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disclaimer is that I don't own them just like to torture them with my sick demented thinking. . . . .

Memories Of Long Ago
part 1
by Trish

Like my mother before me I am a woman of solitary disposition. Resembling the women in this family runs true, grandmother to daughter to granddaughter. The only visible sign that I am my father's daughter, a tiny mole under my right eye. I am her only child, so it was only natural that she spoiled me to a degree. I was her darling, her heir, so when on her deathbed it was I s he called into her room, before the lawyers, and gave into my hands a red notebook in which she said my father had written the strange story of the events that had befallen them in their younger days, it didn't surprise me.

My father, a figure shrouded in mystery and whispers passed between my mother and her two closest friends. This notebook written by my father held my gaze while I listened.

My mother murmured to me that the story I would read had haunted her all of her life, and that she had always wished to go back and change things, to find closure. She was entrusting me with the task of going back, knowing I would feel the same way once I read the notebook.

It was a strange request and one which I had no time for until after she was dead and buried. As the only survivng relative and residing in England with her when she died, I was given the major tasks of settling the estate. It was then that I learned that she owned some major companies and land in
the states. Mother didn't work once she had learned that I was on the way, she left her country and headed for this desolate place of moor, with its perpetually fog or torrential rain and gale winds. I use to ask her why, and she told me it was how she had felt after leavng of my father. You see, I never knew my father but he knew about me and begged my mother to get away before it was too late. How he died still remains a secret. One that my mother took with her to her grave.

So here I am this night, unable to sleep and rather tired, idly flicking open the pages of the notebook which my mother had protected, each page white and crisp, the lines of my father's handwriting flowing easily across the pages uninterrupted by marks or corrections. I realized than that my mother had loved him dearly and preserved this material bit of him as much as she nurtured me. I turned the first page and read what he had committed to paper and what my mother had kept from me during my childhood, knowing full well that it would have fueled a deep desire in me to go back. Back to where it all started. Blue Cove, Delaware.

And so here I am in this strange town which there stands a mysterious building, owned now by me, a sunny climate I am not use to and yet there is a darkness that shrouds it.

Yes, the notebook did excite and intrigue me. My mother knew me well, the imaginative one, the dreamer --I was captivated by the love-hate relationship between Jarod, my father, and the enchanting, tempestuous, wayward M. Parker, my mother, and its curious and bitter end. I grew impatient with the lawyer, Mr. Worth, and longed to see with my own eyes the cottage house, and the place my father called Hell, better known as the Centre.

They still stood. No one lived in the house. The building known as the Centre stands empty and has been for the last 10 years. I finally manage d to receive the key and directions to the cottage and drove to it, in the rental car that Mr. Worth had arranged for me to use during my stay. The excitement was mounting, when I turned on to the road and saw the house nestled in the woods, my breath caught in my throat.

My father had a gift for evoking the mood and situations as well as portraying his characters in his journal. I knew the house from his description, how it lay nestled in the woods, yet nothing he wrote prepared me for the beauty and remoteness of it that was so my mother. The weather was balmy and the sky blue, one could almost see the beginnings of spring although it was early February and traces of snow lingered on the ground.

I moved closer to the house, no longer tired or weary, but uplifted knowing that part of my prize was in sight. There was something tough and enduring about this house, now I know why my father called it Refuge.

The windows were tiny and latticed and, yes there was a fir tree standing slightly apart from the house from which my father would occasionally stand when he watched over my mother. Taking the key in shaking hands, I put it in the lock and turned it. With what was a quickening of my pulse I stepped inside. I had journeyed all the way from England, for this moment. The in side was as I knew it would be. There was no corridor and I stepped straight into the living room; there was the huge fireplace with the oak mantle above it, just as my father had described it.

Half of me wished to stay still; the other, and strong half, had me standing in front of the door. The door that lead to the room, grandmother's studio. Upon opening it, there was muted moonlight filtering in through a stained-glass window, the red heart clearly defined on the floor. I stood
still and the blood seemed to rush through my body; there was a prenatural silence in which even the wind ceased its moaning and I glanced around expecting to see. . . what? My parents. It was in this very room that my mother told my father that she was pregnant and of his urgent plea for her to flee. With the notebook in my hands, I turned to the page that described how he felt when he learned that he was going to be a father, his joy and his anguish.

It was his anguished words which invoked such feelings of fear and dread, as such I never experienced before, and they overtook me. I felt the wetness on my cheeks, he was going to protect my mother and his unborn child even if it meant he had to sacrifice himself to do it. He knew that my mother's life would end as grandmother's did. I would become property in the pit of hell.

It was then that darkness engulfed me and I fell, inert, to the wooden floor.

It was Broots that found me lying crumpled on the floor, at first he thought I was dead, and told me that my pulse was weak. Swiftly he took m e to the bedroom that belonged to my mother and brought me a glass of water as there was nothing stronger in the house. Broots was clearly beside himself with worry and fussed like a mother hen would with her chicks. I was in such a state of excitement that after dinner, I bid Broots goodbye. With father's journal, I sank down on the sofa in front of a roaring fire in the stone fireplace. I sat through the night, reading and dreaming until the journal became the dream and the dream the journal. I knew not which was which.

The younger form of whom could only be my father, appeared at the window, arms at his side, a forlorn look upon his features, that I woke with a jolt. Making my way to the bedroom, I crawled into the bed and it was only the n that I fell into a heavy slumber.

When I woke the sun was streaming through the windows, and I was filled with a firm sense of purpose, and knew what I had to do. Mother had left instructions that I not pester Broots or Sydney until I had uncovered all that I could on my own, and only then would they be allowed to divulge the rest. In my father's journal, he made mention of a sweeper that helped him, after mother disappeared.

Sam. Could he be still alive after thirty years? He would be close to seventy-five if he were. Only Sam or someone like him could bring the story up to date for me; someone must be able to fill in those missing pieces once my mother left for England. I knew what had happened to my mother. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and lived a leisurely comfortable life dividing her time between her home in Yorkshire and her townhouse in London. She wrote, painted, very well, I might add, and loved to fence. She even taught me.

There had been visits from her two closest friends, Sydney and Broots, from time to time. In fact, Broots's daughter, Debbie, was sent to London to go to school and was the closest person I had to a sibling.

Yet I needed to know what happened to my father.

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