Stella’s Plight – Chapter Two

Read Chapter One HERE

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.

A Garden of Surprises

‘Daddy! There’s a tiger in our garden!’

‘Really? I hope not. He might dig up the watermelon seeds.’

‘Should we feed the tiger so he won’t come and eat us up?’

‘OK, you get Mum’s kitchen scrap-bucket and I’ll put on my garden shoes.’

‘I have my garden shoes on all ready. Look, Mummy tied the laces. Do you think tigers wear garden shoes too?’

‘Well, we’ll soon find out, my young tiger hunter.’

 

‘Up on my shoulders you go. You can be the lookout.’

‘Yippee! I can see the whole garden up here. Look! Paw prints. It looks like the tiger has been out all night. Daddy, do you think the tiger might be sleeping?’

‘Could be. We will have to keep very quiet so we don’t wake him.’

‘caw caw

‘Look Daddy! It’s a crow. Let me down because he might get me. He could be the tiger’s friend. He might tell him we’re in the garden.’

‘Look over here. This is a lady bug?’

‘Why do they call em’ lady bugs?’

‘I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because they are so petite. Look at her tiny wings.’

‘Oh, look Daddy, the watermelon seeds are popping out.’

‘Yes, they are. Feel the little green shoot. Soon it will grow along the ground into a big vine and we will have lots of watermelons to eat.’

‘Yuck! Daddy, there’s a snail.’ He pointed.

‘We can’t have snails eating our seedlings, can we? We should put him on the compost heap. He can’t do any harm there.’

‘Come on Daddy, we have to feed the tiger.’

‘Be careful where you walk. The garden is a bit overgrown near the shed. We might clean it up next weekend. What do you think?’

‘Oh no, Daddy! Where will the tiger live?’

‘You have a point there. Here we are. Empty the scraps onto the compost pile.’

‘Daddy, can we empty the scraps for Mummy tomorrow? There might be a dinosaur in our garden.’

© 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.

 

Detective Crystal’s Investigation

Clutching the wooden spoon tightly and shaking it at my younger sister, I began my investigation. ‘OK, who did it? Who licked the mixing spoon?’

‘Not me.’ Madison answered, not looking up from the table.

‘Did too. Who else would have done it?’

‘Did not.’

‘Did too.’

The back door closed with a thump. Mum came in with her arms loaded with towels.

‘All right you two, break it up.’

‘But Mum…’

Madison crossed her arms tightly. ‘I… did… not… lick… Crystal’s… spoon.’

‘Did too.’

‘Girls, that’s enough!’

I tossed the spoon into the sink. ‘Mum, you promised that if I peeled the potatoes last night, I could lick the spoon when we baked the cookies this morning. It was my turn.’ I glared at my seven-year-old sister.

She poked her tongue out and I stomped out of the kitchen.

When I returned a few minutes later, notebook and pencil in hand, Mum and Madison were busy removing cookies from a baking tray.

‘OK… Mum, what happened when I left the kitchen to use the bathroom?’

With an audible sigh, Mum opened the oven door and placed another tray onto the top shelf. ‘Well, after we finished mixing the cookie dough, I went outside to bring the towels in from the clothesline. If Madison licked the spoon, I didn’t see her.’

Madison added a fairy-shaped cookie to a large plate and then turned toward me. ‘I… did… not… lick… your… spoon.’

I noted her statement. ‘Madison, what were you doing while Mum was outside?’

‘Colouring in my book.’

‘Before that, stupid.’

‘Please Crystal.’ Mum intervened. ‘You can play your detective games but please don’t be rude to your sister.’

Madison pushed a tiny candy bow into the icing on the top of a pink fairy before she continued with her defence.

‘I didn’t touch the spoon. Mum said it was your turn to lick it so I went and got my colouring pencils and book from my bedroom.’

Sandy, Madison’s kitty brushed against my legs. ‘Where was Sandy?’ I crouched down and checked the kitten’s paws and mouth.

‘She followed me outside,’ Mum replied, then handed Madison the container of sprinkles.

