The Mystery of Keats Missing Endymion Solved.

Historian Albert Winslow sat at his desk in a sparsely furnished London office. Using two large wooden tweezers, he gently unrolled the manuscript. Faded calligraphy on tea coloured paper revealed its age and fragility. With a magnifying glass he studied the almost illegible signature confirming the author, John Keats.

Winslow peered over the top of his wire-framed spectacles. He studied the gentleman sitting opposite, who repeatedly wiped his balding head with a handkerchief. ‘Sir, where did you say you found this manuscript?’

I didnt exactly find it. Its part of my inheritance.’

Removing his spectacles, the historian studied the gentleman sitting on the other side of his desk fidgeting in his chair. ‘What did you say your name was?’

‘Kent. Michael Kent.’

Mr Kent, this signature doesnt appear to resemble a Kent.’

‘It was handed down on my mothers side. My mother changed my surname when she remarried.’

‘I see. Leave it with me, Mr Kent. Ill have it valued for you by tomorrow. Leave your details with my secretary on the way out.’ He rose and shook his clients hand.

 

Winslows secretary entered his office the following morning. He looked up as she reached his desk.

‘Miss Harwich, could you please place a call to a Lord David Keats of Hampstead? Give him my name and switch him through to my office. Give me a few minutes though, I need to talk to Scotland Yard.’

‘Yes, Mr Winslow.’

It took just moments for Lord Keats’s voice to be heard.

‘Lord Keats?’

‘Yes, this is he.’

‘I believe I have in my possession your great grandfathers missing manuscript, Endymion.’

The line was quiet for so long that Winslow thought he had been disconnected when suddenly Lord Keats continued.

‘How can that be? It disappeared after he died, in 1821? Its been almost a century?’

‘Yes, I know. I also know that your father, Lord Alfred Keats, passed away last week, my condolences.’

Thank you, but how do you know and what does his death have to do with my great grandfathers manuscript?

‘Your father paid me to know. You see Im a historian and a private investigator. Your father visited me here in London on December sixth last year. The manuscript had apparently resurfaced and he hired me to investigate its location. I sent him a wire last Monday about my findings before his heart attack. Did he mention it to you?’

‘No, and Im not sure why he would hire anyone. Until Christmas my father and I had been investigating the mystery disappearance together for almost a decade.’

Winslow carefully chose his words before proceeding. Perhaps, Lord Keats, your father discovered he hadnt been told when someone had found it. That someone decided to use it for his own financial gain.

‘What are you implying, Mr Winslow?’

‘Let me refresh your memory. Two years ago, your cousin, Michael Kent, inherited a meagre bequest. While clearing out his mothers writing bureau, Kent discovered a key to a safe deposit box that contained a letter from his grandfatheryour grandfathers younger brother. With that letter was your great grandfathers manuscript. The letter described in detail how your grandfather cheated him out of his share or their fathers estate. Your great uncle stole the manuscript after your great grandfathers death in 1821 before he could have it published. Are you following me Lord Keats?’

‘Continue, Mr Winslow. I find your hypothesis intriguing.’

‘Late last year, your cousin decided it was time to show his hand by attempting to blackmail your father. Because your father didnt want his conniving nephew to get his hands on his money, he came directly to me. We thought it was an open and shut case until I discovered that Michael Kent had an accomplicesomeone who wanted revenge for an unrelated incident years before. Unfortunately, that piece of information inadvertently killed your father. The accomplice was you. Am I right Lord Keats?’

‘Youre very clever, Mr Winslow. Theres one thing you havent explained. How did you get your hands on the manuscript?’

‘That was the easy part. After your fathers death, you and your cousin-initiated plan B: to sell the manuscript to a publisher and split the profit. However, your cousin decided to have it valued first. Unfortunately for you both, he came to me. I advertise my professions separately and I only display my name on the door.’

There was another notable silence followed by a murmur of voices at Lord Keats end of the line. ‘Youll have to excuse me, Mr Winslow. Apparently, I have visitors.’

