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 didn’t exactly find it. It’s 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 doesn’t appear to resemble a Kent.’

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

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

Winslow’s 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 grandfather’s 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?  It’s 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 grandfather’s manuscript?’

‘Your father paid me to know. You see I’m 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 I’m 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 hadn’t 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 mother’s writing bureau, Kent discovered a key to a safe deposit box that contained a letter from his grandfather—your grandfather’s younger brother. With that letter was your great grandfather’s manuscript. The letter described in detail how your grandfather cheated him out of his share or their father’s estate. Your great uncle stole the manuscript after your great grandfather’s 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 didn’t 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 accomplice—someone 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?’

‘You’re very clever, Mr Winslow. There’s one thing you haven’t explained. How did you get your hands on the manuscript?’

‘That was the easy part. After your father’s 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. ‘You’ll 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.’

© Chrissy Siggee

Authors Notes:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

PIRATES, HIDDEN TREASURE AND …

Fourteen-year-old Electra sat perched on the edge of her chair facing the small group that sat cross legged on her bed.

‘It happened a long time ago’, she began, ‘but it seems like yesterday—probably because I’ve told the story so often. The only reason why I tell the story is because it’s why my family is the way it is. You see, we are a family with roots. Oh, you think your families has roots too? Okay, let me explain what REAL ancestry means.’

Electra put the empty popcorn bowl on the floor before continuing.

‘In 1801, my great, great, great, great grandfather, built this house. He had been a pirate ever since he ran away to sea and became a captain’s cabin boy. The ship was called the Black Raven… its captain’s name was..’

‘Electra! Will you please stop telling that tale.’

‘Aw…Dad. Why not? It sure beats the real story.’

‘There’s nothing wrong with our family’s history, or your family home. And, don’t forget the reason why you were named Electra.’

Sandy, one of the girls at the pyjama party, bounced off the bed. ‘Tell us, Mr Chapman. We really want to know about your house and your family.’

The other girls joined in the pleading.

Electra stood and took the freshly made popcorn from her father, pointed the bowl toward her chair where she had just been sitting, and motioned him to take over the narration.

‘Electra was right about the year. That’s when the house was built, but that’s where the truth of her story finishes.’ He waited for Sandy and his daughter to join the other girls on the bed. Electra passed the popcorn round before he continued.

‘Basically, my father wanted to save this house from being bulldozed. The locals wanted it demolished for safety reasons. He pleaded his case and renovated it. It’s been our family home since I was a boy. There are a few rooms that have never been restored but it’s stable.’

Sandy stared at nothing in particular. ‘You mean those rooms could be haunted?’

Electra burst out laughing. ‘You must be kidding.’

‘Please continue’, one of the girls requested, her eyes focusing on Electra’s father and ignoring his daughter’s outburst.

‘No, the house is not haunted—not that I know of. The rooms have just never been needed. There’s no great mystery, only the history gets a bit confusing. A few generations back the family lost most of their fortune and the house was left empty for years.’

Sandy looked puzzled. ‘Is that it? Electra, I think it’s a great story. Tell us Mr Chapman how did Electra get her name.’

‘It’s not all that interesting,’ Electra commented casually, wriggled back against the bed board and stuffed popcorn into her mouth.

Her father paused and took a moment to continue. ‘Electra’s mother was beautiful. She had red hair…’

‘That explains your hair,’ Sandy teased.

Electra pushed Sandy playfully off the bed, causing Sandy to squeal and the others to laugh.

‘She died in child birth’, he continued unperturbed. A hush filled the room before he continued. ‘I didn’t know what I would do or how I would bring up our little girl on my own. I brought her back here to my family home where my parents helped until they passed away. Not only was Electra born with red hair but she looked like she had a shock that caused her hair to frizz. Her grandmother named her. Over time her hair lost its frizz… but the name stuck. Her hair still reminds me of her mother.’

He stood and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

The girls remained speechless. Electra climbed off the bed and placed the popcorn on her desk before anyone spoke.

Sandy followed Electra and stood behind her, hesitating before speaking. ‘You’ve never told me the real story. Why wouldn’t anyone like the true story about your family and this house?’

Electra turned; her eyes glistened with tears. ‘I wish I knew my mother but I do know a lot about her. Dad and my grandparents made sure I knew everything about her. Every birthday I tell my pirate story so I don’t get sad. I guess I didn’t realize, until today, just how sad my dad gets.’

The girls gathered around their friend for a group hug. ‘Your family sounds wonderful,’ Sandy exclaimed. ‘Your family home is beautiful. Why don’t we ask your dad to show us around?’

Electra smiled and wiped her eyes. ‘That’s sounds like a great idea. Maybe we’ll find some pirate ghosts or some lost treasure’, she added with a giggle. She took Sandy by the hand and led the girls from her room in search of an adventure.

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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 

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. Susan’s 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, she’ll be found before we arrive. Those new GPS tracking shoes for Dementia and Alzheimer patients are well worth the expense in situations like this. You’ll 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? Who’s responsible?’ Susan demanded.

‘Please’, Ron soothed. ‘It doesn’t matter now who’s to blame. The important thing is that everyone is doing their best to find her.’

‘You’re 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, I’m O’Malley. I’m in charge of the team. I’ve been here with your brother since late last night.’ He offered his hand.

Susan shook O’Malley’s 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 don’t know. It wasn’t until almost midnight that the situation had been fully realized.’

The space between Susan’s eyebrows creased. ‘What do you mean—”situation”?’

Ron replied for O’Malley. ‘Mum had evidently dressed in a hurry. Her slippers aren’t here and her GPS shoes are still under the bed. We think she may have followed someone else’s 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 couldn’t 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. ‘It’s almost eight thirty. If she’s exposed to this weather much longer, she…’ 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 to swallow down 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 west and 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 hours—all 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 nurse’s 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 mother’s 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 don’t remember Dad ever going AWOL, Susan. Obviously, she’s confused.’

Annie, who had been relatively quiet in the back seat, spoke up. ‘Isn’t 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.’

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

‘Okay’. Ron took charge. ‘We’ll check the railway station on the way. If we can’t find her there, we’ll 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 O’Malley 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. ‘That’s okay Mum, we know of the perfect pair to replace them with. Let’s go home.’

© Chrissy Siggee

 This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Faith’s Adventures – re-posted all Together.

From the Archives:  Faith’s Adventure – All 8 Stories

Faith to the Rescue
Faith Loses a Friend
Faith Goes on a Holiday
Faith’s Christmas Surprise
Faith’s Close Encounter
Faith’s Discovery
Faith Becomes a Mother
Faith – That’s my Blue Eye
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Partly true, partly fictional. 8 very short stories about Ken and his dog faith. Suitable for all ages. Please note: story “Faith Loses a Friend” may need parental guidance for younger children.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Temptations in History

The teacher talked on and on about the Livonian War that lasted twenty five years back in the mid to late fifties of the seventeenth century. History could be boring. Mr Tirone was boring.

Finally, the bell rang and Todd snapped out of his trance.

‘Thank goodness that’s over.’ Trish groaned aloud when she caught up with him at the door.

