Grartor Party #TaleWeaver

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Molly’s seven year old son, Ben, emptied his school bag on the dinning room table. Molly caught a pencil as it rolled her way then eyed the mess of school books, papers and other items. Ben had a habit of collecting things.

‘What’s this?’ Molly asked picking up a blue envelope.

Ben shrugged and his eyes drifted to the TV in the next room. His three year old, twin sisters were sat before the screen watching cartoons.

Molly opened the envelope and took out a thin slip of paper.

‘Your invited to a grartor party,’ she read aloud slowly.

The handwriting and spelling were clearly a child’s. Molly looked at the name and address at the end, but didn’t recognise them.

‘Who is Riley?’ she enquired.

‘He’s new,’ Ben said.

‘And what’s a grartor?’

‘Don’t know.’

Molly looked at the date, the party was tomorrow. She checked the address again, it wasn’t far from their house and the start time was 2pm.

‘Do you want to go to his party?’ she asked, ‘Ben?’

‘Okay. Can I watched cartoons now?’

Molly nodded and Ben rushed over to join his sister. Molly sorted through the other stuff on the table. She flipped through his work books then piled them to one side, placing on top the book he currently had to read. There was a letter from the headmaster about head lice, a letter from Ben’s teacher about an end of year trip to the zoo and a maths homework sheet due in on Monday.

Molly re-packed his school bag then added things to her calendar. Then she did an internet search to find out what a grartor party was. Perhaps, this Riley was from a different country or religion and grartor related to turning eight or something like that?

The search engine told her it wasn’t actually a word, did she mean something else? Molly scrolled down the suggested websites hoping that it appeared as some kind of new child craze like fidget spinners but there was nothing.

This is why you don’t let a child write their own party invitations! Molly thought.

She looked over at her own children and decided she’d just have to find out tomorrow.

 

The next morning after breakfast, Molly got Ben ready for the party. Leaving her husband with the twins, she took Ben shopping and got a suitable birthday present for Riley. At half twelve, she drove over to the address and parked up.

Letting Ben out, they walked up the steps to the front door of the house. Bright green balloons weighed down behind the two large flower pots, greeted them. A banner over the door read, 8 Today! and an inflatable crocodile lay on the lawn.

‘Are you excited? Molly asked.

Ben pulled a face and clutched the wrapped birthday present.

‘I bet there’ll be cake and jelly and ice cream. Your other friends will be here,’ she pointed out.

Molly rang the doorbell and it was answered by a tried looking man who had a crocodile glove puppet on his hand.

‘Hi, I’m Molly Black. My son Ben was invited to Riley’s party. Sorry, I didn’t reply to the invite, I only found it in his bag yesterday. I hope you don’t mind us coming,’ Molly explained.

The man nodded, ‘Rory James, Riley’s dad. Please come in.’

He held the door, Molly and Ben entered. The house looked freshly moved into. There were green balloons tied everywhere and in the kitchen was a table covered in party food. Rory led them into the back garden were a few children where bouncing on a  green jungle themed bouncy castle and inflatable crocodiles were dotted around. Two woman were stood talking close by, drinking out of wine glasses.

‘I want a go!’ Ben cried, cheering up instantly.

‘Sure,’ Rory answered.

Molly took the present and Ben’s shoes then he ran off onto the bouncy castle.

‘What time should I come and pick him up?’ Molly asked.

‘Oh, you’re not staying?’

‘I’ve left my husband with our twin girls,’ Molly explained.

‘Five, I think it said on the invite. My wife can confirm that. I’ll introduce you then I must get back to finishing off the cake,’ Rory said.

They walked over to the two woman and the one wearing the blue dress with the mass of blonde hair was Rory’s wife, Celina. Rory introduced them then left.

‘Can I get you something to drink?’ Celina asked.

‘No, thanks,’ Molly replied, ‘I must get back home soon, I told my husband I wouldn’t be long. We are taking the twins to the park.’

‘Oh okay.’

‘This is for Riley,’ Molly said handing over the present, ‘I wasn’t sure what to get him. So, I let Ben pick it. Young boys tend to like the same things, I’ve found.’

‘Thank you,’ Celina spoke with a smile and took the gift.

‘What is a grartor party?’ Molly asked.

‘Riley came up with it. He said it meant a great gator. He’s obsessed with alligators!’ Celina laughed.