‘Ah yes, my friends from Scotland Yard. Blackmail is a serious crime. Good day to you, Lord Keats.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Authors Notes:

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.

English poet John Keats, born October 1795 in Moorgate, London, died in February 1821 at the age of 26 from tuberculosis. His works had been the target of much abuse including his last epic poem Endymion. John Keats never married, which should indicate that the contents of: The Mystery of Keats Missing Endymion Solved set in the early twentieth century, is completely fictional.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

AWOL

– a fictional short read based on a true incident.

Snaking up the mountain road was miserable, and not just because great droplets of rain were exploding on the windscreen before the wipers could whisk them away. Susans eyes were strained from weeping most of the night since her brother, Ron, phoned her. After picking up her friend Annie, just after 6am, they began the long drive.

‘How could she get out?’ Susan cried. She squeezed the steering wheel tighter. ‘How could they let this happen?’

Susan please, you need to stay focused; otherwise Ron will need to send out a search party for us too.’ Annie sighed. ‘Hopefully, shell be found before we arrive. Those new GPS tracking shoes for Dementia and Alzheimer patients are well worth the expense in situations like this. Youll see.’ She sent up a silent prayer as Susan drove into the storm.

Ron met the two women at the car with an umbrella. He shouted updates as they scrambled across the parking lot and into the foyer of the nursing home. Inside, a young aide that Susan had recognized from her visit the previous week, greeted them with mugs of steaming coffee. Annie accepted hers with enthusiasm, but felt a twinge of guilt when she heard Susan decline.

‘What happened? Whos responsible?’ Susan demanded.

‘Please’, Ron soothed. It doesnt matter now whos to blame. The important thing is that everyone is doing their best tofindher.’

‘Youre right.’ Susan reached for the coffee that the aide was still holding out to her. She held the mug of steaming coffee between her hands but didn’t drink.

A man wearing a search and rescue uniform stepped toward the siblings. ‘Ms Cummings, Im OMalley. Im in charge of the team. Ive been here with your brother since late last night.’ He offered his hand.

Susan shook OMalleys hand and took a quick sip of coffee before speaking. ‘Call me Susan, please. Ron tells me you have people out looking for our mother. How far could she possibly get in this weather?’

‘We dont know. It wasnt until almost midnight that the situation had been fully realized.’

The space between Susans eyebrows creased. ‘What do you mean”situation?’

Ron replied for OMalley. ‘Mum had evidently dressed in a hurry. Her slippers arent here and her GPS shoes are still under the bed. We think she may have followed someone elses visitor or a member of staff out the front door around 9pm. With the rain, they would have been concentrating on getting to their vehicle. Being so late well…Who would think?’ He paused to wipe rainwater from his face.

‘Ms Cummings…Susan’, O’Malley spoke above the sudden clap of thunder. ‘We are almost certain she couldnt have gotten very far but this constant rain has slowed us down’.

‘Ron called me at 11:15pm last night. She looked at her wristwatch. Its almost eight thirty. If shes exposed to this weather much longer, she色Her words faded with the reality hitting Susan with a jolt. She handed the coffee to Annie with shaking hands. Okay… O’Malley, what can we do? Where do we go from here?’

There was still no sign of their missing mother by the time the rain eased at midday when the siblings and Annie returned toswallowdown coffee and sandwiches. While O’Malley was updating the family and his search team, a small bus loaded with local volunteers arrived. After quick handshakes all-round the meeting continued. Annie, Susan and Ron had searched south along the main street questioning storeowners and shoppers. The search team had walked a few metres apart through an adjoining cornfield to the westand the vacant overgrown paddocks beyond, while O’Malley had conducted a search of out buildings, laundry and kitchen facilities at the nursing home. The night staff had been requested to report in with any information that may or not be related to the missing patient. O’Malley and a staff member also conducted interviews with a few patients who were with her shortly after seven last night. No clues or explanations were discovered. With directions for the original team to take a short break, eat and get dry, the new team were given maps for the north and east of the nursing home.

