My girlfriend Mia recently asked if I had a fictional story to share on my blog. I went through all the stories I have written over the years and found this one filed away and brought it up to speed. I hope you like it. This one’s for you Mia.
It all started with a button.
The lone figure absently fingered the button on her coat as she stood on the stone bridge and stared down into the cold churning river. Rain pelted down on her face and soaked right through to the skin but she barely noticed as she recalled the events that had brought her there.
Her husband Henry had died in the Second World War. This event alone would be enough to challenge any woman with a meagre education such as her, but she had two children to take care of as well. Harry and Susan were the only thing that kept her going while she struggled to make ends meet however she could.
She thought all of her problems had been solved when she acquired work cleaning house for the Welland family, known far and wide for owning one of the richest estates in Cheshire. The work was hard and the hours long, but it helped to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. Her mother had begrudgingly agreed to get the children off to school each day and feed them supper when they got home for which she was grateful. But it was her father she really needed to help her through her struggles. Unfortunately he had died shortly after her eighteenth birthday.
She rarely saw Lord and Lady Welland, which was fine with her. She heard enough about them from the kitchen staff to know that it was best to be invisible as she went about her work. Then one morning while she was dusting in the Master Suite Lord Welland returned to retrieve his riding crop.
“Oh, I’m so sorry sir. I didn’t realize you’d be returning.”
“Not to worry. I seem to have forgotten my riding crop,” he said as he stood there gazing at her person.
Flustered now and anxious to quit the room she said, “I’ll come back later.”
“No need of that,” he said as he walked across the room and retrieved his crop from the cupboard and headed for the door.
She heaved a sigh of relief too soon as he turned around and started towards her, slapping the crop against his hand and startling her. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you before. Are you new here?”
“Yes sir. I started two weeks ago.” She was afraid to look him in the eye.
“What’s your name?”
“My name sir?”
“Yes, I asked what your name is.”
“Daisy. That’s a funny name.”
“That’s my name sir.”
“And what’s your other name, Daisy?”
“I asked you for your other name. You do have another name don’t you?”
“Yes sir I do.”
“It’s Cooper sir. Daisy Cooper.”
“Well, Daisy Cooper, I like you,” he said as he slid the riding crop across her cheek causing her to shiver. “I look forward to seeing you again very soon Daisy Cooper.”
Lord Welland seemed to have an uncanny knack for discovering her whereabouts wherever she might be, creating havoc with her peace of mind. Despite his frequent and unexpected visits, she managed to keep him at a distance, at least for a while. Then one day while his wife was at a garden party, he caught her alone in the library.
Daisy shut her eyes against the images there as her hot tears were washed away with the rain. She could scarcely believe it wasn’t all just a bad dream. What was she going to do? No-one would ever believe her if she told them that the great Lord Welland had got her in a family way. And what would her mother say? How could she ever face her?
The roiling waters of the river beckoned her. It would be so easy to just end it all right there, right then. She felt so cold and alone.
She imagined what it would be like to sink into the cold water and simply slip away forever. Away from the constant struggle of trying to keep hearth and home together. Away from the damning eyes of friends and family when they learned of her disgrace. But could she do it?
As she worried it over in her mine, she became aware that she was still fidgeting with the button on her overcoat, the last gift she had received from her beloved father. Unlike her mother who had so many expectations for her only daughter, none of which she had been able to meet, her father had loved her unconditionally. He had been an uncomplicated kind of man who didn’t question the whys and wherefores of life, he simply accepted it as it was. He rejoiced in its goodness, and dealt with the sadness as it came his way. She was his daughter and could do no less. She turned and walked back toward the village strengthened by the memory of her father’s final gift.