ORPHAN

This article was written for “QUINTET,” our Parish magazine, requesting submissions on the theme of  ~ What’s in a Name?

 

img_1794

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME

ORPHAN

by John Yeo

   Our name is the handle by which we are handled.
The childhood is a time of a happy innocent vulnerability. My early childhood was spent in idyllic peaceful happiness, I was an only child brought up by two wonderful parents. Tom, my father was a gentleman farmer. This self-styled title always amused him as he worked from dawn to dusk on the land.

    “I’m a farmer and a gentleman, ask my wife Molly, how gentle I am.”
My Mother, Molly would gently smile and nod in agreement.

  What’s in a name? Certainly a contradiction, as far as my Dad was concerned.

    “Aren’t gentlemen supposed to be rich and lead a luxurious, cushioned wealthy life?” I asked grinning. At eight years old I was as sharp as a razor and very cheeky.

    “Come on Tom-junior eat your tea. Mind you finish those greens they are the secret of good health.” said my Mum smiling broadly.
Mum was a hard worker helping Dad on the farm. She somehow found the time to support the local WI. Sometimes the farmhouse would resound with her ladies busy chatting together, earnestly discussing matters of great importance.

   Such was our family’s happy life until the day of that terrible road accident that changed my life forever. We were out for a Sunday drive to the next village to visit my Uncle Bob when a huge tractor pulling a trailer full of heavy logs crashed into our tiny family car. My Mum and Dad were killed instantly and I was trapped…. Upside down in the back seat; still alive.

    At that moment my life was to change forever, I instantly became an eight-year-old orphan and a problem for the Social services. Uncle Bob and Aunt Millie took care of me for a few weeks but they were unable to make this a permanent arrangement as they had four children and very little space.

    I had become an orphan, now this is a name that due to our vivid Victorian literature has become irrevocably linked to poverty and pity. A state of unwantedness that generated much hardship and sorrow.

     I was fostered by several kindly families at the start of my new station in life and finally, I was adopted by a nice family.

    Mr. and Mrs. Smithers and their four children, all boys older than me, lived in a huge sprawling house in an acre of beautiful gardens with woods and fields stretching towards the horizon.

     The next few months passed in a blur as I quickly became accustomed to my new station in life. It was a slow degenerative process as I became that orphan, who was not really one of us. Quite unworthy to be a real part of the family. I was bullied by the children and ignored by their parents except for when I was expected to wait on them.

     “That boy will do the work! The orphan will clear the table!” said Mrs. Smithers.

 Somehow I had become a person without a name, a legal slave, fed and watered and expected to wait on the family hand and foot.

      ‘The orphan will do the job!” Was the favourite saying of the oldest son, a cruel vindictive fellow.

  I became insecure and frightened to get up in the morning. I refused to go to school in case I said something that would get me in trouble at home later.

     Eventually, I ran away and made my way back to my childhood family home. I was shy and reluctant to knock on the front door and I made my way around the back. A dog started barking loudly and a lady who I vaguely recognised, exclaimed;

    “Hello young Tom junior; what are you doing here? Come inside and have some tea.”
  At that I burst into tears, this was the first time I had encountered such familiar kindness for ages.

     “You must recognise me I am Rose, we used to come here for our WI meetings to see your Mum. My hubby and I bought the farm. Don’t cry Tom, come inside you are welcome.”

    That was five years ago now. I shudder at the memories of that period I spent as just a nameless orphan.

    I now live here in my old/new home with kindly new parents who have made me welcome. I feel secure in the knowledge that there is always an essence of our departed loved ones around guiding us in spirit.

 Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

FICTION NOTICE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, 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.

RUTH

A prompt response for Master Class ~ Assignment 

JAILED INNOCENCE 

http://ourwriteside.com/assignment-jailed-innocence/

monastary

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

RUTH

by John Yeo

“Innocently trapped in a prison of her own construction.”

  The sky was a mottled gray, cloudy with a stiff cold breeze. There was a dank autumnal smell of decaying leaves in the air.

   Two women were waiting at the imposing secure gates of Turney Abbey. An attractive young lady conservatively dressed in a gray suit and a middle-aged lady in a maroon coat with the collar turned up.