Molly nodded, the whole green and crocodile theme clicking into place. She talked for a few minutes with other parents who were arriving then she said goodbye and drove home.

At five, she returned and picked up Ben who chatted away about the good time he had had at the grartor party.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/tale-weaver-183-making-sense-of-nonsense-grartor/ with thanks).

 

 

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A Summer Storm #WritePhoto

In fields full of flowers we would spend our summers; playing, talking, reading, kissing. Standing at the edge now, I could see her still, running in a flowing white summer dress, the hem brushing the steams of the flowers as her hands trailed across their petals. She was laughing and looking back at me as I chased her.

A soft rain began to fall, darkening my clothes. I ducked under an oak we had used as shelter many times. If I pretended for a few moments, she was on the other side of the trunk, counting as we played hide and seek.

The rain came down harder, dripping through the leaves above. A rumble of thunder echoed across the fields. I shivered and wondered, why had I come back here? Had I really thought she would be here waiting for me? Lightening lit up the grey sky. The hairs on my arms stood up, it was unsafe to stay here.

I began running back to the village, the rain soaking me and the thunder clapping. I was crying, my chest hurt, I felt crushed with wanting what I could no longer have. She was gone forever and she would never run through those fields again.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/08/09/thursday-photo-prompt-summer-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

 

Reflection #FFfAW

She didn’t want to go to the park but she had no where else. Sitting on a bench next to the duck pond, she wondered, how have I hit rock bottom so hard? Wiping tears, she told herself she’d get through. She would find the strength like she always did.

 

(Inspired by; https://allaboutwritingandmore.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/fffaw-challenge-177th/ with thanks).

Track #WritePhoto

Children’s laughter followed as she walked through the woods. The smile on her face grew and she spread both her arms out so that her fingers could brush the moss covered tree trunks and tall bushes.

Summer hung heavy in the air, carrying the heady scent of flowers, enough to drown upon. The low river tumbled passed, eager to get to the seaside. Bees buzzed, birds tweeted, squirrels scampered and the children played.

She felt at peace here. It was far from the busy city and her home, quiet of people but loud of nature. She could be anything she wanted amongst the trees with no one to judge her; a princess or a child again and not the gnarled old maid.

The children were calling, telling her to come back and see what they had found. She hadn’t gone far, not being able to walk well now. She totted back, wondering if they would show her shiny fish or wiggly worms? She reached the pebbly river bank where she had left them but it was empty.

She shut her eyes then opened them again. The ceiling of the hospital glowed white above her. Sirens wailed in the distance and the hush of nurses’ shoes crept along the nighttime corridors.

It hadn’t been real, none of it had.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/08/02/thursday-photo-prompt-track-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Raindrops On Glass #TwitteringTales

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He only came when it rained, coming off the moors to seek shelter. I would sat in the library’s window box, reading by gas lamps. I would try to ignore the sounds of him moving around. I had nothing else to say to him nor him to me. We were ghosts to each other.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/07/31/twittering-tale-95-raindrops-on-glass-31-july-2018/ with thanks).

Dear Diary #47

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Dear Diary,

Strange things have been happening in the new house. I’ve not really had the time to write since our first night because we’ve been busy unpacking and buying things.

It’s four days later now and expect for the first night, though of course something could have happen but we were too tried to notice, something has been going on.

The second night, soon after midnight when I had put baby back to sleep again, I heard noises in the quietness. It sounded like someone moving things in the attic – a wooden trunk bring dragged and footsteps.

I woke Blaine up but we heard nothing. A few hours later, I heard a soft crying and woke up thinking it was Poppy, but she was fast asleep.

The next day, our second full day in the house, I went out with Poppy for a walk. Blaine had returned to work but I still had another month on maternity.

The park across the road is really nice. The duck pond is clean and the ducks even look posh. Is that an actual thing? Maybe, it’s because there were two white swans gliding about.

There were large patches of grass and trees, two playgrounds, sport areas and a skateboard bowl. From across the way, came the sound of children playing and I could just make out the primary school behind the high hedges.

When we got home, I knew something was wrong. I closed the door, took Poppy straight from her pram and walked through the house. The back door in the kitchen was slightly ajar.

Thinking someone had broken in, I went over and found that perhaps, I hadn’t locked the door and the wind had pushed it open. The back garden gate was secure and the fence too high for someone to climb over.