Susan and Ron took off on foot to cover the area between the car park and where they started their search that morning. Annie stayed behind to help serve coffee to the morning’s search team.

An hour later Susan and Ron returned chilled and wet from another soaking downpour with no news that would help with the search. Other searchers returned in groups of two and three’s over the next few hoursall quietly murmuring their disappointments but at least the rain had completely stopped.

Finally, Ron suggested to Susan that they drove around up and down every street and lane. He looked at his watch then up at the clearing clouds. ‘She has to be somewhere. It’s been too long and you know how Mum doesn’t like standing for too long. Perhaps we’ll have more success now.’ His face suddenly paled. ‘There’s also the railway station.’ He grabbed Susan’s arm and led her to the parking lot with Annie close behind.

Just as they were putting on their seatbelts, the nurses aide approached the driver’s side window of the SUV with O’Malley. Ron press the down arrow switch to hear her better. ‘I think I found something that may help.’ She handed him a book opened at a page with a recent date at the top and stepped back.

Ron read from his mothers diary. ‘I have to know for certain if my Harold went AWOL. If he has, I know where he could be. We often met at our secret place before he went to war.’

‘Why would Mum think Dad had gone AWOL?’ Susan asked.

‘I dont remember Dad ever going AWOL, Susan. Obviously, shes confused.’

Annie, who had been relatively quiet in the back seat, spoke up. ‘Isnt there an old army storage unit around here?’

‘Well yes, but it’s almost three kilometres from here. O’Malley looked in the direction of the army base. It sounds a long way for an old woman to walk.’

‘When I was here a few months ago with Susan,’ Annie continued, ‘I remember their mother had an old newspaper clipping about the unit.’

‘Youre right.’ Susan gasped. ‘I wondered at the time why Mum had kept the article.’

‘Okay’. Ron took charge. ‘Well check the railway station on the way. If we cant find her there, well continue on to this army place.’ Ron swapped the diary with a folded map with O’Malley who had quickly circled a crossroad to the east.

O’Malley nodded. ‘I’ll grab some first aid gear and blankets and meet you at the Army storage unit.’

Ron thanked him and drove off.

At the railway station Ron and Susan raced in opposite directions down the platform. It was silent and empty. ‘Let’s go! This is a waste of time’, Susan shouted to Ron who stood with his hands on his hips at the far end and gawking down the tracks that disappeared in the distance.

A clear starry sky abruptly brought the long day to a close when the three entered the old army storage unit with OMalley and two military personnel. Within minutes they had found, huddled in a skeleton of a storage shed, their mother. She was cold and wet but uninjured. With her dirt-smeared face looking up at Susan, she apologized for ruining her slippers.

Susan knelt beside her mother. ‘Thats okay Mum, we know of the perfect pair to replace them with. Lets go home.’

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
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Stellas Plight Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Stellas arms had rested and the soreness from holding her baby gave way to the need to hold her again.

Teresa gave up the precious bundle into the arms of her mother not wanting to admit her arms were getting tired too.

Stella continued her narrative. When Kath found me, I was in the maternity ward at the Womens Hospital in Sydney. I had gone into false labour a few times since I was admitted with my fluid retention problem so they decided to keep me there until I delivered. I almost didnt recognise her. Kaths face had a green tinge about it and there were black and blue bruises around the white tape across her nose. Her right arm was in a sling. I just held her in my arms until she needed to sit. She was still weak from the ordeal. Her story was frightening. Stella cleared her throat. After David had found the bull dead in his paddock, he had stormed inside yelling that he was going to get revenge on Ryan. Kath try to calm him down but he was too angry. She said he went on like that for days after he buried the animal. One night he swore to Kath that he would make me pay and he would take me to court for the property that should never had been given to Ryan in the first place. Kath tried to reason with him but that just made him angrier and turned on her. After he beat her, he took his horse and rode off leaving her on the floor. It was their housekeeper who found her. Her son is the stable boy and the two of them helped her to Doc Stones house using Davids utility. Docs wife took her in until she was able to catch a train to a womens shelter in Sydney.

