Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mysterious Past a short story

A little over a month ago Jeannette at Mysteries in Daily Life posted a photo of this fun house and talked about what kind of story might be written around this house. With her permission I have taken on the challenge. While I had originally thought to write something along the lines of a Grimes Fairy Tail, while staring at the photo a story began to form that was unlike anything I have ever written before. I got so wrapped up in the story that I do believe I have enough material to write much more. I hope you enjoy this short story.

Mysterious Past
by Nita Davis

photo copyright Jeannette StG @
The sun was just setting over the horizon as Elsie turned on the old lamp with the fluted milk glass shade which sat on the small table near her favorite over stuffed chair. It would be another quiet evening. Just her and her faithful companion Maxwell. At fifteen Maxwell was nearly as frail as Elsie. They had long since given up their search for excitement and were now content to sit quietly of an evening reminiscing over tea. Elsie leafing through her old photographs, making notations and writing down stories of adventures long past, while Maxwell snoozed and dreamt of younger days.

Elsie always knew when he was dreaming of some long off chase, as he would begin to pant and his legs to move as if he were running. She would smile and gently caress his greying fur. Sometimes she wondered why she stayed here and continued to pour over these photos writing down a lifetime of stories. Not just her lifetime but stories her parents and grandparents had told her as a child. Sure she was nearing her centennial but her children didn't seem to understand the importance of heritage. They had grown and moved away, had children and grandchildren of their own and all but forgotten her.

The house wasn't big and her son made sure it was kept up, but even a small home can be lonely without the laughter and chatter of youth. Why didn't she just sell the house and move into a retirement home? At least in a retirement home she would have others around to share stories and laugh with. But oh, there were so many memories. It was more than a house it was a home, her home, and had been for nearly 73 years now. She had raised her family within these walls. She would never forget the day her dear Samuel  showed her the scroll work he had cut for the eaves of their newly purchased home. He had promised her a fairy tail and what better way to start than with a fairy tail cottage for a home.

They had planted the first tree in the front yard when their first child was born. Samuel had wanted it to shade the porch from the hot afternoon sun, as Elsie liked to sit on the porch and rock little Thomas. Later two more trees were planted in the back yard, one for each of the children that followed Thomas into this happy family. It wasn't long before they noticed the shadows cast from that first tree turned the white trim to a delicate teal. Elsie loved the soft inviting feel it gave their home, they even considered painting all the trim teal but decided it wouldn't be the same. The water pump out front had long sense stopped working and the gate holding Elsie's much loved Welcome sign hung at an awkward angle but the home hadn't lost it's inviting appeal. So why didn't the kids ever come to visit?

Elsie reflected on how drastically life had changed since she was young. She could remember sitting on her Great Grandmother's lap on the front porch of their huge family home in Oklahoma. She would spend hours just listing to the stories of how her great great grandparents had boarded a ship during the second big year of the Irish Potato Famine in 1848 with no more than the clothes on their backs to start a new life in America. Stories of the hardships in their home country were followed by stories of the hardships faced on their arrival in New York. She wondered if Móraí (MO ree) ever thought of her life as a fairy tail, for that is surely what it had sounded like to Elsie. Samuel had been Elsie's knight in her fairy tail and now she dreamed of having the final chapter Móraí had lived. She really must write those stories down. The old coo coo clock on the mental chimed ten times. Maxwell stretched his long body and raised his head. It was already an hour past their normal bedtime. 'Awe, where had the evening gone?' thought Elsie as she put down her pen. She would have to wait till tomorrow to start writing the stories Móraí had told her. 

It was already mid morning and Elsie still hadn't had a chance to return to her task of recording the family history. The morning had gone by quickly with chores. Maxwell had been more energetic than usual and had wanted to walk just a bit further than normal on their morning walk. Now he was curled up with his favorite blanket taking his mid-morning nap. Settling in to her comfortable chair with a tall cool glass of ice tea, she opens her book to where she left off last night. Ah, that's right she had just started to write about Móraí's mother and father. She closes her eyes for a moment and focuses on the memory of Móraí's voice as she tells the story. Opening her eyes she picks up her pencil and begins to write.

'After two years of struggling to survive in the squalid conditions of New York and the death of their two sons one due to the Cholera epidemic of 1849 and the other due to malnutrition my great great grandfather William O'Flynn goes to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad helping to build the tracks. After two years of saving they finally have enough money to move out of New York with their infant daughter and settle in Philadelphia in 1852. A year later my great grandmother Christine O'Flynn is born. Life was better in Philadelphia but still difficult. Daideó (Daddo) as he was called by his children was gone most of the time working on the railroad. Then on July 17, 1856 tragedy struck and Daideó was killed while on his way home from Gwynedd  his train collided with a train carrying a large group of children on a special outing. Móraí called it the Great Train Wreck of 1856.'