Then though, I found all the upstairs doors open and I knew I had closed them. Nothing seemed to have been taken. I told Blaine and we agreed to get all the locks changed and things secured.

That night, I heard things moving in the kitchen. It didn’t sound like a person though, it seemed to be more like the wind rustling things and making stuff creak. Trying to remember if I’d left the window open, I went downstairs and there wasn’t anything. I had left the light on and the window was closed.

Poppy was awake when I got back, wanting changing and feeding. Blaine slept on and I let him, I know how tried he was having to juggle being a new dad, having a new job and having to move.

I tried to get to sleep again but I don’t know. I just felt too awake which is strange as since weeks before Poppy arrived I’ve been so exhausted. I listened to the noises of the house, water dripping somewhere, pipes rattling, a door creaking, the stairs creaking, a door handle rattling…

I sat up and listened hard. Perhaps, it had been nothing. There are lots of noises in a new house. but I just have this feeling that it’s not just that…

I don’t know. I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t even like watching horror movies or reading stories. I don’t have time for such nonsense. It’s properly just a side effect of the tiredness and stress. In a few months, it’ll just be normal and the house will feel like it’s always been ours, at least, I hope so.

#WritePhoto

It was too hot to walk on the tops today, but Judy had to get away. Out here, with the heathers, few trees and mother nature all round, she could escape. She didn’t have to put on the brave face anymore. Didn’t have to laugh along with her co-workers jokes or agree with their complaints. Didn’t have to pretend that everything was normal when her world had crashed.

Judy walked over to the big standing stone which seemed to stand proud against the aqua blue sky. It was the hottest day of the year and Judy was really feeling it. She had dress in shorts, a vest top and trainers. In her rucksack was two bottles of water, some snacks, her mobile phone and purse.

Reaching the stone, she sheltered in the shade it offered. Sitting down, she had some water then soaked up everything around her. The birds and crickets where singing, a lazy warm breeze was drifting around the heather and there was nothing else.

The tears were unexpected but she let them fall. It seemed there was nowhere she couldn’t escape the course of things. Her brother was gone and there was nothing she could do about it.

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/07/26/thursday-photo-prompt-stone-writephoto/ with thanks).

Stone Circles (Part 4)

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It started to rain more and it turned into drizzle. The stone did not offer much shelter but I was too tried and growing scared to move. The deepening darkness made it harder for me to see and for some reason I began thinking about ghost stories governess had told me over the years. You could hear children crying on windy nights and women wailing when it rained, ghost horses pulling carriages during storms and also the howling of the devil’s dog.

‘Rosy! Rosy!’ I cried, ‘please come back to me! I want to go home!’

I started weeping, knowing it was not gentleman or boy like, but unable to stop myself. The wind began whistling around the stones and half thought I could make it whispering voices. Was that the neighing of a horse? I pushed back my head and got to my feet. It sounded like it could be but it was hard to tell where the sound was coming from.

I shouted for Rosy with the last of my strength then listened hard. There was more neighing and above the wind and rain, hoofs racing across the moors. I heard my breath and stared through the gloom. There was something brown coming towards me, was it Rosy or something else?

Leaving the stone circle, I cross the short grass and went towards the growing shape. It was a pony for sure but was it Rosy? I called her name again and made my way over. It was her! Galloping over, reins loose about her neck.

‘Rosy! Where have you been!’ I cried and rushed to embrace her.

I wrapped my arms around her warm, damp neck and cried hard into her fur. Rosy nuzzled me and whined softly. The drizzle dripping off her. She seemed unhurt and just as glad to see me.

‘Do you know the way home from here?’ I asked her, ‘can you get us back?’

I stroked her and climbed up on her back. The saddle was still tight in place but wet with the rain. I clutched the reins and told her to go on. Rosy turned away from the stones and walked into the gathering darkness.

I had no idea where she was taking me but I had to trust her. She had come to find me, had she not? Surly, she would take me home now? I shivered with the cold and tried not think so much. I wonder if Molly had lit the fire in my room and what would be for supper instead.

Rosy sometimes walked or trotted and I let her go. The rain turned heavy, the wind stronger and the moors darker. I lay down against her mane, dozing on and off. The flickering of lights in the distance called my attention and I looked upwards. It was hard to tell what was growing ahead of us at first. Perhaps it was lightening?

