Chapter 9

Written by: Linda Alley

Yorkshire, England – July 2008

 “The fog was thick that morning. A real pea-souper without all that London grime,” Enid said.

Steam rose from the teapot and Lilian closed her eyes for a moment, remembering.

 “After my shift finished, Roy found me,” Enid said, her eyes still on the bridle trail.  “We took cover on the moors to talk, but Toby stumbled upon us. Roy tried to bribe him into silence, but the lad had lost his sister in the Coventry raids. He lashed out; Roy pushed back in self-defence and…” The colour drained from Enid’s face. “Roy never meant him to go over the edge. I tried mouth-to-mouth, but it was too late.”

“But the rock,” Lilian protested. “someone had driven it into his skull.”

“Roy’s idea. He panicked because you’d seen him earlier. He knew you hadn’t reported him, but after Toby’s death he thought you might put two and two together and come forward. He said if we made it look like a robbery, I could spread rumours about seeing a tramp on the moor.”

“So when I saw you in the Chinese pagoda you’d just come back from hiding the mailbag in the cave?”

Enid nodded, eyes downcast.

“And poor Crowther?”

“It seemed serendipitous when he came hurtling out of the mist. God knows I may well have prevented another such crime by allowing him to take the blame.”

Lilian gripped her purse, veins bulging. Enid’s hands shook as she reached for her own handbag and took out Alan’s telegram.

“Scarlett brought this to me this morning.” With an effort, Enid met Lilian’s eyes. “It’s not the first time I’ve seen it.”

Seizing the teapot, Lilian slopped tea into both their cups.

“I should have been overjoyed for you when I saw this telegram sitting in Toby’s bag. But all I could think of was that your sweetheart was back from the dead and mine would never be free in England again. So I telegrammed Alan, pretending to be you.”

“What did you say?” Lilian took a large gulp of tea.

“That you had just got married.”

Hot Yorkshire Red scolded the insides of Lilian’s mouth leaving a blistering trail down her throat. For several minutes, neither spoke as the burning gave way to a raw throbbing. Unable to look at her sister, Lilian fixed her eyes on the lawn. Issac came darting out of the Chinese pagoda, waving Scarlett’s phone in one hand. She tore after him, seized him by the arm and began tickling him mercilessly until they both collapsed giggling onto the grass.

“Scarlett did more research last night after you went to bed.” Enid’s voice was hoarse and Lilian heard another rustling of paper.

Bunching up the tablecloth in her fists, Lilian turned to face her sister and saw Enid’s eyes were unusually bright as she held out an envelope.

“For God’s sake, Lil, go and find him.”

Inside were two airline tickets. The destination: New Plymouth, New Zealand.

 

 

 

Comments

This story flows from one surprise to another and it happens so smoothly. I am often asked how do you bring in details without them feeling force and drawing attention to themselves. The paragraph that describes the tea is a wonderful detail but is also a perfect metaphor for what is happening in
I have followed this story from the start and as it draws to a close I have one word for it - Stylish. There's a really nice easy flow to the storyline and characters that are really alive. One can relate to the people and the way they show their feelings. Although well plotted, I think this story is just as much about human behavior as it is about a lost love. This is one genre I find difficult to write in but if I could, Linda's silky style would be worth reading.
Thank you so much, Suraya and Ray. This chapter was definitely the most challenging one I've written so far in this serial. The first draft was nearly double the word limit as I worked on trying to reveal all the back story in a way that didn't eclipse the present.