. Why they couldn’t have had a meal at home and watched some TV. not the right colour. he had seemed very quiet and whenever Angelina had spoken to him. with her saying. She also had a walk in cupboard which had all her shoes lining the walls. then I can always gorge myself on the chocolate cake with fresh cream. I don’t feel that hungry. Finally her mother arrived downstairs and after collecting their coats they set off in her father's car. The wardrobe fitted right across one wall of the bedroom and consisted of three full sized robes and one with several drawers for all her lingerie. Strange she thought. was beyond Angelinas’ thinking. Several dresses had already been discarded from the wardrobe. It being a . then enough was said. As for her father. She could never be satisfied. which they did on most Saturdays. They had eaten at this restaurant before and the food was always very good. Since Eva had left that morning.mother so long to get dressed. too old. If I do find that I could eat something else. set out in the various colours. Perhaps I will have the soup and a salad.

But I am glad that now that there is some evidence.weekend. Angelina was allowed to have a small glass of wine. She knew that they both loved her and that they would always protect her. you are not part of this and if you look the other way.” She kissed them both and went upstairs. they said . but my mind just wants to block this out. Thank you both for being here for me. It has been quite a day one way or another and no doubt the next few days will be full of surprises. “The last twenty four hours have been quite upsetting for me. Goodnight mum. the next few days brought many calls from Eva and her team of experts. There was a look behind her eyes which seemed full of gloom as well. “I know this has been happening to you and you should be the one who is acting like a quivering heap of jelly. it will all disappear. They made an appointment to come round on the following evening. but this has been so strange and it isn’t over yet.” “Daddy. that I haven’t been hallucinating all this time and that someone is now going to try and sort this out.” She kissed her father’s cheek and gave her mother’s hand a gently squeeze. Angelina had been right.” Patting Angelina’s hand he continued. will it? So for your sake I have to wait. I do understand. But it won’t. As soon as they got home Angelina said “I am going straight up to bed. I am sorry that you have both had to go through with this. it’s OK. goodnight dad. You know that I am not normally affected by anything. It says. for the results and for whatever will happen next. like you. after these had been set out her father spoke for the first time. The evening passed quickly and soon it was time to return home. but her tread on the stairs seemed very weary.

“is this the voice of your aunt’s?” Madeleine listened carefully and said. “I think it is. As they were all looking at the photos. Eva asked in a quiet tone. The voice seems strange though. as though it is in the air. Eva kept a close eye on the faces and expressions which were slowly taking form on Angelina and her mother’s faces. She became quite eccentric when she reached seventy. so she won’t have any visitors near her. It doesn’t seem as though it is being . “Why yes. She lives down at Great Yarmouth and we rarely see her.that they had photos and had made a clear tape of coherent words. This is my Aunt Agatha. like she always did for appointments. she opened up her briefcase and passed around the photographs which they had been able to enhance to a clear picture. nearly two years ago. but you must realise that I haven’t spoken to her for a long time. like the noise of wind whistling through the trees. They would then want to know if any of the material that they had compiled made any sense to Angelina. Her main contact is the couple who have the local shop cum post office. “do you know this person?” It was Madeleine who spoke. After the customary cups of tea had been handed round. She then turned the tape recorder on and played the tape to them.” Eva then asked. Eva arrived promptly. But how on earth could you have taken her photograph. Surprise and shock was written across their faces and could be seen quite clearly.

but mimed. I have tried her house but there is no reply. the voice was taped and then the person acting the part mimed and the voice came from behind the stage. “I know what you mean mum. Does that make any sense to you?” Angelina responded quickly to what her mother has just said. it was answered promptly and after the initial how are you. Like the astral planes that you may have heard about. the living and the next stage that a person who is dying or just died. but your aunt passed away early hours of Saturday morning. It was like the play we did at school. The teachers said that they had read this in a report and that this was what it would have sounded like.” Madeleine went straight to the telephone and dialled her aunts house. goes onto. “I know that this may sound odd but do you know if my aunt is OK or not.” Turning to Madeleine she asked. After numerous rings. . “I am sorry to have to tell you this.” The shopkeeper said. she hung up and checked her directory. We did this when the part that was being played was for a person who had just died. which must be being thought of by all of us present.spoken. The police here should have been in touch with you by now. Now you could be a link between here. “ Could you telephone someone about your aunt. Because this could then clear up some of the thoughts. to make sure that everything is OK. She then tried her aunts local shop. she asked about her aunt Agatha. You don’t think that this is some kind of visitation that I keep getting do you?” “Well that does seem to be top of the list.

I will definitely get myself a name. My wife. When someone dies am I always going to have to go through this horrible spectacle of ghostly shapes and voices.We heard the ambulance sirens on Friday night and went over to see what was happening. “Mother I am 14 years old. I will give you the local police stations’ telephone number and someone there should be able to give you more information. They might be able to stop you have these sightings or whatever they want to call it. Freda.” Madeleine thanked him and said that she would be in touch with the funeral arrangements. “I don’t think I like the thought of this. She had had a serious heart attack. Eva said that she would leave them alone for the time being. decided to go to the hospital with her. Obviously they all trying to tie up any dates. how she had managed to ring for the ambulance remains a mystery. as she was found unconscious in the hallway near to the front door which was open. Eva asked if any of them could remember if the occurrence of the dreams tied up with any deaths that they knew of.” “Oh Angelina don’t say such things. It may be just a phase and will stop when you reach a certain age. Once again please accept our sincere condolences. She told this to her family and all were stunned with the revelations. It was Angelina who first said that when grandma had died. All shook their heads. wasn’t that one of the nights that she had had her dream. some already call me creepy Lina. once everything was sorted out. but remained quiet with pensive looks on their faces.” Her mother wept. How much longer do you think that I can take having these .

“What on earth has been going on here. Sometimes neither you or dad know that I have had this experience. then they could see what could be done. I have seen spectres during my studies at school.” With these new revelations there was a silence which followed. but some other times. They then thought that it might be a good idea it they were to turn in for the night. But it is the embarrassment of having been caught that hurts the most. When this happens I just freeze. She seemed to have aged over the last couple of weeks. as well as the taunting that follows. But once that they were all settled back into their usual routines. Most times I get away with it.dreams. In a weary tone she started to tell about the latest . mostly detention. Over the next couple of weeks there was so much to be sorted out. Her eyes had dark shadows underneath and her skin looked mottled like that of an old person. They had all gone through a lot in the last few hours. I can tell you now that I don’t always have to be asleep. Eva arrived at the house that evening and was shocked by the way Angelina looked. the teachers have seen me gazing into space and once I finally come round I have to suffer whatever punishment that they think fit. that there was little time to think of Angelina's situation. Have things taken a turn for the worse and if so please tell me the whole truth. it was at Angelina's request that Eva was to be contacted again.” It was Angelina who answered.

The only thing that I could move was my eyes and lips.occurrences. but whispered to them that I had seen my own death as the water turned to ice. I was leaning back relaxing in the hot scented water. I would be willing to go through this to stop these happenings. It looked like the reverse of a cyclone. I read with great interest in a magazine. I was just taking a bath before getting ready to go to bed. They bundled me into a thermal blanket and rushed me to the emergency room at the hospital. The tip of it hit the water and suddenly I was entombed in a block of ice. Then I passed out. There can sometimes be setbacks with this though. They managed to walk through this to reach me in the bath tub. along with severe frost bite with being in the water. “Last week was the latest and the most astonishing. They called the emergency services and when they arrived all that remained of the block of ice was small cubes. on trials in America of electric probes being attached to parts of the brain. coming down on me from the ceiling. letting the patient carry on with day to day running of his or her life. I cried out for help and when my parents finally broke down the bathroom door. as well as being the scariest of all the visitations that I have had. Would you be able to arrange this?” . like you have served in your drinks. when I first felt a chill on the top of my head. all they could see in front of them was a freezing wall of mist. Lying in the hospital bed I had plenty of time to think and to do some reading. they were none the wiser as to why something like this could have happened. After all the various tests carried out. This stimulus blocks off some of your memory. Others could be left brain damaged. I have never really liked ice in my drinks. I was by this time barely conscious. They did find out though that I had suffered a massive heart attack. The patient could be left with very little memory and has to learn everything again. I opened my eyes to see a cloud like formation. Funny that.

She had put Angelina's case to him and he was willing to travel down to see them. I want it to stop. before any undertakings are taken. If there was the remotest chance of being successful.Eva had remained silent through all this and was amazed at the way Angelina was handling the situation. No one spoke for the rest of the evening. Her parents had given their permission. the operation would be carried out. But she was taking this very calmly. she had managed to track down the doctor who was carrying out these tests. Although Angelina was very scared about what she was about to go through. too calmly in fact. Surely for any other young girl of her age. Eventually the phone rang and it was Eva.” “I don’t care anymore. ghosts. she put on a . She had said that it was either the operation or she would take her own life.” Eva said that she would do her best and said good-bye for the time being. The day to day running of their individual lives carried on as usual over the next week. ghouls. Obviously this is something that needs to be thought about fully. this ordeal would be too much. even though it was under pressure from Angelina. “I would have to make a few phone calls to find out about this. Angelina was to be there in two days time and after preliminary tests to check to see if she would be able to stand the procedure. Eva had made arrangements for rooms to be prepared at the Harrington Clinic. then she was willing to take it. All I want is a normal life. spooks or whatever you want to call them. So far all I can remember is nightmares.

I have also had the chance to see you and now I will be able to rest and to carry on my way to the far off world where I should have been since my death. Part of her head had already been shaved. A voice spoke. The image that appeared amazed them all. Once the hole had been bored.” Angelina’s image wavered before disappearing in a whoosh through the ceiling.brave face. hello dad. During the final procedure she would remain conscious. Just as this touched. The temperature in the theatre dropped to freezing. Hello mum. Although you grieved for me. All the tests were carried out without any signs of complications. but most of all. “I have tried for so very long to come and see you all. Slowly the bright blue light started to take form. a minute optic thread was passed down the tube and placed against the nerve in the brain. The temperature in the room went back to normal immediately. In time she will be able to forgive you. Now that she trying to get rid of the suffering which she has gone through during her life. but it seemed to come from all around the room. without any of you knowing that I existed at all. She nodded slowly and managed a weak smile. you put all your extra love Angelina's way. The doctor then said that he was ready for the final commitment. not just in one place. I had died at birth. Her head was then held still in a vice like looking piece of equipment. that was if she was still ready to carry on. It was like looking at a mirror image of Angelina. The doctor quickly took out . A cool gel was applied to the shaven area and with steady hand the doctor place the drill against her skull. hello my big twin sister. she is also going to do away with herself. For as far as you were concerned. I have grown up knowing all of you. a flash of bright blue light appeared at the side of Angelina. You must stop this now before it is too late.

“why did you never tell me that I had had a twin sister. And now that you are in a . With her first hand knowledge of how they were feeling. It was just before her fifteenth birthday that she asked her parents. As normal as could be expected anyway. Angelina's other main contact was Eva. she took up a post in a private psychology clinic.” From time to time Angelina was visited by her sister. Although you may not think that way. Eva would visit her at her small flat and would set up her recording equipment. As the years went by. This was something that no one had experienced before. she was able to deal with the situation. with all the suffering that I have been through. “Since the first time that I met you.the probe at the parents request and soon Angelina was in a bed in the recovery room. I knew that you were special. No one even knew what to say. then she may have spoken to me. as many of them were going through similar situations like she had experienced. On many occasions there would be something recorded and back to the lab the tests would go. That knowledge may have been of use to me. or either of you for keeping this back from me. All that remained was for Angelina to come round. as she has fainted as the apparition had disappeared. Once back at her own house Angelina refused to talk about what had happened. There she felt comfortable with the patients. she was able to help them along their way and to show them that all could end well. Life started to get back to normal. She never told anyone about these visits. Perhaps if I had known. but now that she knew what it was. I don’t think that I will ever forget this.

They don't agree with me and they think it is a waste of time. used as a guinea pig. she put her into a deep sleep. came over in a strong tone. Sending me into a trance again. And to help your fellow man. she was soon under and Eva started with her questions. with no evidence of uncertainty. Don’t look at me that way Eva. The spectre which could now be clearly seen. not giving out her real name. After settling Angelina down.” On the assurance of Eva. As in the past.” Eva enquired with a raised eyebrow. But you must promise me that you will not tell my parents.” Eva could talk her way round anything. is that it:” Angelina replied. locally.similar field as mine. On the night of the seminar. “How on earth will I be able to help you. Angelina agreed. these recordings are a great help to us all. Soon the area about them started to go very cold. The spectre said that all around her were people . Angelina was as usual very quiet. and I was wondering if you would be willing to help me out. was of an elderly lady. “Well OK then. “It is all in the aid of research you know. I can now see what sort of help you want. like she always was when she was about to be discussed and as she termed it. There is a seminar coming up at a hotel. but the replies which she got back. Eva spoke quietly and put her questions over very carefully and slowly. There were gasps of amazement which went around the room. Eva introduced her as a friend. this was all being monitored and the audience could see on the screens in front of them the changes which were taking place.

I can still feel the pain and the fear which was running riot out there. Once Angelina and Eva managed to get away from the scene and back to the safety of the office. really. Angelina could then let herself really go. well the sight of what is out here. Tears streamed down her cheeks and her sobs racked her whole body. After making sure that she was alright.” With saying this a fresh wave of tears took her over again. I just overbalanced and with just coming out of the trance. Once outside they could see that there were many people dashing one way or another. they followed the staff members out through the emergency exit. as opposite the hotel was a primary school. They were all told that the hotel was being evacuated due to a serious accident.” Angelina smiled weakly at the concerned faces looking at her. Angelina staggered backwards and was caught by one of the staff. Parts of two of the vehicles involved had been catapulted into the playground and a couple of the children had also been injured.who were in terrible pain. “I do not ever want this sort of thing to happen to me again. My skin feels as though it has been burnt off. “I’m OK. The children had been in the playground just as the crash happened. Eva switched all her equipment off and slowly brought Angelina back. just out on the main road. it just hit me. which was creeping steadily across their path. Pandemonium was rife. The agony of those poor people. Also that there was an intense heat rising from the fire. their screams were echoing up and down the road. . All of a sudden the doors to the meeting hall were flung open.

. even though she hadn’t been able to tell them this to their faces. This gave her some time in which to try and clear all the thoughts which were running havoc through her mind. Settling against her pillows and still holding on to the bottle of tablets.Angelina dozed for a short while. Her fingers tightened around the bottle and she took this across to her bed. she sat at her dressing table and applied her night face cream. The early evening was quite warm and she decided that she would walk the short way to her flat. she decided to go to bed straight after eating her meal. saying that she had forgiven them for keeping her in the dark about her twin sister. She wrote a short note to her parents. her mind went over the days happenings. Slowly she unscrewed the bottle top. She let herself in and after popping a meal into the microwave and making herself a cup of tea. She would always love them and would keep a close eye on them. from wherever her next journey onwards led her. Don’t be so stupid. Concentrating she called upon her dead twin sister. but that they had always been close to her heart. then waking and feeling slightly better she said goodnight to everyone and made her way home. She sealed this note in an envelope and placed it on the bedside table. It was unusual that she couldn’t make contact and with the feeling of being left completely on her own. it was something she had wanted to do for a long long time. Angelina slowly undressed and after using the bathroom. she sat in the kitchen looking out of her window. an inner voice was telling her. It was as she was putting the bottle down that her eyes were drawn to the sleeping tablets that her doctor had prescribed for her many months ago. Next she leaned over and took out the writing pad which she always kept at the side of her bed. She was also sorry for what she was now going to do. as her hand reached out to the bottle.

“I haven’t seen or heard her for a day or so. Normally she is singing to the radio or is in and out of the place all day. After a couple of days of no response from Angelinas’ flat. She wrote that her own state of mind was starting to crumble. She placed this letter next to the one to her parents and then one by one she took all of the sleeping pills. then she had to end it herself. she just made out a very faint tinkle and she felt herself smile a little. She said that she knew that this was the easy way out. .Next she wrote to Eva. a neighbours door opened. The last thing that she looked at was the wind chime. In this she put that she was glad that she had been able to give Eva and her colleagues many opportunities to delve into the physic fields. sometimes this tinkled just before she had one of her experiences. were now getting too tough to handle. who without their knowledge may have been given psychiatric treatment. the many torments that she had felt over the years. Their findings had been able to offer help to many people. but as there was no other avenue of help open to her. Angelina lay herself down and slowly closed her eyes.” Eva thanked the gentleman and decided that she would use the key that Angelina had given to her a long time ago. as she wondered whether this could be her own passing. Knocking on the door several times and calling out her name. Opening the door she called out and after receiving no reply she turned round to ask the neighbour whether he would accompany her inside. The gentleman standing there said. As the tablets took effect. Eva decided to call round to see if she was OK. She had put this up as soon as she moved into the flat.

But for now Eva could leave with the knowledge that her friend was happy and no doubt at some time or other be in contact through some . is she dead. “Oh my goodness. “I am afraid that I think that she is.” Eva now left the flat and said a silent farewell. as though she is quite aware of where she is going. Within a very short time the police were at the flat.” asked Eva in a trembling voice. The neighbour approached the bed and slowly touched Angelina’s hand. Would you like me to call the police for you. With a smile spreading across her face Eva said. this is Angelina. but with a shaking voice. “There she finally goes and now I am sure that she has attained everything that she has ever wanted. which had closed up on seeing Angelina lying on the bed. Peace for herself. The constant furrowed brow has smoothed out and she has a smile. the next time that she would be near to Angelina. The officer in charge asked Eva would she kindly identify the body for them. Eva’s hand went up to her throat. the wind chime suddenly tinkled in the otherwise silent air. “Yes. Many questions were asked and Eva managed to answer them. They led the way back into the bedroom and Eva glanced down at the still form of Angelina. Ever so slightly she nodded her head. he then led her back into the living room and dialled the emergency number.They went into each room together and on reaching the last room. the bedroom.” Just as they were all leaving the bedroom. a smile that is ever so knowing.” With a nod of her head. would be at the funeral. For the first time she looks as though she is perfectly at ease.

The End . The mysteries of the departed souls would always remain a secret. for no one would ever truly know where they go.channel or other.

.

Money Can't Buy You Love By Greta Ann Hughes .

She had had plenty of followers for her money. just to check on how things were going. with the breathtaking views and the island of Capri and the busy centre of Naples. There was very little that she needed. the figure and the money. Penny decided to go for a walk through the market. but for her she had very little to do with any sort of work in the company itself. Her elder brother.Money Can’t Buy You Love Penny had everything. she felt that she must find the true love that she so wanted to have. It wasn’t that she was lazy. She got bored and her attention started to wander. which dealt in the components used in satellite transmissions. it was just that she couldn’t concentrate on anything for too long. The other was travelling. Her father had built up a multi-million pound corporation. Penny had been given a boutique as a present for her eighteenth birthday by her parents. as well as keeping her tan up on the glorious golden beaches. She had employed four talented and attractive girls to run the shop for her. With such a setting as this. She was a very wealthy person. She was staying at the beautiful town of Sorrento. But there was one thing that she didn’t have and that was someone to love her. would one day take over the running of the business. She loved to see the sights of all the countries she visited. the looks. She was very happy popping in there from time to time. It was on one of her many trips that she met Angelo. but there was always such an array of goods to . James. What she was good at was playing the hostess at parties. After breakfast the next morning.

catch your eye and to tempt you. You took me by surprise. He followed in the wake of her perfume. showed that she was very sure of herself. combined with the slender neck.” The way he spoke to her made her stomach do somersaults and she uttered a shaky response. She could manage to get by when she was out shopping or ordering from restaurants. As she was busy browsing through the stalls. “Signorina. may I please join you at your table. I had had no idea that you were following me. . I have been following you for a short while. The elegant lift of her shoulders. a very handsome. taking in the way you move and the beauty of your face.” She held out her hand in greeting to him and he bent his head low and gently kissed the smooth skin on the back of her hand. which was just as well. She used to lapse off into another world and would suddenly be jolted awake by one of the other students to tell her that the class was over. The way she moved through the crowded narrow aisles. breathing in the scented air which she left behind. His English was excellent. My name is Angelo and I live just a few streets away. do sit down. tall bronzed man started to follow her. that just the thought of this made you want to go and buy. he took the time to introduce himself to her. My name is Penny. but she had come to the conclusion that it just wasn’t in her to learn. which held aloft her face which could bewitch a man. She had tried on many occasions to try to learn another language. When she decided to sit down and have a cappuccino at one of the bars. as Penny’s Italian wasn’t very good at all. “Please.

the more that Penny started to feel as though she was falling in love with this man. Angelo asked her to meet him later and they would go for an evening meal. she said to herself. He looked more gorgeous than he had earlier. lulled her into a state of heavenly dreaming. with his head tilted to the side. Then she was finally ready for her dinner date. After having had their second cups of cappuccino. He was dressed casually. which she felt as though she could dive into and never reach the bottom. but the way he held his shoulders back.Penny and Angelo covered many topics of conversation and the more that they talked. The call was to announce that Angelo had arrived and was waiting in the foyer for her. Don’t be such a silly fool. it would give her time to get herself calmed down. He kissed her hand again and they said their good-byes. but then decided she didn’t feel comfortable in the dress she had chosen. She noticed him at once as she reached the foot of the stairs. gave him the air of someone who had much confidence. She changed again and repaired her make-up. His soothing accented voice. She decided to take the stairs. He said that he would pick her up at her hotel at 7 o’clock that evening. Penny was all of a dither for the rest of the day. His eyes were like deep fathomless pools. for once do not let your emotions carry you away on a wave. You have been in this situation hundreds of times. She was also glad that she had chosen to wear the deep blue silk dress. which made her jump. to try and dispel some of the feelings and to try to get herself under control. which clung to her body like her own . The telephone in the room jingled quite suddenly. She bathed and dressed. She shook her head slightly.

which went over the silk and shimmered as she walked. you look absolutely stunning. People walked around. The view from their table looked out to sea.” Angelo led the way out of the hotel and after a short walk they arrived at the restaurant. Many boats were still going across the water.skin.” She said yes straight away. After they had eaten Angelo suggested that they take a walk. that look was back in his eyes and she couldn’t say no. across which the lights of Naples could be seen. I don’t know if I should be taking you out in public. The night air was still and balmy. this was topped with a shear gossamer lace shawl. which touched the skin like the . “Mia cara. It has grown quite warm as we have walked and I am sure that something cool would be ideal. I am sorry if I have kept you waiting. looking in at the many shops which stayed open till late. “Good evening Angelo. Penny approached him and said. “My house is just here. but I hope that I will out shine them all. The air was filled with the sound of the night life. The younger people walked up and down. There seemed to be a buzz around the town. please would you like to come in for some refreshment. Angelo’s arm circled her waist and he drew her to him. He led her inside and they were greeted with a cool air. So many will want to catch your eye.” The look in his eyes made her legs go weak. the lights shimmering like stars on the dark water. showing themselves off like beautiful peacocks on parade. For I would not like to left without you.

is so strong. Soon they were both naked. She smiled at him and sipped at her drink. The only thing that I can say is. “I don’t know what you must think. After taking a seat in the lounge. She could always hold a good conversation and had many stories which she could tell. She was overcome by shyness and couldn’t think of anything to say. as she had gone very quiet and seemed to be in a world far far away.soft fur of a kitten and sent a slight shiver down her spine. her nipples were like the full buds on a new rose tree.” This last she said looking straight him. I must also say that I really wouldn’t want to either. a fresh wave of excitement ran through her. that the way you look at me just makes me go so weak. He gently took the glass from her hand and after placing these on the table nearby. Angelo wrapped her in a robe which he had brought in from his bathroom. This was something that she was not used to. that I cannot resist you. His lips fell upon her breast. Once she had gained her breath she said. . Angelo brought in chilled champagne and after filling the glasses he sat beside her. When they both finally pulled themselves away from each other. he drew her to him. As his fingers touched her glistening skin. His kiss made her melt and she had the feeling of sinking into the couch which they were sitting upon. The power which you have over me. They were both breathless with the frenzy of their lovemaking. Soon his hand was expertly undoing her dress and tugging this gently down to her hips. Angelo could tell that she felt different from their morning conversations. all that could be heard was the leaves rustling in the night breeze which fill the room.

was something that I had planned. My father owns O’Neil Morgan Electronics. his chest shone with small beads of heat. Angelo had made coffee and they sipped the strong black coffee as they told each other about themselves. What will they think when they see that her bed had not been slept in. which looked like a tulip opening up fully. For quite some time afterwards. I have seen their faces change. You strike me as someone who is totally different from other girls that I have met. Soon the new day was dawning and as the sun started rise.” “You don’t know how that sounds to me. The riches of my family. it wasn’t. Penny thought.“It is I who should apologies to you. but I cannot say that what we have just done. is read across them. all the guys that I have dated have been the same. You can read the expressions. For as long as I can remember. His shoulders were broad and strong. Most of them wanted me for one thing. The warmth of the early morning sun slipped across their naked bodies. they found themselves in a new embrace of love. Penny felt the power which seemed to pulsate through him. A smile . the largest company dealing in satellite components. Could she have found Mr Right? They talked for what seemed like hours. Angelo took in way that the small birthmark. soon I must leave and go back to the hotel. they lay side by side. Today was the first time that my life felt as though it has been taken over. money. at her hip. As soon as I have even mentioned the company name. This time they took the time to explore each other.” Penny looked at him in a new light. sure her feelings this time were right. seemed to get redder each time that he caressed her.

That is. so now I ask. But it also gave him a certain ruggedness.” he whispered in her ear.” But as he said this. I have to go back to the hotel. that I will be here forever. I said that I don’t want you to leave me. will you marry me?” After saying this. the aroma which filled the room was soon tantalising her taste buds. But as Angelo slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her to him gently she felt so at home with him. She thought that she would feel embarrassed now that they were both fully clothed again. “What could you be thinking about. with the darkness of the hair waiting to be be shaven off. If it is more lovemaking. you have worn me out.” Penny gently pushed him aside and made her way to the bathroom. “Now that I have found you. Angelo had made fresh coffee. if you still want me. Someone else may take you away from me. The coffee made her feel more awake. After freshening herself up she went into the kitchen. his face gave away the small lie that he was telling. As Angelo saw this he asked. And what will they think when they see me walk in.turned up the corners of her mouth.” “After all this time that I have been alone. “No you mustn’t. “I will ask you now. I don’t want you to ever leave my side. may I ask. then I must disappoint you. You can take it from me. “Don’t go.” Penny held his face and stroked the strong outline of his jaw. Angelo . I don’t think that that will happen. looking like this. I must look an absolute wreck. but I must ask you to give this your deepest thought.

As she continued to walk back to the hotel. than that of a friend of the family. he saw that there was the biggest smile that he had ever seen. if her answer was to be no.turned away from her. Although she knew that this was a whirlwind romance. They had told her that the son of one of the directors of the company was of eligibility and they thought there was nothing wrong in trying to arrange a marriage for her. Her eyes shone with a brightness and he felt dazzled in them. After they had made arrangements for Angelo to pick her up at her hotel later on in the day. She stopped outside of one. He didn’t want to risk seeing her face. Penny took hold of his hand. But she couldn’t see herself walking down the aisle to be married to someone who she didn’t love. Yes. As he turned around to face her again. She could picture . The only word that she spoke was. After several moments of silence. she was sure that she was making the right decision. She also thought of what she would say to her parents. Penny took the time to stroll back to her hotel. they had told her that it was about time that she started to think more about her future and of who else she could think better who could become her husband. She wanted to have the time to herself and to think of the happiness which she had found. she glanced at the many shops. All that now would be changed. This time when she said that she was going away for a break. This would certainly come as a shock to them. Italian designed wedding dresses were on display.

Please say that you can come out straight away. Also I have yet to meet his parents. I can’t imagine what your father will have to say about this. I am sure that you and dad will think that he is fabulous too. What could you have been thinking of.herself in one of the long flowing dresses. No doubt he will be feeling the . I have some wonderful news. After several rings her mother answered the call. His name is Angelo and he has asked me to marry him. “Oh please don’t worry so mummy. please don’t say anything. Please just call me back and let me know when you will be arriving here. No. how on earth can you marry someone that you hardly know.” “But Penny.” Her mother sounded near to tears. She quickly showered and changed and then took a few moments to get herself together. “Mummy. I have said yes. Young William would be ideal for you. This is something that I am not really looking forward to. she hurried up to her room. You know that he would like you to marry into the Harrington family. There is so much to do. I need you here. I have met the most wonderful guy you could ever want to meet. There was an important telephone call which she was about to make and she didn’t want to get herself all worked up. Her step quickened and by the time that she arrived at the hotel she was a little out of breath. After getting her key from the reception desk and having noticed the raised eyebrow from one of the waiters. Penny dialled her home number carefully.

The . Along with the villa there was also several hundred acres of vineyards. just stay by the telephone for a little while. I still cannot fully accept that I am to be married. The fields were busy with people. It wasn’t very far away. I will be along in a little while to pick you up. We are going to my parents house for early drinks and evening meal. they must come and stay at my family home.same. “OK. The grapes were then sent to their factory. Finally her mother said. You do still want to marry me.” Later on in the day when Penny was starting to make out her wedding list. they took the route for Amalfi and turned off up a hillside. the telephone rang. Don’t you feel happy for me:” Penny’s voice sounded like when she was very young and she had got a new present. I have told them all about you and they cannot wait to see who has stolen my heart. as with the heat they had to keep the grapes tended so that they wouldn’t loose out at picking time. There is plenty of room and we can all get to know each other better.” “Angelo. They will be staying here at the hotel with me.” Angelo arrived promptly at her hotel and they set off to his parents home.” “They do not need to stay at the hotel. “Ciao mia cara. My family will be arriving in two days time. I will go and tell your father. full of cheer. to be made into wine. You must also come and stay.

He took her hand and kissed her on the cheeks and welcomed her to the family. She was not put off at all by the most intimate questions. welcome to our family.” With that they settled themselves down in the luxurious room.” . had the flavour of ripe damsons. Your papa will be with us in just a few moments. Angelo took her arm and led her up the short flight of steps and in to the cool interior of the hall. Penny was asked many questions. The red wine which was produced. “Just one look at you and I must say that my son is a very fortunate young man to have caught your eye. The gardens were in full bloom and in the late afternoon sun the colours were brilliant against the dark red brick of the building. with a bouquet of wild cherries. that he wasn’t making a mistake and that Penny was serious and not just out for his money. The room was decorated in deep sky blue and rich dark gold brocades.family’s name of Maravalli was given to the wine. They had no sooner entered. Please. Soon they arrived at the house. Come. It gave a feeling of wealth but not ostentatious. I have got a special champagne for us to celebrate with. let us go into the lounge. “I don’t think that there can be any doubt that arrangements for the wedding cannot be started straightaway. She held out her hand in greeting. We have waited for this day for a long time. Obviously they wanted to know that their son and he was the heir to the company. By this time Angelo’s father had joined them. As they sipped their drinks. which were asked. when Angelo’s mother came down the stairs.

The evening passed by very quickly. They made plans for everyone to stay at the villa. all that could be heard were the singing of the crickets and the shining of the stars above. As Penny and Angelo walked through the gardens. Go out and let us continue with the boring aspects of your wedding. Angelo held her close and as Penny reached up to hold his face closer to hers. As Angelo drove them away he said. sending silver sprays into the air. “We can see that the two of you want to be together. but the young couple wanted the wedding to be soon. “You don’t really think that you are going back to the hotel do you? All evening I have been breathing in your perfume of wild roses and drinking in your beauty. The day came when Penny’s parents arrived and they all set off at once for the villa Maravalli. she whispered. I now want to peel away your clothing. “They said that money . the lists of who sits with whom etc.” This was said with a wave of Angelo’s mothers hand and wide smiles from everyone else. You could see the heat shimmering across the sea. Both families knew that these preparations seemed to be moving quickly. Once everyone was settled in at the villa.” Saying that he whisked her away to his apartment. It was the first time that Penny’s mother had been to Italy and she was taken aback with the beauty of the place. there then came the discussion of when the date would be best for them all. soon Angelo and Penny were looking at each other and they could sense that they both wanted to go out and be alone for a while. Talk seemed to go on forever. then it was time for Penny to get back to the hotel. like the petals on a rose and to take in the ripeness of your revealed loveliness.

can’t buy you love. they could look forward to all their new futures. but for us ours has brought us together. The End .” Inside the villa the two families talked on until late. Now that their two dearest children were to be wed.

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Annie's Lost Love By Greta Ann Hughes .

..........Contents ..... William's Tale ............................ Annie's Life ... The Meeting ...................

