| Billy Part 7 - Old Things
Elizabeth ventured along the stone flags and peered down into the gaping hole, definitely man-made! It must have been the cellar of some cottage at one time, probably hundreds of years ago now.
The walls were formed of thick slices of stone which had been expertly stacked. There was no mortar to speak off. It appeared as though the stones were fastened together by a network of plants that clung possessively to them in places.
Along one wall, Elizabeth could clearly see a storage place where the stones have been carefully arranged to form a box shaped insert. From where she stood, she could not make out the floor surface beneath a carpet of ferns.
Pity, there was no way she could safely climb down and explore further. Who knew what she might find underneath? There could be some object that she could read and learn about the people who had once lived there.
There was a sudden movement behind her, Elizabeth automatically swivelled her head and just managed to glimpse a shock of black fur diving into the foliage. Whatever the creature was, hot on its tail was a small Jack Russell terrier, with one red ear, yapping excitedly. A young soldier, leaning against one of the lime trees, grinned at her.
“Is that your dog, Sir? You might want to call him back – you never know what kind of creatures could be lurking around down here.”
The solider stood up straight and took his hands out of his pockets. Elizabeth thought he looked quite shocked. He probably thought she should know better than to talk to strangers. He was probably right.
“Yer can see me?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes. Do you know what kind of building used to stand here?” Elizabeth nodded to the foundations behind her.
“Aye, it’s Annwn’s cottage. You’ve surprised me there, I thought you were from around these parts, you looked at home like.”
“I am. Just not lived here all my life that’s all.”
The soldier walked over to where she was standing and they both peered down into the hole together.
Elizabeth scanned the stones as hard as she could but the picture before her remained the same. If she wanted to see the building that had been here previously she would need to find an object to do so.
“You like old things then?”
“Sometimes. I’d rather have one of those new fangled colour televisions you have today though,” he said before whistling for the dog. “There’s lots of old things in Amelia Nuttall’s shop on Market Street. Lots of very interesting things, some of them are what they call antiques.”
“Nutters? My dad said she is as mad as a badger and only sells tat. There is never anything interesting in the window.”
“That’s because she keeps all the interesting things in the back so as not to attract thieves.”
“Really? How do you know that then?”
“Millie’s my little sister. I hang around there a lot. I’ve been a bit worried about her lately to tell you the truth.”
The Jack Russell returned and placed a seriously chewed blue rubber ball at Elizabeth’s feet, she bent down to pick it up and the little dog frantically wagged its tail and darted from side to side in anticipation.
“What’s your dog called?”
“Don’t know. She answers to Peg though.”
Elizabeth raised her arm and threw the ball along the cinder path, “Fetch, Peg!”
Peg bolted like the clappers.
“Do you want me to pass a message on to your sister for you?”
“Eh? You’d do that for me lass would you?”
The scarf on the counter whispered to Elizabeth.
“That’s twenty new pence then, lass.”
It looked interesting – she was sure it had a tale or two to tell.
“You all right, love?”
“Where did you get this scarf?”
“It’s an antique, that scarf. Bought it from a fella over in Baydale, I did. Seen one like it before, have you? Something you play dress up with?”
Elizabeth drew the scarf to her face and breathed deeply, gathering a scent of cigarette smoke and 4711 perfume amongst speckles of dust and hints of damp. The shopkeeper moved closer and held out her hand.
“Can’t play dress up with that one though, lass. Here, give it me now, I’ll put it back where it belongs.”
Charged with previously forgotten memories, Elizabeth held tight to the silk treasure and with it the newly unearthed threads that she had begun to sew into life.
“I’m ten. I stopped playing dress up when I was nine. How much is the scarf?”
“I’ve got other scarves. Nicer colours too!” The shopkeeper smiled merrily. “Suit you better than that one. Come and have a gander at these here?” She tried to coax her over to the jumble box by the door.
Elizabeth tightened her grip on the sombre navy one, “It’s not an antique you know,” she answered boldly. “It’s from just after the war, the one with the Germans.”
Elizabeth studied the shopkeeper; Amelia Nuttall, who in turn studied Elizabeth. In the end, it was Amelia who stood down.
“Twenty pence all you got, lass?”
“I’ve fifty pence all together... don’t want the buttons now... if that’s all right?”
“What yer want it for anyway if you’re too old to play dress up?” Amelia enquired, lowering her head and putting on a comical grimace.
Elizabeth laughed at the novelty of seeing a grown-up acting silly. She cast her eyes down and ran her fingers lovingly over the loose stitches holding the hem of the scarf in place. She began to drift and then remembered where she was and pulled herself up and towards the shopkeeper who had appeared nowty earlier and now looked kind.
“It’s for my grandma,” she lied. “It’s her birthday tomorrow.”
God would forgive her for sparing the woman the truth. Anyway, if she did tell Amelia the truth, she would just tell Elizabeth to stop messing about.
“Fifty pence, then! Tell your granny its worth a lot more than that!”
Elizabeth handed over the shiny fifty pence piece without giving back the scarf. The lady smiled without revealing her teeth and nodded several times. Elizabeth liked her.
“Your name’s Millie isn’t it?”
“Why it is! How did you know that, love? Well, it’s Amelia officially, but my family, God bless ‘em, all dead now, used to call me Millie.” Teeth flashed as she smiled this time.
Elizabeth reached the sanctuary of the door and pulled the handle forcibly towards her, the old -fashioned bell tinkled. She closed her eyes for a moment and then turned to face Millie and the young soldier standing next to her.
“Your brother Hughie says you always had a soft heart.” Elizabeth watched nervously as the blood drained and the face crumpled before her. Should she have kept her mouth shut? No, it was all right to speak.
“Also said you need to get out more and that bus driver’s after your money, but the bookie’s worth a shot.”
She stepped out the door and ran hell for leather holding the scarf firmly as the butterflies swarmed in her stomach. There was so much waiting for her to feel; she couldn’t wait to be alone with it.
Labels: Elizabeth, Hughie, Refuge of Delayed Souls, Web Fiction
|posted by Miladysa @ 15:00
Finally caught up with the rest of the story. You have true talent. This is going to be an amazing story. I just love how it always draws you straight in.
Keep up the excellent work!!
Thanks strange_candy - that's fantastic feedback to read :)
Oh, I love these scenes! The new one with Anwyn's cottage remains is *very* cool -- and I can just see Hughie's surprise when Elizabeth talks to him. :D Love the way you tie it in with the scarf (was once a hat, right?) and Millie. Particularly liked the vines that clung possessively, Sir Sparks running around and getting all excited, "Nutters" and all the ways you draw the scene in my head! xo
Yes, it was once a hat Melissa :) I don't know why I changed it to a scarf - maybe I will change it back again - you never know LOL There's A few older scenes scattered here & there but mainly new & more of Annwn's cottage yet to come :)