Hannah is a short story by the exciting new author A I Moffat, who conjures up the worry and heartache of being a mother. Hannah Jones has a chance to rekindle the close relationship she once shared with her daughter by Charlotte’s arrival, her daughters closest friend. A short story of intrigue which captures the imagination.
By A I Moffat
Hannah Jones was kneeling in front of the fire when she heard the girls open the front door, her head tilted slightly to one side. A warm faint smile grew as she listened to them. She thought of how time had flown and, felt a sense of pride in having watched over them for so many years. They had reached an age to be more than capable of making their own decisions in life. However, she was finding it difficult to prevent herself from interfering in her daughter’s life.
Their once-close relationship had taken a turn for the worst, and she was now afraid of losing the ability to talk as friends rather than a mother to her child. This fear made her realise she had made a mistake in allowing her own feelings and possibly her own desire to influence her actions. She now strongly regretted ever interfering and feared she might never be able to restore the intimate relationship she once shared with her only child.
Charlotte was the first to transform the gloom into life, she went straight to her and instantly fell to her knees beside her, ‘Hello, mother oh — I’ve missed you.’ Instantly she threw her arm around her and kissed her cheek. ‘Gosh, it’s so cold out there tonight.’ She shivered into her.
‘Yes, well you can’t expect anything else at this time of year.’ Hannah Jones chuckled, whilst with a firm hand, she rubbed Charlotte’s arm. ‘How was your journey?’
‘Tiresome mother, you know I’m sure men only have one thing on their minds.’
‘Oh, Charlotte, you will wear such glamorous clothes, what else can you expect.’ She smiled and pulled her close to her. ‘You’re a sight for saw eyes anyway, that’s for sure.’
Emily leaned over and kissed her mother’s other cheek, ‘Sorry we’re a bit, late mum, we stopped at Potters for a coffee on the way up.’
‘I guessed you had, and how is Lara and Mrs Ramsey?’
‘Lara’s off with a stinking cold again, and Mrs Ramsey is still complaining about being quiet, but she said to send you her regards.’
It was strange, but a relief, that in the presence of Charlotte her daughter was behaving more like her usual self, unlike the previous two weeks where she seemed to distance herself from her, sneaking in and out like a church mouse. She saw it as an opportunity to rekindle that close intimate relationship with her daughter.
Emily had positioned herself on the edge of the fireside chair; she sat leaning against the arm toward the fire staring directly into the flames, when her mother asked, ‘How are you feeling today, Emily?’
It was not something her mother would normally ask, unless she had complained of feeling unwell in the first instance. Emily remained silent, unsure of where it might be leading.
‘Only, Trevor phoned today, he wanted to know how you were, and whether or not you would be going back to work on Monday.’ For a few seconds before she continued, she waited, ‘I told him you were feeling much better and was intending to start back again, on Monday.’
‘It’s not my business to interfere. What you do with your life now is up to you. I don’t even want to know why you haven’t been at work, for the past two weeks or even where you have been. I want you to know that— I am always here for you, Emily and, always will be.’ With compunction, Hannah Jones turned to Charlotte and smiled, ‘Well, I think its best that I go and see to your tea, before it spoils.’
Charlotte, managed to bring a small weak smile to her face, her attention was quick to return to Emily, as Hannah stood up.
After Emily’s mother had left the room, it was Charlotte who broke the silence between them in a quiet, discreet raised voice, ‘Holly Shit! Emily! What was that all about?’
‘Nothing, we just ain’t been getting on lately.’
‘I can see that, but what about this business at work. I didn’t even know you hadn’t been going into work.’
‘Oh, Charlotte, I’m sorry. I better go sort things out with her.’
Her mother was standing at the sink; she went over and stood at her side, a moment of silent unity passed before she said, ‘Mum . . . I’m really sorry.’
In that split second, Hannah Jones closed her eyes with relief and thanked God at the same time, but she maintained her composure, prevented herself from showing her weak and unconditional love that she had of late found so unbearable to live with.
‘Mum— please. I don’t understand what’s happened to me; I can’t do this on my own. Please— Mu—mum.’
‘Well, that’s what I’m here for—’ She was unable to suppress her innermost feeling, her wanting, any longer and took her daughter in her arms, tight to her chest.