Part One Annie's Life .

and she was carried further into the picture which her mind was now creating for her. She was thinking of all the happy times that she had spent with him. They had run barefoot across the white sandy beaches. This night of all nights. It was now a year since Robert. she was deep in thought. her mind carried on wandering over the past and with a deep sigh she let the distant pathway open up. it just wouldn't go away. that she had spent hour upon hour looking out at the sea. But there was also another memory which now forced itself upon her. There had been a time. a very long time ago. her husband. As she gazed out over her balcony at the oncoming tide as it swept its way in on the darkened seas. which melted in the heat of the sun. She had been searching over the darkness for a sign that he was returning to her. had died and many memories were now flooding into her mind. had swum in the sun warmed sea and later with their children had made sandcastles with moats and ate icecreams.Annie's Life 1 Annie was lost in her own private thoughts. Now on this chilly dark night. As Annie thought of this. 2 .

especially with Annie being present. It was just as Freda was going to the bar to get them both a refreshing drink. They had first come across each other at the local dance hall. dark and handsome. Annie had been a frequent visitor there. But as Freda was thinking this. that Annie was so mad about.” She then quickly made her escape from him and breathing a sigh of relief she ordered two shandies from the barman. dancing away to the sounds of the popular tunes of Glenn Miller. she saw that the stranger was now deep in conversation with Annie and that by the look on her face she was enjoying his company very much. I wasn't looking where I was going. a smile came to her face. I hope that I haven't damaged your foot by treading so heavily on it with my size 10 boots”. along with her best friend Freda. She had brought forth an image of Dan. at the manufacturers of overcoats and where Freda. He was the assistant foreman in the warehouse. no I think everything is alright. that the tall dark stranger accidentally bumped into Freda. He was tall. Annie had always been able to talk to anyone about absolutely anything. Glancing back to where she had left Annie. Walker & Sons had been in business for over 40 years. please pardon me. Every Friday and Saturday nights both of them could be found there. “Oh. and they had both been dancing since getting into the hall. Freda at first felt a little jealous pang tug at her heart. just like the men you read about in the romantic story books. they were designers of coats and were made on the premises as well. His smile lit up his face and as Freda mumbled that “no.Annie's first love had been William. which was played by a local band called The Norfolk Band. but she knew that he wouldn't have really given her a second glance. the evening was a very hot one. also worked. Many of .

was taken on and had a place in the design department. “Hi Annie. I'm back. there was too much hurt which could be caused if you didn't watch yourselves. Even though the stranger was still keeping Annie fully occupied with some story or other. Here's .the coats were specially commissioned for some of the wealthier people who lived in Cromer and the surrounding areas. because where a seemingly innocent moment was happening. Both of them were extremely lucky they said to have landed the opportunity to be working together in the same place. when out in the battle fields. stitching the intricate designs onto some of the elegant evening cloaks which were made there. time was also something to cherish as there was so much sorrow being shed throughout the country. Annie who was the creative one. especially amongst the bereaved families. and as Freda had nimble fingers she had been taken on in the finishing department. I bet you thought I had perhaps run off with the barman. she felt that it was time for her to intervene. This work would keep them all very busy for quite some time. this could turn as quickly into a tragedy. The company had also just received a commission to do some work for the military. Some said that it could last for several years. Freda finally gathered up the two drinks and headed back to where she had left Annie. they were to make the overcoats to keep the brave men and women of the forces warm. Annie and Freda had finished school at the same time and both of them had enquired about work at Walker & Sons. You had to be so careful. As the war now waged on between Germany and Great Britain.

Freda almost pushed Annie towards and into the waiting arms of the now not so secret stranger called William. it should still be cold. Feigning that her foot still hurt her a little. Annie made her way back to where her friend was sitting and with one hand held against her breast she said somewhat breathlessly. both sets of parents agreed that because of the war and the frequent unscheduled blackouts. Even though my foot has been well acquainted with his. I am stationed nearby at the RAF airfield. “Are you going to introduce me. But ladies. but all my friends call me Bill. my name is William. As I was saying to Annie. “Well hello there. Who wants to keep a lonely RAF guy company by dancing the light fandango?” This man's smile could melt even the most hardest of hearts.” Freda smiled pleasantly at the stranger. please don't let me be the wet blanket of the night. Half a dozen of our squadron have been given a 24hour pass and we thought maybe it was time for us to have a short break and get ourselves a little enjoyment. I do hope that you will not think me too rude if both Freda and myself . they preferred it if they were both home by midnight. I feel totally exhausted.” This was followed by a shy nervous laugh.30 and although they thought themselves old enough to be out late at night. As the night's hour approached 11. “I don't think that I have danced for so long and with someone who without a doubt knows how to glide across the dance-floor. I don't know if you can imagine it or not but there are very few hours when we do manage to get time off.your drink. even though I have been gone for quite a few minutes.

but even the briefest of notes can mean so much to us who don't know where they are going to be sent off to the next day. We live such a short way away that it would be a shame to take you away from the entertainment which will no doubt be going on for at least another hour. goes by without someone that we know. just like Cinderella. I know. “Perhaps.now say good-night. “No. although I do have to say that neither of us have ever lost a shoe and by such a consequence been sought out by a dashing young prince. you may like to write to me. but thank you for your kind offer.” “It would be no trouble. or night. But I can see from your expression that my idea will still be met by a negative response. please do not fear. Scarcely a day. “Ladies. that some ill-fate has befallen them. We like to be home by 12 o'clock. Would you like me to escort you home?” William was of course speaking more to Annie. Mascara was one of the things that had to be used sparingly due to rations.” Annie fluttered her long blonde eyelashes.” . I know that I am not far away. lashes so long that there was no need for any cosmetic's to make them longer or fuller.” He put his hand inside his jacket pocket and took out a notebook and quickly wrote down his full name and where he was stationed. if only by association of knowing them third or fourth hand. even though he included Freda by giving her a sideways look. I can quite understand how people are feeling today.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the evening. also the new contract had been set out with strict deadlines. she felt the first fluttering of her heart. “I'm not much at writing letters. Annie and Freda said their final good-nights and left William and the dance hall to set off back to their homes. She shook her head ever so slightly so as not to make it look as though she was saying no. Business was extremely busy. but I will gladly send you news of what is happening here. 3 The next week passed by so quickly that Annie didn't have a chance to do anything in the evening. . As she smiled up at him. With it being a government contract there was no going back on the dates which had being given out and agreed to. apart from eat her evening meal and drag herself off to an early bed.” The sooner the better she thought to herself. and took the paper from him.His hand held the slip of paper out to Annie. She was so worn out after her day at work. With nothing else to say. Failure of the company to comply could mean the contract being canceled and with that a great deal of money would also be lost. but you could be back here very soon. Their hands touching ever so briefly. As Friday evening came around. what with the new season coming up and all the samples to be prepared. We must be setting off now. Freda called for her friend at her usual time of 7 o'clock. and one never knows.

He said that for this to work properly you must put plenty on and don't wash it off for several hours.” Annie started to rub at the side of her face again. Sorry. “You look absolutely awful. “It's OK for you. “Are you ready Annie.She knocked at the door and was let in by Annie's mother and was told that she could go straight up to Annie's room. I have heard that it is very funny. but I cannot lie. I have been down to Jenkin's the chemist and he has made up some calamine lotion for you. Jeepers but it doesn't half itch. but had just continued chattering on. Just as Annie had started to scratch her face. I'm sorry that you . just you wait and see what happens when you have to start to use that awful material that they are calling lining for the military overcoats. she had not even looked at Annie when she had first entered her bedroom. in came her mother carrying a large bottle which contained some very pink liquid. Your face is puffed up and your eyes are like two little peas. It has some sort of cheap thermal fibre that they are using. Hello again Freda. She was not one at the best of times to keep a straight face. you are only going to make it worse. Oh my. Her shoulders shaking with her laughter. I thought that we might try to see the new play at the Derby Theatre. “This has got to be better than going to the theatre.” Freda continued. But looking at her poor friends face. she started to giggle again. “Annie dear. what on earth has happened to you?” Freda had come to a complete standstill. I could do with a laugh after all the hard graft I put in at work this week.” Just saying this made Freda start to laugh. please stop scratching.

but they thought that perhaps if she was a little better the next day. they talked about their weeks work and that now that the weekend was theirs to do as they pleased. Many of the tourists had stayed away this summer. but would you mind awfully if I asked if I could be left alone.” Freda bent over and placed a sisterly kiss on to her friends cheek. “Goodnight then. Many more also preferring to stay where their loved ones were. “I'm sorry Freda. Left on their own again. Freda said that she would put the calamine lotion on Annie for her.” After saying this she left the two girls on their own. They knew of a quiet spot and as the holiday season was almost over. careful not to get too much of the calamine lotion on herself.have come around here tonight expecting to go out. I do hope that this isn't something which all of you at work are going to get. But not before saying to apply the lotion straight away if she wanted her face to get better soon. Keep your hands down by your sides. Thanks for being such a good sport in sitting here for so long. I feel pretty miserable and I am sure that you must have something better to do than to look at my horrid face. See you tomorrow. even though Annie didn't feel up to much. she is in no state to go anywhere. I'll bet on my last penny that Mr. I'll see you in the morning and we will spend the time on the sea front all being well. they were pretty sure of not being disturbed there. then they might just pack a light lunch and go for a picnic on the beach. but as you can see by Annie's face. Walker will not be very amused if you all end up looking like our Annie. perhaps I . As soon as this was done. The cost of travelling had risen too much.

Annie's face was looking much better. but I have written to him. As Annie lay back she said. of that I'm sure you already know. after bribing him with the money so that he can go and see the afternoon matinee at the cinema. and there it was. But being bored I thought I would tidy up my handbag of all the pieces of paper you pick up. Packing a small lunch box with sandwiches and cool lemonade. You'll never believe me. yes I know. well he was quite hunky wasn't he? It may be . then maybe a short note could be just the thing to perk him up. I know what I am doing.” “Annie. I think that you must be barmy. it was his address at the barracks where he is based. “Can you imagine what I found in my purse last night? Well I'll tell you. don't be giving me that look. Remember the air force guy William. did you find him attractive?” Freda was now sitting up and smiling down at the still form of her friend. both girls made their way to the beach and set themselves up for the day. I had almost forgotten it. The itchy face must have affected your brain as well as your looks. But what do you really think of him. With the sun cream covering them. “Umm. you still have a pretty face. But then again I thought that if he was as lonely as he said he was. Yes.should tie them together so that you won't be tempted to sneak a quick scratch. Still not moving. And no. the lotion had taken the bright red blotches away and had stopped the incessant itching.” The next day arrived bringing with it a clear blue sky. At first I thought perhaps I should just pop it into the bin along with all the other bits I was throwing out. Annie replied. I even got my brother to put it in the post for me. with just the hint of a cool breeze. they lay down to soak up the sunshine.

Annie read the brief but very compact letter. bringing with it dark heavy clouds which threatened a downpour of rain at any moment. 4 Several more hot sunny days followed. the weather had changed dramatically. Bobby the postman had brought her a letter which was completely drenched with the rain which had been threatening to fall all morning. Silly girl talk. if they could choose. but something that almost always got the imagination racing far ahead of what may or may not happen.” This last she said more to herself than wanting a reply from her friend. as the writer had used a fountain pen and the ink was still somewhat wet and running down the envelope. I wonder if he will write back. But on waking on the Saturday morning. The day wore on and after having their picnic lunch. A cold wind was blowing in from the sea. Just then the morning post arrived. they would like to spend the rest of their lives with. “My dear dear Annie.fun to actually have a date with him. . Quickly opening it and getting the folded paper out without causing any further damage to the enclosed paper. The address was just about readable. they set themselves up in the shade and talked at length about their hopes and dreams of where they wanted to be when the war was over and who. everyone was making the most of the sun. But I'm sure that I must be barking up the wrong tree to be thinking of such a thing.

perhaps you might want to keep this our little secret and keep quiet about it until you are both there. So thinking. But you could always be sure to pick up a bargain which.” He had even put the little cross symbolising a kiss. she took herself off down to the high street. Even though the style was something which she would be copying from an American designer. Not that I want to play matchmaker. any of the latest new fashions on the high street to wear. With her heart going ten to the dozen Annie ran upstairs to check through her wardrobe. The trousers were just like the ones she had seen in a magazine a few weeks earlier. I do hope that you can be there. you could make up your own fashion outfit. with just a little tinkering and a few pieces of ribbon or fake jewellery. I will finish in the hopes that you will be there tonight. May I also say that I hope that your friend Freda will not be too put out.I truly thought that I would not hear from you ever again. . Although please do not think that I am wanting to split up a friendship which you have obviously shared for many years. but I would really like to have the time to spend the evening with you. Until tonight then. with my fondest wishes. She knew that she was being silly. But my wishes have been heard and I can now say that you have made me the most happiest of men stationed here. William. but I have asked a friend of mine to come along. It wasn't long before she found herself a a pair of trousers and a pretty blouse. I have managed to wangle a late pass and I will be at the dance hall tonight. With the war on. but this was surely going to be a night to remember and she wanted to look her best. Maybe she could pop into town to the little charity shop which had recently opened. was something that was taking a back seat.

Back home she hurriedly unpacked her goods and made straight for the sewing machine. from behind Freda a voice said. where are my manners. Jumping at the slightest thing that I have said. This was where Annie had got her eye for any intricate embroidery or stitched designs. in for a penny in for a pound. Her mother was very cleaver in altering and making things. Seven thirty on the dot both Annie and Freda stepped into the dance hall. “good evening ladies. don't look at me like that. But please. And just look at you now. Who are you expecting to see? Oh I get it. The blouse which she had bought to accompany the trousers was quite plain. but had large puffy sleeves. I know you too well. She hoped fervently that the rain would stop and that all that she would need to top her outfit off would be the light pale blue cardigan that her mother had made her for the summer months. but you have been like a cat on a hot tin roof. “I don't know what has come over you tonight. I am glad to see you both looking so well and I do hope that you are both going to enjoy tonight dancing the night away with us.” After having said this. This was something which was in constant use in their house. you have already arranged something.she thought what the heck. It's him isn't it? Well I wish you had told me and you cannot deny that you know nothing. She also knew how to cut the many fabrics in which to make the new designs that there were to be made. People in the street always knew where to come if they needed anything repairing or making. She had made many bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses. Let me introduce to . because by the look on your face.

than with this man who could just about string two words together. why should she spoil her friends nights out. Talk about shy. for her night had been quite boring. slightly smaller but much rounder in the face than William was his friend Graham. she realised that she had been left alone with him. With a nervous cough he finally said hello. but not as quick for Freda. Well what the heck. and then in the next moment both he and Graham were driving off down the road. but if we don't get back to our barracks we could possibly get a charge and I know that we have a rather delicate task to do in the afternoon. Just as she was going to say something. We both joined the forces at the same time and so we have both been in the same position together.” Standing beside William was a young man.you my friend. even though she would have been more than happier if she had been told about the pre-arranged rendezvous. It took us both the same amount of time to get the rhythm right so that we could march properly. “I'm sorry that we have to leave so early. So.” Annie looked as though she might have cried at any moment. that is not knowing where our right foot or left foot should be going. She would have preferred to have spent the time at home baking with her mother. he had about as much go in him as a deflated balloon Freda thought. Far out on the dance floor she could just make out the couple dancing ever so close together. leaving her feeling . but as his arms went around her and his lips gently brushed against hers in the briefest of kisses. I will say goodnight and I will wish for the time to go speedily until we can next meet. Annie. Graham. The evening wore on far too quickly for Annie.

Finally she shook her head and looked at her friend. I sound just like your mother. that I felt if we were to move apart I would surely fall over. You know what I am talking about. but please be very careful. Can you just imagine that” Annie's smile radiated right across her face and if there had been no lights around them. she normally knows what she is talking about. But don't ever forget. “oh Freda. 5 Freda had managed to gain the affections of Dan. Although she kept up her friendship with Freda. I could so easily get entangled up with the wrong person and end up in goodness knows what sort of predicament. “Annie. and she just about had him wrapped . He held me so close as we danced. if you needed to be put off something. they would still have been able to see just with the shine which was coming from her glowing face. I don't want to be the wet blanket. Where as me. I think that I have fallen in love.breathless and out of control. like a building without its walls. Things which we have read about in our magazines which our parents don't know we read. I know what you are thinking. they started to go their separate ways in the evenings. go and see Freda as she would soon sort you out in next to no time at all. But this night was the beginning of the romance that Annie had only read about in her books.” Freda was always the sensible one.

” Dan stopped talking quicker than he had begun. When dancing he could hold her close to him. and do something quickly about it. they could possibly have a double wedding. “I would like to marry your daughter. . as her father already knew. William and she had spent as much time together as they could get. I know that we are still quite young. so to speak. or holding hands at the cinema. which he did just like a big puppy dog. he asked if he could have a word with her father.around her little finger. This they tried to spend walking along the sea front. but even though you need to take each day as it comes. There was little doubt. But erm. Annie's joy at hearing this happy news made her think that maybe. just maybe. her love had also been going from strength to strength. But it was with her fathers blessing that Freda was now telling this to her best friend. they become one soul when they were together. They had heard that a new band was to be playing there and were looking forward to dancing to some new tunes. He was not a man to show his love openly. He fumbled about for a few minutes and finally said. but one Saturday night when he called at her house to take her to the cinema. Freda was nearly always the one to take the lead. leaving Dan with little alternative but to follow her. Not wanting to have any interference from other people around them. that is with your permission. This Saturday she had asked him if he would like to come to tea before they went out to the dance hall. that if he said no. In the last three months he had managed to get passes for at least every other weekend. there has to be a time when you just have to take the bull by its horn. Erm. Just like her friend. then Freda would just go over his head and marry Dan anyway.

she was able to keep up a good supply of a tasty food on their table.30 the door was opened before he even knocked upon it. But there again. She had chosen a warming dish of poor man's goose. making him feel a little homesick for his own family. Today Annie's mother had really been able to lay out a grand table for them.He had been delighted as he was wanting to have a word with her parents. even when some of the younger folks were drafted away. But today some of those things were just impossible to get. Today she had kept a few back in which to bake a large custard . spread throughout the house. but hadn't had the opportunity to stay very long. resembled the taste of goose. A warm cosy fire greeted him. They were also very lucky to have a large back garden and cornered off to one side. Many of the neighbours shared their home grown products. they had always had fresh bread and many cakes and desserts. The smell from the days baking. so that communities continued to grow. although this lacked the goose. they kept going three to four chickens. But tonight was going to be different. a variety of meals could be had by some people. the contents of the pot when cooked. His mother could always been found in the kitchen baking. The ration books didn't cover such fancy things. All ingredients tended to be dried. milk and eggs were just two of the main items. This would be the fourth time that he had called at her house. At 6. with what you could grow in your garden or even on some of the allotments which were still going. which her mother had been doing. With the eggs that they produced most days. even though the smile from Annie had warmed his heart. as Annie was always wanting to dash off with him. Smiling brightly Annie led the way into the back room.

It will take quite some time before we can regain something of a normal life again. Wilson. and mum this dish which you have served to us tonight will always be from now on the best of meals for me. Now with the Americans on our side as well. She managed to blink them back and smiled out to both her parents. It will always be a reminder of what a wonderful evening that this has turned out to be. but tears suddenly welled up and threatened to come pouring down her cheeks. A toast. We would like to marry soon. We knew that Annie had given her heart over to someone. To Annie and William. When the evening's meal was ready to serve. “Well mother I think that I can say for both of us that we are very happy to welcome you as part of our family. to a very long and happy life to you both. Each day we are gaining more and more on the Germans. but there is one thing . He had managed to find a bottle which he had been saving for just an occasion as this. Thank you so much daddy. “I don't think that there is a happier person then me at this moment. Very filling meal for just a little amount of money and coupons.tart. Annie couldn't help it. I am overjoyed that you have agreed to our engagement.” “Obviously Mr. This war cannot go on for much longer. they were all sitting around the dinner table waiting patiently for her father to pour out a glass of wine for them all. and I am very pleased that it is to you. William had been able to have his talk with her father and now as he tapped his glass to draw attention her father said.” As the glasses were raised to toast the announcement of their engagement. making them back down. the time is surely almost up for them.

what with the new contract and their normal workloads. I wish that you didn't have to go back so early. thumping and bursting with life and love.” William raised his glass in the direction of his future mother-in-law and then extended the gesture towards her father. her large blue eyes showing how much love she held for him. He had only been able to get a few hours leave and needed to be back at the barracks for 11. Perhaps next week you could maybe stay over?” She looked up at him. the heat which was now coming from them. Annie held onto William. The evening wore on and before they knew it. if there had been ice under their feet.” He kissed her long and hard. “I have to go my love. but without locking it. “Oh gosh. Until next week. With a backwards look and a wave. Even though the evening had turned cold. it was time for William to say good-night. Two hearts. even when I am far away. The business was extremely busy. William set off into the darkness of the late evening. Pulling the front door closed.that we can be sure of and that is that we will be able to enjoy a safer and quieter country for all. But never fear. she smiled as she then felt his heart beating out against her own chest. this would no doubt have been melted by the fierceness of their emotions.30 that evening. 6 During the following week Annie and Freda saw very little of each other. they had . my heart will always be here with you. Then searching his eyes for the same feelings.

Dan has proposed to . Freda picked up her coat and said goodnight to everyone who was left in the office. “How I hate this weather. to catch up with all our news. Freda managed to pop her head into the design department and to catch a brief word with Annie. Dashing off with a happy wave. She hadn't been sat down for more than a minute when the door opened and in came Annie. because if I know you we will have to book this table again for tomorrow night so that I can get a word in. Shall I meet you at the Coffee Pot at 7 o'clock?” Annie managed a quick yes. where shall I start. just how did you guess that this is what I wanted?” Annie smiled and gently patted her best friends hand. “Well now. I just need to have some time with you. As the day approached finishing time on the Thursday.only a very short time for themselves. They had grown up together and there had been plenty of days and nights when they spent them together. a huge beaker of chocolate. not going home to their own homes. One minute lovely and sunny and the next a wind which could freeze you if you stood still long enough. “How about coming out for a drink later tonight. Her coat whipped about her slim legs by the wind which had started to blow only a few moments earlier. before the telephone started to ring again. Many people thought that they were sisters because of their closeness.” Their friendly and happy way of speaking to each other only emphasised how much their knowledge of each other was. As you have no doubt have heard. Oh how wonderful. “I think that you had better go first with your news.

But I was just so excited and my only other wish was. And my goodness. He was ever so shy. but I didn't think that he would have taken so long. Don't you think that that is so sweet?” Freda was now holding out the ring to show off how much the light caught in the diamond and how it made a myriad of colours when the light caught upon it. “You are daft you know. But in the end he got his words out and I was over the moon when dad said that he would be very happy to have Dan as his son-in-law. I practically had to say the words and ask my dad myself if he had any objections to me marrying Dan.” Freda during all this time had kept hold of her friends hand and was now clasping it so hard that Annie had to shake her hand to get the circulation going through it again. But it wasn't until he was sure that he had enough that he asked me to marry him. Tell me which one did you go to. Dan has been going in for weeks and weeks.me. They must be the most expensive jeweller's in the high street. It was wasn't it. Would you consider a .” “Yes they are. “We haven't actually set a definite date as yet. just look at your ring. As you can imagine I was jumping about and giving dad loads of kisses. But there again. because I wanted to ask you if we could perhaps do a double wedding. just as if we were two little kids. putting money down for a ring. Anyway when is the date going to be. You never said that you had been to the jewellery shop. because he wouldn't have liked it if he hadn't been able to give me a ring to show how much he really loves me. until in the end he told us both to get out from under his feet. Oh my goodness he really is going to spoil you. I must say that I was behaving very silly. Don't say Jackson's. I have always known that William was going to propose to you. that you could have been there.

I am sure that it would be best for both of us? Instead of trying to find a more summery wedding outfit. I am so caught up with his love.” Freda was looking very excited at the prospect of walking down the aisle dressed in winter whites with a dark blue velvet cloak draped over her shoulders and cascading in fluid lines down to the ground. Annie just couldn't let her friend down and the more she thought of how they both could look. “Wow. I haven't a clue of what relations William has? Oh dear. you sure know how to plant a picture in someone's mind. I am sure that Mr. but do you know. she also caught on to the fabulous idea of Freda's. She lost herself in thoughts of who and how many relatives she could be gaining when she was married to William. I am just dying to get to the fabric shop tomorrow to start looking for the materials for our wedding gowns. But for tonight. have you thought of who could be our bridesmaids? I have so little family on my side. She made a mental note to herself to ask more about his family when they next met. they could both look almost like twins. But also. both of them were going to have a wonderful girly evening and do nothing but talk about the many preparations which they would have to do. that I haven't even thought of his family. With them both being very clever with dressmaking. we could be snuggled up with fur mufflers.Christmas wedding. Isn't that awful?” By now some of the elation was starting to fade from Annie. “Shall we go back to my house and we can start to write down everything that we are going to need? We can . Walker would let us buy a couple of them from his stock of samples.

These poor souls had had no time in which to reach the shelter and were in the open when the planes had dropped their deadly loads.” They finished off their mugs of hot chocolate. As December approached. who had been caught in the sudden attack. something chocolatey to make us feel very naughty in eating it. . All the local people rallied round giving aid to some of the many wounded people. this just had to be the beginning of something truly wonderful. But this was something that Mr. The two girls. They had also called in help from the local florist to do all of the intricate workings of embroidered flowers to be sewn onto the bridesmaid's dresses. Walker was not going to argue about. 7 Over the next couple of months all the families were busy planning and preparing for the double wedding. He would in the end be being paid a great deal of money for this work. although they really wanted to be finished early and be at home sorting out their own dresses. thoughts of the wedding were put on hold for several days. were now having to work overtime at Walker's due to the ministry putting more pressure on them to get their orders out to them earlier than what was previously agreed. During one evening there was an air raid which partial destroyed the pier and also caused substantial damage to the church. The weather had turned decidedly colder and the troops were in need of the extra warm clothing.stop at the off licence and buy ourselves a treat.

Most of the repairs would be to make sure that there was little or no danger to the people of Cromer. Well lets see. by any falling masonry from the church and also to a couple of the houses nearby. which had also suffered critical damage. But with the tranquility of the surrounding churchyard. he is clearing up on the other side. which showed off his strong arms. which were slightly too big for her. What is that saying – many hands make light work – something like that anyway. with a wheelbarrow in front of him and working in an old cut down rugby shirt. even though there was still a great deal of sadness about the place. They had not been working for very long when Annie walked by the church and was somewhat taken aback to see William. “Well of course we could.Having heard the news of the bombing William and some men from his squadron came down to the town to try and help with some of the repairs. I can see that you are hard at work. Having cleared everything with his senior officer. There are many roof tiles there which need to be put on one side so that we can use them again to patch up the roof.” Her radiant smile made the day glow bright. he quickly took the time to steal a . “Hello there. she made it feel such a wonderful day. Just seeing him like this made her heart jump and miss a beat. could you use another pair of hands? I seem to have some time to spare and I'm not shy at doing any sort of dirty jobs. You could go and help Simon. he had also managed to bring some building supplies in which to start doing the repairs.” As William handed her a pair of working gloves.

they were sure that the next day would be full of the same happy sounds of men. For several more days the streets were filled with the sounds of hammering and sawing as the work was being carried out. women and children all working together side by side. she said to herself. but with the wonderful morale that the people of Cromer had shown today. “Until next week my love.” As he left her standing at the garden gate. It was now starting to get dark and as the lights were not allowed to be shown at night. it was time for everyone to set off back to their homes and for the men from the squadron to return to their barracks.” And with a gentle squeeze of her arm he sent her on her way. “Ah. There would only be the roof left to be finished off. the repairs were being finished off very quickly. “I know that you are disappointed. William called at Annie's to say that he was sorry but he had been requested to return to the camp and that his leave was to be cancelled for the next couple of weeks. Annie felt a shiver which ran straight down the centre of her back.” He kissed her gently. Tomorrow would be another long day. As the weekend approached. I must now say goodnight and that I will be dreaming of you each and every night. but that could wait for another day. that felt like someone walking over my . but I have to carry out the orders which have been given to me. just knowing that I have been here working when I could have spent the time with you. There will be plenty of time after we are married in which we will be able to spend it together. but then he had to draw away from her as he knew that what his heart wanted and what he wanted would be too much for them. that feels so much better. With all the extra help which kept arriving at the church. Oh dear.kiss.

she was greeted at the front door by her father. which was constantly jumping to the front of her mind in the months to follow. Daddy was very rarely at home at this time of the evening. “The thing is. “Good evening Annie. Gun shots were heard and in the ensuing chase over open land several of the other men were also caught in the gunfire. I am sorry that I have to be here tonight and to be the bearer of some sad news. I am sorry to have to tell you. whose body as not yet been found. And she was .” As the commander finished the telling of this news. He called her into the front room and there seated by the fireside was the commanding officer from Williams squadron. but it was as they began their return that a couple of the men got detached from the main group. William and his team set off late on Saturday evening to do a secret landing. This could mean that he is a prisoner of war.” He glanced up at her father. This thought was one of dread. As it is early days in our enquiries to find out where our men are. who nodded his head as if he was giving his consent to what was to be said next. has disappeared. which is something which all of us would prefer to think. This was carried out successfully. in walked her mother and was ready to be with Annie as the reality of what she had just been told fully hit her. 8 On the Wednesday evening as she arrived home from work. She had an awful sensation in the pit of her stomach. we can at the present only hope that he will turn up safe and well.grave. but William.

sure that this would be the first of many evenings and to be followed by days of broken heartache. On the day of the wedding. As the wedding day grew nearer and there was no word of where William was or even if his body had been found. She left her parents at the wedding buffet telling her mother that she just wanted some time alone. Annie said thank you to those who were gathered about during the time when the photographs were being taken and then going over to her best friend. Some time for her to think of what the future was to hold for her. they all said that Freda and Dan's wedding should go ahead as planned. she placed her arms about her and wished her all the love and happiness which would follow them both. William had also touched the hearts of many of those present at the church this day. . During the wedding ceremony the Reverend Hutchinson. they would also have to think of Freda. It was after all to be her wedding day as well. the morning broke with a cloudless sky and with the sun shining high above. For her to wonder whether she would ever feel the happiness and love that had so cruelly been taken away from her. And even with the unhappiness which would no doubt cloud the day. put aside a few moments of quiet to say a prayer for the safe return of William. She then said good-bye to her friend as she didn't want to be the one with a long face to spoil the happiness of the day. The two families got together and said that although this was to be the most happiest of times for them.

Annie was in a somewhat quiet mood as she had been told that William was now being classed as missing in action and that they were to fear the worst. and of other loves which were lost and found again. She wanted her to be the first to know of the child that she was now carrying. it was only time which gradually brought them together. Freda and Dan had both agreed that when she found herself to be expecting. Reading was one thing which took all her sorrows away and she grabbed at this chance as often as she could. his name was Robert. then she was to tell Annie first. She did find someone who wanted to hold her and to take care of her. If only mine could be found. almost always ended up being seated next to each other at the club. Books were something which held fantasies. Annie thought to herself. this reading club was one way in which he could unwind from a busy working schedule . Over time everyone kept saying that things would get better. Although the news was the best news that could be told at this time. was now to be classed as over. As Robert and her.Many months later Freda came dashing round to her friends house. when really their lives had only just begun. Robert worked on his fathers farm and as his job involved him in getting up at the very early hours of the morning. She had met him at a reading club that she had become a member of. My hopes and dreams of spending the rest of my life with the man the I love. 9 In time Annie did put her heartache to one side. even though she knew that the hole that was now open and empty would never truly be filled. but how could it Annie thought.

The one constant element with them was. How wrong could those thoughts have been. with a small get together afterwards. Robert asked her to be his wife. then she would be his wife and would be proud to have him as her husband. part of her heart was still broken. She would always be there for him when he needed her. almost a year and a half to the day that she had had her first proposal of marriage. And so. This was the start of their brief courtship. because many a time he . Her father-in-law had had a stroke and had now become bedridden. she felt that it was her duty to take care of her husband and father-in-law. They were often very stubborn and needed to be coaxed out of giving the milk or eggs. Robert asked if he could walk with her. The wedding bans were read and after a very quick and quiet service. but if he could accept her as she was. She told him that although she loved him. One evening as they prepared to leave the reading group. saying that she was now needed more at the farm. They had booked a one week break in a small hotel down in Dover. Farm animals were not something that could be predictable. that they needed to be cleaned out daily. Over the years her friendship with Freda lessened. As there was only Robert to look after everything on the farm. Her daily routine now began by getting up before dawn to make sure that a good hot breakfast was cooked for Robert and that he took out with him a packed lunch.where no two days were the same. Many people thought that the wedding was a cover up for a baby which was surely to be had soon. Annie and Robert sneaked away and went back to the farm to pick up their cases. Annie finished working at Walkers.

one of the cows had decided to run amok in the field and in trying to protect the rest of the herd he was trampled on and when she found him he had been unconscious for several hours and had lost a great deal of blood. The doctors at the hospital had been marvellous in being able to rescue his arm. One day as Robert had been seeing to the cattle in the far field. they had very little time for any leisure pursuits. A neighbouring farmer Burt. The fault lay in the dreadful accident in which Robert was involved in. They both said that they were just so happy to have each other.was caught up so much in his farm work that he rarely came back in until late in the evening. Now off you go. to give them both a break. but his lower back had been seriously injured and he had been told that he would not be able to father any children. It wasn't the little ones fault. who was also a good friend. Over time that Robert spent with Annie. The other reason which Annie had kept to herself.” This was something that they were both very grateful for. that this unfortunate circumstance in their lives. Getting up in the mornings together and wending their weary way to bed in the evening. Her best friend had been blessed with having three really sturdy and happy children and the ocassions when she saw them she felt a resentment which she knew that she shouldn't have. they would be able to cope with. was that she was unable to have children. showing her how to manage the farm. “Don't you think that this would be a good time to get away. Also it . stepped in one week. was the only thing that they did together. You have both worked far too hard and Lily and I both say that you need this time alone.