Oh my. That poor woman, Teresa whispered as she retrieved a tissue from her dress sleeve. Doesnt she have family?

Yes, but she was afraid he might hurt them too.

And David?

He went somewhere to cool off, or so everyone thought. Probably did the lap of their 92,000 acres. It usually takes a few days when he goes out to check on the fences and livestock.

Why would he want your property if he had so much?

Greed, was Stellas short reply. Ryan was given just over 300 acres from his Uncle Rick. Rick had bought it from a neighbour who wanted to retire and live in Bourke with his daughter. It was just a rundown hobby farm really.

Sarah stirred.

Hungry again, she whispered. Can you take her while I warm her bottle?’

Why would I not, she chuckled as Stella opened the door of the cabin behind them.

After Stella had returned and repositioned herself in the seat, she focused on feeding Sarah. She has Ryans eyes, she said smiling through her sudden sadness. I dont think I will ever forget him.

I should hope not.

Stella found it hard not to like Teresa. They had made an unusual connection in a very short time. We should be in Dubbo by mid-afternoon. Are you getting off there?

Teresa looked thoughtful. I dont know.

Stella was confused. What do you mean? Surely you know where youre going.

Well its like this, I have a ticket to Bourke but I can get off at any station before there.

Stella was quiet and a hint of fear returned. Im not sure I understand.

Dont worry yourself. Im just a free spirit. I can stay with you through to Bourke to keep you company and return to Nyngan later tonight. Im retiring and Nyngan is the only home I know.

Thats sweet of you but wont there be someone expecting you?

Sadly, no. My fathers house is there but he and all my family are gone now. The last of my siblings passed away last June.

Im sorry to hear that. Stella waited for Sarah to finish her bottle before speaking again. I hope David doesnt come to the back of the train again. Oh, I didnt think. What will I do when I get to Bourke? Hes bound to be getting off there.

Lets just wait and see. Dont stress. Tell me more about your story.

Well, Kath stayed close until after Sarah was born. She smiled at the thought. It was nice to have her there with me. Anyway, Kath was visiting me a few days later when David came into the ward. I freaked and Kath screamed. Nurses came running and security was called. David was escorted from the ward and the police came to take him away. He was charged for the attack on Kath and a restraining order was set in place.

Wheres Kath now? Teresa was eager to know.

Shes caught a train a few days ago to stay with her mother in Dubbo. Kath promised to keep in touch. The police suggested she find a lawyer in Dubbo and see what her options are. I dont expect shell go back to Bourke or David.

Surely not! So, what will you do? What do you think he would do to you?

The day after he was escorted from the hospital he returned. One of the nurses recognised him. He was in the nursery and standing over Sarah. She ran to call security but David had already taken Sarah out of her crib and sneaking toward the elevator. When the elevator door opened, there were two security guards. I havent let her out of my sight since and I honestly thought he would be in jail. This morning while I was signing my discharge papers a policewoman came up to me and explained that David had been released after he was charged. I was so scared I think she thought I would faint. We sat in a small sitting area near the entry while we talked. David had claimed he was just visiting his new niece and wasnt intending to take her anywhere. I dont know what to believe or what hes up to. Stella paused. He wouldnt have hurt her. Would he?

Teresa shook her head. He sounds very angry still and he has already been charged with violence but why would he take Sarah? He may just want to hurt you. Maybe its a way to get his property back. Im not sure but I think you should be careful and get some legal advice.

I know but色

Before she could continue the train was slowing to a stop at Nyngan. Are you sure you want to come with me to Bourke?

Im sure and look. Stella leaned forward to see what Teresa had seen.

There were two police officers standing on the platform.

Why do you think they are here? Teresa asked and Stella shrugged.

As the train came to a stop, the police officers walked along the platform looking through windows and doors. There was a curve in the railway at the front of the train so they could see clearly the front carriages and engine. After the police officers had past the first two carriages, David jumped from the first and ran towards the exit sign where two other police officers stepped out and grabbed him. The two walking down the platform continued looking until they came to the last carriage where one of them stepped inside.