She begins to write about Móraí's sister when she hears Maxwell whimper. "Poor Maxwell how long have you been awake and wanting to go out?" Going into the kitchen she lets Maxwell out the back door. Maxwell can hear Elsie as she says 'I can't believe it is already past noon. I really must get to the market so I can fix lunch.' By now he knows the routine and heads to his favorite patch of shade with a semi fresh bone to gnaw upon. He will wait there while Elsie makes her trip to the store. Elsie pulls the pitcher of lemonade from the refrigerator and heads to the front door. With a quick stop at the hall table she puts on her hat, picks up her purse and the note she has all ready for just such occasions. In a moment she is walking through the front gate after having deposited the lemonade on the porch table and locking the front door and securing the note.

Just days before when Lisa had turned eighteen her father had given her a polished oak box. As he handed her the box he told her 'This belonged to your mother. I could never bring myself to look inside, She said it belonged to her mother so I thought you may want whatever it holds.' In a daze Lisa stared at the box. Her mother had died when she was very young, so young in fact that she could not even remember her. Her grandparents were just as much a mystery as they had died in an automobile accident just after her parents had married. Her father had told her what little he knew of them but it really wasn't much. Their last name was Garcia and her Grandfather was a migrant worker. He thought her Grandmother had siblings but he had no idea who they were or what their last name was.

Taking the box to her room Lisa sat on her bed and slowly opened the box. There really wasn't much in the box; a small Saint Christopher pendant on a very delicate gold chain, 2 thin gold bands, A few old newspaper clippings, some old photographs and a stack of letters held together by string. One newspaper clipping was an obituary for a Mr. Murray born 2-21-1871 died 7-10-1963. Who was he? He must be related, why else would my grandmother keep this, Lisa thought to herself. She scanned the names of the survivors, Garcia wasn't among them. The other newspaper clipping was an article about a strawberry festival held in Garden Grove California, dated May 30, 1962. Next Lisa picked up the three photographs. There was one with a cute little house with fancy white scroll work all along the eaves and a white picket fence. She looked on the back but there was no writing. The next photo was of two girls and a boy on a carousel. Turning the photo over she was excited to see it had writing on the back.  It wasn't much just 1950 and the names Tommy, Mary and Margret. The last photo was of a nice looking couple probably in their late 20's early 30's and also dated 1950.

Rushing from the room Lisa showed her dad. "Look, these photos must be my Grandmothers parents and siblings. There is a newspaper obituary also and a stack of letters. I bet I will be able to figure out what her last name was!" Sure enough when she turned the letters over she saw the name on the return address, it was Elsie Richards. Looking at the obituary she noticed that Elsie Richards was listed as Mr. Murray's daughter. Reading down further it said that Mr. Murray was also survived by 20 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren. "Elsie Richards must be related to my grandmother in some way. I can't believe I have so many relatives. Dad, how am I ever going to find them now?" Glancing down at the envelope her father replied, " well dear I would start with that address, maybe one of her children or grandchildren live there now." "Of course! I should have thought of that. I don't have to work Thursday so I will leave around 10 o'clock, it isn't too far to Capistrano just a little over two hours." Lisa let out in a gush of excitement. "Alright just be careful" her father had said as she quickly kissed his cheek and ran off to her room to read the letters. "Thank you Dad for the best present ever" he heard her call as she closed her door.

On Thursday Lisa's excitement was bubbling over as she pulled up in front of the house. It looked just like the photo, well maybe not exactly. The trees were a bit taller and even though it is March there are holiday lights lit up on the porch. Oh and the gate is painted teal, how odd. But it matches the teal shadow cast on the trim by the shade of the tree. She still can't believe this was the home where her grandmother grew up. She had spent the last few days reading and rereading the letters from Elsie to her daughter Margret. It was still hard for her to believe she knew her grandmother's name finally after all these years. As she neared the porch she prayed that one of her relatives still lived here and that they were home. But the windows were dark, although the screen door looked as if someone had recently left and forgot to close the door. But it really didn't look like anyone was home. Then she noticed there was a note on the front door. She read the rather shaky but still elegant script of the note

Lisa's heart skipped a beat as she realized her Great Grandmother was still alive and living in this very house, even more exciting she would be home any minute. On shaky legs Lisa turned to her right and sure enough on a small table covered with a crisp white lace table cloth was a pitcher of ice cold lemonade right next to a cane back rocker it's soft white cushion covered  cheerfully with tiny embroidered red strawberries. Pouring herself a glass she eased herself into the rocker and took a deep breath. Soon she would be talking to her Great Grandmother Elsie learning all she could about her mother's family.

Author note: Please let me know what you think. Should I continue the story?

Linking up with these fun blog hops:


lori71264 said...

I liked it, interesting and I would like to know what happens. There are some grammatical errors, but otherwise I think well written.

Evelyn said...

Of Course! I so wish to know what happens when they meet, two souls that need each other. Also check out the house that I posted last week on my blog.

Thank you for sharing this at Freedom Fridays.
PS I will be following to see what happens:)

Emille said...

Amazing what you did with one photo and the name of the city! It's up to you, but it sounds like the beginning of a novel. My son came home with a terrific book, that may help you. Is Like like this? by John Dufresne.
He guides and gives instructions in a conversational manner to write a novel in six months. He gives plenty of exercises, but in a way that you want to write!
It's so good that I bought my own copy at
I'm so thrilled that my photo inspired you. That it may lead to MORE:):)