On one such evening Robert pulled her into a freshly bundled hay stack.” Robert held her close to him. Now when they were in the farmhouse. For quite some time after the war there was hardship. but as everything started to settle down. You have been so caring towards me and I have given you so little. I wonder. . So now every other year they looked after each others farm. There he gently made love to her. they often took to taking walks. Their excursions out to the other towns did a great deal for her complexion. whilst the other one managed to go away for a holiday. She baked daily and took lunch out to Robert. Staying with him and having a bit to eat herself. they became closer and on some of the balmy evenings when all the cattle had been rounded up for the night. which was good for the economy and the tourists started to return to the seaside resort.” Annie kissed him back with a passion that she never knew that she possessed. just a little bit to how he once knew her. could this time together change Annie. you must think that I am an awful wife. “Oh Robert. Annie did start to feel a little happier. more and more businesses started to grow in the area. The pain which could often be seen in her eyes dimmed and laughter started to be heard coming from her. taking in the beating of her heart which he could feel through the thin material of her summer dress. singing was heard coming from the kitchen. he thought to himself. “Do you know. But from now on all that will change. He could only hope that that would be so.worked both ways for the two families. I can't remember the last time that we had a break? Even our honeymoon was cut short due to my father falling ill.

From that day their lives did change.

Robert decided that it was about time that he employed someone to work with him with all the changes that had taken place, an extra pair of hands were needed. A young lad called Matthew was taken on. He was doing night classes in agriculture and needed more experience working in the farming community. He was eager to learn and could be left with little supervision. This gave Robert time to start work on the extra acres of land that he had been able to buy at a very good price. It had become a time of more relaxation at home, time that both Annie and Robert were happy about.

The time of pressure that had now been taken with the hiring of help, got Annie thinking of something that she had been missing. Annie got in touch with Mr. Walker to ask him if he needed any work done which she could do from home. “Well my dear, it is very good to hear from you. There is so much change to the world of fashion that I would welcome any knew ideas. If you are free one day next week, we could perhaps go over some ideas and you can take away some of the magazines which we have, to see what sort of fresh angle you can come up with.”

Later that evening she told Robert what she had done. “I know that I should have spoken to you first about this idea of mine. But it just popped into my head and being the person that I am, I did the first thing which came to mind and that was to ring Mr. Walker first. Please don't be cross.” Annie looked up at Robert's face only to see him smiling down at her.

“Annie, you don't know how much all this means to me. You are like a breath of fresh air. This sudden impulse of yours is making you look radiant and that is all that I care about. For far too long you have been down and I will never stop you doing what you feel that is right.”

That evening as they lay in bed, holding each other close, Annie could feel the love pulsating between them. Maybe I should have done this a long time ago, she thought to herself. But from now on there will always be lightness whenever we are together.

The next night Annie set out a grand meal for them. She had been thinking all day long about another that matter that was missing in her life. Children. She had so very much wanted to have children, but when the accident had halted this she had put it to the back of her mind, until today. She had done lots of research over the last few days, with the early mornings spent at the library on how to foster or adopt children. She was sure that Robert would be in agreement with. He also knew how much a family meant to them both.

After sitting down with a glass of wine Annie brought the subject up. “Robert, I've been doing a lot of thinking today. Maybe we could try for adoption, what do you say?”

The lost expression was back again in her eyes as she looked up at him. “My darling, as far as I can see this could be the only way to bring a family into this house. I do say that I think that you have been very sneaky. I can now see that your face is changing and that there is lots more for you to tell me.” His face broke into a wide smile.

“Oh Robert, I think that you have just made me a very very happy woman. And yes, there is something which I omitted to tell you. I have already arranged for us to go to see the adoption services. There can be a long wait, but if you are not wanting a small baby, you can, if all our papers go through easily enough, be able to adopt an older child. I know that I am making this sound as though it is the easiest thing in the world, but I have got to look more on the positive side. I have lived so much just thinking of myself and not given enough time to you and how your feelings are on the matter of not having our own children. Please be patient with me a little longer and I can tell you, I can now honestly say that I will not let you down again.” She held him tightly against her with so much strength in her arms, that Robert was struggling to get his breath.

10

They were coming up to their 4th wedding anniversary and as Annie collected that days post from off the door mat, many of the letters were bills, but there was one letter which stood out from the rest. She poured herself another cup of tea and turning the letter over, she gently slit open the envelope with the knife which she had pulled from the drawer. Even more carefully she opened up the letter, she knew that she should call Robert in. This was something which would affect both of their lives. During the many appointments and interviews which they had had to attend for this adoption, it became

obvious that Robert was taking this very seriously. With only one eye open, she read the letter, scanning over the pages quickly at first, then more leisurely to make sure of what she was reading.

Pushing back her chair, which scrapped across the wooden flooring, she made a dash out of the kitchen door and down to the far field where she knew that Robert would be working. “Robert, Robert”, she cried as she ran across the newly ploughed field. “We are going to be parents,” she shouted as she got nearer to him.

“What, do you mean to say that I can now start to call you mummy?” He picked her up and spun her around. The must have looked just like a pair of school children jumping around. “When is this going to be?” he now had to be a little bit more serious, this was something which was now going to be a major part of their lives.

“I can't remember. Come on back to the house, this can surely wait, it will still be here tomorrow.”

This was the first time that Annie had almost dismissed their livelihood of the farm. But he couldn't hold that against her, he himself was also feeling very selfish and wanted to get back to read the letter. He also knew that Matthew as working close by, that the lad would take over the jobs yet to be done. Matthew was young and eager to learn everything there was about farming.

After sitting and reading the letter over and over again together, Robert said, “I think that

we should be even more selfish today and go round to your parents to tell them of this good news. They will no doubt be over the moon as well as they too have missed out on being grandparents. Then next, I think that it is time that you met up with your best friend Freda and tell her. I am sure that you too will be sharing more and more tales again. Instead of swapping your own dresses and blouses, you can possibly try some swapping of children's clothes.”

Making sure that Matthew was OK and telling him that a lunch was waiting for him back at the house, it only remained for Robert to have a quick wash and a change of clothes.

Robert handed her coat to her and in doing so, he was making sure that she was not going to back down from this visit. Annie had cut herself off from her family for a long time as well. Not wanting to be reminded of times gone by and of what could have been if not for that fateful night.

Her parents were over the moon. Her mother took her handkerchief from out of her pocket and all through their stay at the house she kept on wiping the tears of joy which kept on spilling out over her eyes.

Their next stop was at Freda's. With a slight push forwards from Robert, she put out her hand and gently knocked on the front door. As if she had been stood waiting behind the door, it opened before Annie had managed to put her hand back down by her side. They both looked at each other and as they knew each other so well, there was no reason for either of them to say anything. “Please come on in, we are going to start such a

It would soon be time to bring the cows in for milking. There would also be hundreds of other little jobs to do. we had to come and tell you our news. Annie and Robert made their way back to the farm. that this mask was now starting to fall and soon the tears began to course down her cheeks. but we have just had the letter to say that we have been successful in being given the chance to adopt. as they had been away form most of the day. Some hours later and with promises that they would keep in touch. I can tell by the look on your faces. He was a happy smiling little boy. She held out her arms to both Freda and Robert and in doing so their friendship was once again sealed. they now had Matthew and were sure that some of these jobs would already have been done. “Well yes. “I think that you must have some wonderful news. But there again. We can go and get the little boy next week. the child which they had so much wanted was called Martin. Dare I guess?” Freda patted the seat next to her on the settee.” Freda held the door wide open and they both walked in as though the years apart had never been. As you have been such a great friend of mine and it was only because I hid myself away that we grew apart.” Annie had been trying to put such a brave face on things. always . As the months wore on Annie bloomed with her new responsibility.whispering in the neighbourhood if we carry on standing here like this. But of course you know that we can never have a child of our own.

So let me see what I can do. but that could be invested and we could use the interest that this would gain. Have you thought of this?” Robert leaned over her and gently moved the lock of hair which had fallen down over her cheek. . Up at dawn with her husband. and their assessment officer Ruth. shall we go to the agency again. she also shared some of the workload with him and in doing so they grew closer than they had ever thought they would. “I wish that we could have another child. It may mean that I sell the untended field at the far end.” Robert seemed more eager that Annie. Holding Robert close that night in bed. they set off back home. he tenderly made love to her. “Do you think that we would be able to manage? I know that the prices have fallen at the market and that the cattle have not fetched as much as last year. Goodbye little Martin. One evening she said that she now felt that they were at long last a family. “just look at those rosy red cheeks. your farm air must be doing him good. but there again this was another Robert that she was just beginning to see. They took Martin with them. I think that he would like a little sister. Her energy also seemed endless. I will be in touch as soon as I have some news for you. they called in on Freda. they did say that if we ever thought about adoption again.” “I'm sure that we can. This time the process was not so bad. as we already have a child.” And waving his chubby little hand about. What about it. then we would be looked at favourably.making laughing noises from his playpen. But before they did. Maybe a little girl. looked at the happy little child and said.

You must make up for it with all your embroidery. only stopping to take a sip from the lovely hot tea and to sample the freshly baked scones. You still do embroidery?” “Oh yes. she wished that she could take it back.” They all laughed at the thought of tiny sparrows pecking away and chipping more off their beaks than off the food.” As soon as Freda said this. Just how he has grown. But on entering the farmyard she smiled .” They sat and chatted for a while. The far away glazed look came into Annie's eyes and they knew that she was thinking of another. The village fete is always well and truly stocked up with napkins. “They are the best thing that I can make.” During the journey back. They never stop you know and before long he will be wearing Robert's trousers. Do you remember that awful material that Walker's brought in for the jackets we were making. Never mind though. Take my word for it. Annie remained quiet. especially when I have left it to soak in water to soften it up.“I must really learn how to drive. Dan has bought me more cookery books than you can think of. It brought you out in that nasty rash. “Well I think that we had better be getting off home. “Well we all can't be perfect. doilies and handkerchiefs which they can sell on the stalls. the birds love my cooking. Martin here will be wanting his dinner and all hell will be let loose if he doesn't get it. Everything that I try turns out like a block of concrete. But all to no avail. It has been weeks since I saw you and just look at him.

Education is something that you must have if you are to the qualifications to land a better job.brightly over to Robert and squeezed his arm. one boy. But now Christmas was almost upon them. let us get inside and get the stove on. But like the children the tiny little puppy was growing and getting to be quite big. one girl and they had even bought a dog. but there would be an opening for him back here if he should ever want it. honestly. They were now the perfect family. but a very big softy.” Robert was sorry that he would have to go. And that goes for you as well Robert. but all is now well again. 11 Over the next few years. Just a silly little moment. The children grew and schools had to be found for them. He was feeling quite bad about this. “Don't you be silly. Who would have thought that their lives would change so much in so short a space of time. Choosing presents to go under the tree they decided to take a . Not a working dog this time. time passed by quickly. but one for the children. They would work out new rotas and if necessary take on someone part time.” Matthew came to see them the next day to say that he was going to be going to college full time and that he wouldn't be able to stay with them much longer. There is a chill in the air and I don't want you catching a chill. Come along. “I'm OK. Trusting him to be left alone. come inside and we will have hot chocolate before bed. No loitering in the cow shed after the milking. because they had given him have the run of the farm.

she went to prepare their breakfasts. As they returned to the farm. They wouldn't be up . Their romance had steadily grown and now they were so close they were like siamese twins. Maybe they could try to have their own breakfast in bed. As she waited for the kettle to boil she set the table. Taking turns at working on each others place. would be getting their day out as well. was good for them. their arms and legs entwined as they made love in front of the open fire. She knew that their clothes were still scattered about the living room and although no one would be calling on them. he looked into her eyes and quietly whispered to her “maybe it is time for us to go up to bed ourselves and maybe. she tiptoed out of the bedroom.break and they went into town early and would spend the day there. Moving quietly so as not to wake Robert up. taking in lunch and maybe the evening meal as well. fueled the intensity of their love. Things had worked out very well for both of these families. but then she had another idea.” this he left unsaid. Unpacking the presents later that evening when the two children had been put to bed. like empty seashells on the beach. In the morning Annie rose even earlier. but the look in his eyes told her what he wanted to say. she felt a little embarrassed about them just lying there. the fields were just getting the first peppering of snow. Later when the fire seemed to be going down. Burt and his wife Lily from the neighbouring farm. The delicate flickering from the flames from the fire. After clearing their discarded clothes up. Bright white flakes were falling and making the dark earth seem even darker. Robert was going to look after their farm for them on the following weekend. without the children clambering for attention. Robert pulled Annie into his arms and as ever he kissed her tenderly.

but heavier this time. As their eyes met. By now the children were getting excited. sandwiches and desserts would be devoured by all. they wanted to open their presents. She felt quite naughty about this. Christmas day arrived bringing with it even more snow. Most still kept a horse or two which could pull a cart along to carry all their family in. Maybe after all this time she had been wrong. which today would be their main meal. Taking a small tray upstairs. they would be guaranteed sufficient milk. Their home was well stocked with food and with the cows safely settled in the cowshed. like hiding something from your parents when you were young. Maybe he was the one which she did truly love. hasn't he?” Martin asked. as afterwards they would no doubt be catching bites to eat all day long. Looking up at her with his large dark eyes the . so the two of them would have plenty of time left on their own. The snow had started to fall again.for a little while yet. she placed this on the bed side table and gently nudging Robert awake she handed to him his cup of tea. there were words which needn't be said as the look told them everything. Bright baubles glistened as the sun streaming through the window hit upon them. He placed his cup down and pulled her to him. “Santa has left them for us. The Christmas tree was laden with a variety of treats and all the presents were laid out under the lowest branches. There wasn't a great deal which stopped the locals from visiting their neighbours homes. they hoped that the weather would clear up a little as they were expecting to have many visitors that day and the many pies. After they had had an early lunch.

. Each one appearing to be more happier and more exciting than the previous Christmas. “Of course he has been and all of the packages are just waiting for little fingers to open them. Come along let us all see what is inside of them. She quickly brushed these aside so as not to spoil the happiness of her children. But as the years passed by. As she herself had once wanted many children of her own. This Christmas was followed by many many more.” She felt quite excited even though she already knew what they contained. Of which both their children had given them plenty of. Instead of the sounds of “oh mummy or oh daddy”. But the look on the faces as the two children busily opened parcel after parcel and the gleeful squeals of delight when each gift was seen for the first time. the words were now being spoken by their grandchildren.colour of melted chocolate. so did the youthfulness of both the children and their own advancing years. she was now surrounded by many feet trampling through the farmhouse. brought happy tears to form in Annie's eyes.

Part Two The Meeting .

Annie's thoughts had turned down another avenue. This one had opened up because of the memory of her late husband. wrapped her warm coat around her and stepped out of the front door. Again as Annie gazed out over the sea she found herself staring down at someone who seemed very familiar to her. stock and barrel and to move into the town. The sounds of the water ebbing to and fro gave them a feeling of tranquility and peacefulness for their advancing years. Making sure that there was no traffic coming down the main street. “Excuse me. They had bought themselves a three storey house overlooking the sea. especially as Robert had not be in good health for several years. just listening to the sounds of the sea lapping against the sandy shore. “Even though I cannot see your face.The Meeting 1 But today.” He turned towards her. I would know that voice . She quickly snatched up her door keys. A couple of years before his death they had decided to sell the farm. lock. They were both getting older and wanted to be sure that they were in easier reach of the doctors. With rapid footsteps she approached the familiar man. but I saw you from my window and you looked so familiar to me that I have had to come to speak to you to really find out who I think you are. If they were woken up during the night. was enough to be lulled back into peaceful slumber. she crossed over to the sea front. She couldn't believe her eyes.

She soon put him at ease as she told him about the town and how that very little had changed over the years. “May I take you arm. But please do not fear. but perhaps we could go somewhere a little more private and quiet to talk. The main thing which was new was the pavilion. I can tell by the air around us that I have taken you by surprise. I think that we should talk. I have not come here today to frighten you. maybe?” “Yes. perhaps it was because the surroundings were strange to him. from amateur dramatics to disco nights. Then of course I realised that it was daytime and that you had to be real.” saying this he smiled at her. it helps to guide me immensely when I am in a strange town. Although I should know the lay of the land around here. which had been built along the sea front only two years back. my true love. but of course. Annie gently took his arm and threaded it through hers and guided him across the road back to her home. we can sit and talk for as long as we like. Annie. Now. Once inside she quickly made tea and joined him in the lounge. He seemed to her to look a little uncomfortable. At first I thought that I must be dreaming. I only live across the road from here. During the daytime it held games for the young children and then in the evenings they had various entertainment programmes. It had been the councils decision to try and bring more younger families to the town for holidays. Please would you care to come with me?” Annie felt quite calm outwardly. But I cannot get over seeing you like this. Finally their talk turned to the night when he and several of his squadron hadn't returned from the .even if we were surrounded by many other voices. but inside her she was in turmoil.

it was a voice which I had only heard on the telephone back at the headquarters. Not daring to breath in case it gave me away. as the next thing that I remember was being carried along on some sort of stretcher. but he managed crawl into one of the many sand dunes and in great pain from the wound in his leg and a numbness which was by then gathering in his face. I couldn't get used to the darkness which seemed to be a constant . giving only my name rank and number as we had been trained to do. At first I was blinded by the light which seemed to bear down on me with such intensity. Many stories had been told of those who had become prisoners of war and of the treatment which was given out to those men who were found stranded. he covered himself up with the sand. But with only a thin covering I was soon discovered.midnight flight over to France. But I didn't want to give anything away. William began to tell her of that dreadful night. 2 Slowly at first he describe how they had parachuted in and landed exactly as they had planned back in the barracks. I must have drifted off. so I pretended that I couldn't understand what it was they were saying. then as if a switch had been flicked the light went out and I was left in a blurred darkness. He prayed that he would not be found. A voice came to me through this darkness. Like a few of his men he was amongst those who got wounded. I tried to hold my breath as long as I could. “Next morning I was woken by something scrabbling away at the sand. but it was as they had met with their contacts that they came under attack. Many of the men ran back to the shore in the hopes that the boats had managed to get close enough to pick them up.

But this time I knew that it was one of the contacts we had been sent over to meet. Her name was Collette and she was a . 3 “After several days of drifting in and out of consciousness I finally awoke.companion. this is something which I have not told to anyone for a long time and I am afraid that the recollections of those days still touch me very badly.” “My dear thoughtful Annie. I can tell by the sweetness of your voice. I then heard that familiar voice. But what you must have thought all those years ago and the hurt that my disappearance must have caused you. that you can try to forgive me for not returning to you.” William took a deep breath before continuing. In the hope that in the telling of this. How I have longed to just hear you and to touch your hand. I was now even more confused about where I was. Even though I truly would like to know where and what you have been doing all these years.” William broke off from telling his story. But I must tell you of my years away from here. Just listening to you makes my heart leap with happiness. You haven't changed. “If this is too hard for you to tell. “Can I please have another drink. A haunted look was now on his face.” Annie was saddened by his look. I cannot tell you how much it pains me to see the hurt which stretches across your face. But I desperately needed a drink and after managing to call out. please do not go on. I cannot even think of that without my heart breaking just a little more.

Shame on me. It was then that I noticed that my left side drooped quite a bit and that of my left eye as well. She told me that the wound had been more serious than what I had originally thought. Months passed me by as I wallowed in my own self pity. They had been able to remove the bullet but the nerve had been permanently damaged. so I then decided that I would stop shaving and grow a beard to hide the ugliness. But taking it slowly I soon got use to navigating about my face. It had become infected and the original numbness which I had felt in my face had been because the bullet had hit a nerve. I wanted to regain some of my independence and I started by washing and shaving myself again. this meant very little to me as well. Something which was very difficult for me to come to terms with at first.member of the resistance. probably presumed dead. Another reminder was time. It was now well over a year that I had been missing. your love for me was the main one. But I couldn't return back to England. What as sight I must looked. My next thought was that I would never see your smiling face again and from what I started to find out over the next few weeks I then wondered whether you would even want to see me. he didn't want Annie to see that what he . and I didn't care one way or another what anybody thought. but now this was not going to be possible for me to do again. But I was not in a hurry to be found. The war had taken so much away from me. but I had in fact gone awol. My only way of seeing was to use my hands. As you know one of my past-times had been painting. but for me it would never be. I felt bitter. there were many many more people out there in much more degrees of war torn injuries than mine. I had been blinded. The war was now over.” After saying all this William bowed his head. I was not at first very successful with this as I kept cutting myself. I wanted to shout aloud. This was the reason why I couldn't see. Why me.

and it was one which my mind desperately wanted to discard. Tonight we are both getting tired. he had the feeling of being swallowed up by the darkness.was now telling her had made him ashamed of being so selfish. And tomorrow we will not be afraid as we have been today. She leant forwards and placed a tender kiss on his cheek. There had been a time when I thought that you had taken an easy way out of becoming my husband. he left her standing on her doorstep and set off to walk the short distance back to his hotel. I will say that it did take me a long very long time to come to terms with and sometimes when I think of Robert. Would you care to call here again in the morning or maybe I can call for you at your hotel?” Annie asked. But I knew you too well for that. when there had been others who undoubtedly had been in similar situations and had been able to come to terms and to deal with them. He wanted a little fresh air. So there was only one other explanation. we are both not as young as we once were. “Please William look at me. Because I did at one time think that I should become a recluse. Having said that he would be grateful if she would come for him. I now realise that I must have put him through hell with my constant changes in moods. just like he had first felt when he knew that he had lost his sight.” Annie let out a sigh. “Maybe it would be a good idea for us to start afresh tomorrow in telling each other of what we have done over these many years apart. Now that I am saying this I know that I was being unkind to myself and to the memory of how we had once loved each other. my late husband. He hoped that the cool breeze would help . Don't ever think that I am thinking of you in any other way than that I still care for you.

Annie felt that this was a day that was sure to bring more surprises but also a day that would be full of memories. This morning there was a breeze which was blowing in through my open window and I could feel myself becoming awash with all my thoughts and emotions. They both knew that what had transpired this day would give them both many hours to think about. “No it doesn't. she was then ready to go and meet with William. she led him to the open car door. After a quick shower she dressed in a pair of casual trousers. which set off the blue of her eyes. “It is such a very refreshing morning. My mind is so full of everything which I want to tell you. that it feels as though it is going to burst. . she hoped that it would be full of future promises of joy. She decided to go straight up to the steps and after saying good morning and letting him take her arm. from both of their pasts and now that they had once again become friends. if was followed by a gentle breeze from the partly opened window.him to clear his mind and help him to relax before he retired to his room for the night. some good and some bad. Does that sound silly to you my dear?” William looked over towards the driver's seat where Annie was seated. Making good time to the hotel she was just parking the car when she saw William standing on the steps of the hotel. which she topped by a deep blue coloured blouse. As daylight came pouring through the curtains.

their talk continued about all that had happened. The vineyard is still going today. One of the wines. Smiling she set off driving them back to her house and to the happy feeling of spending the day with him. my sight began to fade. it was to the perpetual darkness that I now take for granted. Collette's home was on a vineyard. that also played a part on my not returning. I still had some of my eyesight at first. In the morning air a myriad of smells came to me.” Now that Annie had become used to seeing him again she took their friendship a step further and kissed him tenderly on his cheek.which were also made and sold on to the local people. It was the home of her late parents and she had stayed on because of the vines. until one morning when I awoke. but this had grown more acute after my sight had gone. I had always been good at distinguishing smells. a ruby red with a seductive damson taste has now been given an award. Today all that will be changed. Now I could smell the freshly turned . “as I said Collette had taken care of me for many weeks and I grew to depend on her. but as my body regained its strength. She knew which of the grapes were the best for all of the wines. I think it was partly because of the vineyard as well. William continued. but that was because we were both so afraid of what we were thinking of each other.Last night there were many thoughts flitting here and there in my head which gave a feeling of being trapped. 4 The morning passed by quickly and as they sat around her dining table slowly eating the lunch that she had prepared. but now their wines are shipped to various countries and are quite well known for the distinctive flavour of the area.

which on a damp morning took on the smell from an underground chamber. that they have been sold off to management companies willing to transform the properties. bright lively eyes shining from your radiant face. because many of the larger houses have been converted into self contained apartments. ” William held out his hand to her and as she placed hers he closed his other hand around it.land. but there again did he really want to stay here she wondered. but it was the roof once . there are so many these days. The repairs that some of the guys did on the church. and at the same time the companies can make a lot of money out of renting them. which seemed to cleanse your mind. This image of you makes me feel young and in need of excitement. I hope that you are going to be staying here. Do you think that we are too old for such ideas as this?” William asked her. There have been too many years apart to think of what we may not get. “they did up until about three years ago when we had one almighty storm one evening that tore up the high street and stripped off many on the roofs in its path as it burst on by. I could even help you find a flat. have they been able to live up to the many years of weather changes?” Annie nodded her head and said. I say that we should take advantage of every moment that we have. The upkeep of the large houses became too much for many of the owners. “That sounds like a very good idea. like raindrops on dry leaves. “I have the feeling that we will never be too old to take this opportunity which has been given to us.” Annie hoped that he would agree to this. The church took a battering. “I can picture your face. I can tell that some things have changed here.

But we never found out what the something else was.” . the repairs would have to wait. The church has taken a drop in the amount of people who attended these day. because there again I wanted to hear everything from you first hand. as you had already been hurt badly by me once before. William gave a nervous cough and said. “ I am afraid that I have not been completely honest with you. that is feel your closeness to me. I think that it was their way of getting out of signing a cheque.” She couldn't tell by the look on William's face whether it was something she did want to hear. For over a year now I have been in contact with Freda. She told me only a little about you and the way your life had turned out. “I have something to tell you and I hope that you are not going to be angry with me and also with the person I am now going to mention. I did at one point want her to warn you that I was going to come over. tea afternoons and sponsored runs and generated a lot of the money to pay for the repairs in this way. The church itself said that as the funds were low. the locals turned out and held dances. Both of them were engaged in their own memories of that other time. that caught the worst of it. But like many things. but there I go again. which was very costly. Money was needed for something else. Not a very Christian thing to say. But I believe that there will always be some families who will be true to the faith of the church ” There was a pleasant quietness for some time. I asked her to keep our correspondence a secret from you. I wanted to be the first to actually see you. but many of us know that it is the truth.again. But he carried on. This time they had to call in the roofers. I wanted to be sure in my own mind that what I was proposing to do was something which would not hurt you.

This was obviously something which was as painful to him as it was to her. Let us now start to enjoy what we can now do. I've just had a thought. “William. to kiss your soft lips and to hear your gay laughter. and you know what. . he counted his footsteps so that he knew where his turnings were. tonight I am going to do just that. she then carefully poured William one too. I don't know what to say. and I always said to myself. she went to the drinks cabinet.” He leaned over and took old of her face. and ever so tenderly kissed her. Although many years had gone by. After saying that he would make the booking at the restaurant. other than that I am very glad that you did decide to come to me first. Freda had never given any clue as to that she had known about William and where he was.Annie's whole body had become tense. or could not have been. how I have wanted to hold you. The town seemed to be bustling with activity and striding out as if he had lived here all his life. with our years apart. Do you know. Excusing herself.” “You don't know how happy you have just made me. But he must also remind himself that they were not the same two people of that long ago time. she needed a drink. we have missed so much of what could. Oh my darling. There used to be a restaurant which was quite expensive. He had learnt to do this from the beginning of him going blind. they had both lived different lives and in different countries. one day I will take Annie there. Her mouth and lips felt dry. even though the hour was still early. But then. young and full of energy. he said goodbye to her and made his way back up the high street. she still felt the same to him. My initial reaction to this news was that I wanted to close my ears and to blank out what you were saying. she poured herself a generous amount of whisky and on second thoughts.

there were many more people out there who's needs were greater than his. As he walked along the cobbled street. Unfortunately they were fully booked and so William made a reservation for the following evening. Time for him had now slowed down and with all the things that he was now planning to do. It was only a very short distance and the refreshing air gave him a feeling of gladness that he had finally chosen to make to the journey back here and to confront all his old fears of what Annie had thought of his disappearance. making his way to the well remember restaurant. After saying goodbye he made his way back to the hotel. so now she had become his companion. He had put in for a new dog. he thought back to another time when he had taken Annie to a restaurant. 5 . He asked for a special table for them. but there was a long waiting list. He strode out with a purpose. who had been his eyes for over 13 years.He had been given a guide dog. but like him she had grown older and now she herself had become a victim as her eyes had now dimmed. but he was not in a hurry. But now his footsteps had become more sure of the ground he was walking on. He had been able to book a table and they had had a wonderful meal and the manager had made a special cake for her. mainly sitting by his feet and giving him a feeling of reassurance that he was not alone. somewhere a little out of the way of other diners. that someone was beside him if he did have an accident. a new dog was not a priority. It had been for her birthday. Sheba. William arrived at the restaurant and asked if they had a table free for that evening.

I hope that you have been having a good day. I am full of news for you. because I know now that without a doubt that the two of us. He was greeted immediately by the sound of thumping from the wagging tail. I can tell that Annie will love you instantly. After enquiring at the reception desk if all had been OK with Sheba. He then took the lift up to the 4th floor and after walking passed three other rooms he opened the door to his room. let me rephrase that. He reached down and tickled Sheba behind her ear and said. the last thing that he wanted was to be given any cause that would mean him loosing Sheba. He felt her head snuggle down onto his feet and he continued on. the three of us are going to be together for as long as we have left. let me make sure that we are both refreshed with drinks and a treat for you. He had never felt foolish when he was talking to his dog.The hotel he was staying in had been very good to him and had volunteered the services of one of the chambermaids.” William busied himself for a short while and once he was satisfied that Sheba was comfortable. her arthritis was getting bad these days. I think we both deserve an early night and then tomorrow we shall both be ready to meet up and talk about our future. Of course he had made sure that both his cherished hound and the young girl took to each other. but just before he did leave the reception desk. But she was also his companion. Before long he felt his eyelids drooping but he had very little resistance to the encroaching sleep which soon took him over. Hours later he awoke with a stiff neck and . he asked to have a call to be put through to Annie where he let her know that a table had been booked for the next evening. she would look after his faithful dog when he wasn't in they had told him. but first. she was after all his eyes and ears to watch and listen out for dangers from the traffic. “Well hello there Sheba. He then started to tell her all about Annie.

. to bring in the morning light. Go on back to sleep as we shall be up in next to no time.a chill around his shoulders. but as soon as she realised that he was awake she stood and stretched out her legs and caught on to his sleeve to show him the way to the bathroom. I can easily find my way around in here. she too had fallen asleep at his feet. I can tell that the stars are starting to fade. Feeling down towards the carpet he sought out the familiar form of his dog. You needn't worry yourself.

Part Three William's Tale .

William's Tale 1 As both Sheba and William set out early the next morning on his way to Annie's house. It will be an extremely dangerous mission. 2 His squadron had been called in for their final briefing. and we pray to God that you will all return safely. William's mind carried on thinking in this way and soon he was totally immersed with those thoughts. Even thinking of the length of that time made him feel quite old. He remembered how she danced and the tinkling of her laughter. like wind chimes tinkling as they were being blown. He could still see her as she was then. They had both been young and innocent when they had first met. “You are all now about to undertake a mission in carrying over to France documents which are of vital importance to winning this war. He could also imagine what sorrow he must have caused her when he didn't return from that fateful landing on the shores of France. The commanding officer spoke quietly to the men who were gathered around. it was going to take quite some time in telling all that had gone on for the last 50 years. he started to feel slightly nervous. but in war we cannot rely only upon our prayers but on our strength as a . She had bright shining blue eyes and golden hair which caught the light from the sun and made you think of wheat fields blowing gently in the breeze.

William gathered his group around him and went through the final details. he had a feeling of being scared of moving in case it drew attention to himself. he hoped with all his heart that he would be back here soon. Only this time it was of memories of him hearing his team talk about football and going to the Friday night dances. What he did hear were voices talking in a strange language. Looking around the field tracking room at the other men and women who would be following their flight paths and the landings.whole unit. but when he woke up and heard those foreign voices talking. but he was wrong. The men in these boats are all volunteers who will be risking their own lives in the knowledge that their children and the future of grandchildren will have a country which will be a safer place to live in. As he drifted in and out of consciousness. his immediate fear was that he had been caught by the .” The commander finished his briefing and saluted all of the men who were setting out on a mission which could be fraught with danger. you will have only a few minutes in which to turn yourselves around and head off back down towards the waters edge where waiting to bring you back will be a flotilla of small boats. Once you have handed over the documents. He too knew that this was not going to be an easy mission. This was one flight which he had a strange feeling that he wouldn't be seeing some of these familiar faces again. William's mind jumped ahead again. 3 He had no idea of how long he had been in this condition.

you have been drifting in and out of consciousness for over two weeks now. and I know that this is going to be the hardest time of all for you. they wouldn't be able to do anything to him if he was still unconscious. “Mademoiselle. she gently let his head rest back upon the soft pillows. I was with the men who you had come over here to meet with.” She held the cup of cool water to his lips again and when she knew that he had had enough. With a deep breath he plucked up his courage to speak. but he managed to ask Collette for another sip of the cool water. He licked at his dry lips and in doing so he brought attention to himself that he was now waking. He wasn't strong enough to fight off the heavy burden which was keeping him motionless. he once again tried to focus his eyes onto something. but his vision remained the same. slowly now.” He paused to catch his breath. he found that his throat was rasping. with not speaking for quite a long time. The next time he awoke.enemy. bringing them into this ambush. Please take things slowly now. “Ah monsieur. he felt his head being bathed with a cool soothing cloth and to the sound of a young woman singing softly. we thought that you would never regain consciousness. can you tell me if many more of my group were picked up. either by some of your people or by the enemy? I feel that I may have let them down very badly. but all that he could see was a blurred image. he soon felt himself drifting once more back down into a darkness that opened up its arms to take him in and to rock him back to sleep. that would be the best thing. let me give you a drink. we don't want you to over do it. Sleep he thought. My name is Collette. . He dared himself to open up his eyes. Please. As he rested.

