Foresters Assignment

All eyes followed the smartly dressed young woman marching between the rows. Her head moved from side to side inspecting the finest of specimens. She stopped occasionally for a closer assessment.

Stand straight Forester, the commander yelled. What happened to you anyway?

Forester leaned back as far as his twisted limbs could take the strain. Sir, I色

Hush son. Youre a disgrace to the ranks.

Forester watched farmer Stanley as he followed the woman who had turned into his row. Their conversation grew louder.

What kind of tree are you looking for? They all look the same to me.

I need something different.

She stopped suddenly and pointed. That one! Its perfect.

Staring forward, Forester focused on the womans jacket which blocked his view of the commander.

Stanley was scratching his head. Why would anyone want a Christmas tree that looks like this? Its just a mangled mess. Its stunted and undeveloped. He ran his calloused hands over the branches.

A fearful Forester tried to keep still.

Theres too much space between these limbs Stanley pointed. Theres more on one side than the other. Its worthless.

Nevertheless, its the one I want.

OK, Maam, but Im not going to charge you. I dont want you coming back for a refund or giving my plantation a bad name.

Stanley removed his axe from its belt that hung loosely under his protruding belly.

Where are you going to put this宇hing? There has to be a reason for choosing such a pathetic looking tree for Christmas.

Its was my son Sams idea. Shetook a deep breath then exhaled slowly.Sams a paraplegic. He fell from his horse a few years back. He spends a lot of time in the childrens hospital and since I have to work over Christmas, well we have to make the most of it. Ill be the paediatrician on call over Christmas.

Stanley smiled. A doctor, aye?

Yes, Dr Anne Shepherd. Anne, please.

She accepted his out-stretched callused hand before continuing in a more subdued manner.Sams father is in the army and has been serving in Iraq but he expects to be home for Christmas. Anyway, Christmas with the children is going to be the only way well spend any time together.

Stanley was staring at the woman for a few moments before he shifted his attention back to the narrow trunk and lifted the axe.

With one crack Forester fell sideways and looked up at his commander. Sorry Sir.

The commander glanced momentarily at his fallen comrade. Its all right Forrester. I think you may be worthy of this important assignment after all. Do us proud.

Yes Sir,Forester replied as he swayed back and forth in Stanley’s hand.

Stanley walked behind Anne to where she had parked her vehicle. There he waited while she opened the rear door.

Sam, I found one.

Cool! Let me see.

Hanging almost upside down, Forester appreciated Stanleys strong grip and watched Anne climb into the back of the modified van. Anne pulled a small lever at the base of the boys seat and turned it around.

Forester became suddenly dizzy and almost lost his bearings when Stanley unexpectedly flipped him upright.

Here it is, Stanley called.

WOW! Its perfect Mum.

Forester blinked and opened his eyes wide so he could see clearly a child who sat in a strange chair with big wheels. The boy was smiling broadly and Forester realized it was he, Forester, who Sam was so excited to see. Forester felt six feet tall.

Thanks Mum. Thanks Mister.

You can place the tree here beside the wheelchair in a moment, Anne told Stanley. She turned Sams chair back into place and secured it before climbing back out through the rear exit. Thank you, we appreciate your kindness.

Its my pleasure Maam and you have a great Christmas Sam.

Resting beside Sams chair, Forester was overwhelmed by the excitement that had glowed in the boys face. Forrester didnt even flinch when the door closed and latched.

Come on Mum! We need to get to the hospital so the kids can decorate it. Its going to be a neat Christmas and with Dad home, everything will be perfect.

Forrester heard the front door open and close. Annes sweet response and cheerful laughter sounded beautiful. When the engine started, he felt Sams fingers wrap around his feeble trunk. He shivered with pride. His assignment had begun.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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Childrens Corner by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Haunting Wails and the Seashell

Multi-coloured seashells lined the shelf in Sophies spare room. They had always fascinated her nine-year-old granddaughter, Emma. Each shell had its own special story. Today, Emma had asked to hear about the big shiny spotted one, which twisted and curled to a little holey point.

Emma carefully lifted the shell from the shelf and sat on the bed as Sophie entered from the kitchen, wiping her wet hands on her apron. She smiled down at her granddaughter holding the shell gently in her lap. I suppose you want to know about this very special seashell.

Where did you find it, Nanna? Its so pretty.

It is prettyas pretty as the beach I found it on. But this shell has a sad story to tell. The memory will live forever in here. Sophie placed her hand over her heart before continuing.

Poppa and I were visiting a place far from here on the west coast for a holiday back in 1992. It was our holiday of a lifetimejust after your mother finished college. It was a summer. We were staying at a resort village and Poppa and I spent the evenings walking along the cooling sand. On the third evening there was a full moon and we were about to head back up the beach to our bungalow when we heard a pitiful moaning. It seemed like it was coming from the ocean. The sound lingered like a haunting wail that echoed. I have to admit, I was afraid. Im not one to believe in ghosts, but that night I would have believed anything.

Oh, Nanna, that must have been soooo scary. What did you and Poppa do? What was it?

Sophie traced the contour of the twisted shell to the point, holding her finger in mid-air for a moment before continuing. Well at first we just stood there trying to work out what it was. Some of the resort staff came running down onto the beach yelling, Save them! Save them! It was then that we realized there were black mounds rolling in the surf. They looked like huge boulders. Some were closer to us on the wet sand; water lapping around them from the incoming tide. Some of the people started running into the waves. Poppa grabbed my hand. The boulders were actually whales. Some had already beached themselvesothers splashed about a little offshore where waves crashed around them.

Tears ran down her cheeks as she recalled the events. People were trying to persuade them back by yelling at them. Others just stood, staring, as one by one they beached themselves. It was an awful sight.

Did they go back into the water? Emma asked, her eyes reflecting her anguish.

Unfortunately, most of them didnt. I guess its part of nature. We never did find out why those whales beached themselves. We tried to help by keeping the whales wet. We even tried to encourage them back into the water. Sophie shook her head. Four days later the beach was covered in dead and dying whalesfifteen in all. I remember I sat in the shallow water beside a mother and her calf and wept for them. Poppa and I took turns taking short naps and taking time out for meals provided by the resorts kitchen. We continued our vigil for four daysthe remainder of our holiday. Weve always considered it a small sacrifice. We managed to get three whales back out into deeper wateronly three, but we were relieved we were able to help in a small way.

Oh, Nanna, this is the saddest story of all. But, where did you find the shell?

Sophie picked up the shell and blew into the small hole at the point. It made a howling sound, like the wind. She handed it back to Emma so she could have a blow, and continued her story.

About mid-morning on the last day, men with hoists came and loaded the dead whales onto the back of trucks to take them awayfor burial. I suppose we were too exhausted to ask where. When they lifted the calf beside me, I noticed something lodged in the wet sand. Poppa used his hands to dig it out and held it up to look at it more closely. One of the helpers from the night before took it from Poppas hands and washed it in the seawater. He lifted it to his lips and blew it, long and loud. It sounded almost like the mournful cry we had heard the evening before. The man handed it to me and walked away, back up the beach to the resort where he worked. Ill never forget those whalesor the beach.

Emma blew into the shell. The haunting wail lingered like the memories on the shelf. Sophie sat beside her in silence for a few minutes. Emma traced her finger around the shell before placing it into Sophies hand. She too, traced her finger to the point then placed it back in its place on the shelf.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Childrens Corner at Riverside Peace