He removed his hat. Stella Wilson?

Stella raised her free arm slowly. Im Stella Wilson.

Dont be alarmed Maam. We received a call from David Wilsons wife. Hes being arrested for breaking his restraining order by calling her from Sydney and threatening her and her family. He shook his head.

Stella gasped and covered her mouth. What are you saying?

Everything is going to be all right, Mrs Wilson. Hes going away for a very long time. He turned to leave but spun around again. Do you have anyone who can stay with you at your property? At least until Kath Wilson returns home.

Stella felt numb. She looked at Teresa who blinked once and turned to the police officer.

Will I do? Im just an old retired nun but I have a mean kick if anyone comes near her.

The officer chuckled. I meant for company but yeah, youll do. He replaced his hat and left the train.

The other passengers applauded.

Stella sat dazed.

Theresa just smiled and took Sarah in her arms. I always wanted to live on a big property. I also wanted to help busy young mothers with their babies.

Stella just stared at her.

Well, do you mind? I cant leave you alone. Now can I?

Stella swayed a little with the movement of the train as it left the station. I dont know what to say. You hardly know me.

I think I know enough about you that we can be friends. She looked down at the wee baby. What do you think, Sarah?

Sarah made a squeaking kind of noise and closed her eyes.

As the train rolled out of Nyngan, both Stella and Theresa watched the two police cars that had stopped at the rail crossing to let their train through.

Suddenly Stella burst into tears. Its over. Its really over.

The End

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Stellas Plight Chapter Three

Chapter Three

It didnt take long for the coroners report to come through. Ryan died from a burst aneurysm in the brain. His funeral was held a week later and he was buried beside his Uncle Rick. The uncle who left him the property. Stella added for Teresas benefit. The next day I was called to our solicitors office for the reading of Ryans latest Will. It was straightforward enough. The property and house were to be left to me. Everything except for the few head of cattle he had been breeding. Apparently, they were on loan from Uncle David so Ryan could breed and start his own herd. Unfortunately, there had been only four calves born at the time of his death. Once they were old enough to be separated from their mothers the loaned cattle had to be returned.

Why wouldnt this uncle David leave them a little longer so you could have an income?

Stella was about to answer when she noticed a man through the window of the doors leading to the next carriage. He was leaning slightly forward speaking to one passenger after another.

I think Sarah needs her nappy changed. Stella stood to retrieve the bag she had put in the overhead storage earlier.

At the same moment the guard came through the rear door. Theres a small table in the guardroom if you would like to use it and a microwave. I wont be using the cabin for a while.

Thank you, she smiled and let him pass before reaching for the baby.

She had only just closed the door of the guard cabin when the man entered her carriage from the other end. She stepped aside and peered through the stripped security screen that allowed the guard to see out but no one could see much if they looked in. Muffled voices kept her alert. Sarah stirred. Stella rocked her gently. Ssshhh奸ittle one.

Stella risked a glanced through the window. She drew in a sharp breath. David?

Finally, David moved out of the carriage and Stella could see him move from the next carriage through the door at the other end.

Lets get you cleaned up, Stella cooed at Sarah her big blue eyes gazing back.

Minutes later she returned to her seat. I should have bought a baby carrier before I left Sydney.

Theresa stretched out her arms. That would only make things more difficult for you.

Once settled back into her seat, Stella looked up to see Teresa looking straight at her.

What was that about? Teresa asked directly.

What was what about? Stella replied before looking away. Sorry. That man was Ryans Uncle David. She turned in her seat slightly to face Teresa. I was about to tell you what happened after David came for the cows.

Stella kept her voice low even though there were only two other passengers at the front of the carriage since the train stopped to embark and disembark passengers at Katoomba. The bull Ryan bought was lame after stepping into a hole in his enclosure. I had only been filling the food and water troughs through the fence since Ryan died. I was no way going to go in there, pregnant or not. I was about seven months along by then and Ryans only income was from the land he leased out to another property owner. David said he would pay to have the bull treated by a vet and then buy it from me at a fair price that included the vet fees. That was fine until the bull up and died. David demand his money back after I had already spent it on feed for the calves.