Marcel and his group had been round the town asking questions at the local bread shop and at the post office. Time. how they had all been taken by surprise. If he was found. this was to be something which he would have to rely on for the rest of his life. A little soup perhaps and some fresh bread. I will go an fetch him and while he is bringing you up to date with all the news that we have. They were the ones who had risked their lives many times for the sake of others. who had recently taken up residence in the main hotel in the square. As Marcel.After making sure that he had taken a few more sips. “I think that I should let my brother Marcel tell you all that we know. Marcel arrived at his bedside. They were simply carrying out their own orders. Being with the resistance meant they were on their guard at all times. ” And so Collette left him while she went in search of her brother and to prepare the small meal for William. They had already started to punish some of the local men. what would happen to these people. The had no care. I will get you something to eat. Marcel related how on the evening that he had landed on the shores. For several days before the meeting. William thought to himself. He noticed quickly that his hearing appeared to be much clearer. they took to beating the men in . That was if he wasn't found. as they had communicated on many occasions before this latest arrival. as they battled with the enemy. you need time to get used to everything here. sat down by him. for no reason other than that they had looked at the German soldiers. He had know Marcel for some time now. A watch was put on regarding the movement of the German soldiers. he listened without asking any questions. that was something else which he felt sure that he would have plenty of for the moment. Now rest again. Collette replied.

and in the confusion some ran into each other. My other brother Alain ran down to the waters edge and in the brightness of a volley of shots I saw his body arch backwards before he sank down to his knees and to his death. Just the right sort of cover that you needed to take up your flight and to parachute down in. You were only a few metres in front of me.front of young children. so as to make sure that the women would do as they were told to. very dark. It was the worst that we had seen. The telling of that dreadful night had brought back the sadness of loosing his youngest brother. The moon flitted in and out of the clouds. It was a good night. Then we saw you and how you were all trying to get free of your chutes. with big curling black clouds. but we saw nothing of you coming down. He had given to us a reference from one of our neighbouring villages and from a man who himself was highly thought of. People were running all over. Your men from the boats had also started to come ashore in the hopes of rescuing some of you. but with little effect to the blackness of the night. I can also tell you that we have since found out who had been the spy amongst us. new to our group and to the town. I am sorry to say that some of our men did take off. So of course we were always eager . We had heard the drone of the aircraft's engines. “We set up early along the sand dunes and waited for the hour that you would land. Marcel continued with the events leading up to their arrival. but I can only guess that it was in the hundreds. Being frightened was something that the Germans loved to see. I swallowed hard and blinked back my tears of what I had just seen and I reached forwards for you. “We do not know for sure how many people lost their lives that night. Then all of a sudden gunfire rang out all around us. It was a young man. The resistance lost 35 men and women alone in that one night.” Marcel helped himself to a glass of water.

would you like me to speak to you in French? Very good then. As . We have also heard that he has since been killed by the Germans. Steering away from the shores as fast as they could get their crafts to go. both of them were thinking of how families on both sides of the waters had lost their loved ones. having fitted into their plans for that time he was then considered to be of too high a risk to them and therefore he needed to be silenced. Of course once they knew of your coming. The Germans also ceased their firing and withdrew themselves as they couldn't see any further movements on the beach. He had been told that a great deal of money could be coming his way. he was taken away and put into hiding. A cruel fate for him. But he had given himself over to greed. We saw that the men from the boats could only manage to rescue a mere dozen or so men before they were finally driven back towards the water and to the safety of their boats. you have been here for a little over two weeks and in that time many things have changed. that your French is good. what could be his if he only let the Germans know of any landings being planned. as least if someone was to call upon us they would only overhear us speaking in our native tongue. but there again his is only one more for the suffering of all that he had been a witness to. I believe from what I have been told.to accept new recruits. “As Collette has told you.” Marcel continued on with the other events from that evening. if only he would let them know of any plots of invasion by the English and of the aid that the resistance groups gave.” There was a silence for a little while. We are being watched constantly and some of us are afraid to speak out about that night in case we give ourselves away to another one who has changed their allegiance.

” Marcel left him alone with his thoughts. But he was soon to be joined by Collette with the light meal that she had made for him. but never reaching the hand that he saw being held out to him. so until then I bid you a good night. William did sleep again. His best friend fell right in front of him and there was nothing that he could do to stop the horror going on all around him.quietly as I could I first dragged you and then carried you back here and to safety. the area awash with the light from the gunfire. being put into force. we also managed to save. you are very welcome here. but now his dreams were very vivid. but none came. He couldn't remember having eaten during the last couple of weeks. This has been sent over to our headquarters and the interception of these units are now. “I hope that we can one day soon arrange to have you re-united with what remains of your unit back home. but he must have done. He saw his men going down. Until then and I can also speak for my sister with regard to this. As his body still felt quite weak with only lying in the bed. Sleep well and wake rested. I can see that all of this talk is tiring you. His strength was more in his mind than in his body. We will continue tomorrow. In it was the information that we needed relating to how many more of the German army units that are on their way here. It tasted wonderful to him. as we speak. Slowly he managed to eat some of the soup. The slight salty taste of the fish soup reminded him of the restaurant that he had loved to go to back home. else he would not have been feeling as strong as he did. He seemed to be running and running. As he awoke he felt his head once again being bathed with refreshing cool water and that his right hand . The package which you were carrying. Soon after he had eaten. He shouted for help.

At one time he could have named many pieces of wood. But at the moment this was another thing that was lost to him. use whatever help that I can give you. 4 The next time that he woke. to his right was a small bedside table and further along a set of drawers. feeling a little dizzy at first. He then made out the shape of the window. tall and strong looking. oak. everything will eventually start to come back. his nose was one night given quite a punch. It was a little while yet before the wedding. perhaps a wardrobe. Until then. he wondered what she had been told. teak. He noticed as well that his sense of smell had come back to him. her face became so real and so close to him. which he could just make out that it was open a little. that he wanted to place a tender kiss upon her soft full lips. which had left him without a sense of smell. He prayed that he would be home. He made himself sit up. all made from the same strong wood. This was extremely puzzling as he recalled that during one of his bouts of boxing back at the barracks.was being held by another. other that just lying there. Soon though he began to scan the room he could just make out slight shapes.” Collette's voice was something that gave him reassurance. He opened his eyes. but much smaller hand. Next came the door. “Don't rush things. a curtain billowing in the breeze and he heard the cry of seagulls as they swooped up and down in the sky. There was another voice that he longed to hear. he knew that he was feeling much better and stronger. Dear Annie. Even if an offensive piece of bad meat had . mahogany. and there again his vision was blurred. Along the next wall was another piece of furniture. As he drifted off again. It wasn't a large room. The lightness from him had gone and in its place a feeling of wanting to do something.

Soon . he still couldn't smell it. My brother has given some of his clothes to me. he let out a small cry of laughter. As he rested his head against the window frame he heard footsteps approaching his room. but it is very good to see that you have decided on your own that it is time for you to start living again. He then heard the intake of breath as the person who entered and saw that he wasn't in his bed. But I feel that I may need your assistance in getting dressed.” Saying this. I am so out of condition. Holding on to Collette's arm he made his way back to the bed and sat down again. as you are almost the same size. “Good morning William. you took me by surprise. as I cannot see button holes. that you were lulled by it. I will take you up on this offer. next I must see if I cannot get back to my own shores and next into the arms of Annie. The chair must have been put there on purpose.been placed right under his nose. shaky steps. he headed towards the window. Do you think you are up to trying them on and maybe we could go downstairs and you can sit outside in the garden and take in some of the late autumn sunshine?” It felt good to hear Collette's voice. so he decided to be even braver and made the biggest attempt to get himself up and out of the bed. The breeze felt good. Yes. With arms held out in front of him and taking small. It had such a soothing tone. “That is the best suggestion that I have heard in many a long time. he said to himself. Now that I have made it this far. so I would no doubt have my shirt on upside down. Something that he hadn't done in a long time. as it was the most welcoming thing just to sit himself back down and to rest after having got himself this far.

he heard Marcel return and from the conversation which was now taking place.” William was quite bold in saying this. The air is already starting to work on my appetite. That may only come back to me with time. I feel quite refreshed. Not more he said to himself. I cannot leave here as my wife is about to have our child any day now and the travelling would not be good for her. After the sunshine that I have had today. along with Collette. So can you be.” “Have no fear of that. we must get you away from here. Collette said that she would go and get his breakfast. Everyone there is safe. he knew that he had brought bad news. The German's have heard that they are going to be hit soon and they are determined to find all. A wooden table with seats were just a little way from the doorway. “That sounds wonderful. After settling William in one of the seats. or any of the people who helped you get the documents over here. Later as he sat there drinking the last of his coffee.” With a friendly touch on her arm. Although I am quite aware that I am far from being my normal self. Much more bolder that what his inner feelings were saying. that you will be taken away from here by the Germans if they were to find you here. Do you think that you will be able to go? Collette is very worried that after all our efforts in getting you well again. by this evening at the very latest. .enough he was dressed and on his way through the kitchen and out into the garden. We have an uncle who has a vineyard in northern France and we know that there is no risk whatsoever in that area. “William. I may just eat and eat until I burst. he let her go.

especially when it was the time for the grape picking. 5 As they travelled they took care to keep to the small country roads. It goes without saying. But that was the way of the people who were in the resistance. Collette and William said their goodbyes to Marcel.“OK then. but since then she had always had a weak chest and was quite susceptible to any sort of chill which sometimes the bad winters brought on. she had grown stronger. the sheer delight in seeing the grapes . She had survived it. please be careful yourself and my thoughts will be of you always. William couldn't thank Marcel enough for all the trouble he was going to. Although I sometimes grew short of breath. due to the warm air which wafted over the open fields.” William shook Marcel's hand warmly and finally they set off on their journey.” And so a little over an hour later. Most of her days she spent outside. Collette told him a little of her life before the war had come. Many of the others had packed in the hard work of selecting the grapes and hauling them over to the tipping carts. The German's have many spies about and one cannot take enough precautions. “I once spent the whole day and early evening out in the fields. her parents had both died due to phneumonia. Collette has already made a start. Up at the vineyard. let us see about setting you up with some clothes in preparation of the journey. You will have to travel slowly so as not to draw attention to yourselves. “I hope to see you again very soon and to see your new child. She had spent much of her time at the vineyard. That was the best time of all for her. She has set up food for a couple of days.

tell me more of what your country is like. I was fortunate enough to have been able to travel before the war. but of course they would be back to the fields the day after this. The party atmosphere normally lasted until the early hours. cutting everything back in readiness to start the routine all over again for the next year's planting. we will be able to try to move . and I remember happy times spent over here. huge tables were put out and many dishes of food were prepared to thank everyone for their help in getting the harvest in. “Please. Even now in my somewhat still battered body they would never get anything from me.being gathered just urged me on. She had such a way of speaking that you could almost be tempted that you could heard music being played. because as the evening drew on the cooler air of the night settled in around them all. Oh I'm so sorry for prattling on like this. Normally wine is served at all mealtimes. So it was without a doubt that I could also speak French. where they all snuggled up together to keep themselves warm. but on the last day of picking. When I joined the air force I was singled out straight away because of this knowledge.” Collette's voice sounded so contented that William barely uttered a sound of recognition to what she was saying. I undertook strenuous training to get my body fit so that I could parachute down into the most remotest of places.” William was lulled by the tone of her voice. Maybe one day soon. At last the parents gathered up their belongings along with their children and set off back to their own homes. My parents had taught French at the high school in our home town of Scarborough. “W ate heartily at the end of the day's work. How never to give in to the enemy. You must still be remembering your own loss. My mental state was also worked on. You could find children asleep under the tables. The following day was a day of no work.

Maybe we should take a little light refreshment to carry us on to our next stop. was now clouded over by his morbidity. made your mouth water. . That one will be for the night. You who have been so good to me in helping me get myself together and in helping to heal my wounds. was now getting to be a little stodgy. so we should be safe here. Perhaps if they carried on a little in silence the tranquility of the days beginnings may once more rise up. “There is nothing to worry about. “Do you think that you will be able to drive for some time yet? You aren't getting too tired are you? I do feel rather bad that I cannot help you in any way.” They settled down to eat some of the fayre which they had brought along with them. The sound of the car engine took over and they traveled for some time before Collette brought the car to a halt. The only unfortunate thing about their meal was that the bread which had been freshly baked that morning.” Why had he started this.on and begin to live again. This stretch of road goes on for many kilometres and is rarely used. We are just going to take a short break. The taste of the golden baked crust which then mingled with the stark whiteness of the soft insides. He had put a complete wet blanket on the whole atmosphere of the day. they ate fairly quickly and afterwards made sure that they had picked up anything which may give them away to the enemy. Not wanting to take too many risks. The cheese which was made locally to them and the fresh ham. What had originally started off as happy. As I am sure you know any light from the headlamps would attract someone's attention to us and set them onto our tail. Bread was something which needed to be eaten fresh.

Blathering on like an old maid. you may not think so now. There are going to be plenty of days in which you can relax. You mustn't put yourself down so. But that is something which I have noticed in myself. maybe she was right about other avenues which would open up for him. it is as though I have got to carry on and say more.” William was now feeling quite stupid. He had better not let his superiors hear him say something like that. His interest back home had been music. It was still early days since he had been stranded over here on these shores. there are going to be so many things that you will be able to do. your sight itself may also come back. His mind drifted off on another angle. and who knows. They would have him out on his ear before he could say another word. his mother had taught him from a very young age and he had mastered it quite well. What would Annie be thinking of him now. but in time many opportunities will open themselves up to you. that although I cannot see your face. regain your strength.Would you care to hear of what it is like over the water from where I have my home? There are so many questions that I have put to you. but there wasn't a day which went by when he didn't think of her. . “No William. He was in a foreign country and although he knew the language it was still alien to his own native tongue. Maybe that is what he is going to turn into. A lover of the sounds of a piano. William started to think about what Collette had just said to him. But even if it doesn't. There again without a doubt he had been the first one who was called upon to play at parties and at the local dance hall.” Collette once again gave him a feeling of reassurance. I am feeling quite refreshed after our light meal.

You have had some yourself I hope. there is still some of the lemonade left.” 6 They both slept fitfully. he drained the glass in a few swallows. I hope that you will be able to sleep during the night. Her uncle's home was a place which was visited frequently . It was a few hours later that he awoke to find that the car was now motionless. you really needed that sleep.” William asked her.” “Goodnight Collette. Goodnight William. Collette told him that she had traveled this road many times over the years. but it may be a little warm?” He nodded in acceptance of the offer.30. Moments later a warmish glass was put into his hands. I think that we should try to get some rest and then as the first lightness of the morning we will make our way onwards to the vineyard. That was lovely. It is now 9. Would you like a drink. sleep well. and thank you again for just being you. He could feel eyes looking at him. The sound of the tyres rolling over the fairly smooth road lulled him. with pleasant dreams. Drinking thirstily. “Goodness me. “Thank you. which was made yesterday. I do not want to draw attention to us by using the headlamps. “Yes.Sighing he relaxed in the quietness of the early evening. But on waking they did feel refreshed and were eager to continue on with their journey. just a few minutes before you woke. as I have now stopped because of the lateness of the hour.

mainly the tunes which you can create upon the ivory keys of the piano. But this was something that my mother had enjoyed and he had been so in love with her. she had spent more of the holiday breaks there as well. I feel that I would be able to fit right in there.throughout the year. I was so like her. Learning how to cook and how to bake. She could always be found in the kitchen a few weeks before Christmas. who had then just been taken on as French teacher at the high school in Scarborough. she had felt a little left out. before I was born. she had been quite talented for a young woman of her time. My own mother had. Her time she told me with laughter in her voice. She told him that there had been times when after her own mother had died. that no matter what he thought. she herself had also acquired a post as the junior French teacher. that she had aspirations of becoming a professional pianist. Along with the French which she had learnt from her grandparents. My father was quite strict and didn't think that the gaiety of all who attended these affairs was quite appropriate. But not for long. curled up under tables. both grandparents had come from Boulogne. Often the children were allowed just to sleep where they were found. I love to hear music. “We used to have so much fun. or sitting on the bottom stair of the grand staircase. Preparing everything for the week of festivities which were always held at her uncle's vineyard. Once she had married my father.” “It sounds like something out of a movie the way you have told me this tale. was well and truly taken up with looking . mother was and still is. She told me once that if she hadn't fallen in love with my father. she was allowed to go ahead and enjoy herself. This job finished as soon as I was born. played the piano at the amateur dramatic society in our town. that I was then given the same privileges. Not just for the harvesting of the grapes. quite a pushy sort of person and before a year was out.

my just look at you.” Catching hold of her arm he let himself be guided along. introduce me to your friend.after me and my father.” Collette called out.” The car coughed and spluttered and came to a sudden halt. Come let us go inside. because we have been running on air for the last few kilometres. what is mine is now yours as well to enjoy. You seem to grow more beautiful each time that I set eyes on you. But please. I do not wish to appear rude. I wish that you could see the sight unfolding before me. But no fear.” Once more they travelled on in companionable silence when all of a sudden Collette exclaimed in a light tone. I am still so happy to see you that I am forgetting my manners. The supply of fuel has finally given out and I am sure that the engine will be rather worn out as well. “you gave me quite a surprise. “Uncle Gerard. The road was a little uneven in places. Moments later a booming voice echoed all around them. “It is a good thing that we have arrived. Soon my dear William we will be in a safe place. gave him a wonderful feeling of coming home. but this was something that he knew nothing of at that precise moment. where you will quickly heal and become strong again. swaying along gently in the late afternoon breeze. The whole landscape as far as my eyes can see are full of green and black grapes. but the stillness of the air around him. “oh my goodness. A home that would be his for many many years to come. we shall stride out and be welcomed at our final resting place in only a few minutes.” . Welcome to you both to my home.

not to mention that you are allowing me to stay for a duration which non of us can say how long it will be. If his eyesight never came back or improved. they then sat down in comfortable chairs in the large sun filled sitting room. It is because of such friends as yourselves that we will win this dreadful war. From all that we have heard of the tortures that the Germans were doing to the prisoners of war. they told of the atrocities which had befallen them since the night of the raid when they had picked William from the beach where they had parachuted in. he would never see the lights which shone from the green grey eyes which twinkled when she smiled. Soon after as they sat in comfort.” Collette smiled over at William and held onto his hand. “I thank you from the core of my heart for taking such a risk in even entertaining me for a short time.” “You can be assured of that my new found friend. Coughing to overcome a sudden nervousness William said. it is a dangerous time and a . After calling out to his wife Margarite. And yes. Could this be true. “We couldn't take any more risks of staying and of hiding out.Saying this he then took an arm of each of the young couple and led them towards the open door. we could not let this happen to him. kisses and tears of joy from Margarite as she ushered them into the sitting room. Gerard then arranged for the car to be towed up and for their suitcases to be taken up to the bedrooms. who eagerly rushed out to greet them both. His heart gave a little jump at the thought that he was perhaps falling in love with her. William had brought over the essential documents and we felt that we had to keep him safe. Confirming to him that she did care for him.

William lay down on the bed. they sat around and talked of happier times and of the harvesting of the grapes.dangerous venture that I am putting myself and my family in. It was some time before William could sleep. As these thoughts took over his tired brain. giving him a feeling of safety. You both must be extremely tired after all the travelling that you have done to get here. I will set you going at picking time and in no time at all you will get stronger and some of the gauntness from your young face will fade. But for the present I think that it is time for you to retire for the night and to get a good sleep. upon which were fresh cotton sheets.” Uncle Gerard handed out glasses of wine and as Margarite came in bearing a tray of freshly baked bread and goats cheese. There again. which were scented with the smells from the vines. But in time we will emerge from this and be able to put some of the evils to the back of our minds. The owls hooting from the nearby barns. he let his mind drift away to thoughts and ideas which kept on popping up in his head. “That is one thing which will bring some colour to your cheeks my friend. The sounds of the night started to lull him.” After he had bathed and put on fresh pygama's. his eyelids became heavy and soon he too fell into a dreamless sleep. . The soft bark of the family dog as it too settled down for the night. calling to each other of the flights that they were off to for the evenings forage for fresh food. we will always remember those who did not survive and of the horrors which will always remain with us. But as he lay there in the comfort of the bed which seemed too big for him after the small cot which he had grown accustomed to at Collette's old home.

They have after all taken you in and it was now up to you to show them that you can give them something back in payment of their sincere kindness. He at first was a little afraid to join them. which was as quickly taken over again by the constant chatter of the younger children in the room. May I ask what you have thought that I can . “A very good morning to you all as well. which can only be put right by giving you the chance to show us of your talents.” Uncle Gerard spoke without any dilly dallying over niceties. He heard voices coming from below. a family deciding on the days work to be done. We have been having a small family discussion about you and we are of one belief that you are young. strong and have a great mind. As he entered the room. he then made his way downstairs to the kitchen. What he had gathered about William he felt sure that this was how he would welcome being thought of. But yes. there came a sudden silence. “Good morning William. We hope that you have had a good night's sleep and are ready for the first day of your new life. don't be silly he chided himself.7 Next morning he woke to the delightful smell of freshly baking bread. lead by the aromatic smells coming from the homely kitchen. Dressing slowly. You give me much more credit than how I actually feel at the present. My mind has lain dormant for many weeks now. I do want to to get myself working again. with only the horrors of that dreadful evening keeping it in a continuous flow of emotions.

” “Sounds quite easy the way you have put it. please enjoy your breakfast. But no doubt that there has to be a strategic way of pruning?” William said. but he knew from his past that many acres were spread out before him. Fresh croissants. Once breakfast was over. Which of course is the only way that I am going to learn how to do things on my own. “Of course. There is also the topping up of the new wines. Enjoy. William put on a huge thick woolly jumper and was lead out into the fields. my friend. This you will be able to do with the limited sight that you have. 8 .” William thought to himself. But now. By touching the vines. these people are not going to pamper to me.be of assistance with?” William smiled in the direction of Gerard. but once we have set you off. His partial sight limited him to see the vast rows of vines. toast and home made jam will be coming in soon. To your right a little forwards you will find a large jug of fresh orange juice and to your left coffee. “Well as this is now very late in the year of winemaking we have to carry out the pruning the vines. this will also give you a feel of how they grow. They are going to let me feel my own way around and to help myself. Then the rest is up to you. you will be able to do this without any assistance. this is also something that can be done by feeling.

His guide for the day was Maurice, an old hand in the fields and within only a short time, William was left to pruning on his own. How time seemed to fly away, although it was back breaking at first, because he was not used to being bent over, and his thighs ached from being squatted down, but he felt that his lungs were working overtime with the fresh air and there was a newness that he could smell as each time he cut away the old dying vine so that in time new shoots would come alive. It gave him ample time as well to let his mind think of the goodness of these people. People whom he and his comrades had come over here to help. But no, he would not let himself think of that night. Not today, he was enjoying the peace which surrounded him and the smell of the soil as he trod his way down the rows of vines.

He was brought back to what he was doing, by a gentle tap on his shoulder, it was Maurice. “Monsieur, it is time for lunch, please leave what you are doing and we shall take a well earned break.”

“Thank you, time has gone so quickly that I was sure that I had worked right through.” “Ah, you think that we play joke and leave you here. No my friend, but I must say that from what I can see that you have done, you must have been moving along as though there was no tomorrow. The fields will be done in next to no time at all, thanks to you.”

And so for the next couple of weeks, William worked his way, along with Maurice, through the fields. The bags of discarded vines were collected by the children in the afternoons, after they had returned from their school. Nothing was left to go unused. The

dead and drying branches were used on the fires. Giving off a pleasant smell as they burnt quickly through. Their evenings were spent by pleasant chatter, the children taking up a lot of his time as they were in constant demand of fresh knowledge and to learn English. This they did in the safety of the house and not outside. They also knew that it was dangerous to tell anyone about the arrival of the male visitor. Whilst the children learnt English, at the same time his French took on a more local accent. His pronunciation of the language became stronger as more and more he spoke in French. Which was a good thing. No one knew when strangers could come up to the house and if he was caught, so would the whole of the family be. Even though the war was now at an end, there were still small bands of angry men about who were looking for anything from which they could profit.

Now that all the vines had been cut away, William was then taken into the the huge rooms which stored the vats. He was shown how to up the wines. There should not be any space left as the wines would spoil with the air. Soon he got the hang of topping up the new wines. Sampling from each of the vats and of the various tastes and textures that the wines went through. A lot of the time he was left alone. He seemed to be a natural with this process. Perhaps this was what he had been set out to do. Enough of the classrooms and of teaching. His way in life was the open air and of the beauty of making fine wines.

One evening after the family had eaten and they were all sitting comfortably out on the veranda, feeling the remaining warmth from the sunshine which they had enjoyed that day, when William was asked what had been his occupation before he had joined the

airforce. “I was still at university. Studying to become a history teacher and to follow in my fathers footsteps. My father was headmaster at a school and my mother used to teach the piano to young students. But now I don't know what fate has befallen them. Their school had taken the full force of a bombing one evening.” This was information which Collette had been able to find out one day, when they had been to the market in her village.

“But now, my work here has shown me that there is more to my life than sitting in a classroom. I am still learning but in a more practical way. Without you all I am sure that I would have given up. I once felt that I wanted to. But was moved by the effortless and unselfish thinking of Collette first of all and then of all of you. Maybe one day I will return to England, but for now my home is here.”

There followed a pleasant silence. All of them lost in their own thoughts. Without any prompting, each of the family stood and said their goodnights. As they passed by the chair in which William sat, all in turn gave him a companionable pat on his shoulder, which said more than words ever could.

9

As the weeks passed into months and soon another year had gone by. William had worked his way through the vineyard and the cellars. Learning each day the many practices in the ways of wine making. His ways were of touch and smell, the aromatic bouquet tantalising the sensations in his nose. He and Collette grew closer as well,

because of the nearness of their work. One humid evening as Collette walked beside him through the fields, he turned to her and held her face in his hands. His fingers traced sensual lines along her cheek and down her slender neck , coming to rest in the soft hollow of her throat, the feeling sending a cool ripple along her arms. But as she lent in towards him the coolness turned into a heat which they both knew that there would be no turning back. He pulled her down to lay amongst the grasses which had grown tall enough in which to hide them. Slowly so as not to frighten her, William made love to her gently and as she responded, their lovemaking became more urgent, both knew that they had been missing out on their growing up. The terrible war had made young people grow older before they had been able to enjoy their youth.

Much later, as the air became cooler with the darkening of the evening, William held onto her again. Whispering into her ear he asked, “my dear Collette, will you become my wife? I have many times at night tried saying this to you as I lay alone in my bed. There is no going back for me now. I belong here. With you and with your family.”

William waited, barely wanting to take a breath. Not knowing what the reply would be. But praying that it would be yes.

As he felt tiny kisses covering his face, he knew. “Ah Collette, you will not regret this. I will make it my life to make you happy and to bring you much laughter.”

During the next couple of months as the preparation of their wedding, William had a few nightmare's where he was waiting for his bride to walk down the aisle and as the bombs

rained down before him, breaking off his vision of the delight as he saw his bride to be coming towards him, then suddenly halt and disappear as the dust and debris flew straight at him. No, please God no, don't let her be taken away from me. It isn't her fault that this evil is amongst us. On waking he was drenched in a cold sweat and with his breath coming in short bursts. Today as he awoke from a dream free night, he knew that all was going to be well. After a good breakfast he went back to his room to dress for his wedding day. Maurice was to be his best man, with Uncle Gerard giving Collette away as though she was his own daughter. There was a gaiety in the home as they all prepared and as William came down the stairs once again, he sensed the happiness all around him.

The wedding and the party which followed was a very noisy and joyous affair, the garden teeming with many relations and friends from near and far came to the homestead. Neighbours had been preparing food in their own kitchens to help out and as they all danced and sang, the daytime sunshine finally settled into a star lit night. A true romantic night and one that was to be remembered for many many years to come.

After a week away on their honeymoon Collette and William returned to the vineyard and were soon settling back into their own roles around the homestead. One evening as they lay close, Collette breathed slowly and turned her face towards the face which she had so grown to love, she whispered “what would you say to you becoming a papa?”

“Collette, my darling, that is something which I never thought that I would be. But please tell me, how long have you known?” “Only since this morning after I had been to see doctor Renee. He confirmed what I had known since the day we had made love. You

Each of them cared for the other. 10 Time went by quickly.” Collette's arms wrapped about his torso and he felt himself giving all of his strength to her and in feeling this she knew that he would never let her down. The other children at the school sometimes taunted them for being so close. he knew that he could leave it all to his son Maurice and to his son in law William. they remained brother and sister. as were the many men and women in the employ around the vineyard. The two children could not be separated. There was a protectiveness about them that couldn't seen in any other children. Both of whom were trusted. But at 72years of age. Over the channel in England. The wines were now being sold far and wide. During their growing up and into their teens. always wanting to be near. but more than that they were friends. a boy was born. but to their true friends there was nothing. Promise me that you will try to protect us from any further ugliness. It was then my love that our child to be was conceived. Uncle Gerard had given up his work due to ill health. When one child was ill.remember the day that we went for our walk along the stream and the scent of the harvesting cornfields was in the air. Soon their first child. wine was . we settled down and you made love to me. the other never strayed far away. He was followed soon after by a delightful girl child. The dreaded arthritis which crippled his hands had made his job too difficult for him. A child who will only know of love and happiness and nothing of the sorrows of our own young lives.

when Collette grasped at William's hand. Holding onto him he felt her slowly descend towards to the floor. Although they spent most of their time at the vineyard. All was bought. The towns which were once poor. but as the air began filling up with more aeroplanes. He knew that she was slowly ebbing away from him. there followed a voice as someone shouted for an ambulance to be called. . From the delicate laces made by the local elders. William could feel the slackening of the hold that Collette still had on his hand. they could see and feel the vast difference from their own young beginnings. especially as travel was now within the easy reach of many people. to the mouth watering chocolates and the aromatic blends of coffee. Peoples tastes had changed. Now was the time for the young. something that had been withheld from so many for so long. Her breathing slowed right down. from the usual beer which was drunk in the bars. their local wines were bought up by the eager buyers of such fine wines. As they were just having an early evening meal at a restaurant that they had visited on several occasions. Soon their own busy main town of Reims was also taken over by the many foreigners taking in the delights of the grand cathedral and the splendid tastes of the champagne. Holidays for some had been a week at their nearest seaside town.now been drunk more now. As William and Collette went about their own shopping. Riches were to be made everywhere. Danger had passed by these youngsters and with it came another time of love. were now filling up with younger people with money which they wanted to spend. many countries could be visited. then there was no more. He followed her down to where she had come to rest and as the waiters came quickly over. it was on one of the days off that they had gone into town that William sensed a danger nearby. A pain as sudden as anything shot through her chest.

His sight also took a drastic fall. Nearly totally blind now. he was advised that it would be best for him to have a dog. Even on a warm day he felt a coldness. Sailing over the oceans to romantic places. that now there was a void. Theirs had been such a close relationship. They had so many more things that they wanted to do. The warmth of the fire kept the ever present chill away from him. But they were not very far away from them. Too young to be taken away from him. But this was to be no longer a dream come true for them. But she was no longer here and he did need someone. but they had come to pay their respects to a women who had made so many smile with her own happy love of life. The sea breezes to be blown around their faces. which had continued from the day that William and Collette had arrived at vineyard.She was only 56 years old. as he pondered over what he would do alone as this was the first time. Hardly moving away from the house. since he had arrived on this land. Their two children were now grown up and had families of their own. Collette had been his eyes. It had only been the weekend before that there had been talk of them taking a cruise. In easy reach for the weekend lunches. 11 It was a very bleak time for William. staying in the kitchen most of the time. Collette's funeral was filled with all the people who new and loved her. Some people were just mere acquantancies. . This was something that he had never given a thought to. He took her death very badly.

Now he called in at least once a week. Monsieur Rocher at the Cafe Rocher. “Well my pet. Guarding as well as guiding William. she first took him around the fields which had once been the only place that he had walked without any guidance. came to be his best friend. Pushing him from his usual seat beside the kitchen fire. Her tail wagged as she saw the brown paper bag being handed to her new master. Next came the short trips to the local market. Sitting by his side was Sheba. he knew that he would be safe with her. I think that I am going to do a little investigating. How would you fancy a trip over the English channel to my old home town? I think that I will take this tapping of your tail as a yes. her dish of mutton from Monsieur Rocher by her other side.Claudia his daughter. Once home he made himself a small pot of tea to go with the fresh bread and cheese which he had decided to have. One evening he sat listening to a programme about British seaside resorts. OK. I wonder what she is doing now and if she had remained in Cromer for all these years. Nothing against you. She soon took charge in the house. His thoughts turned to the delightful town of Cromer where he had met his first love Annie. I think that I am going to have to involve my dear daughter Claudia in this. she waited patiently for William to start eating his own afternoon treat. Tomorrow will be early . often had small titbits for Sheba. “Well Sheba. Friends called out to him and once again he felt the closeness of his early years here. A young labrador dog the colour of white chocolate. she kept as close by as she could. shall we be off home to see what tempting treat there is in here for you?” By the wagging of her body against his leg he knew that Sheba understood him. but she will have to start me off in the right place to try and track down the people who I knew many years ago. took it upon herself to find her dear papa the guide dog. But if there was a stranger about.