I felt Rosy speed up under me and I held the reins and saddle tighter. Had she heard thunder? I could not hear anything and the yellow lights ahead were becoming more stable. Could it really be Trenworth Manor at last?

And then it was! I saw the manor looming against the darkness, a solid shape against the sky.

‘Go, Rosy! Go!’ I urged the pony.

Rosy stepped onto the narrow road which made it easier for her to gallop on. The archway door still stood open and we went through. Rosy tottered across the gardens and went towards a small cottage and a stables that stood in the shadows of the manor. Mr Marsh had left the stable doors open and Rosy went in.

There was no light inside, so I climbed off her in the dark and hurried to knock on the cottage’s door. I banged loudly on the wood, the door opened before I stopped. Mrs Marsh stood in the doorway, famed by the glow of fire and with the scent of hot food drifting out.

‘Master Dunnington! What an earth-‘

‘I got lost on the moors!’ I cried, ‘Rosy wondered off without me but then we found each other again and she brought me home.’

‘Oh well, now, we did wonder where you had gone…’

‘I’ll take him back to the house,’ Mr Marsh said coming to the door with a lit lantern.

‘Thank you!’ I said.

He walked ahead of me and I followed the lantern light to the back door of the manor. Mr Marsh had borrowed the key, so he let me in to the kitchen. There was still some warmth in the air from the dying fire.

‘I will go to see to Rosy. You should get to bed now,’ Mr Marsh said.

He lit me a candle then left. Locking the door behind him. I hurried through the dark quiet house to my rooms. Once there, I lit a few more of the candles and also the fire. It should have been Molly’s job to do this but she was not round and I was not use to calling upon her.

I got out of my wet clothes and into something else then warmed myself by the crackling fire. A linger of fear was still going through me but I put that down to being cold. Once I was feeling better, I got up and went into the next room, hoping that Molly had remembered to leave supper on the light table for me.

Lighting more candles, I saw there was something. It seemed to be soup but it had all ready gone cold. I ate it anyway and the bread because I was hungry. Tiredness wrapped itself around me and I barely blew out all the candles and crawled into bed before I fell into a deep sleep.

I dreamt of the moor and being lost. I kept calling for Rosy and for help. The wind howled around me, deafening me and the rain fell, blinding me. I could hear children and women crying and wailing, their fingers brushing me, trying to keep me back. I stumbled onward and almost walked into a tall stone. I felt my way around and realised I was inside one of the stone circles.

Was I still there now? Had my return home been the real dream?

I tried to leave the stone circle but I seemed unable to get out. The stones closed around me, blocking the moor off. They rose above my head, making a roof as they touched together. I think I scream and bashed my hands against the stones.

The sense of falling and spinning took me, I was flying and the stones were scrapping against me. I hit the floor of my bedroom hard and struggled to untangle myself from the bed clothes. Dim morning light crept around the room and somewhere I could hear a servant’s bell ringing.

I got up, looking around dazed. Was I really back? Had it all been a dream after all? I went to the window and looked out. The moors were still there, looking welcoming in the light. I watched a flock of sheep going past, chased by a dog and two men. I looked down at my hands and saw the faint scars left by the cane. Everything looked normal but I did not feel it.

Something had changed and if it was due to that nightmare or my time being lost on the moors, I was never sure. Maybe, it had something to do with the stone circles? But I always felt less confident after that and I never wander Bodmin Moor alone again.

Stone Circles (Part 2)

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Early morning light woke me. I rolled over, rubbing my eyes then sat up. Someone had undressed me, leaving me in just shirt and underwear. I paused, a strange tuneful humming coming from the next room. I got up, saw fresh clothes laid out on the bedding box, my trunk open and half unpacked.

I dressed then went to the corner and moved the faded tapestry there to reveal a small door. Opening this, I entered a room that was trying to be too many things at once. There was a circle tea table under the window with two chairs, a small writing desk in the corner next to it. Along the next wall was a fireplace, another hidden door to the left and a bookcase to the right.

The other side of the room was a nursery; a large wooden trunk sat closed against the wall, there was another bookcase holding a few toys; a wooden boat, balls, tennis rackets, dolls. There was a dolls house, a tiny table laid with a tea set and in the corner, my favourite thing of all; a dappled grey rocking horse. His mane and tail were real grey horse hair, his black eyes were wide and his mouth open showing teeth and red lips around the metal bit.