That doesnt seem fair, Teresa interrupted.

Well, I dont know much about whats fair but Kath, Davids wife, was upset over his treatment of me. She had come to stay with me after Ryans death until after the funeral. Shes a real sweetie. Anyway, from what I heard over the radio gossip line and in town that David beat her and she up and left him. I didnt see her again until I came to Sydney a month ago. I was having problems with fluid around my ankles and Doc Stone insisted I go to Sydney until after the birth. Friends from another property offered to look after the place until I returned.

Stella was tired. She hadnt slept properly since Sarah was born and the gently movement of the train made her sleepy. She almost dozed off when Teresa spoke.

How did you find Kath, or did she find you?

Stella squeezed her eyes closed before blinking repeatedly. Kath found me. Her voice cracked. Doc Stone told her where I was. She asked him not to tell anyone else, not even David, because she thought I was in danger. I guess he believed her because of what happened to her. She turned to Teresa; tears streaming down her cheeks. He broke her arm and her nose for standing up to him – for me.

Teresa sat quietly and looked out the window for a few minutes. Her heart broke for Stel and her baby. She lifted Sarah and kissed her forehead then turned to Stella. That man just now, your Ryans uncle, he asked if I had seen a woman with a baby. Im sorry色 Her voice drifted off.

Stella sat up straight and looked down the carriage through the door. What did you say? I dont understand. Why didnt he stay or go into the guards cabin?

Teresa turned back to Stella and gazed into her eyes. I knew something wasnt right. I answered him in German, my second language. I knew it would come in handy one day. She winked. I didnt lie. I couldnt lie. I wont, but he had no idea what I said and he just left.

Stella stared at this beautiful woman that had befriended her. She didnt know whether she should laugh or cry. After a few moments, she smiled. Thank you.

So, tell me what happened in Sydney.

After a long sigh Stella continued.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Stellas Plight Chapter Two

Chapter Two

Stella began her story from the day her life changed forever. She had awoken early New Years Day with a dry mouth and covered in sweat. Nothing unusual for this part of the world but what was different was that Ryan wasnt in bed and there was no evidence that he had. A wonderful husband of three years and a baby on the way, Stellas only longing was for a relief from the heatwave and yet another drought.

Peeling back the damp top sheet Stella sat up on the side of the bed; her head groggy from a restless night.

Making her way down stairs she headed to the refrigerator for the jug of water she had place there the evening before. She peered out the kitchen window and noticed the door of the tractor shed was open. Thats strange. It wasnt open before I went to bed. Maybe Ryans tinkering with the engine, she spoke into the empty room.

Stella looked around the kitchen for a sign that Ryan had eaten breakfast early. Nothing. Heading to the back door she pushed opened the fly screen door. Ryan often left the back door open to allow any breeze that might stir in the sweltering night air.

It wasnt until she reached the tractor shed that she realised how quiet it was. Ryan, where are you?

Flo, Ryans Blue Cattle Dog began to bark. Stella turned to see that Flo was still in her fenced off area near the house. Since a recent pack of wild dogs had been seen roaming the surrounding properties at night, Ryan had made sure Flo didnt wander and so the dogs couldnt ambush her. No way would he leave Flo in there if he were here.

A sudden chill rushed through her. She stood in the wide doorway. Ryan! There was no reply except for Flos constant bark. She approached the tractor and looked around. Where are you? It was then she noticed a dull glow of light coming from the small doorless room at the rear of the shed where Ryan used as an office of sorts and to clean small tractor parts.

Stella felt like she was walking in a dream only for the constant barking from Flo. There sitting on a stool slumped over a newspaper that lay open on the wooden bench was Ryan. A moment of relief that Ryan must have dozed off while working past through her. The lantern was struggling to keep alight. With no power to the shed, Ryan had kept an old kerosene lamp ready in case of an emergency.