“After all these years. that it took me a very long time to adjust to my disablement. I know that I am treading on very thin ice. which set my mind wondering of you and of course of Annie. with the help of his daughter. William found Annie. I was taken care of by some of the people from a resistance group. His next thought was to be a bit of a chicken and to seek out her friend Freda and to see what sort of approach he could make there.enough to start. Someone who you most probably took to have been killed during the attacks on the coast. I married the young woman who had taken care of me from the very beginning. this may come as somewhat of a shock to you. You may think that I took the cowards way out of not returning back to my own country. Freda had also remained in the resort of Cromer and so he felt more at ease in contacting her first. But once he knew where she was he started to get quite anxious as to how to go about meeting her. Sitting down that evening. It has now been some years since my wife died and I took to listening to a programme about Cromer. I eventually became one of the family. Her name was Collette. working out in their vineyard. My own daughter has done most of the hard work for me . as to how I can ever get in contact with Annie. which I have been left with as a result of being shot during battle. Even later I became more of their family. I am a little ashamed to say. William painstaking dictated into his recorder a letter to Freda. especially in asking you first. Over the next couple of years. to receive a letter from me.” And so the tracing back to his old roots began.

William was not too sure as to whether he wanted to know what had been written. I can also say that I am afraid of being left totally alone. but feel as I do. please tell me first. if there is a slightest chance of Annie wanting to know about me.in tracing you both. He left nothing out. I have many letters for you today. Of times when we were happy. I would not blame you for telling me so. telling Freda of his many years here and of his marriage and children. Like all of us. You have even got a letter from England. I am getting older and like a young child. Once he had finished. Two whole months passed by from his letter being posted to England. may I ask of you a huge favour? This letter is one that I have been hoping to receive. . Please dear God. he heard a familiar voice call out to him. that William often had him read his letters to him when he knew that Claudia would not be around for some days. But on the other hand. “Pasqual. my friend.” William added more to his letter. I am not too sure as to how I will have been received. Today however. or would he be given a chance to be let back in. “Bonjour William. Of its contents. You know absolutely nothing about me and where I have been. he felt that a whole weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Would he have been told to stay far away.” Pasqual was a very good friend to him. I know a great deal about what has taken place during these many many years. let them not take pity on me. As he sat close by the the fire one late morning. as he had already been doing for all these years. If you think that I am wasting my time in writing. a longing for the good days.

. Hurt myself with a slice of lettuce. Perhaps you would like to have a meal with me and later read the contents of the letter to me?” William waited for a reply. He would accept the criticism. You silly dog you. Sheba followed him from table top to cupboards. dogging his side every time he moved. Sometimes he thought that sweeping brushes were something that were not necessary in his house. as Sheba swept away any unwanted dirt. I shall even bring along some of my own wine for a change.Tonight I would enjoy your company.” 12 During the afternoon William kept his mind busy by preparing a meal for the two of them. I shall be here about 6 o'clock. You could hear the happy greeting in the wagging of her tail. What do you think that I am going to do.” All this was said in a happy tone though. William had made up his mind that whatever was written upon the pages inside the envelope and there were many pages within he could tell by the thickness of the envelope. “Of course I will come. au revoir for now. He was the one who had not returned to England. Even once having her paw stood on. So my friend. so therefore he was the one who was in the wrong. “That was your own fault. Sweeping from side to side on the kitchen floor. Sheba was the first to hear the sound of the car engine approaching the house along the dirt track which ran up from the main road.

took me a long while to adjust to. I would not wish to make you unhappy. In there. as during the day it had been handled quite a lot.” William handed over the letter. Between them both they soon had their meal laid out. with Sheba sitting alongside of them. He began. you have not made me unhappy. Its unknown contents squeezed as if by doing so they could reveal what had been written upon the pages. Ah mon dieu. You should get married again you know.William had his front door open and greeted Pasqual as soon as he stepped out of his car. Please accept my apologies. “You have always been able to serve a good meal William. Its envelope was quite creased. I have said something wrong I can see by the expression on your face.” “No. “I will go and set up the table at the back”. But I think that it is time for you to read to me the letter which you brought to me today. “My dear William. “What a warm and pleasant evening to have our dinner outside” said Pasqual. Your letter and all that it has told me. Pasqual settled down and placed his spectacles on his nose and without any further hesitation he opened up the envelope. My reply to you has taken me some time to set down onto paper. there could be some harsh words which I have already resigned myself to hearing. After you had been listed as missing in .

even though Annie came to my wedding. Annie changed.” The letter was signed. she left early. But they did have a good life together. they adopted and made sure that fun and laughter was given in plenty to the children. She had also sent him a few photographs. She cut herself off from me. we should be able to find you a suitable place to stay at. when Annie and I became friends again. She was the one who had to suffer. Between Claudia and me. Although not being able to have children herself. Now tonight as he recalled everything that he had found out about Annie's life. he took himself and Sheba off to Cromer. Freda had given William hope in her letter to him. “Maybe you should go over to this place called Cromer. he waited with baited breath to hear what she now felt. . as you already know.action. She became a loner. Freda”. Maybe a vacation would be good for you. As planned I did get married. Before then. Most of what I will tell you. It was if some of what was happening was her fault and she didn't want to inflict any pain to anyone else. Pasqual did his best to describe these to him. Annie did meet a man. I can only tell of what was gossip told to people and passed around the town. Our own friendship suffered greatly.” And so after several more letters had exchanged between Freda and William. He was at times too understanding with her. never wanting to meet or be friends with anyone. will be of my later years. “with fondest wishes. In time however.

I see your face and although your eyes do not see.” In saying these last words. with whatever time that both of us have left. Their embrace was one of love. they show a remorse and of hurt that only you yourself can feel. My love for you has never gone away. But look to a future together. My emotions are ranging from the incredibility of what you have told me. It was only put to one side waiting for the day that you would return. but then shied away and took yet another route altogether and approached Freda. Now. I cannot tell you how I feel.“To say that all of this has come as something of a shock to me. That you have even thought of contacting me. But on the other hand. let us not waste it with the past. to one of distaste. Annie felt the familiar memory of his strong arms around her. The End . A love that was no longer lost. is putting is very mildly indeed. This is again somewhat distasteful. Oh William.

.

A New Life Begins By Greta Ann Hughes .

She was woken up in the early hours of the morning and at first she thought that the noise . after all that is why he had married her in the first place. But on waking he would be in such a fearful mood.A New Life Begins It had been a very bleak Christmas. before she could get herself off to bed. Someone to keep the house clean and have all his clothes washed and ironed and to have food on the table. which she had washed earlier in the day and making sure that these were all put away tidily. Mary was toiling through the dirty washing. it had fallen yet again upon Mary to try and do her best in making this time of the year as festive as possible. More often than not it was her mother who suffered the outbursts of rage. that woe betide anyone who got in his way. She was so tired. What with Mary’s father just being made redundant from the steel works and her mother not being well. And so on the eve of the new year of 1956. She was the one who should have been looking after him. Her father had taken to going straight to the local pub as soon as they opened and on most days he would be brought home by one of his drinking friends. He would bellow for his evening meal and if this was not ready she would feel the weight of his hand on the back of her head. With no friends that she could call upon. Mary carried on as if it was like any other day. Then he would sleep and snore the rest of the day by. Her parents had decided that they would go out and celebrate the New Year and so she had been left alone for the evening. trying to get the clothes dried.

” “Please do not upset yourself so. Mary was taken to the nearest hospital and the next morning when she woke she was very frightened. which was starting to creep under her door. I will get in touch with the authorities and we will see what they can do for you. Then she smelt the acrid smoke.” and he patted her hand gently and left her to make his call.of the people shouting outside. The firemen had set up a ladder. The doctor soon arrived and told her as gently as possible that her parents had not survived and that he was sorry that he had to give her this sad news. Opening it a little way and peeping out. so as she pushed the window upwards. “But what will I do now. He and his wife and not been able to have children and from what the doctor had heard about Mary and her upbringing. The authorities said that as she was almost of an age where she could start work and that . they were there to guide her out and down to safety. She had no idea of what had happened to her parents and was so worried that she had somehow caused the fire. she was forced back inside as the smoke rushed towards her. hardly anything to her and he felt a tug at his heart. sobbed Mary. even though she was very afraid. She was such a sad little thing. Hurriedly she closed the door and pushed her pillows against the bottom of the door and going to her window she looked down. I have no other family and nowhere to go. There below her were her neighbours and men from the fire brigade. she did so. Gesturing for her to open her window and climb out. Jumping out of her bed and putting on her slippers and housecoat she dashed to the bedroom door. he wanted nothing more than to protect and care for her. were revellers on their way home from parties at friends houses or the local pubs.

" Mary so unaccustomed to having any one care about her cried. you are such a generous man and your wife must be like an angel. I will make up the spare room straight away for her. you will not be coming to our home to do these things. They couldn't afford to show too much emotion.” Mary said. The other children at my school tease me and call me names. wash and iron and anything else that needs doing” “My dear girl. finish off your schooling. Outside of doing my chores at home. Dorothy said yes straight away. so that when you leave school you will be able to get the job that you want. I have never had a childhood like other children have. The authorities were very overworked and one case was just like the previous one. he rang his wife Dorothy. Have you thought about the type of work you would like to do and don’t tell me cleaning house. .” “You must tell her that I can clean and cook. otherwise if they did they wouldn't be able to do their jobs Dr. Then it would be up to her to make her own arrangements of finding a job and a place to live of her own. “how can I let a poor thing like that go into a home after what she has been through. “I have not really thought about my career. I rarely have time for myself. to see if she would be prepared to let him bring Mary home with him.” he said teasingly. You must rest and when you are well. so I don’t even have a friend as such to call upon.she would most probably be put into a children’s home. Shaw was aghast at this news and as soon as he could. “how will I repay you.

“Of course you will feel sad. It would be a very quiet service and committal as there had been very little money left by her parents. you are young and have a full life ahead of you” Dorothy said in a quiet tone. Dr Shaw and his wife Dorothy made preparations to the spare bedroom so as to make Mary feel welcome. Dorothy hummed away to a tune as she put the new prettily embroidered bed cover on. The view from this room overlooked the park. “Why should I feel so bad that they died and I survived.” As they prepared to go. Dorothy thought. as it might look as though they were showing off how well they seemed to be. Mary took a last look back and said in a quiet voice. but you must remember the good times which you had and I am sure that there must have been some. Why is .She looked so forlorn that Dr Shaw was worried what her experience so far in life would have on her. he had prime spot in front of the fire. out nearly all the time and when he wasn’t. which matched the bright floral curtains. it was my father who had the most enjoyment. Mary would surely love being in here. They didn’t want to overdo it. All the arrangements had been made for Mary to leave the hospital and for the burial of her parents.” “Do not let yourself feel like this Mary. “Mother never seemed to have many happy times. On the day of the funeral Mary held on to Dorothy’s hand and as their coffins were lowered down she cried.

which had not as yet been eaten by the birds. She felt a little like a character in a Charles Dickens novel. I do hope that you will . Mary stood looking about her in amazement. the poor relative. She had never had a garden at her old house and was wondering what it would be like in the summer. the vivid green of the leaves stood out dotted with red and white berries. up a path which on one side had a beautifully mown lawn. It would be the first time that Mary had been there and she felt a little nervous and wondered what they would expect of her. But there was little love in our house. which currently held all the garden chairs in store. one which looked like a bowling green. Winter shrubs edged round to the back garden. lines going straight one way and then the other. Even though this had not been mowed since late autumn. it still looked as fresh. They made their way through the front gate. She led Mary away and all three of them made their way back to the doctor’s house.it that the good things in life are not spread evenly out amongst people? Even in the poorest families you can find that there is lots of love amongst them. until the warmer weather arrived. when it would be full of colour and scents from the flowers and bees buzzing hungrily about. that Dorothy was near to tears.” This was said in such a sad tone. taking in the cleanliness and the bright colours that the houses were painted. The back garden had a small summerhouse at the far end. As they approached the house Mary looked about at her new surroundings. “Come along inside Mary and I will show you to your new room.

What hadn’t been burnt. which hung around the kitchen. that no matter how much it had been washed and cleaned the smell would not leave it.like it”. do not be afraid to touch or hold anything you like. Mary made her way downstairs and found Dorothy and the doctor sitting at the kitchen table. she looked around her at the pretty china and beautiful paintings that were in the hall and stairways. “I don’t know how I can ever thank you. She was ushered into her room and Dorothy said gently “everything here is for you to use.” It only took Mary a few moments to put away the few things that had survived the fire at her old house. Lunch had been laid out on the table and the aroma. made her realise just how hungry she felt. You have already brought us joy in coming to stay with us. come on downstairs and we can have lunch and then we will have a chance to talk with you.” “Oh Mary it is us who should thank you. At a later date we can buy you some ornaments or anything that you want. But you can be sure that I will never be any trouble to you. You will hardly even know that I am here. As they went up the stairs towards Mary’s new room. had been badly damaged by the smell of the smoke. “When you have looked about your room.” Mary looked about her and then she ran into the arms of Dorothy.” Dorothy said in a sincere tone. She looked at the view and thought that she would have wonderful dreams from now on. and Dorothy led the way. As she took the empty seat where the .

” “Well now let’s try and get some answers for you. well since then and seeing how I have been treated. I like to keep busy in the kitchen and after Tom has finished his shifts at the hospital. First of all the school. except of course if you get flu or something. after all I am now your guardian and not your doctor. so you must not feel afraid. It is a very nice school and the children are all local to here. “ She sat back and carried on by saying. “What will the people at the new school think of me. “this taste so good. Dorothy and I will go with you on Monday to see the head teacher and to get you settled in. what sort of qualifications will I need for something like this and where would I be able to get training on it. The thing is. something which you may have been wondering about. the teachers . your school. “You asked what sort of career had I thought about. What sort of uniform do they have? How will I buy it? It seems such a lot of trouble for so little time that I will be there. We have been to the local school just down the road and they are prepared to let you carry on your education there. Now do you have any questions to ask us?” Mary sat on the edge of her seat and with a frown crossing her face she asked. did you make it Dorothy?” “Yes I did. “From now on I would like you to call me Tom. I like him to have a good cooked meal.” After lunch they went into the cosy lounge where they could be more comfortable to have their talk about Mary’s future. As she took a forkful of the savoury steak pie she said.table had been set for her. she clasped her hands together and said a silent prayer of thanks for everything. which seemed to be coming her way. I think I would like to try and look after those who are in need themselves. Next.

have been told that you were in involved in a fire at your home and that we are now your guardians. She said good-bye to the doctor and to Dorothy and then led Mary to her first class. The head teacher Miss Sparrow was very impressed by Mary’s turnout and the way she spoke. Mary had her new uniform on and completed her dress by wearing new socks.” And so the first turning in Mary’s new life began. well I think that on Monday when we go to see the head teacher this is something that you can ask her about. until you reach the age of 21. she would hopefully have all the answers for her then. Normally she would have been to the morning assembly and then on to the first lesson. so that should take care of those questions for you. As to the choice of career. shoes and coat. Next the uniform. So now that we have got all that out of the way. but just for today she had been let off this. I am sure that this could be a real treat for us all. other than that you are a lovely girl with a lovely manner and you shouldn’t have any problems at all there. She felt like a million dollars. On the Monday morning they all arrived at the school early. what do you both say about going to see a movie tonight. they do have one and Dorothy will be taking you shopping tomorrow to get you anything that you might need. On the question of her career she said that during the day that she would look into this and if Mary would call in at the office when her last lesson was finished. What they will think of you I cannot say. I am quite sure that she will be able to point you in the right direction. Her first class was English and after being introduced to the teacher and to her fellow .

Also I won’t feel as dependant on Dorothy . but perhaps that had something to do with all the books she had read in the past. because that will then give me some money with which to buy books and anything else that I may need. I think that you are probably right in suggesting that I get a job. leaving the day for you to find a job in which to carry you over until you have passed all the examinations needed. I must also say that the teachers you have seen today have been very pleased with your work. The rest of the day went by in a flash and Mary made her way to Miss Sparrow’s office. “Hello Mary. you will either be able to sign up for a day course at the local college or you could do the course at night. you may not feel as though you are relying on anyone. she settled down at her desk to begin her lesson. but if you find yourself a job in the meantime. you may want to do this at night school. just give me a moment please. so let me see now. other than the housework she had to get done. I hope that you will enjoy your time here and in time make new friends. as I do know a little of your situation. she had read a great deal and could always be found at the library. I must also stress to you that you must take this up with your guardians and let them help you to make your decision. As the course goes on for 3 years. As you are now fifteen and will be finishing in just a few months time. She knocked and heard a voice saying enter. You have good marks in both English and mathematics. which are a must if you want to follow the courses that you need to take. She soon found that she seemed more advanced.students.” Mary felt tears come to her eyes but blinked them back quickly and said. Ok. “ I must thank you for all the trouble you have gone to for me today. I have all the information for you. With very little else to do. Please do not think that I am being presumptuous about this.

She trod very quietly to the kitchen doorway and listened to the soothing voice that was singing and as Dorothy turned and saw her standing there she stopped and gave her a big smile. but instead did a gentle jog. Mary felt so happy that she felt like skipping her way home. They have both been so good to me. Oh I feel so happy. she had already been busy in going for interviews and finally found employment with a local company. I will be able to earn my keep and learn at the same time. Thank you again and I am looking forwards to my next few months here. She was to assist in the offices and was looking forward to starting her job. She made friends with the girls in her classes and was a credit to the school. I have decided that I will do the course at night school. she enrolled herself in at the college and was given the times for when to attend and what lessons they were to be. which dealt in fine silk fabrics. Everyone is so nice and all the lessons seemed to go by so quickly.and Tom. Then I went to see Miss Sparrow and she told me about what course and the time that this would take. This was something that was most unusual for her. Mary took advantage of having a few days just lazing about. as her days had always been so full in the past. as she achieved top marks in all her subjects. it was such a treat to find young people who had respect for others Miss Sparrow thought. so that I can earn a wage during the day. She let herself in with the shiny new key that had been cut for her and from the kitchen she could hear Dorothy singing a tune.” This was said very sincerely. She went . Will you let me make you both a special meal on Saturday?” And so Mary carried on for the next few of months with her studies. When it came time for her to leave the school. So during the next week before she was to start her new job. “Have you had a good day Mary:” “Oh it was really truly good.

which Tom had bought for her. she calculated that there could be a small amount. giving some money for her keep and all the books and papers she would need for college. packed with all her books and papers. that at times she felt that she would never be able to repay them. As the night school class was going to be starting soon after her finishing time at work. She had managed to buy a couple of new blouses and was able to adapt part of her school uniform for everyday wear. which was now in full bloom. as she wanted to make a good impression on her first day. Mary had been so used to a room where there was either no talking at all. The job which she would be starting paid a reasonable wage and working things out. This was very exciting for Mary.for long walks and thought a lot about what the future could hold for her. People chattered away constantly. which she could save. Her skin had a youthful glow to it and she prided herself in the way her new cloths fitted her. everything that was new held a special meaning for her. she took along with her the new briefcase. it was a wonder how much work that they could accomplish. and the scents from the flowers filled the air around her. She was no longer lonely and her once thin gaunt figure had started to fill out. because as she had had so little in her past. She also sat in the garden. which she needed. Dorothy and Tom had done and given her so much. Her day passed by quite quickly and she was amazed at how much noisier a place of work can be. After her day was over she went straight to college where she met up with all the students . or if there was. it was one person at a time. During this time of thinking she also thought of how she had changed. On Monday morning she woke bright and early.

You have brought a great deal of joy into our home and we wouldn’t want it any other way. “I don’t think that I have the ability to complete this course. but they will. She was taking in so much new information that she thought that she had taken on too much. but in the end they all found their way about.who were waiting in the reception to be given their new term programme schedules. “I am so grateful for all you have done for me. But always remember that we are here for you and if either of us can help you.” Dorothy patted Mary’s hand and said “My dear you are no trouble whatsoever. After a few weeks at night school Mary felt as though her head was about to burst. Tom . The majority of those present were new to the college and like her. so you must not think like that.” And so with these words of comfort they settled down for a quiet evening together. they all seemed to be going from desk to desk to find where their classes should be.” The soothing way that Dorothy had. calmed the fears which Mary was having. She said to Dorothy one evening after they had eaten. you only have to ask. everyone is so much brighter than I am. always bleating about one thing or another. You must think that I am complete fool. It was total confusion. I am sure that I am falling behind and will never pass the exams.” Mary was near to tears but Dorothy said to her soothingly “Don’t upset yourself like this. just take one day at a time and you will get there in the end. These are new avenues which you are going down. and there are going to be times when this will be difficult. You probably don’t think that things will slot in to place.

they both felt a togetherness with each other and giving one another hugs they went to their own rooms. she was able to practice her nursing skills on him. She was so used to Tom working the different hours that he did. After that he usually had a nap later on in the afternoon. Tom had a . but on occasion she would wander about the house and listen for all sorts of strange noises. After another couple of weeks of pampering. After breakfast he started to get up and sit downstairs and to join Dorothy and Mary for lunch. Dorothy fretted about the house. The evening before going back to the hospital. Tom was fully recovered and said that he felt able to go back to work. As Mary carried on with her exams.was working late at the hospital and as for Dorothy she now had a reassurance of being safe with someone else in the house. “How on earth do you think that you will ever recover if you are not going to rest?” With that he would be led upstairs and neatly tucked in for the night. And so the night passed by all too quickly and as they said their goodnights. It had taken away the lonely moments that seemed to creep up on a person at the oddest of times. She also made sure that he had plenty of fluids on hand. This was the first time in all their married life that Tom was ill. Plumping his pillows up and taking his temperature. which got hold of many of the staff there. Once this was over. Soon Tom started to feel much better. Mary with hands on hips. For Mary. So unlike Tom. which most times she had made up in her own mind. would order him back to bed. it was during the Christmas break that Tom came down with influenza. but then managed to join them again for dinner. Working in a hospital he somehow always managed to get away with any of the flu bugs. wringing her hands and crying. he took to his bed and remained there for two weeks.

“Yes. Also . Mary started to think about the previous new year and what she had achieved since then. I want more time to spend at home with you and to tend to the gardens in the summertime. The next couple of years flew by for Mary and with all the exams taken. Oh Tom will you be able to put me in touch with the right departments. for Mary to thank them both for everything. why don’t we all meet tonight and go for a celebratory meal. This influenza really shook me up and now that I am not the young man that I used to be. It was Mary who suggested that they have a small party. for without them she wouldn’t be where she was today. all that was left now was to wait for her results to come through. each morning the post was scanned thoroughly before Mary set off for work.talk with Dorothy and Mary. “I think that I will say that I am going back on short time. she opened this with shaking fingers and read the page through. yes. I do so hope that my dreams of caring for people in need will not be dashed. I know I always ask you. I have passed with full grades. I can now start to look for a new job within the health service. She had been such a breath of fresh air in their household. let me say congratulations and if Dorothy is agreeable. One. Finally the morning came when the result letter arrived. He and Dorothy would do anything for her.” Mary gave him that little girl look which always made him smile. A double celebration. that Tom was going to be spending more time at home and two. It was a very tense few weeks. yes. “Well first of all young lady. she cried.” And so as the new year approached.

She was now well on her way in her chosen career and with more studying on her own part and the love from her guardians. wiping away the tears of happiness for Mary.” Mary thanked them both with big hugs and kisses and then wiped away her own tears of joy.” Dorothy was still sitting at the kitchen table. who she now considered to be her adoptive parents. The End . you needn’t ask as you well know I will do my utmost to help you and that goes for Dorothy too.my dear one. because I would like to meet Mary and we could do a little late shopping at the new boutique that has opened and it will be my treat for that special dress that you have been looking at. “You are a clever girl and you must always remember that we are here for you whenever you need us. As for tonight let it be a late meal. she could see the shining light at the end of the dark tunnel which had taken her so many years to pass through. a handkerchief dabbing at her eyes.

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There's Something In The Hedgerow By Greta Ann Hughes .

A long awaited day. especially as their neighbours had become their close friends. After their last packed box had left the apartment to go onto the removal van. I hope he is not going to be like this all the way. They had bought the old country house several years earlier and had since then been spending only their holidays there. was the one from Manchester down to Dover.” Richard ranted. Each time they left was harder than the first. Penny thought. we could be over in no time at all. Handing in the keys at the reception desk. “Thank God that this will be the last time that we have to do this long haul to Dover” said Richard.There’s Something In The Hedgerow Richard and Penny were finally on their way to retire to their home in Italy. Why couldn’t they have made the tunnel so that you could just drive through it. they said their good-byes and made their way to their car for the long drive to Italy. “If it wasn’t for that stupid channel crossing. Richard and Penny took a last look around their rented apartment to make sure nothing had been forgotten. Tiring as the journey was. the longest and the most weariest. Today he should be the .

“I want to have a few years of enjoyment before I disappear. I’m carrying straight on” said Richard. but they knew enough. “Bloody hell. On the second page was a small news item. went like a dream.” he carried on. Small things which had been caught on the many shrubs which grew along the roadside. No delays and the traffic kept on moving. some of these were diabolical. How on earth anyone could get a turd to balance on the edge of a toilet seat. “What the devil could have got them. Apart from the . well they had to be a magician. Although there was still a language barrier. The missing people had all been travelling along the autostrada towards the exit at Pedaso. they bought a daily paper. If you do. After travelling for almost two days non-stop. Which just so happened to be their turn off point. were small items of jewellery or pieces of clothing. because they didn't know a lot of Italian. On the last stop to fill up with petrol. It’s always so quite down this way. The journey down to Dover. except for short breaks for snacks and the use of the toilets and oh my goodness. Humph – some happy man. The only items. I hope you don’t want to stop for anything. tough. which the police had been able to find so far. along with the ferry crossing to Calais.happiest man. which told of several people who had gone missing over the last couple of months.

no visitors about. “Hope I haven’t opened my big trap too soon” she added. Not just for a week or so. well we have clear skies. If we see clouds bubbling up. have you noticed anything? No. Hey. as this road always seemed narrower on the first day.” Penny ventured to say. Big family gatherings for lunch on a Sunday was something which still happened here. no sign of clouds for a change. “Doesn’t it feel good that we will now be staying here. All was quiet.idiotic driver who thinks he can beep you out of the way” said Penny. we will know that the rain will follow soon after. This has got to be a good omen. they rounded the bend and saw their home.” Richard answered back. The last leg of the journey passed by quickly. Taking the last narrow road slowly. a slight shiver ran down Penny’s spine. Most unusual. but always. They just craned their necks like all the tourists do. As it was a Sunday there was still a lot of movement on the road. But this did give them a chance to check out their house before going in and . they scanned the hedging along the road for any signs. “We’ll soon see. when we drop down the last lane and catch sight of our house. As they neared the turn off for Pedaso. All the flowers were in full bloom. as many people went about visiting their relations. of what they couldn’t say. But just as they passed by. as they drove by all the houses leading up to Tavernelle.

before they could start on repainting the whole house. plus all the extra money that it would cost. Although on the first evening there was a little rain. They had to clear out of the old furniture. far too much work would be involved. it had transformed itself into a nice storage area. In the end it was decided that the old stables would be cleaned out and that they would use that space. for where could everything that they wanted to keep go. But no. A mammoth task. Richard and Penny started work on the main house. . Having accomplished this. So after brushing and scraping all of the walls.” Penny said. and a coat of white emulsion. Richard then went and opened up the garage and turned on the water. “Perhaps we might get a little beach time in before starting work when the removal van has been. The weather stayed glorious all day long. One room at a time. When they first bought the house and they had looked at the stables. “Oh I do feel excited. they had the idea that this could have been made into a small bedsit. All they had to do now was move a little more of the furniture and wait for a couple of more days for the rest of their belongings to arrive. like a kid with a new toy. Maybe they could have rented the main house our for bed and breakfast and they would have slept in the stables. So far so good. The next few weeks were hectic ones. What bombshell was there lurking for them. After a quick tour around each of the rooms. All was well in there as well.turning on the lights.” Indeed they did get to the beach. But all too soon they had finished it all off.

But for now they said that they had . No way were we going to pay for the hire of the van. then yes. well just to look at them made up your mind straightaway.” he added. But with Richard and Penny it was more like Laurel and Hardy. So 24hours later and the furniture van finally arrived with its first load.” Richard fumed. A wasted day. Phone call after phone call and telling the removal men that they were trying to drive into the hamlet from the wrong direction and that if they did drive through the right way. or they can stick it up their fat backsides. “Bloody well quick enough to take your money and the amount that this has cost us. Meeting the driver and his mate for the first time. All that remained now was to put everything in place. or there would be trouble. How easy that sounded.Furniture day arrived and the first of their problems began. I would have dumped it all back in Manchester and made do with what we had here already. hanging around doing nothing but argue. “They had bloody well get our stuff to us tomorrow. In the end after lots of arguing. their van would be able to get to us. Penny couldn’t help herself. the men said that they would have to hire a smaller van and then bring our furniture to us in several trips. Penny told the manager. If I had known there would have been this much farting about. After four trips in the hire van they finally got it all unloaded. Whichever end of a piece of furniture Richard said lift. Just make sure that they get everything to us tomorrow. Neither of them seemed to have a brain between them. especially when Richard’s face remained so straight. Penny always got hold of the wrong one. Lots of sniggers and with shoulders shuddering in laughter.

Richard had learnt a great deal over the last few years of owning their own old farmhouse. along with days of going to the shopping centre.done enough for one day. was something else. One of the best things that they loved to do together was shop. Their so called “beautiful bathroom”. “I don’t think I could do anymore. “Thank heavens for that” Penny groaned. Damned bathroom. Helping out with any repairs on houses. Don’t . From replacing the roof tiles. I’m completely soaked.” Over their cups of coffee they discussed what they were going to do next. Sounds easy but it wasn't. My whole body aches from bending. Life settled down to their own daily routines. Nearly all the pipes had had to be replaced from either having blown off the walls. me I’m just a weakling. big and strong. describe in the sales blurb. They always found some bargain to pick up. Never had they gone home empty handed. or the rubber lining perishing. fitting glass into windows and most of all plumbing. “Cup of coffee sounds good to me” Richard smirked. all the work was done.” She carried on. lifting and shoving. As usual top of the list was the beach. Tomorrow bright and early they would make a fresh start. anything from helping with the planting or picking of vegetables. lets drink it outside and have a well earned rest. It’s OK for you. Richard helped out with doing local odd jobs. All that could be heard one night was “What the hell has happened now. After working ceaselessly for the next few days. “OK then. you’re a man.

She knew that she would be able to ask one of her friends to put them in their shop. Her car had run out of petrol. the situation eased and Richard calmed down and managed to do the repair without any more bouts of blasphemy. this in now the seventh . Richard had been in to town to pick up a few more tools and had brought back with him the daily paper. Penny ran up and down the stairs getting cloths to mop up with and tools for him to fix the burst. Richard read on. it says here. typical woman – Richard muttered. Richard started to read the paper. “Hey. After more snorts of laughter and that included Richard. well she could always try something else. and there was no other sign of her. Something which they hadn’t bothered with for several weeks. As he ranted on. With more time on Penny’s hands.just stand there – do something” Richard bellowed. latest victim is a young lady. well it seems that another one has gone missing. who had recently passed her driving test and had decided to go for a short drive. All the while she tried to keep a straight face. she decided that she would try and start up her own collection of knitted baby clothes and toys. remember the story which we read weeks ago about the people who had gone missing near Pedaso. but in the end she couldn’t. getting more purple in the face. As they sat outside. If they didn’t sell. to see how well they sold. enjoying the peace and quiet and drinking their coffees. Lets see.

Later on that night when they went to bed. you can’t imagine anything like that happening around here.” continued Penny. but being . making sucking noises and hanging out his tongue. you’re making me squirm. this is like something you read about in a Stephen King novel.” Penny remarked. We think it is ideal living in such a quiet place. “I wonder what the families of the missing people are going through. Stop slobbering you beast.” Richard murmured as he nuzzled against her neck. “Oh God.” Pushing him away Penny dried her neck and turned to face him again. as the saying goes.” “Bloody hell. Lying here with only the sounds of the night animals. “I’m the thing from the hedgerow and I am going to gobble you up – slurp slurp. I hope we never have to stop anywhere near there. It was Penny who first spoke. which so far had been found near to the site where these people had disappeared. As avid Stephen King readers. Later after they had made love. stop it.disappearance and the police and local authorities and volunteers were no further in their investigations in finding out what was going on. they both lay there awake. Anyone who thought that they may recognise any of the items or who may know of some reason for these disappearances. Richard clambered in beside her and started to creep across the bed sheet. anything ghoulish was right up their street. A full list had also been released in the newspaper of everything. “Gives me the heebie jeebies though.” “I know what you are saying. should ring a local number to give their information to.

night night” Penny said. All of them had been in cars. I’m sure this still goes on. Any way. which brought her back to getting the coffees poured. Other things like drinks or any sort of liquid were also mentioned as being gone. “wake up sleepy head. I’ll see you in the morning. his mouth as wide as a tunnel. Spot of sunning myself as I finish off the repair on the garage roof. Sitting up he looked out of the bedroom window. As we have read that most of the missing people are females. Morning came around very quickly. she pondered.” He stretched out and gave a long yawn. Penny carried the coffees upstairs. “Trust you to think of something like that. so quiet and tranquil.” Said Richard “Cheeky bugger. “with the racket you make in the kitchen. you never know if these people have been caught to be traded out. she thought.” “Don’t I know it.” he said. love you. Pushing back the bed sheets.so close to the sea. This was something which the newspapers had reported.” said Penny. Penny shrugged her shoulders as the percolator rasped out its last drop of water. “Oh great. But also her thoughts crept back to the missing hedgerow people. Opening up the shutters. a beautiful bright sunny morning. giving him a dig in the ribs. as no one walks along the autostrada. Oh what a beautiful place. no one can stay asleep. I’m going to try some shut eye. “Coffee has arrived. Get paid more for them. as you can get more work out of them as well. Who or what could have got them. unless they had broken down. just the kind of day I like.” Penny whispered as she gave Richard a nudge to wake him. she stood looking out over the hillside. Penny tiptoed downstairs to put the coffee on. Any chance of giving me a .