I was not alone in the room. A young woman, dressed in black with a white pinafore and cap was by the first bookcase, putting away books that she had taken out of my trunk.  I could see bright red hair poking out of the caps edges and a hint of flat black shoes under her skirts. She was humming loudly and had not heard me enter.

‘Hello,’ I said.

She jumped, a book flying from her hand and spun around to me. More loose strands of red hair framed her flushed pink face which had a covering of freckles. Her nose was upturned, her eyebrows raised in shock and her bright blue eyes fixed on me.

‘Sir! You startled me!’ she cried.

‘Sorry…’

She bent, picked the book up and shoved it on to the shelf, ‘I was worried you would not awake,’ she said, her voice sounding very Cornish, ‘I came up after Mrs Bennett told me too but you were all ready sleeping. The trip from London was tiring?’

I nodded.

‘I have never left the village. My cousin works here as the gardener’s hand, he recommended me when Mrs Whitley enquired. This is my first job, would sir please be understanding of that?’

I was use to that being the case at Trenworth Manor. Seemed my aunt found it hard to hire more experienced servants. Or perhaps, she was more understanding of the younger ones now having me in her life.

‘How old are you?’ I asked.

‘Seventeen,’ the maid replied.

‘And you name?’

‘Molly Pickworth, sir,’ she answered and give a little curtsy.

‘I am Master William Dunnington.’

‘I know,’ she uttered, her cheeks flushing deeper red.

I looked away from her as was gentleman like to save her more blushing. My glance ended over at the table and I saw it was set out for a meal. There was a silver tray with a covered dish, milk jug, sugar bowl, jam pot, a teapot and tea cup on a saucer. My stomach growled loudly, breaking the silence that was growing.

‘Excuse me,’ I said.

‘I believe it is porridge, sir,’ Molly voiced, ‘Mrs Marsh sent it up an hour or so ago. It should still be warm.’

Nodding, I went over to the table and helped myself. Molly carried on unpacking, trying to be as quiet as possible. The porridge was good, still warm and nice with sugar and jam. The tea was also nice and comforting. I felt better after eating and drinking it all and turned to look out of the window whilst I rested.

Surprising, it was nice day outside. Sunlight was pouring across Bodmin Moor from a really blue sky, the grass and bushes were a wash of green and I could just see little colours of flowers. Bird song was drifting through the air and I could just hear the calling of cows from a nearby farmer’s field.

‘Have you finished, sir?’ Molly asked.

I nodded and stretched out as she gathered everything up.

‘I think I’ll go outside,’ I spoke.

‘As you wish, sir. If there is anything else….’

‘No, that’ll be all,’ I said as if I was the lord of the manor.

I got up off the chair and went back into my bedroom. I went out the door and back the way I had come last night. I should have sought Mrs Bennett and asked her if my aunt wished to see me, but I knew my aunt would not want too, she rarely give me an audience.

The smell of freshly baked bread and something sweet, hint my nose at the bottom of the main staircase and I walked towards the kitchen. Opening the door, I saw the back of the elderly cook, Mrs Marsh removing bread from the oven. Her granddaughter assistant, Margret who was almost twice my age was at the sink washing something. There was a fire burning in the stove and a kettle boiling on top. The scrubbed, wooden table was piled with a mixture of different foods and the back door was half open, suggesting a delivery of things from the village had just arrived.

I coughed and walked in, making sure I was heard, Mrs Marsh was partly deaf.

‘Oh, it’s the young master,’ Margret said, turning around.

She was tall and curvy, wearing a simple dark green dress with a peek of white underskirt showing at the bottom. Her arms were going thick with muscles from carrying and working hard in the kitchen. Her face was pleasing with rounded cheeks, plump lips, blue eyes and dusty blonde hair poking out of a too small white cap. I noticed too the gold band on her ring finger and the growing bump of her stomach.

‘I sent his porridge up,’ Mrs Marsh half shouted as she tipped a loaf of bread out on the counter.

Steam curled upwards, trying to mix with Mrs Marsh’s white hair that was held back in a tight bun under her cap. The old woman had dark blue eyes which were slowly failing her and her face was all wrinkled and worn. Her skin was darkened by the sun and I recalled she liked to doze outside. She was wearing a dark blue dress, covered in flour and other stains.

‘Thank you for that, it was most needed,’ I said.

I walked in and inspected the items on the table; there were fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked ham, cheese, butter, two dead chickens, three dead rabbits, a pot of jam and another of sugar. There was also a jug of milk, a bottle of sherry and larger bottle of Cornish cider.  My aunt had ordered Mrs Bennett and Mrs Marsh to buy more food in as usual during my stay.

‘I’m going out to the moors. Can I take some of this with me?’ I asked.

‘Boys, always hungry,’ Mrs Marsh said with a hint of a smile.

A few minutes later, I was handed a cloth wrapped package of food and sent out the kitchen door. Unable to keep the excitement within me down, I broke into a small run and dashed through the little patches of gardens. There was a tall wall with an arched doorway at the back which led out onto a small road. I took this way to the moors.

There is nothing like the sense of freedom you get from the moors. There’s this vast spread of rough land as far as the eye can see and it’s empty of people. The smell of the heather and wild flowers flooded me and a realisation that I had truly missed this hit me hard.

I was about to run and spend the day explore the moor when the clop clop of hoofs and the stomping of boots from behind stopped me. I turned and saw the old gardener, Mr Marsh – Mrs Marsh’s husband- coming towards me leading a stoat chestnut moor pony, her mane and tail a mixture of dark brown turning black.

‘Hello, young master!’ he called to me with a wave.

I walked back through the arch and towards him. Mr Marsh looked like a gardener should; large boots covering his lower legs, baggy trousers and a loose dirty white shirt with rolled up sleeves. He had white hair, kind green eyes and a less wrinkled face then his wife. Soil was ingrained to his hands and other places. His skin was dark – the sign he spent all his time outside and his back was bent forward, another sign of all his hard work.

My eyes fixed on the pony beside him.

‘Rosy!’ I shouted and dashed over. I threw my arms around the pony’s neck and hugged her tightly. She smelt of fresh hay and warm fur.

Mr Marsh chuckled, ‘heard you were back, Master William. Thought I’d get her ready for you to ride.’

‘Thank you,’ I said, my voice muffled.

‘There you go, then,’ Mr Marsh said and handed me the reins.

A little spark of fear quivered in my stomach. I had not ridden a horse in a year, what if I had forgotten? Rosy nudged me with her pink nose and I patted her. She had always been a quiet and patient pony, unlike her wild cousins that roamed the moor.

I climbed into the saddle with only a little help from Mr Marsh, who then walked us to the arched door.

‘Looks a good day for it,’ Mr Marsh spoke and he give me the reins again.

I nodded, seeing the blue of the sky against the greens of the moor. Then Rosy was walking on, sure footed across uneven ground that was half hidden by the heather, mosses and grasses.

To Be Continued…

Stone Circles (Part 1)

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Every summer, I travelled from boarding school in London back to my aunt’s house, Trenworth Manor in Cornwall. My parents had died when I was a baby, leaving me a fortune and placing me in the care of my mother’s childless and widowed twin sister. My aunt, not knowing what to do with a boy had always put me in the care of others.

I was thirteen that year and growing into a gentleman all ready. I had short brown hair, that curled at the ends, light brown eyes and my face, though still  rounded with child-likeness was becoming more strong and defined. I was tall for my age but thin as I had yet to fill out. I also had some faded scars on my palms, the results of being caned too hard a few months back.

Looking out of the small, two horse drawn carriage’s window, I saw the scene around me began to change. After travelling many hours by a few different horse drawn coaches, I was pleased to see Bodmin Moor growing wild all around the road as it meant I was almost at my aunt’s house. She lived in a small manor house, left to her by her husband, on the edge of the moors and overlooking a tiny village.

The two brown horses clopped through the half open gates, the carriages wheels crunching over stones then we were there at the front door of Trenworth Manor. The driver let me out and I looked around at the house. It hadn’t changed in a year, it never really seemed too. The huge grey stones and plan front loomed over me, the handful of windows seemed to be judging me like eyes and the door was a closed mouth, keeping it’s secrets inside.

I went up the steps whilst the driver lowered my trunk. The door open as I got there and the housekeeper, Mrs Bennett, peered out of the gap. She was a short, stocky woman, with a huge bosom that her practical black and white frilled dress seemed unable to keep in. Her face was worn and wrinkled more then her years but she must have been in her mid-fifties that year. She had small, unhappy brown eyes. Her dark brown and grey hair was to her shoulders and plaited back.

‘Good day, Mrs Bennett. Please inform my aunt Mrs Whitley that I have arrived,’ I announced.

Mrs Bennett grunted at me like an old dog, opened the door wider and walked off. None of my aunt’s servants had ever had the time for me either. I walked in, hung my hat on the stand and went into the parlour to await my aunt or Mrs Bennett’s return.

I heard the driver drag my trunk into the hallway and stop to catch his breath. I had all ready paid him and we had known each other for a few years now. He should also remember that he wouldn’t get any hospitably here.

After a few moments, he left, closing the door behind him. I heard him urging the horses on and the coach wheels starting up. I went to the window and watched them leave down the short driveway and out onto the moors.

Turning, I took the parlour in; a few chairs were dotted around, two low tables placed between them, a small fireplace in the far wall and on the mantle a ticking brass carriage clock. My aunt never had visitors. Expect her solicitor and sometimes people looking for work.

I didn’t sit but walked around the room, stopping sometimes at the window or the fire place. I was tried and hungry, wanting to eat and go to bed. The minutes passed and Mrs Bennett came bustling back, tutting over my abandoned trunk in the hallway before coming into the room.

‘Your aunt is not feeling well today. She’s employed a new maid to wait on you,’ Mrs Bennett replied in a clipped voice.

‘Oh. Has my governess not arrived yet?’ I said.

It was normal for my aunt to employ someone to teach and keep an eye on me over the summer. For the last few years, my governess had also been the teacher of Bodmin town’s girl school. Before that, there had been a string of young women in their first appointments as governesses. I could not really remember them all.

‘No,’ Mrs Bennett sniffed, ‘your aunt has decided you are too old for one now. You should be able to take care of yourself.’

I was taken back by this and didn’t know what to say.

‘I disagree,’ Mrs Bennett said in a low voice almost as if she didn’t want me to hear but could not help speak her thoughts, ‘boy should not be left to wander around and idle away!’

‘Idle?’ I uttered, horrified.

Mrs Bennett rose to her short, full height, holding her head high and staring down her nose at me as if I was something disgusting that shouldn’t be inside the parlour.

‘I have too much do. You know where your room is,’ she added then turning on heel, stormed off.

Unsure what to do, I walked slowly to the connecting rooms I always stayed in. Trenworth Manor seemed un-decorated and half empty of furniture. The wallpaper and paint were badly faded, where there were small paintings on the walls they were dusty, the rugs and floorboard, though clean were threadbare and scuffed. The staircases’ banisters had been polished so much, they had turned dull.

The furniture that did dot the hallways and gathered in rooms was old, some tables and chairs going back generations – family heirlooms. The fabric on the curtains, chairs and cushions were so faded you could no longer see the colours or patterns. There were perhaps only a few ornaments – vases that stood empty in on window sills, animal and people figurines on mantles and bookcases.

The manor give the impression it had not been lived in for years but someone was trying to keep up appearances. There was a pressure of silence, broken only by the ticking of clocks that echoed around and the creak of wood. There was a faint musty, damp smell masked by the scent of lilies and fire smoke. I also recalled the smell of dried fruit and green leaves from Christmas.

I climbed two staircases, down a short corridor and arrived at the first of the three doors. Opening the door, I entered the bedroom and found someone had recently aired it out. The window was open, the breezy moving the curtain across the plush window box seat. Taking up a whole wall and most of the room, was a large double four poster bed with dark red velvet curtains swept around the wooden poles. At the head, two small tables guarded either side and at the bottom there was a worn bedding box.

In the opposite wall, was a white marble fireplace. Coal, firewood and kindling stacked neatly and waiting to be lit. On the mantel, was a small sliver joint picture frame containing paintings of my parents looking at each other. There was also a small blue vase and two china dogs. On the wall above was one of my favourite paintings; Bodmin moor in all it’s summer glory was the ruins of castle in the distant. To the right of the fireplace was a small dark wardrobe.

Smiling at the familiarity and glad not be be travelling anymore, I relaxed. Taking off my shoes, I climbed up onto the bed. Laying down, the pillow felt soft on my head and the blankets warm underneath me. I yawed then shut my eyes, feeling sleep hushing me away.

To be Continued…