Placing her hand gently on his shoulder she jerked it back. It was cold, an impossibility in this heat. She moved to where she could see one side of his face. His left eye looked back at her. Ryan! She gently shook his shoulder but he remained silent and cold.

Stella heart pounded as she ran back to the house. Letting the screen door slam behind her she rushed straight to the radio in the front room. She forced herself to concentrate on the user instructions. Even though Stella used the radio on occasions, it was Ryan who usually operated it.

Almost immediately the operator came over the line. Youre on air early, Ryan. How can I assist you? Over.

Maggie its Stella, she sobbed in relief. Over, she finally remembered and released the button.

What is it, Stel? You sound panicked. Over.

Its Ryan. I think hes dead, she blurted out and released the button without the over.

Calm down, Stel. Doc Stone is over at Davids place visiting Ryans grandmother. Ill contact him there. Stay calm. Over.

Stella gulped down air. Ill try. Tell him to hurry, please. She sat staring at the radio and took long deep breaths until she heard Maggies voice again.

Stel, Dr Stone will be there in about twenty minutes. David is driving him over in his off-road utility. Over.

Thanks Maggie. Over.

Ill call you later, Maggie signed off.

Flos yapping was beginning to annoy her so she went back out to the shed and closed the door but not before looking in the direction of back room where she could barely see Ryan through her tears. Then she let Flo loose, giving her a long hard hug.

Oh Flo安hat will we do without him?

It took less than twenty minutes for Doc Stone to arrive but to Stella if felt like hours. She had managed to change into a cotton house dress that had seen better days but she didnt seem to notice.

David, who was also Ryans Uncle, raced ahead of the doctor. Where is he? What happened?

He was full of questions but Stella could only point. She was shaking and her eyes hurt from rubbing away the constant tears.

Hes in the tractor shed, she finally blurted.

David put his arm around her shoulder and tried to soothe her. Im sure hes fine. Lets go with Doc and see what he says.

By the time David and Stella had reach the shed, Doc Stone had already squeezed through the door so Flo wouldnt follow.

David, I cant go back in there.

OK, stay here and hold Flo. Ill see what Doc has to say.

Moments later David and the doctor returned to where Stella waited. They both looked sad and pale.

I think hes been here since possibly late last night. What time did you find him, Stel? The doctor asked gently.

It was just after five this morning. I woke on Ryans alarm and headed to the kitchen for a drink. I guess it was only five minutes later when I noticed the shed door was open. She finished in a sob. What happened to him, Doc? she pleaded.

The doctor gently turned Stella back toward the kitchen. Youre in shock.

Shes shivering, David added running ahead to open the door before heading into the front room for a throw rug.

After the doctor gave Stella a mild sedative, he sat beside her at the kitchen table while David brought glasses of cold water.

Stel, Doc began quietly. ‘From what I can ascertain without an autopsy,’ he coughed apologetically. It appears to be a natural death.

But hes only thirty-four, Stella gasped.

We have to wait on the coroners report. He sipped from the glass that David had placed in front of him. I need to use your radio.

David pointed to the front room and the two watched the doctor leave the kitchen. Stel, Ill get Kath to come over. She can stay as long as you need.

Oh David, she has too much to do to bother with me.

You forget I make enough money to pay for a housekeeper to help my wife. He sighed heavily. Look, I know I havent been close to Ryan since. since my brother left the property to him instead of leaving it in my fathers family. To me匈m mean, Im sorry.

Stella looked up as if she didnt hear him correctly.

Only hearing bits of what Doctor Stone was saying in the other room, she waited. Her shaking had eased but she couldnt stop the tears.

Another few minutes passed before Doc came back into the kitchen. The authorities will be here as soon as they can. Theyll question you. Its routine but Ill stay until they take Ryan away.

David rose from his chair and gulped down the rest of his water. Ill head back and send Kath over in the Jeep. You can use the Jeep Doc until I can get to town to collect it. I need to get those antibiotics you prescribed for mother anyway.