You don’t mind do you? Oh good. whistling as he went.” Penny ran back indoors and made the arrangements to see Louisa on Friday about midday. When Friday morning came. I told her that I didn’t think you would mind. I could go on Friday and be back later on Sunday. She has been a bit down of late. only a couple of hours drive away. “I’ll see. “Louisa was wondering if I could go and see her and perhaps stay for the weekend.” Richard kissed Penny on the cheek and gave her a quick pat on the bottom. Richard got ready to go off to help out at a neighbours field. I have sill got the shawl to finish for Rosa. Love you lots you know. I know that you will be out most of Friday and possibly out shooting on Saturday morning. since loosing her baby and was thinking to herself that she could do with a bit of company to cheer her up. but I will ring her back later. Tell her she must come and stay here one weekend. “Have a good time and give my love to Louisa. She locked the house up and with her overnight bag in her hand. Soon she was off down the road and with thoughts of what they . After finishing the call she went outside to tell Richard. who had a house down by the sea front. she went out to her car. Love to get together with Pino again. she needs it for Friday.” Richard gave that sweet smile of his. digging up the carrots.hand with some of the tiles.” Later on in the evening Penny received a call from her friend Louisa. “Well drive carefully now and don’t go speeding. Penny soon followed.” Richard ducked as a playful punched was aimed at him.

but something to make me laugh. Penny was hopeless at remembering plant names. All the hedges surrounding Louisa’s house were still in bloom. I have already prepared a meal and I thought we could just put our feet up and have a long chat. caught you napping in the midday sun have I. to see how your house looks now after all your work which you have done.” They hugged affectionately and Penny sat down under the sun umbrella. Next time I’m going to get a car with air conditioning. Hopefully we can then book a holiday and maybe get out to see you for a weekend. They have some wonderful paintings. I know how much you enjoy ice creams. she soon found that she was nearing the tolls to get on to the autostrada. but far too hot when they are closed. pure nonsense. but they had large purple flowers. and here I am supposed to be cheering you up. Moan. with a heady scent. When we return. Driving has been so bad in the car. How is Richard?” . Then maybe we could go to the ice cream bar. moan. Penny called out. Penny soon took the turn off to get to Louisa’s.could do for the afternoon. It is the biggest time of the year for him. With another half hours drive. Parking the car. Getting everything ready for the annual Fieri in Milan for next seasons hotel requirements. “Ciao Louisa. “It is so good to just sit in the shade. Well what have you got planned for us to do this afternoon?” Penny leaned back in her chair and took a long drink from the cool fresh orange juice which had just been handed to her. Is it far too noisy with the windows open. Louisa replied “I though that we could go the new store which has recently opened up nearby. their fragrance hung in the hot air. Pino has been away for two weeks now and still has another two weeks to go before he gets back.

You do know that he has taken up doing any sort of odd jobs for anyone. if only my baby had lived. doubled up when they finally came out of the cupboard.” Penny replied. Lightly moving the fine white gossamer curtains. what do you do with that and Richard replying. But keeping busy as well. I have not had any time to sit thinking about what could have been. At first they didn’t know what we were laughing at until we told them.“Oh he’s fine. You are still very young and I know that it is little consolation at this time. Loving every minute of his early retirement. they then set to in finishing the preparations for the evening meal together. It has been like having a breath of fresh air with you being here today. “No I didn’t. “I am only too glad that I have been able to take your mind off things for a little while. Thank you so much for today. . “I think that this has been the most enjoyable day that I have had for a long time. That was a great night. the lights all went out and all you could hear from Pino and Richard was.” After several hours of shopping Louisa drove them the short distance back to her home. It was something he always said that he wanted to do. I remember one night when you were staying with us.” Penny said. They do say that with time the pain does ease. But I can imagine him doing it though. Unpacking the car with all the gifts which they had bought. put it in the slot and screw it up tight. bugger me. A cool evening breeze blew through the open patio doors. but there will be other children that you and Pino will have one day. Louisa laid the table out for their meal. You and I were in fits of laughter. then they sat down and ate in silence for some time.” Louisa leaned forward and gently grasped Penny’s hand.

” She leaned over to Louisa and gave her a sisterly kiss on the cheek and bid her goodnight. and there are fresh rolls in the bread basket. I hope you had a good sleep. I hope you are looking forward to having a lazy day on the beach today. I went straight off for a change. She was looking forward to having a lazy day on the beach. which had continued all through the month of September. The sky is so clear and blue. The silence was finally broken by Penny who yawned long and loud. but the weather was never anything like it was back in England. But by the look on Louisa’s face.” Louisa said. sipping a cup of morning coffee. Please help yourself to coffee and juice. well past midnight. It must have been the wine which made me go to sleep so quickly. “I think it is well past my bedtime. The rest of the day and evening went by very quickly. . Now as October was nearing. Penny woke up and could hear the sea gently sending in its waves on to the beach. “Good morning to you. it is extremely late for me. I do love going to the beach and when I think of the days that I had to spend sitting at a reception desk all day long. “It is good to see you so cheerful. soaking up some of the sunshine. She dressed ready to go to the beach and made her way to the cosy kitchen where Louisa was already sat.They sat in comfortable silence for quite some time. I have always been one for going to bed early and just look at the time. Both of them thinking back to the times gone by.” Penny gave a sigh of relief. has also made me look forward to having a quick dip in the water as well. the cooler weather would be arriving. and listening to the waves when I woke.

for the time being anyway. she hadn’t realised how quickly she had reached the sign for Pedaso. Thinking of Richard. She tried turning the key in the ignition again. it did conjure up a funny vision. I hope that you can get out to see us soon. I just hope that Gino hasn’t been tempting him with the wine jug.” They both laughed at the thought of Richard being carried home. With Richard being well over six foot tall. We are going to have a go and make our own wine. You never know what he can get up to. Sunday morning came around and Penny made ready to take her leave to go back to Richard and her home.it showed that some of her anxieties had been laid to rest. “Please do not leave it too long before you get in touch. After lots of good-byes Penny set off for the journey back home. well all I can say is that there have been times when he has had to be carried back home. Penny was struck wondering of what was wrong with the car. carrying the large frame of Richard. It wasn’t getting overheated and the petrol level was two thirds full. Penny picked up her small suitcase and placed it in the boot and turning to Louisa she said. even for Sunday morning.” Penny added. But with Gino’s help. then another one. poor man has been left all on his own for the last couple of days. When they get together. The car gave a slight shudder. Glancing at the controls. it should be OK. She was still pondering over this. With thoughts of the painting which she had bought for Richard. perhaps you can come up for that. She filled the car up with petrol just before she got on to the autostrada. Managing to get the car on to the hard shoulder. “I have had a wonderful time. where it came to a standstill. the image of their two friends. when the car gave a final shudder and practically stopped in the lane that she was driving in. Goodness knows what it will turn out like. . The road was very quiet. The grapes will be ready for picking shortly. who were only small.

With rapid speed it quickly wrapped itself around her ankle. The strands far outnumbered her in strength. She gave out another squeal of surprise that such a thin looking thing could be so strong. Realising this. helping the first strand to pull her into the verge. Penny opened the car door and went round to the boot to get her handbag and to get her mobile phone. Managing to lift her head . It then dawned on her that these things were slowly draining the fluids from the car. when all of a sudden she caught a glimpse of something slithering up from the undergrowth along the verge. But she was too slow to get out of its way. and landing on her hands and knees. Still puzzled about what was happening. As quick as a flash the long stringy things sprang forwards. making her fall forwards. Screaming and trying to grab hold of anything which came to hand to try and stop herself from being dragged forwards. As it neared her it split into many long thin strips. which appeared to be making its way towards her. This was the something from the hedgerow.but all that she got from it was a rattle. The thin strands of string started to grow. As she sat there. as if they were gaining weight. Each of the strands driving their way forwards to their own position along the car. With each tug she was pulled further and further into the hedgerow. the strand coiled around her leg tightened its grip and started to drag her forwards. rather like an elderly lady having to sip through a straw that she wasn’t used to doing. As if sensing that she was beginning to understand what was going on. she could hear a faint sucking noise. The other strands started to come away from the car and attached themselves to Penny. Penny gave a little squeal of surprise and made to run away from the one. she then understood what was happening. She was still thinking that the traffic on the road was quiet. of what looked like string. Penny reached into her bag and took out her phone.

upwards to look in the direction she was being pulled. There were other things that she started began to notice. Penny slowly raised herself onto her hands and knees and began to explore her surroundings. she saw that the strand had started to join itself up to being one thick strand again. It appeared to be coming from a long slit at the base of one of the hedges. Even and smooth. nothing was there. she felt along the roof. Penny felt around her surroundings. she brought her hands down to the sides and then onto the floor. but by kneeling up she could stretch her back. Slowly she saw her legs. for a better word. the air she was breathing was clean. there was a stillness to the atmosphere. Starting to panic again. like being in an air-conditioned room. Also the silence. trying to make out what sort of hole or burrow she was still being pulled down into. then her lower body being enveloped by the black slit. Feeling nothing but a smooth surface. was not high enough for her to stand. Penny realised that she was no longer being pulled along. All of which felt the same. With her hands still free. All the time that she had been being dragged along. This wasn’t some animal burrow she was in. Sitting up she started to feel at her ankles. Raising her hands palm upwards. When after an indeterminate length of time. even though she was still being pulled along. It felt more like man made. Now that she had stopped she tried to focus her eyes. The room. She shuffled around the room and felt three . the slit opened up more to allow her to go through without scraping at her. but there was nothing at all to be seen. Both of her ankles had a couple of strands attached to them and as her feet approached the narrow slit. She was still screaming as she was finally pulled through and she was put into complete darkness. she had been in total darkness.

The piece which was left on the wall. which has now dried on her cheeks. wondered to herself if it was still watching her. the light began to grow. your finger goes so far. there was a resistance to it. As it grew lighter in her room. she saw a faint pinprick of light coming towards her very slowly. As it neared her. enabling her to watch the doorway. She looked at the bit of orb attached to the wall. Finally the beam of light stopped maybe a metre away from her. It was only when she started to cry and needed a tissue to wipe her tears. that she realised that she still had her handbag. When she put her hand on it. lighting up the whole area. very shiny and slightly warm to the touch. was something she couldn’t make out. She was overjoyed that she had been able to keep something from the outside with her. all one piece. she turned her back on it and . the rest of the orb quickly sped away the way that it had come. Like when you press a balloon. that she stopped thinking about her tears. it started to waver in front of her. As she sat there. she was able to see that the walls seemed to be made of some kind of ceramic tile.solid walls. but then won’t go any further. Taking no chances. She sat there alone and frightened. still light up her room. She had put this over her shoulder and head when she had first opened up the boot on her car. A piece of the orb broke away and attached itself to the wall to her right. It then took on the shape of an orb. and as it did so. wondering all the while what was going to happen next. Penny moved backwards and sat down resting herself against the wall. Penny had no idea of how to escape. but the fourth one. as if it was making a search of her. Completely mystified and very scared.

Surely then whoever had brought her here had to be human. . As she was thinking of Richard. By now Richard would be wondering where she was. She carefully dipped her index finger into the liquid and with a drop hanging from the finger she slowly brought this to her nose. The only thing that was of any use. there was no smell attached to it. if anything that she could possibly use to try and get her out. she pushed herself backwards until she couldn’t go any further. That had been at 10 o’clock. well here goes lets have a taste. Penny kept it across her shoulders. The tray stopped at her feet and the string slid away.crouching over her bag she started to look through it to see what. Not wanting to be apart from her handbag. She was now nearly two hours late in returning home. There was a glass with some white liquid in it and a plate of what looked like biscuits. she didn’t notice the stringy thing pushing a tray towards her. Her thoughts once again went back to Richard. but she was pretty sure that it would probably not work with her surroundings. She had rung home before she had left Louisa’s to say that she was on her way. she saw that the time was almost 2 o’clock. She was too afraid to try it for the time being and returned it to her handbag. Penny reached towards it. Very gingerly she put the small drop on her tongue. But why? Penny settled back against the wall and slowly sipped at the milk. so she thought. She was so relieved after tasting it to find that the liquid was milk. Looking at her wristwatch. Startled. After several moments looking at the tray. was her mobile phone.

A short while later he woke up and glanced about wondering where he was. taking in the peace and quiet of the early Sunday afternoon. Still half asleep. with loads of villains about. “I’ve tried her mobile. Well if she does ring you. everybody is out visiting their relatives!” laughed Richard. Gino and Palma had been taken out for an unexpected meal by their son Roberto.” replied Penny. I don’t want to start a search party for her yet. but I don’t seem to be able to pick up a signal. is everything OK. But knowing her. only Penny hasn’t got back home yet and I was wondering if she had left later than planned?” Richard tried not to sound too worried. After saying good-bye. Some things are hard to stop doing if you have lived in main busy town. can you please tell her to get in touch with me. as he had been sitting on the garden . He was now feeling a little tired and all too soon his eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep. stretching as he went. Richard had been working on the back of the house since returning from the morning shoot. He decided to give Louisa a ring to see if Penny had delayed coming back for some reason. Where the bloody hell could she be. “Penny left soon after she spoke to you. everything will be locked in the car boot.Back at home Richard looked at his watch for the umpteenth time. Richard sat outside. She didn’t say that she would be stopping off anywhere. he went back indoors. especially it being a Sunday. Even though he had spoken to her earlier that morning. “Hi Louisa.

Once inside he looked up at the kitchen clock. .10pm. Knocking gently on the door. There were none. There was still no sign of Penny and he went to look at the answerphone to see if there had been any messages left while he had been sleeping. She may in the meantime have arrived back home. two pairs of eyes would be better than one. The carabinieri would then come to the house to take more details. that is if Penny was still missing.bench and had aches and pains all over him. The one sided conversation which could be heard seemed to go on forever. Richard began to tell them about Penny not arriving back home. Roberto said that he would come along with him. the carabinieri. Fortunately their son Roberto was still there and between lots of sign language and broken Italian he managed to get his story over. Something just didn’t seem right to Richard and after telling his friends what he thought. It was Roberto who straightaway went to the telephone to ring the local police. He decided that he would pop next door to see if Gino and Palma had returned. Richard said that he was going to start looking for her. Thank goodness they had come home. Richard started to feel a little anxious as to the whereabouts of Penny. especially as Richard would be driving and he would have to concentrate on the road. Sitting down at the kitchen table and having been offered coffee. he heard Palma call for him to enter. the time now read 4. Finally Roberto put the receiver down and explained that there was nothing to be done until tomorrow morning. He would need to have a little help in how to start looking for her and who to telephone first to ask for help.

it’s not right. “But just supposing she did. well.” Richard sighed again. Where on earth could she be. “Surely by now we should have heard something. 10 o’clock. Not wanting to appear rude. Taking the route they always took down to the autostrada at Pedaso. Maybe I should have rung her first.30pm. why can’t I get hold of her on her mobile and I am sure that she would have rung me first. Picking up the ticket for the autostrada. so that they could take a look around to see if Penny’s car was parked up anywhere. But what the heck. “Maybe she called out the breakdown people. to me it is anyway.” suggested Roberto.It was now a little passed 5. Roberto kept his eyes focused on the hedging. “I hope that Louisa is in. the day was still very light and hopefully would remain so for a few more hours yet. There was never any sign though.” Richard came to a stop outside Louisa’s and was lucky in find her in her front garden. or seen something. The answer was the same. Richard . Just knowing her.” Richard gave out a long sigh and shaking his head followed Roberto back to the car. Richard asked once again what time had Penny left that morning. but in an obvious state of worry. Soon they came to the turnoff for the road to Louisa’s. Penny has never done anything without asking me first. they set off in the direction of Ancona. I have a very deep creepy feeling that something terrible has happened. this is an emergency. Passing through the small towns Roberto had Richard stopping.

hurr y up you heap of shit in front. But something strange has happened here.” Roberto tried his best to make him slow down. they both kept a careful lookout. Richard kept in the right hand lane. Richard pointed ahead of him and stuttering said. It might be worth not touching anything and wait until we get the police out here. Pulling off. set off once again with Roberto. “look. Roberto.” “Calm down. No matter what was dawdling in front.” .” “OK. just take a look at this will you. Oh for Pete’s sake. what do you make of it?” Peering closely at the passenger door handle Roberto tried to make out the mark which looked like the trail that a snail leaves behind it. Reaching the autostrada again. Richard jumped out of the driver’s seat. Richard kept his speed down. maybe she pulled over to be sick or something. Most unusual if she did. This time. “I haven’t the foggiest idea what that is.thanked Louisa and with a promise of keeping her informed. and parking the car right behind Penny’s. just ahead. we will be there any second. The car was empty and there was no sign of Penny. “Shit. where is she. so that they could really take a good look around. but first I’m going to take a look along the hedgerow. Just before they come to the turnoff for Pedaso. look there’s her car. or what went speeding by.

the officer in charge made a call out for further assistance. Richard prodded away with his foot. . Richard was able to get his side of the story over.Walking slowly along the verge. but finding nothing he returned to Roberto and let him take over to ring the police. We will however leave a guard around the area and we will return tomorrow first thing. but with very little prompting. but when the police did arrive it was only a little over a quarter of an hour later. Below ground it was a hive of activity. Posts and cordoning off tape were placed all around the area and two officers were left in charge for the night. Richard pointed out the marks on the car and after taking a closer look. Richard let Roberto do the talking. What could be going on Penny thought. as it is now getting darker. “Tonight. Soon the area was cordoned off and Penny’s car was taken away for examination by a specialist. Across the opening to Penny’s cell. More of the string things were snaking up and down the corridors outside.” The chief officer handed Richard his card and told him that he would telephone him at 9 o’clock in the morning. They seemed to stand around waiting for a long time. a strobe of light stretched across it. there is very little else that we can do.

The toe of his boot was just inside one of the very thin openings. The old professor tapped away at his computer keyboard. and as the probe ran its sealant across the opening. they whispered to each other in their high pitched shrieks. The officer’s mate came running towards him. one of the police officers who was left on duty. that he feared that he would loose his toes. It was sealed in so tightly. was having to take a leak. And when you do.The strings were clearly agitated. “What the bloody hell are you doing?” The officer who had his boot fast was struggling to get the boot off. what have you been drinking out there.” The radio operator laughed. He instructed his probes to seal off the openings. As the strings came to the opening of the edging to the roadside. the officer cried out in alarm. . As his orders were being carried out. “Well. you just bloody well come out here and see for yourself. “Hey. too much Grappa? This isn’t some sort of alien site. The toe of his boot was slowly being squeezed tight. rapidly calculating his next move. bring me a pair of size 43 boots while you’re at it. She could hear strange shrieking noises. Back in the main enclosure. Hobbling back to the patrol car he radioed in and tried to explain what had just happened to him. He couldn’t risk taking any chances. theirs sounds were being translated into human language. you know.” This was one job the young officer hated.

“Any further developments since last night. Inspector Carbone knelt close to the boot.He didn’t like guard duty at the best of times.” “You think you are so clever. But tonight. “Or was it only the one boot that was abducted. Inspector Carbone asked straight away to be taken to where the young officer had lost his boot the night before. Sure enough it was stuck solid. just you wait and see what happens next. As dawn broke through and the birds started their morning choruses. He was more at home when he was patrolling around the local town. we have had them footcuffed. the relief team came to take over. He knew that his uniform suited him and that it showed off his tanned and well muscled body.” An hour later the full investigating team arrived. bring me a trowel and some sample bags over. He pretended that he didn’t notice when the girls all looked at him.” he tittered. This is mighty peculiar. the inspector sliced away at the surrounding soil. Maybe you might get stuck up to your neck. hopping about in only one boot. “”Luigi.” the older of the two asked. Using a sharp knife. “By the way we have also brought you your new boots and to make sure that you don’t lose another one.” . he just hoped that this wouldn’t get out and make him look a fool. That would be a laugh. Shut your fat face up that would. Putting on protective gloves.

It had all been sent off to the laboratory for analysis. just a little over here. That and the slime mark left on the car. . Graziella. Looking more like a dainty doll with her large blue eyes and long curly ebony hair. They had both been involved with the other missing females. It had been the extensive search of the car which had revealed more of the trails. The woman who had gone missing. a slight tremor was felt along the ridge. As he told Inspector Carbone.” the inspector looked around at his crew. So far nothing had been identified. had only been missing for a few hours. She never let go once she was given something to track down. The soil seemed to collapse in a bit. noone could really envisage her with large plastic goggles on her pretty face and with a long white coat on. “Did anyone else feel that. It was only through the husband. that the search had been started so quickly.” “Slowly and very carefully.As the inspectors orders were being carried out. this one seemed to be different. Want me to dig around some here.” was the inspectors reply. who had retraced is wife’s last possible movements. “We don't know what we are up against here. “Sir. He had seen the anxiety on the faces of the families of the others who were missing and had felt their deep sorrow. none of which came in her size and seemed to drown her slim body. the senior laboratory technician was renowned for her work.” It was Chief Officer Cabrelli who had made the call personally to Inspector Carbone the previous evening. They were completely flummoxed by it.

“Hope you have some good news for me Graziella. come quickly. Try two flames coming in together.” Graziella peeled off the surgical gloves and quickly tapped in the inspector’s private number. he became more pleasant.” He went on to tell her about the tremor and after digging around had found more of the slime. As the flame crept closer to the slime. it appears to be alive. it slid itself away. It may give them a little to go on until we have analysed this thing more thoroughly. It had been solid and had taken quite a few raps with a small picket for it to be cracked. but on hearing her. “My God. The phone rang and rang.“Marco. This though looked as though it had been frozen. What do you see when I put the flame closer:” Slowly. But there again I may have something else for you to test your brain with. and just as Graziella was about to hang up.” Graziella waited silently on the other end of the telephone. “I must call this through to Inspector Carbone. as if it was looking for a place to escape.” As they did. Graziella turned the flame to the slide which held a spec of the slime. “Try putting a flame to it and tell me what happens. the slime wriggled about. the inspector gruffly answered the phone. .

Most of the traffic slowed down when nearing the site and he saw inquisitive eyes as they searched along the scene. Inspector Carbone waited no longer. slowly made it’s way towards the boot again.” The young officer led him to where the boot.” And on saying that the inspector was left holding his telephone with only the dial tone to be heard. which until only a few moments ago had been completely stuck. quickly you must come and see this. I’m just going to try something else. Lighting one of the small cigarillos. ever so slightly. No one will believe me. he pondered over what was happening out on this quiet stretch of road. Graziella wasn’t someone who played practical jokes. Almost running back to his . “Inspector. it’s flame flickering in the light breeze.” The inspector didn’t like it when he thought he was being got at. The boot could now be moved. Now even more of the boot came free. I just flicked my lighter at it and the damned thing practically jumped away. He instructed one of his men to do what Graziella had asked and he went to sit in his car. what the hell is it.“Christ Graziella. He had seen enough. “Good” she replied. but there was movement. which were a favourite smoke of his. “The boot. Another lighter. is it still stuck in the ground? Try using your lighter or heat up a blade and slide it round the boot and then call me back. But he should have known .

car. After giving her all the latest news. he decided to put a call through to Signor Roberto Maravalli. Are you going to be staying at the site? Good. she set off to Pedaso. Chief Officer Cabrelli also arrived at the scene. Maybe he could even save the missing woman called Penny. I’m going to come down there to see this for myself. he waited for her response. “Just what I thought. next moment it had split itself in two and moved in the opposite direction. he put a call through to the station requesting hot cutting gear to be brought out immediately to the site. This substance has some sort of intelligence. Graziella picked up the few things which she knew that she would need and checking that she had her car keys. Men in protective clothing were about ready to begin their work. the friend of the . Soon Graziella was turning onto the hard should where all the activity was. We put a flame to either side of it. He was hoping that his hunch was right. And after being brought up to date with everything. Graziella took a look about and examined the spot by the boot.” After replacing her receiver. The movement was now clearly visible when it was being pulled. His next call was to Graziella to see if she had been able to come up with anything else. Inspector Carbone’s latest equipment had also just arrived and was being set up. See you in half on hour.

missing woman. Once in place the soil was quickly dug away. Inspector Carbone called out for the heavier digging machine to be brought forwards. I am out at the site at the moment and I have just been briefed on the findings so far. We may be here for quite some time. instead of telephoning the husband Richard Evans. an opening was clearly visible. and give him my assurance that everything is being done to find his wife. The sealant seemed to move rapidly away from the heat and soon with the help of the spades. “Buon giorno Signor Maravalli. is that I may find this a little hard to put into words to him. The revelations were astonishing. But our further investigations to the slime which you showed to us. Please pass my deepest thoughts on to Signor Evans. but I will keep on calling you with more updates as soon as I receive them.” Chief Office Cabrelli broke the connection and returned to where all the activity was. We have been making extensive searches along the hedgerow and are now just starting up with some heavier working materials to help lift up the grass. The sides of which glistened in the bright light. this is Chief Officer Cabrelli. has brought several things to light. The heated metal blade had been inserted at the edge of the partially movable boot. so that may be a little reassuring. Hopefully our findings will include your missing friend. . We believe that this may lead to some sort of underground chamber. The revelations from the mornings findings would be far too difficult to try and tell Signor Evans. There was indeed an underground chamber. The reason for me telephoning you and not Signor Evans. Let me please stress that we have not as yet found Signora Evans.

Also when they came into contact with each other again. still in his sealed cell. were able to split into thousands of separate pieces. out in one of the many hills surrounding the area. they were able to join up again. Professor Bianco used much of the university’s equipment to make the discovery. which combined fluid and light. cool but yet warm. Another of which had been frowned upon by the ‘high and mighty’ of the university hierarchy. the noise level was ever so quiet.which was being directed into it. He had already made a good start on his new laboratory when he had had to make it his new permanent home. But once he himself had been discovered. Using key words. The . special trained officers were sent for. He had been using a new formula. He had reached a stage where the probes. as he called them. Down below. he found that he had to go into hiding. without any effort. It was like watching two small pools merging together to become one. Not knowing what was ahead of them. The feel of the sides was like touching silk. But it was becoming clear to him that he would soon be caught. crash landing their craft. Also no matter how loud you shouted. the professor was also able to make them understand instructions. He had built the chamber. At first he found it quite startling. Here he could now continue with his other project. living in an area that was both smooth and sensual. using materials made from the findings of a possible UFO. taking with him the equipment and computers on which he had saved all his data. the old professor was fighting hard to keep his secret safe. People had scoffed of his idea of men from outer space. as though it had been whispered.

until he noticed that there was a foreign substance. He wanted to see how they would bring these items back to him. and afterwards sealed the small hole. First of all for any flowers or grasses. rather like someone standing on a squeaky toy. This must have been picked up when the probes were splitting and then rejoining. Many people stopped along the roadside. Seeing this. the probes themselves had started to act alone. . where they had severed it. Sometime. he then wondered if they would be able to bring back fluids. They had even sealed off his doorway. they started out during the day. They pierced the container and as if using themselves as a straw. either to stretch their legs from driving or to stop and have a drink or a sandwich. Many times the unsuspecting supplier of the drink. around the time when the professor had realised about the mutation in the probe. never realised that their drink had been taken. but then getting more confident about not being caught. At first the probes were quick to snatch up a small drink. as he had stock piled these to last him for a couple of years. which had attached itself to the main probe. They were able to slice through the stem of the flower and seemed to cauterise the area. He had started to send his probes outside for trial runs to collect things for him. Fortunately he was not worried about provisions. usually at night. They were really clever in doing this. The professor was finding it more and more difficult in controlling them. drew in the drink. All this was working fine.probes responded by using a series of peeping noises. Foraging.

His main concern was trying to solve the problem of the mutation. The body looked as though it had been there for several weeks. “look inside. they decided to call up for a stretcher to have this taken away and to ask if . to the far right of the room in the corner. The one nearest knelt down. Wisps of hair floated upwards as the cloth came away and underneath it revealed a female head. If he could find the answer to that. they headed in the same direction of the bundle of clothes. then hopefully he would be able to put everything right again. They had not gone far. the body had not started to really decay. even though they couldn’t see anything. they would be able to cut their way in. something was blocking their entrance. The officer was also able to enter the room. Using one of the heated rods the leading officer slowly drew the rod around the doorway. Both of them moving slowly forwards. Up at the roadside the specially dressed officers were now making their way through the tunnel. He pointed to the right of him and communicating through the microphones attached to them he said. but looked as though it had been drained.” Pushing forwards they hit a barrier. just in case they came across any of the hardened slime. With the dry atmosphere. when the officer stopped. a slight change of tone in the air around them was discerned. As the rod neared the bottom of the doorway.” The other officer peered over his colleagues shoulder and replied. Slowly he peeled away the cloth from the top. They each carried a thermal heated rod. it looks to me like a bundle of cloths. Not being medics. “Maybe we should take a closer look. Maybe a human.

Not taking his hand away from the air valve. where he knew that Gabriella was waiting. After making this decision. No use hanging around here. I have asked the stretcher bearers to hold off until I can give you details of how the body is lying. I have pushed back my visor.” Inspector Carbone bellowed down the microphone. “The walls are silky to touch. Although they had not tested the air. It sounded like the trailing note from a triangle when it has been played. I am now in the room where the first body is.they were to continue with the search. I need to know immediately if you find Signora Evans. the inspector took the risk and raised the visor from his suit and at the same time turned off his air supply. he started to give them an indepth description of what was there. preferring to be on the front line himself. I am having no problems in breathing and my pulse rate appears normal. Making a call out to the control. but I can tell you that it is breathable. I know the air hasn’t been tested yet. with a slight warmth to them. he took a further breath. I know that this is being photographed. he made up his mind that he would go down and see for himself what was down there. I will send down more men to bring up any evidence you find. but my eyes may be able to tell us more. He was not used to having to take a back seat. Exhaling slowly and with no alteration to his breathing pattern or heartbeat. I might as well make myself useful and put on a suit and join them. Muttering to himself. Inspector Carbone drew in his first breath.” Taking a deep breath the inspector continued. “The body is lying on its back. “Of course we need you to carry on. He noticed at once the continuous humming sound. I am now peeling back the cover . it was not long before Inspector Carbone was entering the tunnel.

Her body looks as though it has collapsed inwards. Oh God. he gave out further descriptions of what he saw. 7 foot all over. I can detect no smell. Inspector Carbone started to wheeze. I don’t know if you want to stay on site or go and find out what has happened to this poor unfortunate girl. This one lay in a foetal position. the inspector took measurements. As he entered and approached the fourth body. “Please send Gabriella this new information and have this body sent directly to her. She may be able . even though the body may have been here for some time. With my visor off. His breathing became ragged and when he breathed in he felt a tightness in his chest. The medics are now going to bring the body up. he reported his new findings. Gabriella. Wiping his forehead on his isolation suit. No deflation was apparent. There were no joins either. As he had heard over the microphone. Please have this taken away for a full forensic. But then he realised something else. Stepping back out into the corridor. There was a smell in the room. He approached each room and walking slowly to where the covered body lay. just smooth panels. he noticed something slightly different to the others. She only looks about 18 or 19 years old. the inspector walked on further. Something that all the other rooms hadn’t had. It is for definite a female. It appeared to be a complete square. other bodies had been found. have I been too foolish and just walked about here without any care. This was what was causing his breathing problems. Maybe this one had only recently passed away. It also appeared to be intact.” Looking about the room.some more.

my first name is Marco. We think we may have found Signora Evans. She is alive. “My name is Inspector Carbone. It has been a long time since I have had to speak in English.” Inspector Carbone gently helped Penny to her feet. You have obviously been very brave and no doubt somewhat very frightened by what has happened to you. She still hadn’t said a word. do not be afraid. are you ready to come with me and we can get your husband out to you.” Inspector Carbone asked the two officers to stay outside for the time being. he almost collided with one of the initial officers who had been sent in first. Take it very slowly. The name of which I cannot remember.” As he came out of the room. I hope that you can understand my English. He entered the room alone. I hope that I am assuming correctly that you are Signora Penny Evans. . She is very very confused and will not come out of the corner where we found her. she was born in a small seaside town in Cornwall. Inspector Carbone. please nod if you do not wish to speak to me. He set off straight away on the search for you.to come up with why these bodies differ. Good. “Ah. If I am right. please come quickly. My late wife was English. Only tiny gasps were heard from her. Signora. Richard. as we have been under a lot of pressure with these disappearances. After settling himself on the floor close by to the Signora the inspector introduced himself. I must thank him personally. Your husband. didn’t wait around.

It could be made dimmer. Once outside and in the sunshine. Inspector Carbone guided her to the way out. Although those things never hurt me. After several moments she calmed down and looking up into the Inspectors eyes. When we got through this is what we found.” The young officer led the way to the far end of the chambers. he returned to the underground chambers. but also a feeling that they needed to know more about us. “When I was dragged down there.” Stepping to one side the young officer allowed Inspector Carbone to carry on past. please come this way. but it was our sniffer dog which lead us to a very tiny gap at the bottom corner. Later when you have been checked. There your husband will be waiting for you. “Sir. I never thought I would see anyone again. This had been sealed from the other side. “Thank you. she gave him the first smile that she thought she would never do again. Hands clasped behind his back.” “Try to relax now signora Evans.” she repeated. Always within his sight as he looked around. was the bound figure in the centre of the room. Falling to her knees. a deep loathing of humans.Leading the way. “We thought that this was just a wall.” Inspector Carbone handed Penny over to the waiting ambulance staff. But the other most awful thing was the constant light. We are taking you to the hospital in Ascoli Piceno. Once inside the room the Inspector slowly scanned all around him. The rest of the room . we can then carry on with our talk. it was the feeling which came from them. Penny sobbed into her hands. Thank you. Drinks were brought into the room for me. Penny’s nerve seemed to break. but not nearly enough for you to relax.

