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Saturday, 20 December 2008

...seasonally reminded

A million years ago when I was eight, I went with my father to visit a kindly old lady that I'd always known as Aunt Ruth. She was no relation of ours but she treated us like beloved grandchildren all the same, taking an interest in our little happenings and always smiling.

I was used to seeing Aunt Ruth in the company of others - she was always at the homes of the other hunt members when we called to see them. ( My dad and the others raised pheasants and other game for 'the shoot' as it was called. I think she may have bean the 'real' aunt of two of the men in the hunt.) That particular day was the first time I had ever gone to visit her at her home - I believe she lived with her brother Davy, another kindly soul.

Aunt Ruth lived in a large rambling remote country house that was known to us as 'The Manse' and on the day that I visited it seemed to me that she and Davy occcupied only a very small part of the building. We spent the afternoon in cosy comfort infront of the range in the kitchen while my Dad chatted to Aunt Ruth and Davy. Milk and biscuits were abundant and as I sat munching I contemplated a pink potted begonia on the windowsill. Looking out, the day was mizzly damp with the kind of fine spray rain you get at this time of year, much like it was this morning when I was reminded of this story. The sky was grey and low and I was happy to be exactly where I was.

When it was time to go I gave Aunt Ruth a hug and smiled shyly at Davy and then we made our way out to the car. As anyone who has ever tried to leave a hospitable house will know, nearly as much talking goes on during the leaving as does during the visit, and being the good child that I was, I stood uncomplaining at the car.

I studied the windows of the house which seemed ancient to me, and I waved up at the two children who were looking down at me. The boy was about 10 or 12 and had dark hair and eyes and the little red haired girl looked about the same age as myself. They were smiling at me and then left the window and moved to the next one along that was a little bigger, I suppose they wanted a better view of the nosey little visitor. Aunt Ruth was always surrounded by children and it was no surprise to me that she was minding these two. It was no surprise at all that she was minding two sick children, as these two seemed, because they had on those long white sort of bed gowns that i saw illustrated in my copy of Peter Pan. Somewhere in the back of my head was the knowledge that Aunt Ruth had been a sort of nurse.

So I waved back and smiled and turned to Aunt Ruth who, for a moment, was not engaged in conversation. I asked her why she hadn't mentioned that there were children in the house and could I go and play with them for a moment.

I was a little offended when she laughed and said that there were no children in the house. I turned and pointed to them to show her where they were but of course. . . they were gone.

Hope it tingles!!

ED - the spookiest thing about this for me was finding out at a later date that Aunt Ruth was red before she was grey!!

9 comments:

  1. I can picture this story made into a children's picture book with wonderful illustrations!

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  2. Hmmmm, "the ghosts of Christmas past" perhaps?! Fascinating!!!

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  3. Oh my. Have you seen 'The Others'? It's a movie, similar to your experience. Great story!

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  4. Ok, that story literally gave me chills. Wonderful story Claire...thanks for sharing that chilling story, although I'm chill enough this morning. It's only 5 degrees F. here....burrrrr

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  5. Great story, Calire! Had they lived in the house all of their lives?? Who were those children, then? Sounds like a mystery waiting to be unraveled!

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  6. Claire, I love your story ! I'd love to hear more. Your cards are just beautiful.
    Claudia
    scfranson@charter.net

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