   There were tears in the eyes of the older of the two as they waited.

   “Auntie Eleanor; I know what I want! I have decided to follow my strong beliefs and give myself to God. My heroine is Mother Therese. I want the peace of worship and the satisfaction of working and making friends with people of a like-minded faith in God.”

   “Mary! Do you realise that once you have committed yourself to this way of life; it will be extremely difficult to leave after you have made it past the solemn or perpetual profession of the holy vows.”

     “Yes; but Auntie Eleanor: I never want to get hurt by anyone again. I know you will say that is not a good enough reason to enter a convent but I am a devout Christian and I want the peace and security to worship unhindered.”

    “My darling, I will tell you a story of a distant relative in Ireland who became a nun and died of a twice broken heart that destroyed her faith and led to an early demise.” The elder of the two women cleared her throat and began to relate a tragic tale.

    “Ruth was an attractive young lady who got good grades in college and was headed for a career in nursing. She fell in love with a young man from the same village. Sadly he was a fraud and left her brokenhearted to face a lonely future without the means of support and little chance of furthering her studies or getting work.

    Ruth decided to take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and follow the path into a convent. There was no one to counsel her about this hasty decision and she was soon admitted to a convent.”

   At this moment there was a cacophony of noise from the rookery behind the high imposing walls of Turney Abbey. As if something in the vicinity had interrupted the silence of the afternoon and spooked the Rooks.

     “Aunt Eleanor, please go on, what happened to her? How did she die?” asked Mary.

   “All went well for the first few months and she took the solemn vows. Soon the harsh mundane reality of life in the convent began to tell on the intelligent young lady. Restricted to a wholesome but limited diet, there was never enough food to sustain her completely. Worn down by the drudgery of long hours of hard work and prayer. Restricted to the company of her fellow sisters, Ruth began to pine for her former life.”

  Eleanor stopped for a minute to wipe a stray tear that was running down her cheek.

   Taking a deep breath to compose herself, she continued.

   “Then she made the mistake of confiding in Sister Agnes a sister who worked alongside her in the kitchen garden. This was a sad mistake, Sister Agnes was a bully and a vindictive person who took advantage of the situation and made Ruth’s life a misery. Threatening to expose her as an evil charlatan who had lost her faith in God. Taunting her that she would finish up in hell if she broke her solemn vows. Ruth became frightened of the consequences of leaving and became too worn down to argue.”

   Mary gasped and said. “She was trapped in a way of life that became a prison. A never ending sentence for the rest of her life!”

   “Yes Mary; She pined away and a few months later, she was discovered dead in her bed. The official cause of death was diagnosed as a mysterious virus that had struck her suddenly and she had been called to God. Unofficially we all knew she had died of a hopeless, helpless, broken heart. Sister Agnes was unrepentant, but the strange thing was, she was found dead in her bed from heart failure exactly one month later.

  At that moment the gates to Turney Abbey swung open and a kindly looking nun smiled and said, “Can I help you?”

  “No thank you!” exclaimed Mary “We are just passing by!”

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

master-class-featured-image

ANXIOUS PEACE

A prompt response for Master Class ~ ANXIOUS PEACE

http://ourwriteside.com/anxious-peace/

war

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

ANXIOUS PEACE

By John Yeo

The fighting was bloody, countryman against countryman. Explosions were tearing the country to bits. The stench of death and blood was so close it turned the stomachs of the most battle-hardened warriors.

   The stone farmhouses were dilapidated and dirty providing a temporary lodging place for the refugees from the war.

  Amy’s husband was away fighting on the borders.

   The birth pains were terrible Amy struggled and pushed as hard as she could, but the child refused to enter the world. This reluctance was causing a great deal of anxiety to the village midwife who was begging her to really try hard.

    “Push darling, push harder. Your baby is almost here!”

  Finally, a healthy baby was delivered, closely followed by another.

    “Two!” exclaimed the village midwife. “You have two wonderful strong young twin boys.”

   Sadly there was no reply from the mother. It was a difficult birth and the midwife was unable to save Amy, who died from a massive hemorrhage.

  A fire broke out in the kitchen of the farmhouse where the two young men were born. Villagers rushed to help the rescuers evacuate the inhabitants.
The guns were getting closer, the fighting was fierce. This internecine war had been going on for years. The leader said we would have to evacuate our homes and leave.

   The refugees suffered much deprivation and hardship as they traveled across the country seeking sanctuary.

  The babies were separated and taken to different parts of the war-torn country.
One brother, Amin went north to a small township, where the war quickly changed the ruling faction and he was raised as his dead father’s enemy. A father he would never meet.
Emir was dragged south and raised by a family loyal to the reigning powers.

   They grew to manhood separately, raised amid the hardship and deprivation both quickly becoming strong quick adults.

   There was a gasp from the assembled hierarchy when the two leaders of the warring factions met.
The two sides met to begin a peace process. Separate histories, separate beliefs. Yet brothers by birth who would begin to try to do the seemingly impossible and strive to begin life in an anxious peace.

   They were identical, in looks. Two people who had never met, yet they had risen to command two different factions. Fighting the same war on opposite sides. Peace negotiations began between twin siblings separated at birth who were both chasing the same dream from different parts of the country.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

master-class-featured-image

THE BRIDGE BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

A prompt response to this photo from ~ The Dark Room on Our Write Side

http://ourwriteside.com/a-bridge-to-nowhere/

bridge

THE BRIDGE BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

by John Yeo

  Rambling along a pretty lane bordered by tangled shrubs, Megan and I were enjoying an unplanned afternoon walk through the glorious countryside.

The hot Springtime sun shone between fluffy clouds that skittered across a clear blue sky. Hedge sparrows and small finches darted to and fro across the path.

    “The birds are building their nests in these thick bushes, to raise their families,” I remarked to Megan.

Nodding she said, “Just look at those pretty yellow primroses growing along the wayside banks.” She picked one and sniffed the soft yellow petals.

 “They are not perfumed at all, but they are so soft and velvety.”

Wood pigeons and rooks were feeding, as we skirted a newly ploughed field.

We approached the edge of some thick woods, green and luxurious with dense shrubs and leafy, branchy trees as far as the eye could see. The shady woods looked inviting.

 “I wonder if they are private property.”

I mused when suddenly Megan exclaimed…

  “Look, just there at the edge of the woods, a tiny deer. It looks like a fawn in distress. Oh! it’s limping; where are the parents? Can we go and have a look, Joe?”

  “Of course! Come on let’s go.”

   We quickly made our way towards the edge of the woods. The handsome speckled brown and white baby deer seemed totally unaware of our approach.  In our haste to get to the casualty, I tripped and fell. I suffered no serious damage, just a few minor grazes.

The startled fawn looked up at this unusual noise and headed into the woods.

Megan and I without thinking followed the limping fawn along a tiny track through the dense woods. Startled woodpeckers and woodland jays flew high into the treetops as we approached.

The track led us to the banks of a wide river and we continued following the path along the banks of the river. The riverbanks were marshy at the edges covered in large yellow flowers. Moorhens and ducks were swimming among the reed beds, ducking their heads beneath the clear water to feed.

Suddenly I realised we were in a fix as we didn’t know these woods at all.

Megan suddenly said. “Joe are we lost? I have never been here before: Do you know where we are?”

 “Not exactly Megan, I think if we continue to follow this track along the riverbank we may come across a cottage. We might even meet one of the locals.”

We came across a separate pool alongside the riverbank full of the most beautiful, pink and white water lilies.

 “Those coots are having a feast on the small creatures in that impressive little pool,” I remarked.

 We continued along the riverside path and before long a wooden bridge on stilts loomed up in front of us.

  “Joe, perhaps if we cross the river over that bridge we may find an easier path.”

We breathed a sigh of relief when a canvas structure came into view.

  “That looks like a fisherman’s shelter Megan; I hope there is someone inside  who can guide us on our way.”

  “Hallo! Is anyone in there?”  I called loudly.

I opened the flap to the front of the tent to discover a wizened elderly man holding a fishing rod over the water. A rather strange looking elderly man wearing a floppy elfin hat dressed in multicoloured clothes looked up as I opened the flap.

  “What do you want? What are you strangers doing in these woods? This is private property.”

  “Sorry!” I said, “We were following an injured fawn, and we got lost. We just want to go home now. If you can show us the way back we would be happy to leave your private woods at once.”

The old man just nodded and said, “Which way did you come?”

I gestured to the path along the river.

 “We wondered if we crossed that bridge we would come across a direct path back the way we came,” I said.

 The strange old man jumped at this. “No! Whatever you do, don’t go over the magical bridge. That is the dividing line, Mad Molly lives in a shack on the other side. You will never be the same again if you come into contact with her. I will personally escort you to the edge of the woods. We will return the way you came on this side of the river. I’m Archie by the way, If we take the shortcut you will be home in no time.”

Archie escorted us to the edge of the woods and waved goodbye. We made our way along the familiar country lanes towards home.

 We soon arrived at a pretty little pub set in a well-kept garden full of fruit trees and flowers, with inviting looking tables and chairs.

  “Let’s stop here for a drink;” I said.

 “Yes please;” answered Megan.

I entered the comfortable bar to order the drinks and as the landlord was pouring them I related our adventures in the woods. Our contact with Archie and the magical bridge and his timely warning about mad Molly.

This resulted in roars of gleeful laughter from the landlord and the patrons in the bar.

  “Sorry!” Said the landlord. But you wandered onto the estate of Lord Archibald and Lady Arabella Fortescue-Jones. Lord Archie always referred to his mother-in-law as mad Molly.

Lady Arabella frowned on this and the bridge is the result. To cross the bridge is to enter a world where hunting shooting and fishing is banned. Lord Archie is not allowed to cross the magical bridge and Lady Arabella never visits his side either.”

We finished our drinks and made our way home. We have a wonderful after dinner story to dine out on for the next few years.

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

 

DRESSED TO THE NINES

 

A prompt response to Our Write Side ~ Coldly Calculating: DRESSED TO THE  NINES

http://ourwriteside.com/coldly-calculating-dressed-nines/

haunted-house

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

DRESSED TO THE  NINES

By John Yeo

 

DRESSED TO THE  NINES

By John Yeo

    A murky sky threatened to burst out into a storm as we drew up at the gated entrance to our destination. We had to abandon the car at the main gates as they were inaccessible, due to a large padlock and chain.

   A long winding overgrown path pointed the way to Crossways. In days of yore, this would have been a smart well kept drive for the legions of horse-drawn carriages that carried many carousing visitors.

  Miranda and I were following my family tree, apparently, this was lately the residence of my Great Grandmother, Lucy Landers.

   The house was large with at least six bedrooms. The conspicuously obvious anomaly was sticking out of the dilapidated roof. No less than ten crooked chimney pots strategical scattered over the many layers of sloping roof.

     “The place looks empty John, although I thought I saw a wisp of smoke coming from one of those chimneys at the back,” Miranda whispered.

    “Why are you whispering darling? There isn’t any possibility of smoke. The place has been empty for ages. The agents who are dealing with the estate say my Great Grandmother disappeared some years ago leaving instructions and funds for retaining the staff. Apparently, they left when the money ran out. I am the sole survivor of this branch of the family.”

  At that moment with a loud angry growl, a large black cat streaked across the path directly in front of us and disappeared into the undergrowth at the side of the path.   We both jumped in alarm and hurriedly continued on our way to the double doors that guarded the main entrance.

   I inserted the ornate metal key provided by the agents, into the doors.

With a harsh teeth-jarring screech of metal, the doors swung open. The overpowering smell of decay and damp penetrated our very being as we entered. We openly gagged in unison at this repulsive odour.

    “Hallo!” I shouted loudly: “Is anyone at home?”

  Miranda jumped at this: “Why did you do that? There is no one here; stop it.”

    “Sorry:” I replied: “You did say you saw smoke from one of those weird chimneys.”

   The house was stuffed full of dusty old furnishings that had been hurriedly covered with an assortment of covers.

     “Did you hear that?” Miranda suddenly said.

 

   “What?” I asked.

      “John! Stop playing games; surely you heard that awful creaking sound from the upper rooms. Sounds like something is scratching around up there.”

     “Probably rats moving around; I imagine this place is full of rats and bats. That enormous black cat has its work cut out here.”

   We explored the ground floor moving gingerly from room to room, slowly gaining in confidence as we finally reached the bottom of an ornate staircase. There were signs of damp and decay everywhere.

 With a deafening crash of thunder the threatened storm broke. Jagged flashes of lightning lit up the inside of the house. I kept flashing our torch into the dark mysterious corners, nervously, as we began to climb the creaky stairs.

Many oil paintings decorated the walls of the stairway. ‘These are my ancestors’ I thought as we climbed the stairs.

Miranda grabbed my arm tightly as we reached the upper floor and began examining the bedrooms.

Crumbling ornate tapestries decorated the walls of the richly furnished rooms.

As we opened the door to the master bedroom Miranda jumped back and screamed and we both retreated fast; I loudly slammed the door shut. With my heart racing and in a state of shock.

      I loudly shouted: “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

    “Sorry, darling!” I shouted as I kicked the door open again: “I have to find out who  that figure was just standing there in that room!”

     I gingerly entered the room and approached the figure. There was no response as I quietly approached the well-dressed figure in front of a large wall mirror.

    Then to my astonishment, I found I was confronted by an extraordinary lifelike mannequin, dressed to the nines in an outfit that would have done justice to royalty.

    Miranda and I ran from that room down the staircase and braved the storm rather than stay in that property a moment longer. Perhaps the setting and the mysterious disappearance of my late ancestor added wings to our heels.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

coldly-calc-featured-image

 

MUSICAL CHAIR

A prompt response for  Inspiration Monday ~ MUSICAL CHAIR

http://bekindrewrite.com

musical-chair

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

MUSICAL CHAIR


by John Yeo 



The natural sounds are music to my ear
Resounding round my comfortable chair,
My life will begin and end as I sit here.

The magic of the sound swirls far and near,
Harmony soaking through melodic air;
The natural sounds are music to my ear.

Smooth melodies drifting sweetly clear,
Sounds around my chair answer a prayer;
My life will begin and end as I sit here.

Life becomes love becomes music clear;
A dreamy soulful symphony where
The natural sounds are music to my ear.

Trance becomes a pre-hypnotic tear,
Memories sing of a future I will share
My life will begin and end as I sit here.

The music with my chair wings steer
Mind to crystal clarity without care.
The natural sounds are music to my ear
My life will begin and end as I sit here. 



Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

CANNIBALS

A prompt response for Master Class ~ CATERED CONTRAPTIONS

http://ourwriteside.com/catered-contraptions/

space-junk

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

CANNIBALS

by John Yeo

    “Blender Rothsbottom, at your service Sir. We are the most inventive organisation in the known universe. We are responsible for many innovations that have added to the supreme quality of life for many different life forms that inhabit the outer regions of the galactic sphere. How can I help?”

   The uniformed Staff Captain of the interplanetary explorer craft, Intrepid,  had arrived at this unusual artificial asteroid several nanoseconds ago and was immediately approached by this robotic sales machine.

  “We have travelled through several galactic time warps, using the suction power of the Inter-Universal time tunnels attached to the interspersed Black Holes looking for an organisation that can rebuild a new head. Our Commander’s brain is controlling the ship from the confines of a glass in the laboratory. His body is in the infirmary, kept alive with many artificial aids. We need a head to completely restore him to normality. We are hoping your organisation will have the necessary resources to come to our help.”

  Staff Captain Bourke was pleading with a coldly calculating artificial intelligence. A man who was incapable of the illogical emotions that his makers had. They were just not programmed into his system.

  “Of course; this will be an easy task for our technicians. I will have to come aboard and examine the Commander to assess the requirements.”

  Blender Rothsbottom was an alien construction. He was a wealthy robot with his metallic claws in many pies.

   “We have inserted many artificial heads onto many alien robots in the past. The difficulty arises over the alien measurements provided by the recipients. My techies will accompany me to assess the requirements.”

    Sometime later the ship was landed on the asteroid by the gang of techies who proceeded to break the whole thing up and dismantle the robotic occupants piece by piece.

    Blender Rothsbottom was quickly on the interplanetary thought visual media to report that the intergalactic scrapyard had just taken delivery of a shipload of spare parts to cater for any construction at the right price.

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

 

space-junk