Centred. this stuff is so unlike all the others. His looks as if it is dead. But it was the figure. which gleamed in the bright lights. The look on the face of the old professor was one of sheer terror. His nostrils had also been sealed to cut off his air supply. .” One of the men started using small wire cutters. which kept his gaze the most. They had forced his mouth open and had filed it up with the sealant.was bare. when his airways had been blocked by the probes. Even in death you could feel the pressure that he must have been under. Inspector Carbone called for further men to come and take away all the computer equipment.” the officer was bagging up everything which he had cut away. Let us try using cutters. where it seemed to run away from you.” The last of the string like stuff was finally cut away. was a large work bench with computers and printouts. Clearly a male figure. “Has anyone tried to get this stuff off him. “Sir. They went through the strings with ease. “Let us hope that this will be able to tell us more of what has been going on here. it was covered in the string like substance. and which really did look like snail trials. Obviously we do not want to burn it like we have done on the doorways and such. His eyes had been kept open so that he could see what was being done to him.

“This is terrible. But where have all the live probes gone. The End . Would what was in the computer tell them the answer. He couldn’t even hazard a guess at this stage. Inspector Carbone made his way out for the last time. But was it really the end. just terrible. Taking a last look around the now empty room.” The Inspector was left with no further ideas or clues.

.

Megan’s Comeback By Greta Ann Hughes .

which the rain had brought out. Freddy had been at the shop since leaving college at 18. It had been raining all morning and made her heart feel heavier than it should. Sometimes he also went along and had enjoyed the bargaining of the items on auction. He bought and sold all over the continent and was also on the local town peoples committee. when Matthew had gone away to the numerous antique fairs. she watched the rain fall. Just then a rainbow formed and the end of it appeared to be at the gate at the bottom of her garden. The grass. sent their own sweet aroma into the air. she collected some of the wild flowers. Matthew had been the life and soul of any party. as he had been left in charge many times in the past.Megan’s Come Back As Megan gazed through the window. She sighed deeply and on looking out once again. His shop was currently being run by his ever faithful and competent assistant. After putting on some sneakers and a waterproof jacket. The air seemed full of different smells. She thought about the shop and what she . he could cope under any situation. she saw that the clouds were parting and that the sun was starting to peep out. The flowers from the hawthorn and the apple blossom trees. Megan closed her door and set off. which had been cut the day before. still held its fresh mown scent. which were just beyond her garden. His fine antique shop in the main town was always busy. As Megan carried on with her walk. On seeing this it made her feel a little happier and she decided to go for a walk through the woods. Freddy. Now ten years on. Megan had kept herself to herself for the past few weeks. since the sudden death of her husband. these would add a little colour in her country kitchen.

should do about it. This was something that she had grown used to. Entering she saw a face peep round the corner and quickly disappear again. As she looked about at the fine antiques on display. Opening the door to the shop. with all the prices detailed discreetly at the back. she then set off to the antique shop. She had always enjoyed working with figures and could always solve any intricate math equation which was given to her. Megan finished off her walk and returned home feeling much happier now that she had set herself a task to do. On thinking of this she decided that tomorrow would be a good day to start. especially now that she had seen the bank statements. They bought simply for the name or the beauty of . On the occasion that she had called in. At the university she had studied for accountancy. Next morning Megan rose early and after having made herself a light breakfast. It was very rare that she went to the shop and wasn’t really looking forward to seeing the staff in there. The drive there was only a short one and she parked her car outside of the shop. the bell tinkled to announce the arrival of someone. she realised how much she must have missed out on all these years that she had stayed at home being a housewife. No doubt her arrival was now being relayed to everyone. This was a shop who catered for the type of client who rarely looked at the cost of anything. She picked up the newly printed brochure and browsed through it. Everything was in its own division. Everything had been left to her. with only one other relative on Megan’s side. She supposed she could pop in and see if there was anything that she could help out at in the accounts department. they were all smiles. there had been no trouble in settling the estate. She had been born to quite wealthy parents and had had no real need to find any employment after she had left university. but underneath this she could detect a feeling that they thought that she was useless.

they will trip you up so fast. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there. The jangling of the telephone and the rapid clicking of the keys being tapped on the . as if he was dealing with someone beneath him and not for who she was. “Good morning Freddy and how are you today?” Megan asked him. there would be no turning back. Looking through this brochure has made me realise that there are a lot of beautiful things which pass through here. “Well I thought it was about time that I looked in on you all and to see if there is anything that I can help out with. so as not to be conned. this is not something that you can just walk into. Especially now that she was the owner.the piece. A lot of knowledge in what you are buying or selling is needed. Eventually Freddy emerged from the back of the shop. simply fine.” Freddy was trying to put her off she was sure. I’m fine. “As you can imagine. His smile she noticed was somewhat forced. hoping that she was giving him something of which to think about. After some small chit-chat with Freddy. just waiting to get hold of a lot of these items and if you hesitate in the slightest. “Er. All was spic and span up here as well. she wound her way through to the back of the shop and up the stairs to the offices above. May I ask what has brought you down this way today?” Freddy enquired.” Megan smiled sweetly at him. But now that Megan was in the door.

Matthew had told her of some of the deals that he had recently completed and .” Megan really did want to try and find out if there was something amiss here.computers. I am not sure what you would be able to do. Also. He had come well recommended from an auctioneer’s office in the city. she made her way to the accountant’s office. those that are boring to some people. but always looking over your shoulder or at the floor. there looked as if there should have been more in the account. Everyone spoke in quite tones.” Bert shuffled about his office. For sitting at home is no good. giving an atmosphere of respect to what they were dealing in. perhaps some of the ledger entries. I really do need to do something. with eyes which darted about. Megan had been given copies of bank statements and on seeing these. “I am fully qualified in accountancy. Bert had been with them for about 5 years. for as you know this is a specialists field and someone with little knowledge. “Hello Bert. She always felt that this looked more sincere and honest. they could possibly do more harm than good. Megan had said that he looked a little shifty. never looking at you. usually when they had the Christmas party. He was a small man. Bert Bingham. Megan still kept the pleasant smile on her face. After smiling at the staff. were the only sounds to be heard. I could easily do. I thought that I would look in on everyone and at the same time see if there is anything that I can help out with”. “Everything is under control. as she always looked people in the eye when speaking to them. Bert coughed nervously and looking this way and that said. Megan had only met him on one or two occasions. After Matthew's death. well.

There were some accounts that the names rang a bell with her. whenever she arrived at the shop. Printing off what she could. Megan quickly picked up the way they worked and after doing the few invoices. Megan wondered. you do know how to use these.the figures that he had quoted had made her raise her eyebrows.” And so Bert finally showed Megan around the office and where the ledgers were kept. They soon started to find out that she wasn’t the featherbrain that she seemed to come across as. He seldom seemed to relax. she set up a personal file for herself and anything which she thought was a bit suspicious. who. as she has had a nasty accident and is currently in hospital. Bert hesitantly went back to his own office. As she started to check up on the paper files. one of whom I don’t know when will be coming back. she started to notice some discrepancies. she started to browse through the accounts set up. I do have two of the clerks off at the moment. was always moving or straightening the displays. Now what could have made these people react this way. Bert seemed as fidgety as ever. she added to this file for her to take back home to read through more carefully. the ones that Matthew had spoken about from time to time. All work is done on the computer. “OK then. silly of me. So she was a little bit suspicious and had at last decided to check up on this. Megan came and went to the office at the times that she chose. Then leaving her with the invoicing to start off with. Of course. as well as Freddy. . I will show you around and any of the staff will be able to show you where things are.

It was only when she found a small cabinet at the side of his desk. so as not to make the tape look too rumpled. Her suspicions had been right. Making sure that the front door was secure. which had no windows to it and so no lights would be seen from outside. Megan spent the next hour photocopying every little piece of paper that she could find in there. that were not necessarily for the common use for all. she made her way upstairs. She had the full set of keys which had been Matthew’s and she knew the security alarm number and so later on that evening she made her way back to the shop for a closer look at what she thought could be fraudulent. and couldn’t gain access to it. she got on her hands and knees and looked under the desk.It was after one particular morning. Some hours later. Why she thought of this. His office was in a far corner. she couldn’t find anything amiss. . Megan glanced up and wearily rubbed at her tired eyes. when Megan had been so engrossed in tracking back a rather seedy sounding company. she inserted the key into the desk. she switched on the lights. Letting herself into Bert’s office. Megan said that she would finish off for the day. She searched all over his desk. as the business was hers and she could be there at any time that she pleased. she couldn’t say. There she found a key taped to the back of the desk. which she had keys for. Stretching out and yawning widely. that she decided that what she really needed was to look deeper into Bert’s office. were neatly written down in Bert’s own handwriting. Feeling like a spy. For she was sure that there were books in there. that she started to wonder what could be inside. Removing this carefully. Double entries and dealings done on the side. After looking through the filing cabinets.

Securing the offices up. Megan made her way back home. I would like it to carry on with his good name. “Yes. She knew that she needed advice on what to do next. As far as he could see at the moment. Detective Watson said. the search commenced. Megan decided to go into the main town to see the police there.” Unannounced. After speaking to Detective Watson. while the constables watched over the other members of staff. looking for a lost cat or some other small thing was probably the hardest work that they were used to. Megan and the police arrived at the shop. After resting for a couple of hours. there was no need for her to ring in. she had a good case for fraud and to win the case. I would be obliged if you would remain in the office while this is carried out. but who to turn to was the question. All papers were collected . My husband put all his effort and his time in making the antique shop what it is today. Numbly Megan nodded her head. As she only went in to the office at the times that she chose to work. Also you could never be quite sure if your private conversations would be repeated. it was up to her what her next step would be.” With a nod from the detective. she sat herself at her kitchen table and pondered her next move. The police station in the village was more like your next door neighbour. They made their way directly to Bert’s office. there has been too much lost and for this to carry on I would be giving him a go ahead to carry on stealing. “It has been suggested that there has been fraud committed on these premises and we have a warrant to search your office.

During the next couple of months. as he said that he had been converted and that he was truly sorry for his crimes. So they decided that some of the deals should go their way. Bert’s office felt tainted. At the trial it was said that they had thought that Matthew had seemed like a pompous money hoarder and why should he have so much. He had managed to get an early release. which had been bound for Canada to a multimillionaire business man. The office spaces she was going to have re-designed and a new open fronted office. The hi-jacking had gone wrong and the driver had been left paralysed. They had been able to carry on with this scheme for the past three years.together and then boxed and carried out to the waiting police van. Bert had a string of convictions. Megan took over the running of the accounts. He had started off with petty thieving. going back many years. The proceeds of which were then split between them from time to time. The large antique dealer in the city had never heard of Bert Bingham and was astonished that their name could have been used in this way of introduction. who had emigrated there. his secretary was also later arrested. She had sorted out pieces of art which she thought would not be missed. so most of the work she carried out at home. It also came out at the trial that Bert had forged his letters of reference. Along with Bert. so as nothing underhand could ever happen again. Many hundreds of thousands of pounds had been placed in a bank off shore. then he had been found guilty and given a long prison sentence for the hijacking of a transit load of antiques. In prison he could . Megan thought. Bert was taken along to the station for questioning.

Megan couldn’t believe what had been said at the trial. at no expense. the bible was forgotten and he picked up from where he had left. with the judge saying that there should be no allowance for Bert to be given any early release this time. Matthew gave them excellent bonuses during the year. A new Monday morning arrived and they were all gathered together in the main office. It was now up to Megan to carry on with the antique shop. with this being her first offence. This time he decided to try something a little different and had managed to secure himself the post at Matthews antiques shop. along with the small Spanish villa. but would probably be released after 12 months. Megan stood amongst them and said that she was very grateful for all the support that they had given her and thanked them all individually. Perhaps if Matthew hadn’t been so generous. Bert’s secretary was given a 3 year sentence.always be found with a bible in one hand and reciting psalms and passages wherever he went. As soon as he was released. Bert Bingham was given a 12 year prison sentence. as she was on a very good salary and received all the benefits that were given to all employees. Megan cried. Let us all now put this unsavoury . Especially Diane. Everyone at the antiques shop were very well paid. but who could say. which any of them could holiday at. The remaining staff had been very supportive and with them she would be able to put this behind her and hopefully succeed.

His faced had blushed right through to the top of his head and he stuttered that his main hobby was reading. The End . He seemed to have matured during this time and he didn’t fumble around as much as he used to. Her time was now taken up to the full and her nights rarely felt empty. During one lunch break. which she now tended to spend with the girls in the office. He was the youngest in a family of six. she had given over to Freddy the full responsibility of attending antique fairs and for the buying of the items at auction. Now that Megan was there all the time.business behind us and carry on with getting more business in here. looking up at regular intervals at her favourite photograph of Matthew and knowing that he would be proud of her. She also attended these auctions with him. He found girls to be rather daunting and a scary experience. The staff applauded her and they settled down to the days work. all of the others being female and he had been bullied by them since his birth he said. Perhaps this new responsibility was good for him and maybe at their next Christmas party they could find a partner for him. Megan’s come back was looking good. He never seemed to have a girlfriend and once one of the other girls in the office had asked him what he did outside of work. but let him have the say about whether or not an item would be of value to them. She normally took home the catalogues and would draw up new designs for the advertising campaigns which they were now doing. All this she would do at her desk at home. she learnt that Freddy had had a crush on her.

.

My Time To Live By Greta Ann Hughes .

Giving little notice of the tiny child. Her mother had brought her up on her own. she called out to Maureen. so it must be a sign that I have to carry on and bear the burden and the grief. “He has gone and left me with this child. after her father had died when she was only a baby. the doctor had kept up the old ways of having his surgery at his house. he didn’t want to spoil the way . She quickly took down the bunch of keys hanging by the front door and ran as fast as she could to the doctors house.” Her mother had been such a strict churchgoer and believed that any misgivings dealt to a person. Maureen dashed about. “come quickly child. she carried on until one day when Maureen was just 10 years old. But Maureen’s mother thought of it as a curse and refused any help from the other neighbours or from her own family. that it was a test of strength being delivered to see how strong of faith you were. Although he was a young doctor. she collapsed out in the back garden. putting up her mother’s feet and getting a damp cloth. This being in a very quiet little village. With the last bit of strength she had. help me indoors and then you must fetch the doctor. When only a child she had had to help out at home. many times all alone.My Time to Live From her earliest memory Maureen had been taken for granted. when hanging out the washing. she placed this on her mother’s head.” Having said this she leaned her weight onto the small thin frame of her daughter and hobbled into the front room.

he soon picked up his doctors' bag and taking Maureen’s hand he gently guided her out and into his car. Doctor Henderson took out his stethoscope and after seeing the frightened look on Maureen’s face. No one was about in the reception area and she was getting quite frantic about having left her mother just lying on the sofa. The drive was only a short one and they were soon inside the house and into the front room. Take it easy and tell me slowly what is wrong. Maureen stumbled through the old heavy door and out of breath shouted for the doctor. “now what is all this noise about young lady. be they young or old. After listening to the tale of little Maureen’s mother. it showed that she was still breathing. He had had the house made larger.” Paul Henderson had a very boyish look to him. extending the house out at the back and making more of the small summer-house at the bottom of the large garden.the village had worked for the previous doctors. Young doctor Henderson appeared. but by the very slight movement of her chest. he asked her to go and make them all a cup of tea. Her mother lay there. This was really just to get her out of the room so that she needn’t see anymore. . just as she had left her. which also made him very popular with all the ladies.

but she does need some rest. Soon the ambulance arrived and took Mrs Pilkington away. Doctor Henderson waved goodbye and left her standing alone on the doorstep. but mark my words child. “Don’t you be making yourself a nuisance at your aunt Maud’s. but she needs to take things much more easier than she has been doing. but I have told her that it is for the best. After making sure that Maureen would be alright. Can you go and stay with a relative or a friend?” Doctor Henderson smiled sweetly at Maureen. “Come here Maureen. I don’t want you lagging behind with your grades. a lazy brain will soon shut down and won’t work. Make sure that you come here after school to keep the house free of dust and only then can you go to aunt Maud’s. You may think that your brain is clever and will get you through everything. Closing the door gently. your mother is going to be alright. In between choked sobs Maureen said that she would probably be OK at her aunt Maud’s. Also you keep up with your homework. She won’t be in for long. I am sending her to the hospital for a few tests. he wanted to make sure that his findings were right.” Maureen quickly made up a small case with night clothes and toiletries for her mother.Doctor Henderson resumed his examination. Mrs Pilkington none too gently slapped away the doctor’s hand and beckoned for Maureen to come closer. Afterwards he rang through for an ambulance to take Mrs Pilkington to the hospital in the main town. This would be the beginning of her . Maureen made her way into the kitchen to clear up the few dishes which had been used for breakfast. “Your mother doesn’t want to go the hospital.

bring me my oxygen . Sometimes. until she reached her forties.many years of confined housework. She soon gained confidence in dealing with all the customers and over the next 20 years there she soon climbed the ladder to become branch manager. and those that she did have. late at night. “You are my daughter. Maureen was a very bright child. I can hardly catch of my breath. If only her mother would go into the nursing home. But also during all this time. she always replied with the same. Maureen had very few friends. which would see her through all her teenage years and her young adult life. When she asked her mother whether she could go.” Her mother kept her a virtual prisoner. but she refused even to give this idea one little thought. it is your duty to take care of me. she was told very bluntly. but my mother is ill and even the faintest of noises can upset her. had never once been invited back to Maureen’s for coffee or to go over and do their homework together. “I’m sorry. which always came so close to falling down her cheeks. Maureen found herself a job very quickly after leaving school. she also worked at home. Not gallivanting off and staying up all night at parties. Now look what you have done with you uncaring way of speaking to me. I don’t know where you think that your fancy education will lead you. There were people there trained to do everything to help her mother. so that no one could see the tears. she thought of ways of escaping her life there. when sleep wouldn’t come.” This was always said with her head hanging down. she met all her grades and was given the chance to go to university. Each time one of them asked her. Keeping house and at the beck and call of her ever ailing mother. I gave you life. but you are needed here. “No. She started at the local town branch of a leading building society.

Her life had been made much more endurable through this machine. she switched on her computer. This was the best thing she had bought for herself. she had little else to do. Maureen dropped her keys and after fumbling around on the darkened doorstep. she finally got hold of her keys again. She had completed many home courses and had received many certificates in business studies. Flicking the switch for the hall . Off you go and finish up in the kitchen before locking up for the night. a little later than usual as they had been carrying out the year-end audits. Don’t be slow girl. Getting quite panicky. she noticed straightaway that the light was not showing in the window of her mother’s bedroom. Everything had been done either through the computer or sent on a tape by post. These had been the most difficult as she had no one to test her pronunciation on. In the end she had been awarded and also received best student award.” After another glance at her mother. But with all her time spent at home. “That’s better now. One night as she came home.” Her mother grasped the mask to her mouth and greedily sucked in the air. This time she carefully put her key into the lock and turned it.mask. Making herself a fresh cup of tea to take up to bed with her. so she had made every effort to pass these tests. put the rest of the clean dishes away. Maureen made her way down the steep stairs and quietly. or are you wishing me dead. so as not to annoy her mother nay further. Swiftly she changed into her nightdress and turning on the small lamp set at the side of her desk. technology and had taken on a couple of language courses. she turned off the downstairs lights and went up the stairs to her room.

she ran down to the doctors surgery. Almost at retirement age. she then knew for sure that she was no longer alive. As she had done many many years before. No doubt at another panic attack from your mother. he opened up the front door. Shaking his head as if to clear his view. she made her way to the bed. he soon reached the top . Reaching out and touching her mother’s hand. she opened the bedroom door.” Maureen’s sobs became much more louder and she sounded very scared. Tiptoeing. Her hand was frozen and very stiff.light she hurried up the stairs.” Mrs Pilkington had become quite well know in the village. staring at the ceiling. was now the much older Doctor Henderson. Wiping his feet on the Welcome Home mat. Peering round the doorframe she glanced at the bed. so as not to make a sound.” Sheila the receptionist said. Doctor Henderson called for his receptionist to take her into the back and to get her a cup of tea. I am sure that she has died during the day. Her mother lay there. Pausing just enough to catch her breath. this was the only change he had had to make. he couldn’t help but notice a sort of peace had fallen over the house. Meanwhile Doctor Henderson had taken the door key from Maureen and was now making his way out of the front door of his surgery. Taking the stairs two at a time. he headed for the stairway. Apart from having to have all his patients listed on a computer. As Doctor Henderson walked up the short pathway to the front door of Mrs Pilkington’s. I take it from your out of breath condition that you have run all the way here. “Slow down Maureen. and I wasn’t there to help her. but why she didn’t know. as she gently guided her to the back of the house. her eyes open wide. that I am too late. The young Doctor Henderson. “I think this time doctor. “Best thing for you dear. especially the way she treated her daughter. he still ran his practice as he always had.

His next call was to the surgery. even those that she only had a nodding acquaintance with. With a tearful good-bye to all at the building society. Carefully going over the international job vacancies web pages she found on her computer. Hopefully there she would truly be at peace.and turned towards Mrs Pilkington’s room. she flew off for her first taste of excitement. its glassware and most of all the romantic gondolas on the grand canal. They all were of the same mind. It did take Maureen many more months before she could pluck up the courage to set off on an adventure. What . where he left a message with Sheila to confirm that indeed Mrs Pilkington had passed away. At 42 years of age she was wondering if she had made a mistake. To travel and to put to use the languages she had learnt. Doctor Henderson made a quick examination and then called for the ambulance service. you must now do what you have always wanted to do. He also thought to say that he was sure that she had not suffered and for this information to be passed on to Maureen. The door was open and the light from the street lamp directly outside of the large bedroom window. she decided to try for a three month stay and work programme based in Venice. Why else should she have studied so hard and for so long. Her mother was to be laid to rest with her own parents. Maureen had been overwhelmed by the many kind words from all of the neighbours. The day of the funeral came around and Maureen had made sure that everything was straightened and that enough refreshments for those wishing to call back at the house after the church service. A glorious city well renowned for it’s beautiful square.

I have been here for three years now and I still keep on finding more and more fascinating buildings to look at. This was Maureen’s first time in the city and the magnificent view of the square had quite taken her breath away. Claudia’s apartment was in the centre of Venice. These I like the best.could she have been thing about when she handed in her notice to fly off. but sometimes there can be an interest from a separate source to be given a more personal tour. Of course. you will be staying at my apartment for your say here.” Claudia’s smile and happy go lucky way made Maureen feel very welcome. further in from the Grand Canal. “Ah signorina Pilkington. welcome to Venice. “Sometimes your words tend to get rather drawn out. they made their way through the heavy throng of visitors. As the plane landed and everyone started towards the exit door. Unless of course you wish to find something for yourself. On unsteady legs she made her way through customs and was taken aback when she noticed a sign being held aloft with her name on it. Please. you do have to stick to the main topics of the tourist guide. My name is Claudia Spinetti. along one of the many side canals. She thought to herself that her mother must be having a very good laugh at her. “Don’t you get lost for words when taking a touring party round. At once she said that she would consider it to be an honour to remain with Claudia. All of Maureens luggage had been sent on the week before. After parking the car they took one of the water buses into the main square St Marks. down the narrow canal streets to Claudia’s apartment. Maureen felt panic rising. as if searching your memory for something which you know should be straightforward. so carrying only the small hand luggage case. if you will follow me the short way to where my car is parked.” asked Maureen when they arrived at Claudia’s doorway. because then you can really show off the hidden . to end up doing a job as a tour guide.

they were eager go out and find more treasures. Here she was on her feet all day. This usually passed by with the occasional. she asked Claudia if she would like to go out for a meal that evening. but in Italian and German. During her first week the only thing that she was capable of doing when arrive back at the apartment. with a two day rest after three weeks. Something typically Venetian and not on the tourist route. which was to be her place for the next few months. Maureen and Claudia saw each other only very briefly at breakfast time. Even though they looked at the magnificent architecture and marvellous paintings each day. But today they had bother managed to get the same tow days off together. her working rota was 7 days on and on. After unpacking and putting all her things away. Maureen’s luggage was already waiting for her in the bedroom. thank you. Dressing more casually in cotton trousers.” When Claudia spoke of Venice. many times one sided conversations.gems that you have found. they set off down the . t-shirts and pumps. please pass the coffee or another roll. And talk. her whole face lit up with the wonder of the city. After spending so long working in an office. for these were the main nationalities she had in her tour parties. the most walking she had done was from one room to another.” The next few days were the most tiring of all for Maureen. was first to take a long soak in a warm bath and then to collapse into her bed. she never knew that she could carry on. “There will be more than enough time for me to savour all those delights daily on my guide days. Not only in English. There were no set days off.

adorning their balconies with dazzling arrays of colourful flowers. Please tell me how you found this place and from where you have come from. A picture of Mary. the old lady said. The colours vibrant and alive. As their eyes adjusted to the now darkened street they saw the tiny doorway of a very old church. The fresco whci covered the entire ceiling looked as though it had only just been finished. Sitting very close to the altar steps was an old lady. Speaking in a very quiet voice. the owners of these apartments took great pride in them. they nodded their heads in agreement to go inside. like a halo. As the rays from the sun hit the drops of liquid on the recently watered plants. giving a feeling of peace and the most tranquil feeling of being completely safe. they opened the door to take a peep inside. It was out . The door closed to behind them as they made the short distance towards her. These alleyways were way out from the crowds and although some of the buildings could have done with some renovating. The old lady saw them standing in the open doorway. Unable to even hazard a guess of how old it was. It was the most amazing tine place of worship that either of them had every seen. with a gesture from her arthritic liver spotted hand. they looked like tiny diamonds twinkling amongst the plant pots. dressed completely in black and holding onto an even older copy of a bible. standing over a young Christ. Looking at each other. with such a huge area of bright light. she beckoned for them to come forwards. It has been a very long time since any visitors come here. “good morning to you young ladies.” Claudio began to tell her that we were both tourist guides working in Venice. keeping them safely hidden from any of the dark forces which wanted to get into the heavenly abode.narrow meandering streets.

my job called for me to give clear and precise information. but the structures haven’t. is from a little village outside a town called Knutsford in England. a stutterer would have been no good. They may have been changes inside of people’s houses. it has become a little stronger and no longer alien for me to speak it. When my mother passed away recently. only maybe 750 or 800 people live there. I taught myself from a computer course back in my home town in England. That is why I am now in amongst the multitudes of visitors who stream into your beautiful city. Here in Venice I find life is much calmer. I decided to have a change.” “Your pronunciation is very good. please carry on. I shall let her tell you more of there. My friend Maureen. I too have a passion to see more of the many splendours . So after giving a slight nervous cough I started my side of the story. Although the tourists do make the squares and churches very crowded. I felt as though I was being strangled and suffocating in the village. I come from a very quiet little village. With me now speaking more Italian during my tour guiding. Se we all know each other quite well. It wasn’t as if I was not used to speaking to many people.” The old lady smiled at me. Like Claudia. which gave me a boost to my confidence. “Pardon me please if my Italian is not like what you are used to hearing. “Grazie Signora Cavello.” Claudia had to give me a nudge to start me off speaking to the old lady. I do enjoy having new people to talk to. for the little I have heard from you. Also little has been done to change the look of the village. but far more busier with the cars racing about the streets and trying to beat the ever changing traffic lights. to try and find more exciting and beautiful buildings. “I am from Milano. people do not rush about as much and they take their time over everything.day off and we loved to explore the city. keeping up old traditions. another beautiful city.

and I have really enjoyed listening to you tell of the beauty of my city. “Bravo young lady. there is. “I am glad that you came. a very slight hesitancy to the brush strokes that the artist has made. . “Who actually did the murals in this church? Although they have been skilfully painted. The silence of the small chuch was broken only when Signora Cavello said. This was to be the only time that Claudia and Maureen had the same days off together. they left the peacefulness of the church and walked back the way that they had come. Walking aquietly up to the front seats. Maureen bent her head and said a quiet prayer. When she looked up she saw that the signora was smiling at her. befitting the remoteness and more local patrons of it. which have survived the ravages of our now much busier times. through the now sun drenched walkways. she made out the small frame of Signora Cavello. On Maureen’s next free day. Your Italian is very good. At first when she entered it seemed empty. Maureen became quiet. What is it that you would like to know my dear?” Signora Cavello waited patiently for Maureen to begin.” Maureen hoped that her wording was good enough for the signora to understand and that she had not said anything to upset her.” After saying goodbye and also agreeing to going back one day soon.here. she made her way back to the small church. I could tell that there was a real interest in this church and of the Italian way. But as her eyes became focused to the dim light. The church itself is also very plain.” With an almost shy and downcast look. I noticed.

” As she handed over the small framed picture. Signora Cavello smiled and thanked Maureen for bringing in some welcome sunshine. as in those days to pay for a tutor was something which he couldn’t afford. He taught himself. Bright yellows and crimson roses. who was also a merchant of fruit and vegetables. It has been with me for many many years and I would like you to accept it and I have no doubt that you will treasure it. The artist was a local man. “Oh signora. all died in a tragic boating accident. So many years ago now. “I have a little gift for you also.” Signora Cavello stayed quiet for a long time after recalling this say story. You are very wise. I will treasure it and keep it safe. she carried with her a small bouquet of flowers. Maureen thought that it would be wise for her to leave and to let the signora take comfort in her surroundings. Maureen was able to get back to the church one more time before she had to leave to go back to England. His main interest was of the arts. The colours intrigued him. as the signora couldn’t help but have smile pass her face. the look on Maureens face must have been a picture in itself. My own family. in particular the painters. There is only one remaing of his family left today. but to me I can still recall their faces. my husband. I am the last of his family. Two of the colours which were abundant in the murals painted here. One day hopefully I may marry and have children of my own to pass on the wonderful . Which colour blended with another. you are very observant. His name was Giovanni Spinetti. You are quite right. Selling his goods up and down these very streets. so no doubt you have come to the right answer. As she entered the church. Giovanni asked permission to do the murals that you see here today. two daughters and a son. to make a further colour.“My dear. this is a great honour. When the church was built and the then residing pope had blessed it.

Good. let us go and have a coffee and put our feet up for a few minutes. She had called Dr Henderson’s surgery and had asked if Sheila had time to spare to help give her a hand in sorting through her mothers things. “My mother wouldn’t let me throw anything away. In the morning she would be flying back to England and to another new beginning. I shall be round there after morning surgery. “I wouldn’t have though that there was this much stuff in your mother’s room. but today she was determined that she was going to get started in there.story and of the most wonderful lady who gave this to me. What do you say Sheila?” Sheila was in full agreement.” . you never know when this will come in handy. “No problem whatsoever. see you later Maureen. most of the time she spent in bed.” After a tearful farewell. Shall we sa y one o’clock. Once they got started the time flew past and it was only when Maureen looked at her watch and saw that they had been working away for almost two hours she said. Taking their cups of coffee upstairs. that’s settled then. Maureen and Sheila began the job of selecting the best of her mother’s clothes to go to charity and the rest to go to the dustbin.” Sheila looked around at all the plastic bags which they had filled. “I think it is time for a well earned break. A few days went by when Maureen decided that it was about time that she took stock of her own house. I know that she rarely left this room. Her favourite saying was. Maureen clasped her painting to her and made her way back to the apartment. She still hadn’t had the heart to do anything in her mothers room.” Sheila was good to her word and arrived promptly at one o’clock.

The postcards were quite affectionate and a little daring for going through the post. Maureen had been very young and her memory of him was very dim. gossip was something which could be spread faster than a fire. When he had dies. All written to her mother and dated years before Maureen had been born. I suppose now will be the time to find out what she did write. that the sender was her father Her mother had only ever spoken of one man.Maureen smiled a little when she said this. I think that there is only one other place which has to be sorted out. They chatted away over their next coffees. But I always respected her privacy. Maureen could come to only one conclusion. we had better get back upstairs again. as though she wanted to give the impression that they hadn’t been touched. Especially in those days. maybe forty years ago. I think that if we are to finish off today. Maureen told about her work in Italy and of the many treasures there. Pushing up the roll down top. It was very rare that her mother had given any reason to smile in this room. There were only a couple which had been sent after Maureen’s birth. That is mother’s old writing desk. As she read through these she felt as though she was prying into someone’s love affair. I often wondered what she wrote about. She sometimes had spent several hours writing in her diaries there. “Well.” Maureen opened the writing desk with the small key. which was always kept on the table besides the bed. she first looked in the small pidgeon holes set out at the back of the desk. Maureen placed the cards carefully back into the slots. which they drank sitting at the table in the bright cosy kitchen. There she found a selection of postcards. .