Charlotte had replenished the fire and was sitting patiently in the fireside chair, when she heard a sudden tapping sound coming from the front door; she was a little hesitant and not completely sure, whether or not somebody was actually at the door, and rather than disturb Emily or her mother she went to check.
Nobody was there; when she was closing the door, she noticed a box on the doorstep. She took a look around to see if anybody was in the street, then lifted it and took it inside; it was an open box wrapped in rustic oak leaves and inside was a single red rose laid on a bed of pale blue forget-me-nots.
Hannah had heard the front door close and rushed out of the kitchen, she was a little startled to find Charlotte looking at her in amazement, ‘What is it, Charlotte?’
‘It’s just so beautiful mother.’ Her gaze instantly fell back to the box; she was now cradled in her arms. ‘They just left it on your doorstep.’
‘Oh, My God, it isn’t?’ On impulse she covered her face in her hands, with her eyes still fixed on Charlotte, she slowly allowed her line of sight to become clearer, ‘You have got to be joking Charlotte, it can’t be.’
Charlotte lifted her head, her expression puzzled, ‘It isn’t— what?’
With apprehension Mrs Jones forced herself to look inside the box, ‘It’s just a rose?
‘Yes, but isn’t it beautiful?’
Mrs Jones sighed with relief, ‘For goodness sakes, you frightened the life out of me for a minute— Yes, it’s lovely.’
Emily had rushed out to see what all the commotion was, ‘What is it, mum?’ She leaned over the side of her mother, ‘Oh— My God!’
Hannah then watched her closely as she offered to take the box from Charlotte; it was done with such delicacy that her mother could hardly believe her eyes, especially after the way she had fought so hard against any such notion, of her and Steve getting back together again. She was not going to be complacent this time and, bit her lip. She merely indicated to Charlotte to follow her into the kitchen.
Emily had taken the rose over to the fire, once again she sat on the edge of the fireside chair, but this time she gazed down into the box and felt its warmth growing inside her, it felt as if he were with her, as it had all day.
‘Oh, Charlotte I just can’t believe it, you know I was beginning to think that boy didn’t have a romantic bone in his body.’ She paused a second and turned the dial-up on the cooker. ‘And to think I had just about lost my patience with Stephen Maguire, who’d have believed it.’
‘It’s very romantic, that’s one thing for sure, but—’
‘You know all the trouble that boy caused in this family over the past month; I tell you Charlotte, I had really reached the end with him. I’ve done your favourite, steak and kidney pie. It shouldn’t be much longer. You wouldn’t mind just peeling the potatoes, there already in the sink. Oh Charlotte, I can’t tell you how pleased I am your finally— here.’
Hannah was unable to suppress the emotion that had been boiling up inside her for so long. She had missed Charlotte immensely, she had always considered her as being part of her family as if she were her own, this mixture of emotion and in the presence of someone, she was able to trust and cared so much about, had allowed her to feel a sense easement, allowing her to let go finally.
Charlotte instantly put her arm around her, ‘Oh mother, please, everything will be alright; you just wait and see.’
‘I’m not sure Charlotte, I can’t take much more, at times I can’t talk sense to her, it’s like she’s in a different world that— I can’t seem to reach. Oh, Charlotte, I only want, what’s best for her.’
‘I know, you do mother, she’ll be fine.’
‘It’s her father you know, him and me arguing all the time, that’s what’s made her like this. I know it. She doesn’t let things out like she use to, she bottles them all up inside. Hardly ever talks to me these days.’ She shook her head lightly in despair. ‘It’s the drink you know; it brings out the worst in a man; he never use to drink; he was always such a kind and caring man.’
‘I know mother. Come on let’s get those spuds scrubbed, and pick their blooming eyes out.’
Hannah smiled, ‘Your one in a million Charlotte, yes lets.’
‘Mmm, I can smell that steak and kidney pie.’ And I’m absolutely starving.’
‘It won’t be much longer, did you not have something on your way down?’
Charlotte shook her head, ‘Well, I’m trying to lose a few pounds.’
‘You’re always trying to lose them; I doubt you ever had them in the first place, just look at you. You know Brian will be absolutely furious if they get back together. He reckons he’s never liked the boy. And after he cancelled the engagement, well —. He’ll not have his name mentioned in the house. He reckons that’s why he took up drinking in the first place, because he couldn’t stand the sight of the boy, sitting there with his daughter like he owned the place. He did use a few stronger words mind.’