‘Well, it couldn’t be Sandy.’ Madison added not looking at anyone.

I added my notes about Sandy then poked the pencil behind my ear and placed the notebook onto the table. ‘Can I help decorate the cookies?’

‘Wash your hands and show Madison how to use the icing gun.’

Obediently but aggravated, I moved to the sink and washed my hands. I still think Madison did it. I kept my eyes on miss goody two-shoes while I turned on the tap. Little sister seems to always avoid punishment.

‘Did you come to any conclusions,’ Mum asked.

My attention remained focused on Madison. I took a small spoon from the drawer to use to fill the icing tube. ‘Well, if it wasn’t Madison or Sandy, who else could it be?’

‘It wasn’t me!’ Madison announced he innocence again. ‘You always blame me.’

Momentarily, I concentrated on filling the tube.

‘Well,’ Mum was saying. ‘If you did Madison, no one would be mad at you for it. It’s the lies that I don’t tolerate.’

Madison’s lips quivered. ‘I didn’t.’

A noise from the living room caused me to turn suddenly. ‘What’s that?’

Mum glanced up at the doorway as Dad entered.

Madison’s frown disappeared. ‘Daddy, you’re home early.’

I placed the icing gun on a clean plate. ‘How long have you been home, Dad?’

I grabbed my notepad and drew the pencil from behind my ear. I tapped my foot. ‘Well?’

‘Well…nice to see you too.’ Dad laughed.

I approached Dad and leaned forward. There on his loosened tie, was a tiny blob of chocolate. ‘Dad… you didn’t. How could you?’

‘Do what?’

Mum pointed her finger. ‘So, you’re the culprit.’

Dad bent down to kiss my forehead.

‘Da…ad, your lips are sticky.’

Dad just stood there and grinned. ‘Yeah, I came in to see my beautiful girls before I put my briefcase away. No one was here so I licked the spoon.’ He grabbed a paper serviette and wiped his mouth. ‘I guess you found me out.’

‘You licked the spoon? It was my turn!’

Mum came over and touched my shoulder. ‘I think you have an apology to make, Detective Crystal.’

© 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 Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

Abigail’s Special Birthday Gift

Abigail Hyatt was almost seven and her daddy let her choose where to have her birthday party. It had been a sad winter and a party was a good idea.

‘Can we have it at the park?’ Abigail asked.

‘Which park, Abigail?’

‘The big one, the one Mummy loved.  You know… the one where we threw the rose petals after her funeral.’

‘If that’s where you want it, then that’s where we will have it.’ He kissed the tip of her nose.

Abigail smiled. ‘I’ll help with the invitations but we have to invite Grandpa and Grandma Lawson. Do you think they’ll come, Daddy?’

‘You can ask them. They would like that.’

Her smile faded. “I wish they didn’t live so far away. Do you think Grandpa and Grandma miss Mummy too?”

‘I’m sure they do. I would miss you, my darling daughter, if you had died. Now, let’s not be sad. Mummy would want us to enjoy your party.’

‘I want to wear the party dress Mummy bought me last year.’

‘Abigail, honey, I don’t think it will fit. You have grown so tall. Why don’t we go to the mall tomorrow after school and see what we can find?’

‘Okay Daddy.’

 

Finally, the party day arrived. It was a sunny day and the park had lots of spring flowers growing in the gardens. Abigail could see her grandparents at the end of the short path that led to the playground. They were tying balloons on swings and trees. There were two picnic tables.  One had lots of party food on it and the other held a huge birthday cake with pink icing.

‘Grandma! Grandpa!’ Abigail called and ran to meet them.

‘Abigail! You look so grown up and your party dress is so pretty,’ Grandma said, smiling.

‘It’s Mummy’s favourite colour. Do you think she’d like it?’

‘I think it’s perfect,” Grandpa said.’

‘Abigail.’ Daddy spoke quietly. “Your friends have arrived.’