I can always come back to be with you. They came to the last entry in the diary. She seems so much more lonelier that I ever thought. but it will not make me leave here. She has been my constant companion. These days my hand cannot hold my pen for very long. The cold seeps into my room. just a few days before her mother’s death. I am so very tired. to offer some sort of comfort. Just this little bit has shown me that my mother was not the person that I knew. perhaps by writing in my diaries. She looked at the beginning. or would you rather leave this for another day. and out came a sob with it. “ Yet again the skies are dark. do you want to carry on. she will one day know that I have always loved her. “Thank you Sheila. I will rest again now. Her she found several old diaries. She felt her heart beating within her chest. Slowly she turned the pages in the diary.” Maureen let her breath out. I can hear Maureen downstairs. but I must finish this.Next she opened up the large drawer in the desk. with cold winds fighting each other in the sky. Also a much loved daughter to me. preparing an early lunch for us both. Although I cannot voice my true feelings to her.” Sheila waited for a reply. but placed at the top with a pen still clipped to the front. Sheila came and sat beside her and took her into her arms. was her mother’s last diary. Her mother wrote. “Maureen. Her breathing slowed down. Her she also found an envelope addressed “To be opened in . she made sure that Sheila could also see what was written there. from what she as yet did not know.” As Maureen flicked through the pages of the diary. January 1st. until she hardly seemed to be breathing at all.

more of the same had been written. She has always been very quick in solving problems. Folded neatly at the back of the diary was the envelope addressed to Maureen. Maureen had always relied upon her own strength. you never showed that you . for she needed to be comforted.the event of my death. which should have been said to you many years ago. I shall soon be with you again my dearest one. Maureen has certainly inherited your quick aptitude in grasping foreign languages. I still think of you as a child. I now realise that that was a very unwise and very selfish thing to do. Her mother’s own brand of pale blue which she had always used. her eyes full of unshed tears. all of the highest regard and of how she had followed Maureen’s triumphs in her studies in art and the languages. In her neatest writing her mother wrote. You were robbed of your own childhood and even with my constant callings upon you to always be here. More feelings being showered down onto the pages. I was so afraid that I would loose you after the sudden death of your father that I struck out in the only way that I thought was best. I have had very little to do with anything financial. She held out her hand. There was even one other reference to her father. “My darling husband. but of course that is something that was taken away from you when you were just a very young thing. But there will be a surprise for her one day. Maureen looked over at Sheila. so this was something which she wasn’t used to. Taking a deep breath Maureen neatly sliced open the envelope.” This entry was her mother’s last one. using her mother’s heavy letter opener. “my dear child. with her mother writing. A day that I know is not long in coming. Inside was a single sheet of notepaper.” Through the weeks since the first entry of the New Year. I can only put onto this paper the words.

It was when I became completely housebound that I had more hours in which to think and to draw up the papers. she herself went up to her room. Pouring out a small amount of brandy which she found in the cupboard. I do not wish to make you anxious in any way. I now think that it is time for you to go home. “I think that I may leave it a day or so before going to this address.” Maureen pressed her friends hand. you will find an address of a solicitor in the main town square. that it gave off the feeling of peacefulness. Her colouring had gone to quite a pale shade. which I gave to him for safe keeping many years ago. For after today there is no telling of when tragedy can strike. please do not think that of me. your silent presence has been of great comfort to me. The revelations of today have been quite something.resented me. which has given me a lot to think about. but the hopes that a measure of the brandy would put some colour back into her cheeks. On the reverse of this note to you. spend as much time that you can with your family. You are and always will be my daylight guiding angel. I go now to the other one who has always been my light during the darkest hours. I can only hope that you can one day forgive me for the lonely days and the even longer lonely nights that you had to bear because of me. Go to him and he will give to you a letter. I thank you so much for being with me today. She lay down upon her bed.” Sheila led Maureen down the stairs and sat her at the kitchen table. which he has for you. . and after walking to the front door and waving her goodnight. This was a room so full of light. she pressed this upon Maureen to take a sip. fully clothed.

Turning slowly onto her side she smiled and said a quiet goodnight to her mother. of this she was now quite sure. she though she saw her mother smiling down at her. Now her mother’s words of kindness kept repeating themselves. she stared up at the ceiling. Many times giving vent to her own temper. Maybe in her mother’s words to her. Seeing her mothers words sketched upon the walls of her room. of having to always keep silent. this was her time to live. As she drifted off to sleep.Too full of thoughts to undress ready for sleep. Her mother had loved her. But for all her life she had carried the thought that she was only there to act as her mother’s servant. The End .

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Spring Time Love By Greta Ann Hughes .

Bright yellow and white. This area was still untouched. with small fluffy white clouds floating in a sky that was a clear blue as far as the eye could see. but you never knew how long it would remain this way. Although it was still early spring. As she sat there she thought of Sam. he had been someone to whom she could always trust in tell her the truth about her paintings. in a sea of green. As she gazed up towards the face that was looking down at her painting. Anna had set up her easel and was painting the fields. it looked like the face of a sun god.Spring Time Love The sun looked like a huge bright sunflower. So deep in thought was Anna that at first she didn’t see the dark shadow that was being cast over her canvas. which were full of early flowers. Whether she should carry on or abandon her choice of work. Eyes the colour of bluebells that shone out of a face that was bronzed and lips that made you feel as though tiny drops of morning dew were kissing your skin. Soon there would be very little of it left. The constant building of new homes was taking over all of the countryside. But all of a sudden Sam had decided that he wanted to be on his own and without any reason he had left her. She brought herself together and said in a slight haughty tone “Isn’t it rather rude to be . or to find some other profession. But more than that he had been her lover. it was quite a warm day.

Sam. I do apologise for not recognising you.looking over someone’s shoulder?” In a voice to match the Adonis looks. She felt herself feeling very light headed and when his lips met hers it took all her will power to keep from falling faint. Their eyes met and Anna felt tingles go rippling through her body. “I am on the look out for some colourful paintings for my new apartment.” .” She must get herself under control. you have been in my thoughts since the first time we met. Looking at this one in front of me.” Anna asked. She made herself pull her gaze away from his and giggled rather girlishly “Oh but you wouldn’t want this one.” On hearing Sam’s name she was taken off guard slightly. She had thought that no one could touch her heart the way Sam’s love had. He took her hand and kissed the tender spot on her wrist. Now that you are free. I think I may have found the first one” he said. “So what brings you here to this quiet little village.”Not when I had been invited by the artist My name is William and I recently bought one of your paintings via a friend off ours. I’m sure that there must be plenty of pictures elsewhere if only you took a moment to look. “Of course. he whispered his reply. Have dinner with me tonight. William’s husky voice murmured against her ear. The last time we met you had recently come back from a skiing accident and what wasn’t bandaged had been covered in bruises” They laughed at this description of him. “Anna my darling. I can show my love for you. Please say that you will not turn me away.

the colour melts into your skin making it look like milk chocolate. You are acting like a schoolgirl. I know that you won’t know many places round here. she added just a touch of colour to her eyes and gloss to bring out the fullness of her ripe lips. After drying and styling her hair. I will book the table for us” said Anna. who serves the best of pastas and has his wine sent over from the Le Marche region of Italy. luxuriating in the warm perfumed water. which could be heard in the stillness of the evening. which she topped with the silk shawl that had been handed down from her mother. She carefully chose a light beige coloured dress.“I would really love that. Gino’s. Having said that I am starving.” . “You look radiant in that dress. The sound of her heels made a slight tapping noise. She waved good-bye to William and then packed her paints and canvases away. she said aloud. But even so she couldn’t help but feel so happy and gay. Tonight then at 7pm. She seemed to be trembling all over. Anna bathed slowly. as there was very little traffic in the village. but I know a small Italian restaurant. Get hold of yourself. After glancing at her reflection in the mirror she was ready to set off to the restaurant. On reaching her small cottage she sat down at the kitchen table and hugged herself. Good enough to eat. I do hope that Gino’s lives up to what you have told me. William was already waiting at the doorway to Gino’s and walked forward to greet her.

followed by a small coffee and brandy. He did promise to call her first thing in the morning and with a long lingering kiss he said goodnight. Their meal arrived and it was every bit as good as Anna had said. Anna felt over the moon. “At the moment I cannot really say how I feel. As she lay awake recalling everything that they had done and said. this way please. William and Anna. He obviously thought the . William took hold of Anna’s hand. Once they had chosen and the orders given to the waiter. even though it was only a small village.William led her into the restaurant and said “Good evening. Do you feel the same. we have a reservation for 7pm. “ I feel as though we should have been together for a long time. By the time that they had eaten and talked about her paintings it was getting late. He didn’t want to put her in a position where she felt as though he had to stay. she still couldn’t believe that she could be falling in love. For dessert they chose tiramisu. They were the last to leave the restaurant. he still kept hold of her hand. but declined the invitation to go in for a coffee. They had chosen the pasta with tomato and basil sauce.” He asked.” As the waiter left them to read through the menu. But I never thought that one day that we could be. followed by thinly carved slices of chicken with porcini mushrooms.” “Buona sera signor et signorina. with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Gino’s was a popular place to eat. rosemary and garlic sauce and a green salad. William walked her back to her cottage. my heart missed a beat and my pulse quickened.” Anna replied. except to say that when you looked at me earlier this afternoon.

Opening the door she found the basket of flowers. She worked all morning and by lunchtime was just putting the finishing touches to the canvas. I hope that you like flowers as much as you enjoy painting them. She pulled out the canvas she had been working on when William had come upon her. but Anna did not let the weather spoil the happiness she was still feeling. . Will call on you again later. Finally her eyes became very heavy and she fell into a wonderful sleep. the card on the windowsill was slightly damp from the rain that had been falling for most of the morning. “ I rang your doorbell but got no response from you. When she awoke the next morning.same way about her. the bell is not working” and made a mental note for herself to get this fixed. it was to a dull miserable day. The card read. A day so unlike the previous one. It was as she cleared the dishes from the table that she noticed the card at her kitchen window. She settled for a fresh salad and crusty white bread. Love W. but checking on the time decided that she was ready for a break. She would finish this painting off and give it as a present to William. She hadn’t realised how hungry she was. She couldn’t recall hearing the doorbell and went straight away to check on this. The bell wasn’t working and she went back indoors to fetch a piece of paper to write a note “Please use door knocker. She knew the view off by heart and the memory of yesterday was still fresh upon her mind. with a cool glass of sparkling water to refresh her.

Perhaps she was being silly. It soon got going and took away the chills that were gathering around her. Anna brought in some wood to light a fire in the living room. It was when she had to put the lights on. As Anna drifted off she felt herself start to dream. She went to the door to check that the sign was still there and hadn’t blown away. Images of Sam leaving her came to the forefront. as the day grew darker that she realised that she still hadn’t heard from William. She decided to lock up and go to bed. The colours seemed to have come alive and there was warmth to it. After preparing a light evening meal. . Soon the heat from the fire made her eyelids feel heavy with sleep. it brought with it a chill that made the house feel cold. The afternoon moved on into early evening. Smiling brightly at her and whispering words of love. she settled down to read. The image of Sam was then taken over with Williams’ face. Maybe he had more planned for the day than he originally had expected. She was very pleased with the way the painting had turned out. Her body shook with sobs that were uncontrollable. Tears formed and pushed themselves out of her sleeping eyes. Please don’t let him have gone away as well. but just maybe the encounter and memorable day in which she had painted it was making it feel like this.Anna returned to her canvas to put the last finishing touches to it and as soon as it was dry she would wrap this up for William. It was still early so she really shouldn't have been getting worried like she was. She drew the curtains to shut out the dark night and as the darkness had come down. But there was a strange niggling feeling at the back of her mind.

it made her feel fresh and took away the nights dreams of sorrow. Her note was still pinned to her front door and being the female that she was and didn’t have a clue of how to fix anything. When she next woke it was early morning and the day was dawning bright and sunny. so unlike the day before. Very fattening. making herself feel light and bright as the day with the pastel colours that she chose to wear. .What could he know of love if this was the way he treated her. People in love didn’t just disappear. She went downstairs and made herself breakfast. Bill would fix it. she decided to call in at the local hardware store. she set off on her walk. She had often said to herself that she must learn to do odd jobs around the house and to cut out paying some of the silly prices that repair people came up with. She turned over too tired to care. She also made herself a pot of tea and settled down at the kitchen table with the morning paper. She went into the bathroom and showered. she would have it done in no time at all. She finishing dressing. Anna awoke from her dream and the dampness of her pillow was cold against her cheek. She picked up a light jacket and making sure that her keys were in her bag. but that is how it felt that William had done to her. If you gave Anna anything feminine to do. toasted wholemeal bread buttered and topped with her favourite damson jam. After cleaning everything up. The man who owned the store was the local fixer. anything broken. Anna decided to go for a walk to really chase away any remaining wisps of her dream. but extremely nice.

She breathed in the scent of pine needles and the freshness of the early spring flowers. where she would try to recapture the colours onto a new painting. As she neared she realised who it was. He called an ambulance and I spent practically the rest of the day in the emergency room at the hospital. As you can see I am in plaster again!” Anna lowered her head to try and hide the laughter which was starting to bubble up. . I slipped off the pavement and landed on my backside with my ankle at an odd angle at the curb edge. She took in all of these sights and keeping them in her mind. With a cry Anna ran forwards. she decided to turnaround and go home. Buying the still warm. Williams’ response was a shrug of the shoulders and in a sheepish tone said. Anna carried on walking along the lane until she came upon the fence which circled the small woodland at the edge of the town. “After leaving your house yesterday and I do hope you liked the flowers. Your local odd job man came to the rescue. Anna climbed over the stile and with her tread falling softly on the carpet of leaves and grass she meandered her way through the trees. fresh crusty bread.So after calling into Bill’s shop. She was not far from her home when she saw someone waving a wooden walking stick in her direction. Carrying her basket of goods. It was only as I tried to get up that I knew that it was more than a sprain. she also decided on the locally made cheese which they sold as well. Bluebells were ablaze all around her. “What on earth has happened to you”. she exclaimed. I then went hurrying off to try and catch the train into town. she next stopped at the local bakers.

She was just so relieved that he hadn’t left her. Although he knew where she lived. Anna didn’t say anything. Bill must have been already and fixed her doorbell for her. “I think that I had better take you under my wing and make sure that you don’t keep on ending up like some Egyptian mummy” As they walked together back to Anna’s house. Couldn’t she for once have given a thought to someone else? Why hadn’t she thought that there could have been some kind of accident? She was glad though that he wasn’t too badly injured. They both started to speak at once. but after gaining control of themselves William said for her to speak first. she looked over to where he sat and the feeling of contentment settled upon her again. William said that he was truly sorry that he had not been able to get in touch with her after leaving her the flowers. As she settled back in her own chair. he didn’t know her surname and couldn’t get her telephone number from the information he had. Anna continue to say that she was falling in love with him. So. she went into the kitchen to make coffee for them. She opened her front door and after making sure that William was comfortable. Hoping that she would not be turned away and feel foolish she looked over at William . She poured the coffee out and handed a cup to William. shyly to begin with. On reaching her house.Unable to control it her shoulders started to shake with the fit of laughter which took her over. she noticed that her out of order sign had gone.

” Anna gasped and went over to him at once and said “Oh William yes. I have for such a long time. The End ." “One day soon you will” he replied. “This is for you. oh how I wish I could dance around the room with you. As they held each other tightly. ”I’m sorry I cannot get down on one knee.” He then took from his pocket a small ruby red box.again.” “I have something for you. outside the night had drawn in and the moon and the stars had come out. With eyes that were shining he said “My wonderful silly artist of course I love you. It was a night made for lovers. inside which was a single diamond ring. Will you marry me” he asked. It is me that should be feeling foolish in wondering if you would feel the same. Then added quickly.

.

The Dog Walker By Greta Ann Hughes .

Although she had not worked since marrying Duncan. Duncan had been well liked and there was a huge gathering at the funeral and many followed on to the buffet. She then handed it over to the people she hired to serve and to clean up afterwards. that their faces were a blur. Harbrook and Stevenson. which had been arranged and set out at a local restaurant. He was only 36 years old. She made everyone feel welcome and chattered away in many topics of conversation.The Dog Walker Up until now Margaret’s life had been a very busy one. preparing the meal and seeing it through to almost the time it was to be served. So it came as a severe shock to her when Duncan was struck down by a speeding car and killed outright. which she served and she always made sure that she was the one in the kitchen. lunch dates and the arranging of the many dinner parties given by her and Duncan at their home. Jeeves. Her husband had a well-positioned job in an investment company in the city. Margaret had become well known for the splendid dishes. there had always been the morning coffee get togethers. They entertained on most weekends and sometimes during the week as well. So many came and gave her their condolences. the youngest in the company at the top ranks and his death was also a major blow to the company as well. So Margaret was top of the list in being the ideal hostess. It was when old .

As she only had herself to cater for now. I think that it is time that I call my driver and have you taken home. she was going to have so much time on her hands. Her days now looked as though they would drag on and on. I have a small beach house in France that you are most welcome to stay at. But now. Now you must let me do this. She leant forwards and cupped her hands to her face and sobbed. for as long as you wish.” With that he signalled to his driver and she said her hasty thanks to all those who were still there and was then driven home. that she would probably find it difficult in finding a suitable place to work. It may have seemed a little selfish to some people. for without you we would not have been able to get some of the clients that Duncan secured. At the age of 34 she was still a very good looking woman. she sat at her dressing table and took a long look at herself. “Margaret. All you need to do is ring me and I will send the keys and arrange any transport for you. Today there were so many shops available. She didn’t know if she was crying at the loss of her darling husband or that she was feeling sorry for herself. They had decided that they wouldn’t have children as this could stop them doing the things that only they wanted to do. It . As Margaret prepared to go to bed that night. You have done so much and been such a credit and strength to your late husband that I think that you now need to rest. Her only employment many years ago had been at a florist’s. but that was their choice. He took her arm and led her away to a quiet corner. It was just at this moment though that she thought that maybe they had been wrong. please let me arrange for you to be taken home.Mr Jeeves came to speak to her that she suddenly became quite overcome with the constant noise of talking and the many people circulating about.

the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. blue skies and glorious sunshine. The different scenery and long awaited holiday would be good for her. So over the next few months she was kept busy at the house. But first she had a lot of papers to sort out and to transfer everything into her name. There she would have none of the things around her to remind her of Duncan and she would be able to take walks and think about what her future could be. which had really come into bloom.wasn’t like her to feel selfish. . She would probably be kept at this for some time. but as she finally dried her eyes. my whole world revolved around you and the company you worked for. she said aloud to herself. we must keep in touch. Just staying in her own garden and tending to the flowers. Although her eyes were puffy and her skin felt very tight with the crying she had done the night before. while others had drifted away just saying. you know that I am useless on my own. why did you have to die. made her feel safe in her own surroundings. When Margaret awoke the next morning. it might seem as though she didn’t care and that all she wanted was to go away. It was also a very good summer that year. But there again some of these friends had been Duncan’s and she supposed that they may feel embarrassed with her now being on her own. Sleep came to her quickly when she finally retired to her bed. Some of their friends had remained loyal. she had made her mind up that she would take up the offer of the house in France. inviting her out. Also as she started to think about this.

she was told of the quiet town of Wissant in France. Margaret had already decided that she would travel in her own car.” “As a matter of fact I am. “It has been a very long time Margaret. Over their lunch at the popular restaurant near to the offices. she was now thinking about a holiday. I have recently returned to the office. Now as I recall I offered you the keys to the beach house. I have been busy getting the affairs of the house in order and I have had a good think about my life and I thought that a break away would be good for me.” she joked lightly.” “I would really love that.Six months had passed since Duncan’s death and although she had been busy. after being away for the last couple of months. “would you like to meet me for lunch and I can tell you about the house and give you the keys. She then remembered Mr Jeeves’s invitation of the house in France. I do hope that this call is to say that you are going to ask for the keys. “I think that it will give me more confidence in finding my way about. I have been too .” Mr Jeeves asked. It will also make a change for someone to wait on me. I hope that you are well. so there would be no need for Mr Jeeves to arrange any transport for her. Later on in the morning she rang Mr Jeeves at his office. as I haven’t the faintest idea of where I would like to go. his secretary put her through straightaway and she was greeted by his friendly voice. Taking a rest before I retire. Your offer seemed ideal. Margaret said in a happier tone than of late.

as she knew that there were no up to date reference books or maps at home. She had been told that there was very little distance from Calais to the village of Wissant and looking at the map it looked straightforward enough. She would let him know when she would return and then she would make arrangements to get his keys back to him. so this would be the first time that she would be driving any distance. as she was looking forward to taking long walks and to do some sightseeing. She felt an excitement at the prospect of the journey that she was about to make. The journey down to Dover was easy enough. Normally she only took the car locally or in to the city. She bought herself new jeans and sneakers. She smiled to herself as she remembered what she was like at finding places. it would probably take about an hours time. so it is about time that I start now in trying to look after myself. She spent the rest of the afternoon going around the shops. Just thinking of that made her sigh a little. she put on a good face and after the bill had been paid she thanked Mr Jeeves profusely and said that she would send him a postcard and would keep in touch with him.” Margaret said in a positive way. from now on she would have to do things for herself. It was something that she had always left to others. All that remained now was for Margaret to book a ferry crossing from Dover to Calais and she could be on her way. Although deep down she felt nervous. She also took herself along to the bookstore to find maps. the word hopeless sprang to mind. .dependant on others for a long time. After she had unpacked the car and had sorted through her new purchases she settled down with a coffee and planned her journey.

you only have to remember to drive on the opposite side of the road. Once aboard she had ample time to have some refreshments and then to browse around the on board shop. When she arrived at the ferry terminal. But she had no fear of that. it was clearly marked and she soon wound her way through the tiny roads into Wissant. she didn’t want to end up driving and missing her turning.She booked a crossing on the ferry and her ticket would be at the terminal for her. but said to herself. She had the weekend to pack her suitcases and let her neighbours know that she would be away for a little while. They were a super group of families who lived on the crescent. Knowing very little French. she backed off the driveway and with a glance in her rear view mirror drove off. Mr Jeeves had given her clear directions to the house and soon she was parked out in front of the house. She then got the local garage to give her car a quick check over and when Monday morning arrived she was ready to set off. She started to get butterflies in her tummy. everything else would be the same. She had a leisurely breakfast and then made sure the house was locked up safely and checking her purse to make sure she had her money and passport. This was going to be the testing time for her. As she drove along the AutoRoute she kept a close eye on all the signs. All too soon it was time to get into their cars ready to drive off. The peacefulness of the place was the first thing that . There were only a dozen houses and it was a very quiet area. but as she passed through the various stages ready for driving onto the ferry the time seemed to go by quite quickly. All this was very exciting for her. she went straight to help desk and was given her tickets. She had arrived in plenty of time.

After being there for several days. to the 100 year war and to the Germans occupying the area from 1940 to September 1944. a drink that she had not had in many many years. which served a selection of omelettes. She had taken along with her a French phrase book and with lots of gestures she managed to get by. From Julius Caesar embarking there in 54BC. she only had to glance out. looked as though they had all the time in the world to get where they were going. The only sound that she could hear.struck Margaret. she noticed that there seemed to be a lot of dogs being taken for walks. She had picked up a couple of pieces of local history. She knew right away that this was the place where she would find solitude and peace of mind. was the sound of the waves coming in from the sea on to the beach. which she was grateful for and thanked them very much. which she had thought to bring along. She took a cool glass of lemonade out in to the garden and watched the late afternoon go by. Later in the evening she found a small restaurant. One person seemed to be out and about most of the day with various . Margaret was looking forward to exploring the area and to speaking to the locals. She also decided to try the local cider. The few people she saw walking about. so that she could think of what she was going to do with her future. So if she happened to feel a little homesick. As the day was clear. All the people she had met so far seemed very nice. all of which sounded very tempting. Margaret settled herself in after unpacking her suitcases and the boxes of grocery. Also they were all very patient and many spoke English. you could look across the waters and see the headland of Britain.

types of dogs. He was very handsome, with dark eyes and dark hair and was tall of stature and had a way of walking as if on a catwalk at a fashion show. Margaret thought to herself, what on earth can his work be about. It was on the following day that as Margaret took a walk along the sea front, that the handsome guy approached her. For the first time he was without a dog and looked as if he didn’t know what to do with the empty hands not holding on to a dogs lead.

“Mademoiselle, would you please permit me to walk with you. I have seen you on my many occasions that I have walked by here, but as you see, today I am alone. I would like to walk by your side and see the sunlight dazzle through your golden hair. May I introduce myself, my name is Gerard.” He slightly bowed forwards, with one arm behind his back, which Margaret thought to herself, this should have been in a scene in a film, not along the seafront.

Thinking what a very polite man he was, she inclined her head slightly and said, “I would like your company very much. My name is Margaret and as you can already guess, I am here for a while taking a break from my home in England.” As she said this, a slight twinge of homesickness flashed in her mind. Also, it was such a long time since she had been approached by someone, that she felt a little bit awkward.

Gerard offered her his arm, which she took rather timidly and he said in his sexily accented tone, “as you have probably guessed, I have the job of taking the varieties of dogs for walks. My father has a boarding kennels just on the outskirts of the village, called Escalles. Most of what you see around here has had some historical moment. Did

you know that King Ethelred 11 of England sailed from the port here in 1013? Just a little something for you think about, as you wile your time away here.” This was said with tongue in cheek, as she could tell by the twinkle in his eyes, when he gazed at her.

His look took her breath away. How could she start to feel like this after only being with him for such a short period of time? It must have something to do with having been left on her own so suddenly, because she had always been so used to meeting strangers, with Duncan bringing them home for the many dinner parties. She smiled at him and said quietly “ you must forgive me for being so quiet. I am not used to having attention being given to me so directly.” Gerard asked her “Have dinner with me tonight and then we can get to know each other better. There is a restaurant nearby, which has seafood as its speciality. Please say that you will dine with me.”

His manner of asking her made her smile and she accepted without a second thought. They said their good-byes for the moment and with a wave went their separate ways.

Margaret fussed over what she should wear, finally she selected a deep purple dress, which fitted closely to her curved body. Just to take off the plainness of the dress, she wore a gold bangle with matching earrings and pinned to the left side a small gold owl brooch. Satisfied with her appearance, Margaret set off for her dinner date. Just thinking of the word date, made her feel strange. It had been a long time since she had had to talk about herself to someone new. Her usual topics of conversation were about the weather, holidays and what her late husbands company dealt in. Tonight she would probably talk about Duncan to a stranger for the first time. The thought of this was a little daunting,

but Gerard seemed such a thoughtful person, that she shouldn’t find any problems.

As she walked along the quiet street, she passed by an art shop and made a mental note to go and have a look in there the next day. She could possibly get a new painting to take back home with her. As she continued on, Gerard was walking towards her. She smiled as they got closer and Gerard held out his hand to her. He lifted her hand and brushed a faint kiss on the back of it. This sent a tingle rippling through her. “You look delightful, like a wonderful Iris flower, tall and slender, dark and intriguing.” Gerard had such a way of speaking that she felt as if she was floating.

Margaret smiled shyly and said, “Oh you are a smooth talker, I wouldn’t mind betting that you have all the girls wrapped around your fingers.”

“Mon dieu, you shame me. I only have eyes for you and I express my feelings with all honesty. You do believe me, don’t you?” Gerard feigned a look of disbelief in what Margaret had said. Together they laughed and she said, “Please let us carry on for dinner, I am truly hungry and I am looking forward to the meal and of course your company.”

During their meal they talked about the news of both their countries. Margaret found these topics no problem, she was used to small chit chat topics from all the dinner parties she had given. The evening passed by very quickly and soon it was time for them to leave the restaurant. “The night is still young, would you like to go for a walk and then I will take you home?” Gerard asked as he slipped her coat on to her shoulders. “I would

like that very much.” she replied. Gerard led the way, he took her passed a very old house, most of which had fallen down and it was surrounded by a high brick wall. In the moonlight it seemed as if someone was watching them. Margaret had a sinister feeling of eyes following her.

“Who lived in that house. It feels like a very sad house and as though something tragic has happened there?” Margaret asked quietly.

Gerard led her down to the sea front and told her the tale of the house. “That house has remained empty for many many years. The young man who was the last of the family who owned it died in very tragic circumstances. He had been engaged to be married to a local girl Marie, who had become a famous model. She had been on tour when the train she had been travelling in came off its rails and crashed down an embankment. Most of the passengers were killed outright, Marie was amongst them. He vowed then that he would never marry, for his love had died with Marie. He slowly went mad. It was said that he could be seen on some nights prowling through the corridors and looking out from the tower. It was on a bright starlit night, that he took his own life, he threw himself out of the window of the tower. The next morning the cook found him lying there. It is said that even today, that on clear moonlit nights he can be heard crying and calling for his love. Now after listening to that story, do you believe in ghosts? For as you can see, tonight is brightly lit, with the stars shining way up in the sky.”

“Well all that I can say is that you are a very good story teller. I am sure that his heart must have been broken, but as for ghosts, no I do not believe in them.” Margaret

shivered slightly as she said this. She shook her head as if to dispel the feeling. “You are shivering. Please let me take you home right away. It was foolish of me to keep you so long by the sea, with the cool wind blowing in.” Gerard gently took hold of her arm and escorted her to her front door. They stood there for a few minutes until Margaret broke the quiet by saying “I thank you so much for the lovely evening. You needn’t worry about me having dreams of the haunted house, because I will fall into a deep sleep until morning.” She leant forwards and kissed Gerard on the cheek and said goodnight.

“Sweet dreams my angel of the night. I will call on you tomorrow, but I may not be alone, for tomorrow I will be back with my dogs.” Gerard kissed her hand again and bade his goodnight to her.

Margaret made her way to bed and was soon fast asleep. It was in the early hours of the morning that looking around her and being afraid, she realised that she was standing outside the gates of the old house. She didn’t know how she could have got there or how long she had been outside. She was dressed in jeans and a thick jumper, but couldn’t recall getting dressed either. As she stood there she glanced up at the empty window, the old curtain was blowing in and out of the broken window. Faintly she could hear crying. Soon she was running back to her house, she ran faster and faster, until on reaching her door she stood panting and trying to get her breath. What on earth has come over me? It must have been the events of last night’s story and too much wine.

She took herself off to bed again and lay there for a while, sleep seemed to come to her

“You will probably think that I am crazy. Some other young ladies have been seen walking and sometimes running. but the next time she woke. “This I have heard before. but I could make it out to be that of someone who was very sad.” she asked quietly. It was only when she came to get dressed after her morning shower. It wasn’t until nearly noon that she met Gerard. Perhaps when she met Gerard later she could ask him more about the story of the house. away from the house in the early hours of the morning. it was morning and the sun was shining and she felt no lingering trace of last nights adventure outside. Why do you ask?” Gerard responded. I believe that he is buried in the family crypt.slowly. He was madly in love with Marie. She thought perhaps that she had dreamt the whole thing. they were covered in sand. that she found that her trainers were full of sand. “What more can you tell me about the haunted house. which is on the grounds. “Well I think that I told you about as much as everyone around here knows. unless I had been there. very softly.” Margaret kept her eyes to the ground as she told this to Gerard. he said that he had been busy working at the kennels and had just started to take the dogs for their walks. Now I don’t believe in ghosts. I had a dream last night. but I cannot explain how my shoes were in this condition. But this was . I was standing outside the house and there was crying. This morning as I went to put on my shoes.

When she came around she was lying on an old chaise lounge. “I don’t understand. I should have told you from the beginning who I really was. Margaret had the same dream again and again.” Margaret . we should go somewhere warmer. Her surroundings were not familiar to her and she could feel the cold night air. was Gerard.” Gerard looked quite concerned. with head bent downwards and holding her hand. It seemed to go on and on. Please forgive me. May I take you to your house. She took a gasp of air and sat upright very quickly. she recognised him.a very long time ago and I cannot recall any talk of their adventures. but the next moment she felt herself falling. Also where I work.” Gerard stood back from her and looked at her with eyes that were filled with love. Over the next few nights. They finished their walk and Margaret said that she was feeling quite tired and decided that she would go back and rest and probably have an early night. It was on the third night that she actually saw the man for the first time. which had caught her before she reached the ground. “You are the one that I have been looking for all my life. Perhaps for me to tell you everything. They parted with a friendly kiss on the cheek and went their separate ways. Kneeling at her side. where we could be more comfortable and I promise to tell you everything. “My name is Gerard. As he drew closer to her. is also true. Where are we and what is it that you should have told me?” Margaret was feeling scared. that part is true. She turned to run away. until she felt herself cradled in strong arms.

She also knew that one day she could find a new kind of love .nodded and they returned to her house. My name is Gerard. who lived in the old house. was Edourd. like I said. she looked deep into his eyes. Please say that you will be mine. Gerard’s real story came out. when the accident happened. It was me who you heard crying when you thought you were dreaming. She knew that what he spoke of was the truth. but as soon as the doctors found out that she was expecting. Once they had settled in and Margaret had made them both hot drinks. but the kind of pain when you are hurting inside. She found out that she was expecting me during her modelling tour. the young man whose tragic death I told you about. You see my real father. they operated quickly and I survived. When I first saw you. walking in silence all the way. It was about three years ago that I found out who my real parents were and it took me a very long time to come to terms with the new knowledge. I can call out to people and reach them even in their deepest state of sleep and beckon them. As Margaret slowly took all this news in. What she saw there was pain. I have searched for a long time for the one that I could truly love. I knew that you were the one for me. My mother was Marie. they told me this when I was quite young. She had been away for almost six months on the road and she was on her way back to tell Edourd the news. My mother was barely alive when the emergency people found her. The house isn’t really haunted. although I don’t have his family name. they adopted me when I was a baby. My parents are not my real parents. She died before she had time to tell him.

A love of being with one another and maybe one day. the look that she may turn him away. The End . She could no longer stand the look that was on his face. She held out her arms to him and they clung to one another for a long time.with him. He had finally found the one to love and maybe the lonely walks. the love of a close family. would now be at an end. The embrace was all there was to say. with only the dogs to keep him company.

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