Chapter 7

Written by: Linda Alley

Yorkshire, England – November 1941

The hollow was a depression on the moor, about six feet deep. In happier times, Lilian, Enid and Roy had picnicked here among the harebells, sheltered from the sharp Yorkshire winds. Her mind skipped to the last time they had all found themselves together. The cave was only a short distance from here and having no wish to see it again, she turned to go back the way she’d come.

As she turned, her eye caught a sudden metallic gleam in the hollow below. Curious, Lilian circled the edge until she came to the side where she knew boulders formed a natural staircase. She carefully descended, the mist rising rapidly around her, giving her the impression that she was entering a gigantic boiling cauldron. There was nothing warm about the hollow today though. The air was dank and her cheeks tingled.

Lying just ahead was an overturned bicycle, its rims glinting up at her from the heather. Apart from a splattering of mud, it seemed to be in good condition. Lilian reached over to set it upright, and noticed a boot lying by the handlebars. Too small for a man’s.

Heart quickening, she moved forward, already half-knowing.

He lay face down and spread-eagled, one foot booted, the other pale and bare, protruding from a pair of navy trousers. His pill-box hat had been knocked from his head during the…Lilian wanted to say accident but a rock lay beside him, its jagged tip the same shade of red as the piping on his cuffs.

***

“And there was no sign of any of the telegrams?”

Inspector Harrison looked eagerly down his aquiline nose at Lilian. They were in Dr Green’s office, a small anteroom off the library. Enid sat in the chair opposite, knees pressed tightly together. Lilian stared into her teacup. The maid who had prepared it had been so shaken by the news of this morning’s events that she hadn’t strained it properly. The leaves floating to the top reminded Lilian of the freckles on poor Toby’s lifeless muddy face as she had gently rolled him over in the hollow. Tea slopped into her saucer.

“She’s already said there wasn’t,” Dr Green said tersely to the inspector, rescuing Lilian’s cup.

 “And Lieutenant Crowther didn’t say a word to any of you?”

“The man hasn’t spoken at all since he was admitted,” said Dr Green. “It’s my professional opinion that he has been suffering from post-concussion syndrome since his plane was shot down.” He placed a hand protectively on the back of Lilian’s armchair.

She felt a sudden absurd desire to reach up and grab hold of it, to feel the warmness of his flesh, his living pulse beating against her numb fingers. Clasping her hands together, she gazed out the window.

Crowther, arms pinned fast in a straitjacket, was being led into a van by two white-coated gentlemen. Closing her eyes, she sent up a silent, guilty prayer of thanks that Alan had died instantly.

 

Comments

This line captures the person's state - 'Enid sat in the chair opposite, knees pressed tightly together.' It also captures the person. A seemingly simple line yet carrying so much meaning and imagery. This is tight writing, spare, concise and full of layers of meaning. No more need be said. We get the picture and you don't say anything more about Lilian's state which makes the reading so pleasurable.