She looked up at her father to ask him to greet them for her, but he was wiping something out of his eye. Grandma hugged Abigail. Abigail knew Grandma was crying too so she hugged her as well. ‘Oh Grandma, I miss Mummy soooo much, but she would want us to enjoy the party.’

Grandpa hugged them both. ‘Yes, she would. Now go and meet your friends and enjoy the afternoon.’

Abigail greeted her friends and opened her presents. A clown skipped into the playground, making the children laugh. He twisted balloons to form the shape of little animals, stood on his hands and spun hoops on his feet. Abigail thought it was the best party ever.

Abigail was too excited to go to bed that night. After her bath, she dressed in her new summer night gown, and sat on Grandpa’s knee while he read her favourite story. She knew it almost by heart because her mummy had always read it before she went to sleep—sometimes twice.

Daddy entered the room carrying a glass of milk. “Grandma and Grandpa Lawson want to talk to you.’

Abigail felt suddenly afraid. Daddy had said something like that when Mummy got sick. She remembered that Mummy was crying and Daddy told her they would be okay. Abigail climbed off her grandpa’s knee and went to her daddy.

‘It’s all right.” Grandma smiled at her. “Everything is OK.’

‘You see,” Daddy said, lifting Abigail onto his knee. “We all miss Mummy very much and…’

‘What your daddy is trying to say, is that we miss your mummy, too.” Grandma added. “But we also miss you and your daddy.’

Grandpa sat on the floor in front of Daddy and Abigail reached down to hug his neck.

Grandpa took a deep breath. ‘Grandma and I want to move in with you and Daddy, at least until we get a house close by. Your daddy and I talked about it a lot and we think your mummy would like it. What do you think?’

‘This is the best birthday gift ever! Can they live with us, Daddy… please?’

‘Abigail, this is your birthday gift. It’s up to you.’ Daddy was laughing now. He hadn’t laughed for a long time.

She jumped off her father’s knee and hugged her grandpa and her grandma. ‘Please come and stay— I’ll even let you call me Abby. Mummy always called me Abby.’

© 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 Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

A Garden of Surprises

‘Daddy! There’s a tiger in our garden!’

‘Really? I hope not. He might dig up the watermelon seeds.’

‘Should we feed the tiger so he won’t come and eat us up?’

‘OK, you get Mum’s kitchen scrap-bucket and I’ll put on my garden shoes.’

‘I have my garden shoes on all ready. Look, Mummy tied the laces. Do you think tigers wear garden shoes too?’

‘Well, we’ll soon find out, my young tiger hunter. Up on my shoulders you go. You can be the lookout.’

‘Yippee! I can see the whole garden up here. Look! Paw prints.’

‘It looks like the tiger has been out all night.’

‘Daddy, do you think the tiger might be sleeping?’

‘Could be. We will have to keep very quiet so we don’t wake him.’

‘caw caw

‘Look Daddy, a crow. Let me down because he might get me. He could be the tiger’s friend. He might tell him we’re in the garden.’

‘Look, a lady bug. See how tiny her wings are?’

‘Daddy, why do they call em’ lady bugs?’

‘I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because they are so petite. Look at her tiny wings.’

‘Oh, look Daddy, the watermelon seeds are popping out.’

‘Yeah, they are. Feel the little green shoot. Soon it will grow along the ground into a big vine and we will have lots of watermelons to eat.’

‘Ooooh, yuck! Daddy, it’s a snail.’

‘We can’t have snails eating our seedlings, can we? We should put him on the compost heap. He can’t do any harm there.’

‘Come on Daddy, we have to feed the tiger.’

‘Be careful where you walk. The garden is a bit overgrown near the shed. We might clean it up next weekend. What do you think?’

‘Oh no, Daddy! Where will the tiger live?’

‘You have a point there. Here we are. Empty the scraps onto the compost pile.’

‘Daddy, can we empty the scraps for Mummy tomorrow? There might be a dinosaur in our garden.’

© Chrissy Siggee

 

Archived in Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

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 wrong?’

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 her 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 Children & Teens at Riverside Peace