Todd agreed. ‘Yeah, I didn’t think it would ever end. I thought history was going to be an easy class.’

‘How’s it going with the assignment?’

‘Don’t ask. I mean, where do I start?’

‘We could work on it together at my house tonight. My parents are both working the late shift and my kid sister is staying over at a friend’s house.’

Todd grinned. ‘OK. I’ll come over right after I do my Math homework. Now Math I can handle but I can’t afford to get behind on it.’

She gave him her best see-you-later smile as she entered her next class. Todd continued to the gym where the last forty minutes of the day would be a little more active.

It was just after seven when Trish open the front door to him. She was wearing a pretty pink top with a low cut neckline.

‘My parents will be home about nine so we only have a few hours.’

Todd force himself to look above her shoulders where he met her smile. ‘OK. My curfew is nine thirty so let’s get started.’

He followed Trish into the kitchen where her text books laid open on the dining table. His back pack slipped off his shoulder and he let it rest on an empty chair.

‘Drink?’

‘Thanks. Do you have juice? I’m not into soda stuff.’

‘Sure. Orange or apple?’

‘Apple please.’

After a few minutes of casual chitchat over the breakfast bar Trish leaned forward. ‘So, where do you want to do this?’

Her breath smelled of mint and her floral perfume tickled his nose. He cleared his throat and turned toward the table.

‘The table is fine.’ He picked up his back pack and opened the zip. ‘I just brought the main textbook and a note book. It’s great that you have offered to help. Maybe I just need to get started.’

Trish came close but didn’t sit so Todd did. Big mistake. He turned his head and placed his juice on the table to his right. He cleared his throat again. Trish walked around to the other side of the table and pulled out a chair.

‘Are you OK Todd? You seem nervous. I can assure you that no one else is here.’

Todd nodded and took another sip before he spoke again. ‘Let’s get on with this.’ He opened his text book to the Livonian War. ‘I really don’t see why we need to study stuff that happened in the seventeenth Century.’

‘I find it intriguing. I could listen to Tirone all day.’

Todd grimaced. ‘I take it that History is a favourite subject.’

‘No. I prefer Human Dynamics.’

Todd was confused. ‘What? Which one is that?’

Trish knee bumped his sending chills up his spine but she didn’t seem to notice.

‘Silly. I was joking. Now let’s open to page two-six-five.’

It was exactly nine when Todd looked at his watch. ‘I’d better go.’

Just then the back door opened and a man entered. ‘Hello there.’ He must have been six foot three at least.

‘Hello Daddy. This is Todd. We’re working on our History assignment.’

He looked from his daughter to Todd and back again. ‘Yeah right.’

Todd wished the floor would open up and swallow him.

‘Oh Daddy, don’t be so dramatic.’

Todd rose and stuffed his textbook and notes into his bag. ‘I was just leaving. Nice to meet you Sir. Thanks Trish. I really appreciate your help.’

Trish stayed where she was. It was then he noticed why. She held her text book close to her chest.

Todd left the kitchen with a nod and headed to the front door.

The following day while Todd was sitting in the History classroom early to jot down yesterday’s notes from the blackboard, Trish came in and stood behind him.

‘Thanks for a great night.’

He stopped writing and looked up. All he could think of was the moment she opened her front door.

A few sniggers followed by other students who had also entered the room.

Todd sucked in air. ‘We should do it again sometime.’

More sniggers.

Trish winked and moved to her usual seat.

What’s going on here?

Mr Tirone entered. ‘Open your textbooks to page two-six-five. Todd Hughes, what did you learn from yesterday’s “boring” class?’

Heat rose to Todd’s face. Good thing Trish helped me out last night. He turned to the requested page and answered the question.

‘I’m impressed’, Tirone stated. ‘And I thought you went to sleep.’

Laughter rose across the classroom and Todd felt Trish’s eyes on him. He dared a look and returned her smile.

I can handle this. She’s cute enough and knows her history.

Over the lunch break Todd sort out Trish to thank her for getting him out of an embarrassing situation.

‘Hello Todd.’ The voice was soft and warm.

‘Hello to you too.’ He smiled at Trish. She’s beautiful, even in her school uniform. ‘Thanks for last night. It came in handy today.

The girls who were sitting with Trish stood and left. He felt awkward. ‘We can talk later.’

‘That’s OK. They get it.’

Todd looked around. ‘Get what?’

‘You know. You me. Us.’

‘Us?’

‘Don’t you like me?’

‘Yes, but I thought we were just friends.’

‘Friends are cool I guess.’

Todd bit his lip. ‘You mean…all that last night?’ It felt like his stomach flipped and he found it hard to breathe. ‘What about your Dad?’

‘He’ll get over it. We’ll just have to be more careful.’

Todd didn’t answer.

‘We didn’t do anything wrong.’

‘No, we didn’t. We were just studying together.’ He thought about what he would say next. Yes, he liked Trish but he wasn’t sure if he was ready for a relationship. He had thought it would be nice to have a relationship with someone when he went on to university. He may have been ready for that. Now he wasn’t so sure. ‘Trish, where do you want this to go?’

She shrugged. ‘As far as you want.’

They were so close that he could look into her eyes. They were a pretty blue and her blonde curls kinked at her perfectly shaped eyebrows. He breathed in her scent and his nerve endings quivered.

‘I don’t know.’ He drew in another long breath.

‘What’s wrong with me?’ Her voice broke.

‘Nothing. Nothing at all. You’re perfectly beautiful. I just don’t think either of us are ready for this.’

‘Oh Todd. We could just study together after school. Maybe at your house if you’re not sure about mine.’

He sighed. ‘I don’t think we can study together now.’

‘We could make out.’

Todd smiled. ‘Why don’t we wait a while. We can be friends at school.’ He paused. ‘You helped me more than I would have thought last night. I think I may even grow to like history.’

They both gave a short laugh.

‘I’m not sure if I could handle being in the same class now.

Todd took her hand. ‘We’ll get through it. I promise.’ With that he kissed her hand and left.

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Graffiti King

The lunch bell rang. The din of chairs screeching, student chatter and books slamming closed echoed in the classroom.

‘Peter Mason, I’d like a word with you in my office over lunch.’

‘Yes Sir.’

Peter had only been at this school for six months. His father’s job regularly moved them from state to state. This was his second school in three years, making it difficult to make friends and to be accepted by his peers.

‘Hey Mason, what’s Olsen want to see you for this time?’ Jeremy Spears sniggered.

Jason shrugged and kept walking.

‘Mason,’ Spears shouted after him. ‘See you after school … usual place.’

The gym was his favourite place. Oddly enough, it was the only class he didn’t share with Jeremy. He entered the locker room and quickly changed into his gym gear.

One of the team’s pole-vaulters came over while Peter was placing a sweatband around his head.  ‘Mason, I didn’t think you were going to show. Good to see you.’ He snickered and slapped Peter’s back.

Peter turned but the guy was gone. What’s he on?  Peter pushed open the swinging doors, entered the gym and did his usual warm-up routine. His favourite apparatus were the rings, and he was grateful he had them to himself for the next hour.

‘Mason,’ the coach shouted. ‘Didn’t you hear the bell? Go shower. Principal Olsen is waiting.’

He showered quickly, dressed and was running his fingers through his matted hair when the coach entered the locker room.

‘Mason, you have an ability that will get you to the 2024 Olympic Games. Don’t waste your time painting walls in your spare time.’

‘Coach, I …’ But the coach had already left.

What is it with these jerks? He stormed off to the administration block, notified the secretary he had arrived and plopped in a chair to wait.

‘Come in, Mr. Mason. Take a seat.’

Principal Olsen didn’t even look up when he stepped behind his desk and sat down on his swivel chair. He picked up a newspaper and started reading.

They both sat in silence for a few moments before Principal Olsen spoke. ‘It’s come to my attention … again, that you were seen immediately following the latest graffiti incident here at the school. Somehow your picture and story made front page news.’ He emphasized his last words by tossing the folded newspaper across the table for Peter to read.

Peter stared at the photo, obviously taken by a security video camera, and the caption below. ‘Graffiti King Identified on Camera.’ In the hood of his jacket was a pressure-pack can.

‘How? Spears, it had to be Spears. Sir …’

‘I’d like to believe you, I really would. However, Spears is seen … here.’ He pointed to a gate, to the left of what appeared to be Peter. ‘He may have avoided the ‘camera rotation but …’

‘Why would I carry a spray can in my hoodie, Sir?’ Peter felt his pulse racing.

‘I’m sorry, Peter. This time I have to issue a suspension. Your father has been notified. You can collect your things now before classes resume. Return to the office to collect your suspension letter for your father and leave while everyone’s in class.’

Peter left in a daze. He couldn’t believe it.

He emptied the contents of his locker into his backpack and shut the door. He made his way back to the gym and wandered over to the rings. He was overcome with disappointment. He took one last look and turned to see the coach standing nearby.

‘It’s only for the remainder of the term, Peter, and unfortunately, Olsen won’t let you use the school gym after school hours either. I tried, but he won’t budge.’

‘Coach, I didn’t do it. Honest.’

His coach sighed. He placed his hand on Peter’s shoulder and spoke with compassion. ‘Look, stay away from Spears. He’s bad news. If you can keep out of trouble, I’ll talk to Principal Olsen about a summer training program.’

Peter smiled weakly. ‘Thanks Coach.’

With regrets, Peter returned to the administration block, collected the letter and headed home determined to hold on to the hint of hope that his coach had given him.

© Chrissy Siggee

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

The Runaway

Connie searched the playground the neighbours and the sand pile behind the back shed. Her hand went to her throat to ease the pain that seemed to creep up from her hammering heart. Moisture blurred her vision.

‘ETHAN!’ Connie’s throat grew tight. She had no choice but to call the social worker that had assigned Ethan to Connie and her husband Carl, a few weeks earlier.

She grabbed the phone and dialled. ‘Ethan is missing!’ She blurted out before Rebecca could finish her greeting. ‘I’ve looked everywhere.’ Connie found herself pacing.

‘Calm down Connie. He’s probably run away.’

Connie stood still. ‘Why would he do that?’

‘I don’t know. We get a lot of foster kids who run away. Ethan has been in the system a long time, and with numerous foster families. He’s run away before.’ She sighed. ‘I admit, I thought he was happy with you and Carl, but it’s hard to tell with these kids.’

Thinking more clearly, Connie contemplated the past few weeks. ‘He’s a bright little boy. I thought he was settling in.’ She paused. ‘Carl offered to take Ethan fishing when he returns from the office. He needed a file to work on over the weekend.’

‘Okay, I’ll call the local police and then come around. Just stay calm.’

Carl came in just as Connie hung up the phone. ‘Look who I found in the car under a blanket.’

‘Ethan, you scared me half to death.’ She placed her hand over her mouth and sat down at the table.

Ethan hung his head. ‘I was going to run away when Carl got to town but I fell asleep.’

‘Why would you want to run away?’ Connie dared to ask.

‘I got scared. When the Baker’s took me fishing, they got mad at me because I broke their new rod. They beat me with it and told me I was selfish.’

Carl sat beside Connie and drew Ethan close. ‘You’ll never be beaten here, I promise.’

‘Even if I wet my bed? Mrs Beasley wiped my face with the sheets and then made me wash them.’

Connie gasped. ‘There’s no excuse for bad behaviour by any adult.’ She thought for a moment before continuing. ‘You haven’t wet your bed since you’ve been here. Do you think there’s a reason for that?’

‘I don’t know,’ Ethan shrugged. ‘I’m not scared here.’

‘What kind of things do you like to do?’

Ethan tilted his head and bit his lower lip. He shrugged again.

‘Do you like going to the movies?’

‘I don’t know. I’ve never been. I watched cartoons sometimes at the Webster’s. The other families didn’t let me watch TV.’

‘Football?’ Carl asked.

‘The beach?’ Connie added.

Ethan began to whimper. ‘I haven’t been anywhere much—just school and the playground.’ A lone tear rolled down his face. ‘I like the playground.’ He wiped the tear away. ‘Can I go there again?’

Connie looked at Carl for a long moment. She pulled Ethan onto her lap. He was short for a seven-year-old but it was his frail body and lightness that had surprised her.

Ethan stiffened but soon relaxed in Connie’s arms.

She kissed his cheek. ‘We can go to the park together. How about a picnic of burgers and soda?’ She released her embrace. A tear stained face looked back at her.

‘What’s a pick nick?’

Carl sighed deeply. His sad eyes met Connie’s. ‘There’s a lot we can do. I think a picnic lunch at the playground is the perfect place to begin.’

A knock sounded at the front door. ‘Rebecca. I forgot all about her.’

Carl let Rebecca in and explained the situation.

Ethan’s lip trembled. He looked up at Connie. ‘Will I have to go to another foster family?’

‘No sweetie’, Rebecca answered for Connie. ‘But you need to talk to Carl and Connie in the future if you’re unsure of anything.’

‘Connie and Carl won’t beat me.’ It was a statement rather than a question.

Rebecca knelt down beside Ethan as he slid off Connie’s lap. ‘No, Ethan. This family is…different.’

Ethan looked up at Carl then to Connie, then back to Rebecca. ‘Why are they different?’

‘Well firstly,’ Carl began. ‘We really want you to be our son—to adopt you as soon as you feel ready. If that’s okay’, he added.’

The corners of Ethan’s mouth turned upwards.

‘Really? Yes, please!’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Police Embarrassment

‘This is the Police. Come out with your hands in the air!’

Three police cars parked strategically around the front of the gas station. The alarm had been activated and the police were called in. There had been a spate of break-ins and they had finally caught the culprit in the act. Firearms used in the previous two robberies made the police nervous. They guarded themselves behind their cars where the faint smell of body odour and heated engine oil mingled. Neighbours awakened by the early dawn invasion, gathered cautiously outside their homes to observe the commotion.

‘Do you hear me? This is Police Officer Brody. Come out with your hands up!’

The door opened slowly, revealing a small laced-up boot. The officers dropped down behind their vehicles, guns cocked.

‘Please don’t shoot’, a quiet trembling voice responded.

The door opened a little further and an elderly woman hobbled out. She was stooped low and walked with a cane.

‘What the…? Please step out into the open and put down your—cane.’

She dropped the cane and raised her hands as far as her skinny arms would allow.

Officer Brody stepped forward to access the situation. He motioned Police Officer Mandy Walters to carry out a search. Brody steadied the shaken old lady with his powerful hand under her elbow. Officer Walters placed the crooked walking stick back into an arthritic hand. She obviously didn’t want to embarrass the startled petite woman any further by searching her.

With an indignant expression, the woman faced the officer in charge. ‘I think there has been a mistake. You see, I left my keys in the bathroom and when I went back in, I noticed I had grease on my clothes.’ She rubbed at the spot on her weathered skirt.

‘I tried to wash it, but I had to take it off because the skirt wouldn’t reach the faucet. I locked myself in so no one would disturb me. Unfortunately, I think the nice man at the counter must have closed up for the night and didn’t realize I was still there.’

‘Where is your car?’

‘Sir! I don’t own a car. That’s my motorcycle.’ She lifted her cane and pointed with her bent fingers past the police cars and confused police officers. A Harley Davison that sheltered under an ancient oak tree glistened in the morning sunlight.

‘I find this all hard to believe. Tell me how you were in there all night without triggering the alarm?’

‘Well, you see…. I sat on the toilet seat to adjust my tights and I slipped off into the corner. I was stuck and didn’t have the energy to get up until this morning. When I left the bathroom, I was aware that I couldn’t get out so I shook the door. That pesky alarm just kept screaming at me.’

Brody scratched his head, completely mesmerized while she shuffled towards the Harley across the road. She mounted the motorcycle with a little difficulty, but unwavering. She placed an opened-face helmet over her greying, outdated hairstyle.

Using her key, the engine started up with a roar. Poking the cane into a side pouch, she flipped the kickstand up and drove off in one smooth movement. Officer Brody glanced at a smug-faced Walters before replacing his gun into its holster.

‘What are you looking at? You can do the report when we get back.’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Locked Out!

‘Geraldine! Open the door. Please, let me explain.’

‘Go away, Mum! I don’t want to talk to you.’

‘Please understand, Geraldine. I had to do it.’

‘That’s just so lame.’ Geraldine rolled her eyes. ‘You’re pathetic.’

Geraldine’s mobile phone played her favourite Red-Hot Chili Peppers song: Nobody Weird like Me. She grabbed her iridescent purple phone from the bed and checked the caller ID. Crystal’s photo appeared on the screen. ‘Hi, Crystal, I’m not really in the mood to talk.’

‘Geraldine, what’s going on? I was about to knock on your front door when I heard you screaming.’

‘Where are you now?’

‘At your front gate. Where are you?’

‘In my bedroom, but…’

‘I’ll come around to your window.’

Geraldine was about to argue but realized Crystal had rung off. By the time she opened the window Crystal was outside waiting.

To Geraldine’s relief, Crystal kept her voice quiet. ‘So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?’

Geraldine turned and threw herself back onto the bed. ‘I can’t believe she did it.’

‘Did what?’ Crystal raised her voice to a hoarse whisper to be heard from where she stood in the garden.

‘She threw Dad out.’

Crystal climbed through the window. ‘He’s been drinking again?’

‘Just because he likes a drink after work…’ Geraldine bit her lip and paused. ‘It wasn’t his fault that he hit her last night.’ She began to cry.

‘Hey, girl, you can’t possibly think he should stay if he’s hitting her.’

‘But, he’s my dad and it’s his home too.’

Geraldine’s best friend sat beside her and put an arm around her shoulder. ‘Do you remember when my mother threw my dad out?’

‘That’s different, Crystal; he was beating you and your brother. I remember going to the hospital with you when he broke your arm.’

‘Like, before that, he was hitting my mother. She used to hide out the backyard until he fell asleep, but then he started beating us instead. Yes, Geraldine, that’s why she threw him out, but do you think your mother is going to wait for that to happen to you? Your mother knows what we went through.’

There was a gentle knock on the bedroom door and Geraldine accepted a tissue from Crystal to wipe her eyes.

Her mother’s voice was croaky. ‘Geraldine, can we talk?’

‘OK Mum. Just a minute.’

Crystal gave Geraldine a quick hug before she climbed back out the window. As she waved goodbye, Geraldine took a deep breath before opening the door.

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Sea Hawke

Another short story I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t edited any of them but I thought I might share some of my old writing.

SEA HAWKE

“Father, let me take the Sea Hawke. I can bring home more fish.”

“Son, it’s one thing to go out past the bay on your own in the Mermaid, but you need more experience with the Sea Hawke. The Sea Hawke is much too big for you to handle on your own.”

“But, Father…”

The older man lifted his hand palm outward and said no more. He stepped out of the deep sea fishing boat that had been in his family for generations. He glanced at his 15-year-old son, Simon. He was tall for his age and sturdily built like his older brother, but had a defiant nature that sometimes got him into trouble. He watched his son for a moment before wearily heading home.

Simon threw a pebble into the water of their little cove and stormed up to the end of the wharf where his small run-about was tied up. He turned his head to see his father step out of view.

“It’s not fair,” he spat into the cooling breeze.

Simon clambered into his small dinghy and pulled the cord on the small motor. The motor revved and he released the rope. Skimming across the water his eye wondered momentarily to the Mermaid anchored beyond the cove before concentrating on the Sea Hawke a little farther out where the water was deeper. 

He eased off the throttle as he neared the Sea Hawke and pulled in alongside. “I know what I’m doing,” he muttered under his breath, gritting his teeth and hauling himself over the side of his father’s precious boat. He’d been out in the Sea Hawke since he was seven. His brother, Thomas, who was only three years older, had taken him out to sea many times.

The engine struggled to start. He stood at the helm and clenched his teeth. “Come on.” He tried again and the motor roared to life. He let the engine idle while he pulled up anchor and methodically coiled the chain onto the deck. With care, he guided the Sea Hawke forward before he turned the boat and headed out to sea.


It was almost an hour of gentle rising and falling over deep-sea waters before he slowed the boat to a stop. “This looks perfect,” he spoke into the salty wind. He watched sea birds fly in circles just above the surface of lightly foaming waves.

“Okay, now the nets.” He struggled and perspiration trickled down his face. Finally the net went over the side and disappeared almost instantly.

He returned to the helm and allowed the boat to move forward. The thick ropes that held the nets to the deck now trailed behind the boat and began to sag under the weight of his catch.

“I knew I could do it,” he congratulated himself.

The boat jolted and twisted in an unexpected swirl of waves. “Huh! What the…”

Simon struggled to steer the Sea Hawke. It began to tip to the starboard side. The wind had also unmistakably risen and Simon began to panic. He cut off the engine and ran to the stern.

“Oh no! Father will be angry.”

The Sea Hawke heaved and Simon grabbed at the ropes for balance. He suddenly found himself leaning far over the edge of the boat. He stared into the clouded eyes of a dead young whale which had snagged in the net. Its weight was pulling the boat over.

When the boat steadied and rested almost completely on its side, he gingerly reached for a fishing knife that hung from a hook on the stern.

“I … can’t … reach … ” He stretched as far as he could but the rise and fall of the boat wrenched it out of reach. He struggled to breathe, coughing violently as the fall of the waves threatened to choke him. The salt stung his eyes and blurred his vision. He vomited onto the deck. Dizziness engulfed him.


“SIMON! SIMON!”

Simon shook his head to clear it. He must be hearing things.

“SIMON, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?”

Simon looked up and around until his eyes fell on his father’s face. He was a little way off the bow in The Mermaid. Through the sea spray he saw Thomas lob a rope over the top of the bow but the dizziness returned and he grabbed the net as the boat rose and fell heavily.

Suddenly, Thomas had a strong arm around him. Thomas’s free hand hacked away at the ropes of the net with his knife. It seemed like an eternity to Simon, but finally the net gave way under the weight and fell into the churning waves. The boat rebounded almost throwing them overboard together. But Thomas held tight.

Simon sat on the deck of The Mermaid, wrapped in an old blanket. He shivered and coughed. The tow ropes slackened and tightened as the boats pushed through the heavy swell. His father hadn’t spoken since Thomas helped him aboard The Mermaid. He turned to his father standing at the helm and met his father’s glare, eyes slightly closed, jaw stiffly jerked sideways. Simon fought against the tears that suddenly threatened. He had hurt his father and lost his trust. Quickly wiping the blanket across his eyes to avoid his father’s penetrating stare; he took a deep breath.

“Are you okay, my son?”

Simon nodded in his father’s direction before looking up. His father’s face had relaxed a little and some of the softness had returned to the deep sea-green eyes. “Yes, Father.” He looked back out over the stern and watched Thomas expertly work at the helm of his father’s crippled Sea Hawke.

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Faith’s Adventures

From the Archives:  Faith’s Adventure – All 8 Stories

Faith to the Rescue
Faith Loses a Friend
Faith Goes on a Holiday
Faith’s Christmas Surprise
Faith’s Close Encounter
Faith’s Discovery
Faith Becomes a Mother
Faith – That’s my Blue Eye
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Partly true, partly fictional. 8 very short stories about Ken and his dog faith. Suitable for all ages. Please note: story “Faith Loses a Friend” may need parental guidance for younger children.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Wisdom in the Midst of Valentine’s Day Cards, Mush and Romantic Songs

Another short story I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t edited any of them but I thought I might share some of my old writing.

Wisdom in the Midst of Valentine’s Day Cards, Mush and Romantic Songs

Anthony and Gladys were quite a couple who loved each other dearly. After my own parents died, my husband’s parents became more than just family, we were friends. Michael and I valued their wisdom and their guidance, especially on marriage. Gladys passed away a few years ago and Anthony died shortly after. I loved them both, and the memories of Gladys in particular, still make me smile.

I remember one special occasion like it happened yesterday. It began when Gladys and I went shopping for Valentine’s Day. I found what I wanted fairly quickly but nothing was good enough for her Anthony. We read cards for hours but she wanted that perfect card. She wanted a Valentine’s Card with the perfect words.

“You’re the only love in my life,

You’re the only one I love…

When was the last time I said I love you?

“When was the last time I said I care?

It may have been last Valentine’s Day

But I could never be untrue?”

If I tell you that I love you,

If I tell you I’ll be true,

If I tell you you’re my sunshine

Will you be my Valentine?

Even when words are unsaid,

You’re forever in my heart

You’re forever in my head,

We can never part.

I give you my heart,

I give you my all

Just never let me go,

Let me be your Valentine.

“Oh, please. What a lot of mush,” Gladys concluded in desperation.

It was the fifth store we had visited and we had read dozens of silly poems, listened to romantic lyrics and trudged through mazes of red hearts and balloons. I had had enough. Gladys had given up. She replaced the last Valentine card back in the rack and we left—empty handed.

“I tell Anthony all the time that I love him. He tells me all the time. Well no… that’s not quite true.”

We laughed together and left arm-in-arm to the exit and out to the car.

Glad and I were sipping tea on her patio a few days after Valentine’s Day. Her eyes sparkled as she shared some moments from their Valentine’s dinner. Gladys always had a way of weaving teaching and wisdom together with life experiences to tell a story…as well as making it fun. This is what she shared:

“The aroma of roasting beef filled Anthony’s senses the moment he entered the house just after six o’clock…exactly how I had planned it. Our favourite romantic songs played quietly in the background, and two simple taper candles flickered in the gentle breeze from the fan rotating above an elegantly set table for two.

“‘Something smells good,’ Anthony said. It was his usual greeting, followed by a peck on the cheek. ‘Looks good too.’ Anthony opened the oven door to take a long sniff.

“I had even made a lemon-meringue pie for dessert, and told him so as he continued toward the bathroom to shower and change.

“My diamond ring still holds its sparkle, and for the evening, I had let my hair fall over my bare shoulders. They’re more like old prunes these days, but he never seems to mind.”

Gladys and I laughed at that.

Gladys continued. “The softness of the satin evening dress Anthony had bought me for Christmas, matched my mood of the evening.

“Anthony’s after-shower look made me smile. Always has. He looked relaxed after his long day and the scent of his favourite cologne drifted across the table and a wet strand of hair stuck to his forehead. He wore a shirt to match his hazel eyes, which twinkled in the candlelight.”

I smiled at her words. They were still in love, and it showed.

“The music changed as if on cue. ‘Remember this song?’ Anthony had whispered, like he was trying to avoid drowning out the words.

“’Yes,’ I smiled. ‘It was the song on the car radio the night you asked me to marry you. ‘

“Anthony looked into my eyes and said, ‘I love you more now than I can say.’ His boyish grin still captivates my heart.”

Gladys admitted her throat constricted many times that evening.

“I thought about those mushy greeting cards a lot. All I could get out was that I loved him too. Anthony admitted he hadn’t bought a Valentine’s card either. They were all so…”

“Mushy.” We finished the sentence together.


After 40 years of marriage, they didn’t need a card to say how much they loved each other.

“‘No, I guess we’re mushy enough,’ Anthony had declared. He had stood and took me by my hand and led me outside where, in the light of the silvery moon, we old “mushies” danced the night away.”

I miss Glad, and I miss her guidance she gave as the older woman. Yes, Gladys was my mother-in-law but most of all, she was my friend. Our shopping trips were always special. Her wonderful stories will stay with me forever. Perhaps one day, I’ll have a daughter-in-law of my own to whom I can pass on Gladys’s stories and share similar ones of my own.

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

One Hundred Twenty-Two Steps to the Floor of the Rain-Forest

One of the short stories I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t edited any of them but I thought I might share some of my old writing. I’m finally learning how to use WordPress blocks so this is also a practice post.

One Hundred Twenty-Two Steps to the Floor of the Rain-Forest: the sign read at the beginning of the narrow track.

Joe looked at his cell phone. “Are you sure about this? There’s no reception up here, so I doubt if there is any at the bottom.”

“I’ll be fine. We can stop and rest as many times as I need. We have all day. Look! There’s a rope handrail. Honest, I’ll be fine.”

“OK,” he sighed. “I’ll go first. If you fall, I’ll save you.”

“My hero.” I laughed and tightened the laces on my walking shoes and adjusted my leg brace.

The descent was steeper than I thought and the steps carved into the dry crusted earth, twisting over exposed tree roots and around broad tree trunks and small boulders. Using the rope to steady myself, I made my way down the sloping path. My encouraging husband restrained his usual pace and stayed close.

Deeper into the bush it was shady and cool. The steps dropped away at sharp angles and I noticed the overhead canopy had thickened. An old stump that had split lengthwise made an ideal resting place near vine entangled trees. The silence was intriguing.

“Can you hear that?” I whispered.

“Hear what? It’s so quite here.”

“Exactly!”

We continued silently, stopping once to let me catch my breath beside a trickle of a waterfall. Stepping onto the forest floor, we came upon a sign that gave information regarding a bushman who once lived in the area. I wiped the sign to read the remainder of the text.

“Wow! Imagine living here. It’s so peaceful.”

“Don’t touch the leaves of the red nettle tree—they sting,” Joe warned, reading a small rusted sign by a mysterious tree with an enormous red trunk.

My curiosity about the bushman increased when I observed a wooden structure beyond the red nettle tree. The fireplace and chimney were entwined with thick vines. Three walls remained standing, although I wondered if there was an original fourth wall—or a door. Located near another path, the hut’s open section faced a dried-up waterfall and stream. A memorial plaque erected above a crude water tub detailed the life and death of this bushman of the wilderness.

Joe wandered around the immediate area, taking snapshots. “Wait here. I’ll see where the other path goes.”

“OK,” I replied, studying the hut in more detail. Sitting on one of the two tree stump seats, I leaned back against the simple wooden table and closed my eyes. The sweet bird calls resounded through the bush as I breathed in the clean, crisp air. I wonder what it was like to live here.

The sound of whistling and running water interrupted my thoughts. On the path where Joe had left minutes before, a young bushman entered the small clearing. He ceased whistling, removed his weather-beaten hat with a row of corks hanging from the brim, and stood staring at me. “G’day Ma’am. Um’, where’d you come from?”

Without taking my eyes off the bushman, I pointed to the other path. “Where did you come from?” I finally managed.

“Ma’am, this is my home. I was going to make a billy of tea. Would you care to join me?”

“Yes, thank you. Sorry, I didn’t think anyone lived here anymore, Mr … er …”

“John Wilson, Ma’am.” He dipped his head before replacing his hat.

He filled an old billycan with water from the waterfall, which had suddenly begun to flow freely. Weird. I watched in a dazed silence as he placed the billycan on an open fire.

“How long have you lived here, John?”

“Oh, since early 1890, I suppose; I came down here looking for me horse and fell in love with the place. I never did find me horse. I go back into Vacy every three months or so to get some supplies.”

John placed tin cups on the table and poured in the hot tea. We talked about the town of Vacy and his home under the canopy. The afternoon air seemed to tug at my eyelids. Crossing my arms on the table, I listened with interest to his friendly talk.

“Hey, wake up sleepy head. We have to start the climb back if we want to get back before dinner.” Joe’s voice drifted down the path. “I got some good photos for your journal about John Wilson.” He paused. “Are you OK? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

© Chrissy Siggee

Author’s note: This story is mixture of non-fiction and fiction but the Australian history details are fact. Vacy is a locality of the Dungog Shire local government area in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia

Stella’s Plight – Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Stella’s 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 Women’s 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 didn’t recognise her. Kath’s 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 Stone’s house using David’s utility. Doc’s wife took her in until she was able to catch a train to a women’s shelter in Sydney.’

‘Oh my. That poor woman’, Teresa whispered as she retrieved a tissue from her dress sleeve. Doesn’t 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 Stella’s 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 Ryan’s eyes’, she said smiling through her sudden sadness. ‘I don’t 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 don’t know.’

Stella was confused. ‘What do you mean? Surely you know where you’re going.’

‘Well it’s 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. ‘I’m not sure I understand.’

‘Don’t worry yourself. I’m just a free spirit. I can stay with you through to Bourke to keep you company and return to Nyngan later tonight. I’m retiring and Nyngan is the only home I know.’

‘That’s sweet of you but won’t there be someone expecting you?’

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

‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ Stella waited for Sarah to finish her bottle before speaking again. ‘I hope David doesn’t come to the back of the train again. Oh, I didn’t think. What will I do when I get to Bourke? He’s bound to be getting off there.’

‘Let’s just wait and see. Don’t 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.’

‘Where’s Kath now?’ Teresa was eager to know.

‘She’s 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 don’t expect she’ll 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 haven’t 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 wasn’t intending to take her anywhere. I don’t know what to believe or what he’s up to.’ Stella paused. ‘He wouldn’t 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 it’s a way to get his property back. I’m not sure but I think you should be careful and get some legal advice.’

‘I know but…’

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

‘I’m 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. ‘I’m Stella Wilson.’

‘Don’t be alarmed Ma’am. We received a call from David Wilson’s wife. He’s 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. He’s 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? I’m 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, you’ll 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 can’t leave you alone. Now can I?’

Stella swayed a little with the movement of the train as it left the station. ‘I don’t 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. ‘It’s over. It’s really over.’

The End

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Stella’s Plight – Chapter Three

Chapter Three

‘It didn’t take long for the coroner’s 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 Teresa’s benefit. ‘The next day I was called to our solicitor’s office for the reading of Ryan’s 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 wouldn’t 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. ‘There’s a small table in the guardroom if you would like to use it and a microwave. I won’t 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…little 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.

‘Let’s 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 Ryan’s 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 Ryan’s 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 doesn’t seem fair’, Teresa interrupted.

‘Well, I don’t know much about what’s fair but Kath, David’s wife, was upset over his treatment of me. She had come to stay with me after Ryan’s death until after the funeral. She’s 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 didn’t 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 hadn’t 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 Ryan’s uncle, he asked if I had seen a woman with a baby. I’m sorry…’ Her voice drifted off.

Stella sat up straight and looked down the carriage through the door. ‘What did you say? I don’t understand. Why didn’t he stay or go into the guard’s cabin?’

Teresa turned back to Stella and gazed into her eyes. ‘I knew something wasn’t right. I answered him in German, my second language. I knew it would come in handy one day.’ She winked. ‘I didn’t lie. I couldn’t lie. I won’t, but he had no idea what I said and he just left.’

Stella stared at this beautiful woman that had befriended her. She didn’t 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….

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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 Two

Chapter Two

Stella began her story from the day her life changed forever. She had awoken early New Year’s Day with a dry mouth and covered in sweat. Nothing unusual for this part of the world but what was different was that Ryan wasn’t in bed and there was no evidence that he had. A wonderful husband of three years and a baby on the way, Stella’s 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. ‘That’s strange. It wasn’t open before I went to bed. Maybe Ryan’s 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 wasn’t until she reached the tractor shed that she realised how quiet it was. ‘Ryan, where are you?’

Flo, Ryan’s 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 didn’t wander and so the dogs couldn’t 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 Flo’s 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. ‘You’re on air early, Ryan. How can I assist you? Over.’

‘Maggie it’s Stella,’ she sobbed in relief. ‘Over,’ she finally remembered and released the button.

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

‘It’s Ryan. I think he’s dead’, she blurted out and released the button without the ‘over’.

‘Calm down, Stel. Doc Stone is over at David’s place visiting Ryan’s grandmother. I’ll contact him there. Stay calm. Over.’

Stella gulped down air. ‘I’ll try. Tell him to hurry, please.’ She sat staring at the radio and took long deep breaths until she heard Maggie’s 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.’

‘I’ll call you later,’ Maggie signed off.

Flo’s 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…what 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 didn’t seem to notice.

David, who was also Ryan’s 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.

‘He’s in the tractor shed,’ she finally blurted.

David put his arm around her shoulder and tried to soothe her. ‘I’m sure he’s fine. Let’s 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 wouldn’t follow.

‘David, I can’t go back in there.’

‘OK, stay here and hold Flo. I’ll 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 he’s 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 Ryan’s 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. ‘You’re in shock.’’

‘She’s 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 he’s only thirty-four,’ Stella gasped.

‘We have to wait on the coroner’s 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, I’ll 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 haven’t been close to Ryan since…. since my brother left the property to him instead of leaving it in my father’s family. To me…I’m mean, I’m sorry.’

Stella looked up as if she didn’t hear him correctly.

Only hearing bits of what Doctor Stone was saying in the other room, she waited. Her shaking had eased but she couldn’t stop the tears.

Another few minutes passed before Doc came back into the kitchen. ‘The authorities will be here as soon as they can. They’ll question you. It’s routine but I’ll stay until they take Ryan away.’

David rose from his chair and gulped down the rest of his water. ‘I’ll 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 didn’t even ask how David’s mother was. She died a few months later from complications after a long illness…’ Her voice trailed off.

‘I’m so sorry to hear that you went through that. So, the little one is fatherless?’

Stella nodded sadly. ‘That’s only half of it,’ she whispered before continuing her story….

To be continued….

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Stella’s Plight – Chapter One

Chapter One

Stella’s 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 wouldn’t 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…to get onto that train; 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 guard’s 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. Stella’s 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.

‘I’m Sister Anna Teresa, but you can call me Teresa. It’s actually what my father called me.’

‘It’s good to meet you Teresa. I’m 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.  ‘She’s so tiny. Must be a newborn.’

Stella searched the bag for the items she needed to prepare a bottle. ‘Yes…Sarah is a week-old today.’

A whistle blew and the train began to move.

Teresa watched as Stella mixed the powder. ‘Such a shame…’ she said. ‘I mean…’

‘That’s all right. I’m fine about not being able to feed her myself,’ was Stella’s simple reply. ‘Would you like to give her the bottle?’

Teresa’s 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…I’m heading back to Bourke.’

‘Such a long trip on your own with one so little.’ Her eyes now fixed on Stella’s.

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. ‘It’s a long story.’

‘We have plenty of time and I’m a good listener…if you want to share.’

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

To be continued….

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

What Became of Marjorie? – Chapter One

Chapter 1

It was a glorious night with an Autumn full moon and a canvas of twinkling stars that stretched out before Maisie. She stood now on the only second-floor balcony of this quiet country retreat. Huge Banksias all but obliterated the front of the historic building; the perfect location to write her new mystery novel. Taking in a slow deep breath of the crisp air she took the few short steps to the railing and took in the outline of the surrounding landscape beyond the front garden.

The Last Stop Hotel had been built in 1869 but was renamed Kelly’s Inn in 1880 after a fire partially destroyed the ground floor on the same day as Ned Kelly’s death. One hundred years later, it was converted to a bed and breakfast by an Irish family of the same name who immigrated during conflicts that took the lives of family members and friends. Generations later, Kelly’s Inn had still retained its name and function. It was inherited almost a decade earlier to the Australian born Gulf war widow, Katie Kelly.

Maisie gasped with surprise at the sight of a shooting star. She watched in awe until it disappeared from view. A squeak that sounded like a gate opening or closing, brought her back to the moment. The following echo of a click confirmed it. There in the moonlight off to her right was a hooded figure who was now heading down the path and into a dark shadowed area that she perceived as the bush-land she noticed when she arrived that afternoon.

With strained eyes focusing, she waited for further movement. ‘Perhaps I just imagined it’, she mumbled to herself. After all, she knew she had an imagination that freaked everyone she knew.

Closing the balcony double doors behind her, she headed for the bathroom to ready for bed. Tomorrow, Maisie hoped, would be a day of exploring and note taking.

Maisie woke to a faint tapping at her door. Blinking at the clock beside the bed she wondered for a second where she was. Another slightly firmer knock woke her fully. ‘Come in,’ she said, before thinking about who it could be.

Mrs Kelly entered with a tray atop with a mug of hot coffee, a small creamer jug and a bagel filled with bacon and melted cheese. ‘I don’t usually serve breakfast in bed to my guests but I need to drive into town for more supplies.’

‘Thank you. What time is it? This clock doesn’t seem to be working.’

‘So, you’re not an early riser?’ The woman moved the clock back a little so she could place the tray on the side-table. ‘The clock is working fine. It’s five-thirty in the morning.’

Maisie groaned but it was too late. ‘Sorry, I often write late into the night.’

‘That’s all right’. She grinned. ‘When I return, we can sit down and discuss your nocturnal needs and later breakfast times’.

‘I should have mentioned it yesterday, but an early start would do me good today. I need to make notes and check out this beautiful place’. Maisy looked around the ornately decorated room.

Katie Kelly went to the door before answering. ‘Until I return, can I ask you to keep the “checking out” to the down stairs and surrounding grounds.’ She turned and smiled. ‘I prefer to “right” upstairs after midday.’ She winked and left the room.

Maisie smiled as she placed her feet on the floor and reached for the steaming coffee.

The largest room downstairs had obviously been the 1880 refurbished dining room or perhaps a dance hall, which could explain the size and the raised section at one end. The chandeliers above glowed dimly, but the intricate embossed ceilings held her attention.

‘Your mouth is open.’ Mrs Kelly interrupted her reverie. ‘There’s a few dust spiders up there that drop unexpectedly.’

Maisie mouth slammed shut as the woman’s jovial laugh echoed down the long hallway toward the back of the house. She gathered herself and rescued her notebook that had dropped to the floor before following her host.

With a huge grin from Katie Kelly, Maisie stepped into the outdated but awe-inspiring industrial kitchen.

‘This kitchen is amazing.’

‘Yes, it’s that. Too big when I’m here alone during the colder months. I use the old domestic kitchen.’  She pointed to an open door beside the door they had come through. ‘Take a look.’

To her surprise the smaller kitchen was no bigger than an English utility room she had seen on one of those country-life television reality shows. It had all the basics a single person would need. In fact, it was better designed than her own kitchen in her Parramatta apartment.

‘So, how was your breakfast?’ Her host peered from behind the open door of the biggest refrigerator Maisie had ever seen.

‘Lovely, thank you. I’m sorry I put you to all that trouble.’

‘Nonsense, I enjoy spoiling my guests. Even nocturnal ones,’ she added with a wink.

Maisy couldn’t help but like this motherly older woman. ‘So, how can we make this work, Mrs Kelly?’

‘For starters, stop calling me Mrs Kelly. It’s Katie. I’m not the old housekeeper.’ She paused before continuing. ‘Well, old maybe.’

They both laughed.

‘OK Katie. You can call me Maisie. I’m so glad I came across your website. Which reminds me. Do you have WiFi?’

‘No. We are too far out and I like to keep it that way.’ Katie closed the fridge door and placed the last of the shopping bags under the huge work-space that seem to possess the room. She leaned against it. ‘I use the butcher’s computer in town. Tom is happy for my guests to use his WiFi too. Just be ready for his weird tales from the past…like the one he tells about the young newly-weds that stayed in the room above on the night of the historic fire’. She pointed toward the ceiling before adding: ‘then there’s Old Ned himself but I’ll let Tom tell his stories.’ Katie slapped her ample thighs. ‘Let’s go into the sitting room. It’s warmer in there. First on the left,’ she pointed. ‘I’ll bring down a pot of tea’.

The next few hours sped by filled with hot tea, scones and laughs. Katie answered historical questions about the house and family. Maisie interest peaked when Katie mentioned the family cemetery a little way passed the side gate.

‘Last night I thought I saw someone going through the gate. Actually, I heard the gate squeak.’

Katie sat silent before answering. ‘You must be mistaken,’ she snapped. That gate hasn’t squeaked for years. I’ll check it later when I dig up some potatoes for tonight’s tea. Will you eat with me?’ she continued bringing an abrupt end to their pleasant morning.

‘If it’s no problem. I can pay for any extra meals I have.’

‘Now cut that out, Miss Maisie. You’re welcome to join me at any meal. As for breakfast, why don’t I prepare it once you come downstairs each morning. I’ll be somewhere down here. Probably in the kitchen.’ With that, Katie packed up the dishes and left the room.

It took a few minutes before Maisie moved. She was at a loss to the sudden change of mood. She was concerned that she had offended the woman and decided to immediately apologise. Entering the kitchen a few minutes later she searched for Katie but she obviously made herself scarce. With a deep sigh she returned to her exploring. It was too late to drive into town. I don’t want to upset Katie again. Still mystified, she headed back to the large room she had visited earlier.

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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

Faith and Blue Eye!

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-imp‘WOW this little guy has one blue eye,’ Ken exclaimed.

Luke took the pup from Ken. ‘”Heterochromia Iridis.” It’s rare. It occurs as a result of too much or too little melanin in one eye. Can happen in humans too.’ He studied the pup further before reviewing the eyes again; a torch in hand.

‘So what does that mean?’

‘Well, nothing we can hope. It’s certainly striking. You may have problems selling him but I wouldn’t worry about that just now.’

Ken reach for the pup. ‘What do you think, Faith? Shall we call this little one Blue Eye?’

Faith licked her pup.

‘Thanks for coming around, Luke. Much appreciated.’

I see you built two new kennel yards. Great size.’

Ken led the vet through the rear door. ‘Yes, it seems to be working well. I bring Faith out onto the verandah with two or three pups at a time before bringing Shield out.  He’s certainly clumsy. He almost squashed one on of them trying to play with it.’

As if on cue, Shield barked and jumped at the fence.

‘It’s sounds like a plan. Faith’s area is large enough for the next few months if you don’t sell them all by then but let Faith and Shield out together for an hour or two every day. Just watch his behaviour though.’ He looked beyond the enclosed area to the rest of the small acreage and chuckled. ‘A good place to wear them out as they grow, and believe me, they’ll grow.’

The two laughed and shook hands.

‘Call the clinic when their ready for their vaccinations. If its easier, bring Faith in at a different time.’ Luke left by the side gate.

Ken released the catch on the Shield’s cage. ‘Hey, Boof! How about a sprint around the acreage?’ He started the three-wheeled farm buggy and sped off.

Shield leapt out of the enclosure and chased after Ken while Faith and the pups looked on.

On a sunny day five weeks later while the pups were exploring the back yard beyond their enclosure, Ken released Shield for the first time with his whole family.

Ken mounted the buggy and turned the key. The buggy rumbled to life. ‘Let’s go! Shield, Faith.’

Faith turned to her pups and barked a couple of times before chasing after Shield who had already bolted after the buggy.

It wasn’t until Ken sped past the litter on his first lap that the three bigger pups joined the chase. On the second and third laps all but one pup had joined the game.

Faith slowed and plodded over to the little one that just sat staring out at the paddock. Aw…come on little Blue Eye. She nudged the little one but he remained staring. She woofed gently before she turned and ran to follow the last of the slower pups.

Blue Eye leaned forward. His eyes focused only on the buggy.

Again Ken sped past. ‘COME ON BLUE EYE! YOUR’E MISSING ALL THE FUN!’ By the time Ken had passed Blue Eye the pups were spread around the full lap of the paddock.

Still Blue Eye sat and focused on Ken and his buggy. Then…One, two, RUN! With an awkward leap forward, Blue Eye raced directly out across the worn track almost colliding with his youngest sister. With eyes focused straight ahead he ran faster than he thought his little paws could carry him. He crossed the centre of the paddock just as Ken made the bend to take the back straight.

Blue Eye yapped and slid sideways into the dust cloud that had formed behind the buggy. He was now leading the pack ahead of his father. Yap Yap Yap

 Ken glanced behind. ‘How’d you do that?’ 76007BD7-imp

Ken steered into the final bend toward the start place with Blue Eye yapping close behind. He glanced over his shoulder as he approached the turn to begin a new lap. Blue Eye had slowed and returning to the same spot to sit and stare as he had before.

Ken watched Blue Eye in amazement. ‘You must be kidding me,’ he said out loud to himself when Blue Eye again dived out to cross the paddock. ‘He’s figured this out.’ He laughed. ‘Go Blue Eye!’

Again Blue Eye skidded in behind the buggy and yapped loudly. This time however, the others were slowing, including his father. Ken slowed to let Blue Eye pass but to his surprise the pup came up beside him and slowed to match the speed of the buggy.

The two continued side by side until Ken stopped and turned the engine off. ‘Well I’ll be…we have one smart pup here, Faith.’

The proud mother didn’t need to be told. She was all ready smothering him with licks. Shield however was not so pleased and bared is fangs.

‘Shield! That’s enough!’

At Ken’s pointed finger, Shield returned to his enclosure.

‘Well, Faith,’ Ken said. ‘I think we had better get these pups cleaned and fed.’

While Blue Eye enjoyed a few moments praise from his mother, the rest of the pups headed to the back porch. Ken approached Shield where he had waited at the entry of his enclosure. ‘Ah… Shield. Don’t be jealous. You should be proud of Blue Eye…all of them. You have a great family. Try to get on and don’t be so rough.’ He patted Shield before filling his food and water bowls. Leaving the gate ajar, Ken headed over to feed the rest of the family.

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© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s 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