The doctor nodded and sipped at his water.

The train lurched as it rounded a curve in the rails. Stella sighed. I can remember that morning like it was yesterday, she said looking over at her baby asleep in the arms of Teresa. Teresa had become a comforting traveling companion. You know, I didnt even ask how Davids mother was. She died a few months later from complications after a long illness色 Her voice trailed off.

Im so sorry to hear that you went through that. So, the little one is fatherless?

Stella nodded sadly. Thats only half of it, she whispered before continuing her story.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Stella’s Plight Chapter One

Chapter One

Stellas thick black hair momentarily obscured the unpaved footpath. Another April gusty breeze sent the fringe in the other direction but not in time to avoid the muddy puddle. Conscious now of a stain that would ruin her best pantsuit she avoided looking down. She wouldnt have been able to see much past the bundle in one arm and the heavy khaki carry bag over the other anyway. Can my day get any worse? she mumbled.

Oblivious of the people bustling around her, Stella again focused on one thing宇o get onto thattrain; her only escape.

Entering a short, almost empty tunnel the clicking of her heels on the concrete floor motivated her to walk faster. She dared a quick glance over her shoulder. Feeling only slightly easier, she turned a sharp right onto a crowded platform. Side stepping suitcases and groups of passengers that chatted and laughed, she kept going until she found an empty bench seat at the far end of the platform where she would be able to embark closest to the guards carriage.

The bundle stirred as Stella sat and eased the heavy bag from her sore shoulder. Not long now, little one. She reached into the bag for a pacifier. Sucking was instant. Stellas attention returned to her surroundings.

In a few short minutes, everyone had hushed and turned to face the approaching train. Returning the bag to her shoulder she stood carefully so not to lose grip of her precious bundle. Once the train had stopped completely, she stepped forward to board the carriage. Someone touched her elbow. Panic filled her until she realised that it was a short, pump woman dressed in very plain old fashion clothing. Around her neck hung a chunky cross on a simple chain.

Let me help with that. The woman took the bag without waiting for an answer.

Thank you, Stella answered as calmly as she could before she stepped across the gap and followed the woman to a seat at the rear of the carriage. Thank you, she said again before sitting beside her.

Stella moved the baby to the other arm to relieve the ache that had reached the point of stiffness and also to let the kind woman see her baby. Thank you, she said, knowing she had repeated herself again.

The warm smile made Stella feel more relaxed than she had been since the day before but still kept alert of what was happening around them.

Im Sister Anna Teresa, but you can call me Teresa. Its actually what my father called me.

Its good to meet you Teresa. Im Stella or Stel for short, she added with a smile.

Such a sweet baby. The words were tender.

Would you like to hold her, Stella asked.

Oh, could I? Teresa handed Stella the bag and reached over to accept the baby. Shes so tiny. Must be a newborn.

Stella searched the bag for the items she needed to prepare a bottle. Yes吁arah is a week-old today.

A whistle blew and the train began to move.

Teresa watched as Stella mixed the powder. Such a shame色 she said. I mean色

Thats all right. Im fine about not being able to feed her myself, was Stellas simple reply. Would you like to give her the bottle?

Teresas huge grin was all Stella needed to hand over the little bottle and remove the pacifier. She watched as Sarah sucked furiously bringing laughs from both women.

Looking up, Stella saw the guard making his way through the carriage. She closed her eyes and sighed heavily.

Do you have to travel far? Teresa asked carefully.

As far as the train goes, Stella answered without thinking. I mean匈m heading back to Bourke.

Such a long trip on your own with one so little. Her eyes now fixed on Stellas.

In that awkward moment she leaned forward and looked down at the blotchy brown marks at the hem of her slacks. She cringed slightly and studied the other passengers in their carriage. Some were involved in conversations, reading or preparing for a snooze. Stella took a deep breath and released it slowly before making an effort to respond. I am alone, she whispered. Its a long story.

We have plenty of time and Im a good listener夷f you want to share.

With a sense of relief, Stella slowly began her story.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace