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February 2008 Flashers

Flash Fiction written by members and friends of the MuseItUp Club. Submissions are invited for this page.*

 

 

 

THE CHILD

 

by Gloria Watts

 

 

Helena sat by the window. Her eyes searched the field just beyond the garden and rested on the child. Resentment flared, a hot and sourness that filled her stomach. Her hands clenched tight, the fine skin stretched taunt across pale white knuckles. She didn't want to see the child in her field. The child should not be there. She wanted, needed, a clear view across the field to the small village where the tall spire of the old church rose high into the summer sky. She couldn't see the churchyard, but knew it was there.  Maybe she would visit it today, yes maybe today.

 

"Do try to take a walk today, darling." Jim's voice soft, husky with his own sadness bounced across the room to hit ears that did not want to hear.

 

"Please, darling, I'm worried about you. You must try to get out, why not walk into the village. Helena, are you listening, we can't go on like this."

 

She hadn't answered, but heard his sigh as he left the room. Later he left the house and she was alone. Guilt trembled on the waves of relief that swept through her; his closeness troubled her, his tender kindnesses irritated. His concern hung suspended between them, cloying, suffocating, and forcing her ever deeper into the darkest melancholy. He couldn't see that to let go, to surface from her icy world, would be betrayal. 

 

By mid-afternoon the sun was high, the air still. Helena sat, stiff-boned and slightly drowsy, the sun warming her face. The child was still there, now sitting with her skirt spread, her head down. What was the child doing? She would shoo the child away, now, right now. 

 

Leaving the house, she crossed the garden and went through the small gate into the field. As she walked towards the child, the untamed grass threw off a sweet fragrance that was overpowering. The sweetness filled Helena's head with a lightness that she hadn't felt for a long time. Helena looked at the child, at the dark-hair, the red-apple cheeks. Dimpled hands plucked single stems from the wide spread of multi-coloured wild flowers that stretched across the field. A laugh, soft and low, brought tears to Helena's eyes. As she watched the child, tenderness that she had kept hidden deep within rose to flood her whole body. It seeped into her mind and gently eased the bitterness that she had secreted there. Her pain let loose, flowed free and mingled with the tears that now coursed her thin face.

 

Through misty eyes, Helena could see the slender heart-shaped face and the child's eyes, dark, deep inscrutable pools flecked with hazel - trusting eyes staring back into the pale blue of Helena's own.      

 

"Why are you crying?" The lilting, childish voice broke the silence.

 

The words came unbidden from somewhere deep inside. "Because I feel very sad."

 

"Why are you sad?" 

 

"I had a little girl just like you, now she has gone, and that makes me sad."

 

"What was her name?"

 

"She was called Ellie.  She was eight years old with long fair hair and blue eyes." Her own words echoed in her ears, words she'd hidden for so long.

 

"I know her," said the child smiling.

 

Helena shook her head. "No, no you couldn't have known her."

 

She carefully traced the child's face.  She wasn't a village child; whoever she was she couldn't have known her Ellie. Where did she live, what was she doing in this field alone? 

 

"Where do you live?" 

 

"Over there." The small hand pointed to a belt of trees far across the adjoining fields.

 

"How did you get here, did you walk all that way?"

 

The child started to hum softly.

 

"Why are you here in this field?"

 

An elusive look flashed in the dark eyes. "I came to pick the flowers." 

 

Helena stared at the mixture of wild flowers in the child's hand.  As she focussed, the field, the child, everything but the simple bouquet faded into quiet shadow. She saw only the flowers, their fragrance drifting to fill her head and drench her being with calmness.  Her mind etched the picture so clearly; the one she'd been frightened to look at. She could look now, see herself and Ellie midst the sea of wildflowers, laughing as they picked and chained the fragile buds.  Helena turned to the smiling child and held out her hand.

 

"For me?" 

 

"Yes," said the child as she handed the bouquet to Helena. "For you."

 

Gloria Watts

 

 

Gloria, a retired Further Education College Lecturer, lives in a small Market Town in Northamptonshire, England. .  She writes short stories and flash fiction - many published on line at Bewilderingstories, Apollos-Lyre, The Fiction Flyer, and LongStoryShort. When not writing she likes to keep busy.  She enjoys watercolour painting, playing piano, gardening and yoga.

 

 

*Send Flash Fiction submissions to underamuse@yahoo.com.au .

Please include the words “Muse Marquee Flash Submission” in the subject line.

 

The Flashers page is edited by Lea Schizas and Les Stephenson.

 

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