‘Oh, mother you mustn’t go worrying about it, he’s probably just looking for any excuse, to get down to the stupid pub. That’s what they like.’
‘Listen to you all grown up, Miss Charlotte Harrison.’ She flicked some water over her arm, and they both laughed. ‘Yes, your right, no use worrying we just got to get on with the hand we’re given.’
‘Well, I think we’ve just about blinded the lot of them Charlotte.’
‘Yes, I think your right. Ooh, you a get a certain sense of satisfaction from sticking it in and twisting it around.’ She smiled wickedly. ‘Come on; let’s show these little blighters what a ring fire really feels like.’
‘She-devils, that’s what we are,’ Charlotte cackled. ‘Doesn’t it feel just great?’
‘Yes.’ She cackled back, ‘Thank you, Charlotte. ‘You’d better go and see if Emily’s alright, and then get unpacked. I’ve put some fresh towels over the rail on the top of the landing.’
Charlotte cackled a thank you.
Charlotte knelt in front of Emily; her hand gently covered hers, she looked up into her gaze and smiled softly. ‘He must love you so much, and it must have taken him ages.’
A few seconds of silence passed between them, then Emily replied, ‘I know. And that’s what makes it, so difficult.’
‘Oh, shit! Em, Steve didn’t send you the rose, did he?
‘No, you see Charlotte some things are far too big, to fit inside their own little box.’
‘Oh, Emi, you’ve fallen in love with him, haven’t you?
‘I think so.’
Charlotte was suddenly lost in thought. She kept repeating to herself over and over again; mother doesn’t know. She looked up at Emily, her eyes waiting, but she could not find an immediate answer. No matter which way she turned things, nothing seemed to fit, and always the same answer sprang to mind. She needed more time, time to think, yes she thought, time must be the answer. ‘Well!’ She exclaimed, scratching her head. ‘Let’s get that thing in some water, before it dies.’
Emily’s eyes opened wide, ‘Yes, and I know just the vase to use.’ She smiled, bringing her shoulders up in a twitch of elation.
Instantly they both stood up, went into the kitchen. Emily turned to Charlotte and asked, ‘Will you take care of it? While I get the vase.’
Charlotte went to grab it, but after seeing the look in Emily’s eyes, it was with empathy; she allowed her to lower the rose gently into her hands.
‘Mum, where’s that vase that looks like a fruit dish?’
‘A fruit dish! Emily for goodness sakes, there’s a vase under the sink.’
‘No, I can’t find it; I need a tall dainty one.’
‘Right at the back there should be a small— flared vase, use that and you’d better hurry, because I’ll be ready to serve up in a minute.’
‘I’ve got it! Thanks, mum.’
Hannah Jones looked over at Charlotte and smiled, it was a mere glimpse, but somehow she felt life was finally returning to the house. In these few days, she was determined, to rekindle her bond with Emily. She would not let the rose or her desire to make Steve a permanent family member come between her and her daughter ever again. She had acted recklessly, had said things that she didn’t mean, purely out of disappointment for her own wanting and desire. If anyone could break the bitter stance her daughter had now adopted towards her, it was Charlotte, and this opportunity that had excited her before seemed to have been restored.
‘You two had better go and freshen up, ready for your tea before it gets spoilt.’
The conversation at the dinner table was mostly local gossip; it seemed no one wanted to approach the subject of Stephen Maguire, least of all Mrs Jones. If his name were to be mentioned, she had already made up her mind, and it would not be of her doing.
Charlotte had enjoyed hearing all about her old school friends, and the local individuals she had known throughout her childhood. She had also avoided his name, and it had seemed the meal would be bought to a conclusion, without even touching the subject.
Emily was fully aware they had acted with prudence, and was grateful for the respite, yet unfortunately made the mistake of comparing Steve with the exploits of a David Bates who had recently cheated on his wife, of sixteen years a Miss Susan Fraser.
At first, there was an unbearable silence. It seemed impenetrable but for the grace of Charlotte who was quick to reveal the character of her new boyfriend, and where he had taken her on their very first date, an ice skating rink.
Original short story by A I Moffat
Illustrations by justanemotion.com
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