It’s Friday and time to welcome my Guest Writer. It’s Marjorie Hembroff; she’s written a short story. Before you get wrapped up in her tale, here is some information about her and her writing:
Marjorie is the author of Bess’s Magical Garden, The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin, middle grade novels, and picture book Gramma Mouse Tells a Story. Her books are published under the name M. E. Hembroff.
Marjorie is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Writers Guild of Alberta. Her short story The Ghost of Rose Cottage was published in Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016 published by Plaisted Publishing House. Several short stories have been published in other Anthologies as well. Other work had been published in Channillo series, titled Ghostly Encounter and other short stories, this is listed in the short story section.
Marjorie has been an avid reader since early childhood and has always been imaginative. Growing up on a farm before television aided in her using her imagination to create a variety of pastimes. Stories formed in her mind but most of them were never written down until later in life. It wasn’t until her children were growing up that she started to take art and writing courses. At that time, her writing improved and short stories formed. It was when she retired that the idea for Bess’s Magical Garden surfaced.
Amber Says Goodbye
Twelve-year-old, Amber Fieldale stood beside Mrs. Hobbs, Gran’s housekeeper and companion, in the family pew. Amber was an orphan and had lived with Gran since her parents’ had been killed in a car crash. Gran had been Amber’s legal guardian since she was six years old.
Ambers legs felt like jelly and she sat down with a thud. A shudder went through her, as her attention went from the black-clad people to the oak coffin covered with white daisies and roses.
Mrs. Hobbs gave Amber’s hand an encouraging squeeze and smiled.
Amber turned her head to look out the window and into the surrounding hills. Her thoughts drifted to the night before. She had been standing beside Aunt Anne, Gran’s daughter, in the funeral parlor, as everyone had gathered to say their goodbyes in private. The coffin was open with Gran propped up against a white satin pillow surrounded by green satin. Gran looked at peace and like she would pop up any second to say something. Amber shivered and bolted outside when Aunt Anne asked her to kiss Gran one last time. The stars twinkled in the dark sky, but one star had been brighter that the others. Was Gran looking down and watching over her? Goosebumps formed on Amber’s arms as she folded them over her chest and wished she had grabbed her coat.
The click of Aunt Anne’s heels on the wooden floor, as she walked down the aisle, brought Amber’s mind back to the present for a minute. Amber and Gran hadn’t seen Aunt Anne that often due to her busy schedule. Every few months there had been a whirlwind visit that exhausted Gran. In-between visits there had been phone calls and an occasional letter.
Aunt Anne was dabbing her eyes with a crumpled handkerchief. Her back was stiff and erect when she passed Amber. Aunt Anne was dressed in a dark grey pin-stripped suit with a black hat and a black veil concealing her dark brown eyes.
Amber’s gaze wandered to where Uncle Mathew, her mother’s younger brother, and his family sat. She had always looked forward to his visits. He was a kind and gentle man and told stories about the scrapes her mother and he had got into when they were kids. Uncle Mathew lived a quarter mile away and Amber played with her cousins frequently.
Amber’s thoughts drifted once more to the night before when she tossed and turned all night. She drifted from one dream to another. She smiled when she remembered the dream where she’d danced in the meadow with Gran.
Gran had been ill for several weeks and had been rushed to the hospital. On Amber’s last visit Gran squeezed her hand before she drifted off to sleep. That night Gran passed away and the following days were a blur.
Amber felt bewildered and gazed around the room as the minister’s voice droned on and on. Her thoughts drifted to happier days with Mrs. Hobbes and Gran. The little white cottage, in the village of Willow, felt empty now even though friends, relatives, and neighbours stopped in every day to give their condolences.
Amber glanced across the aisle when she heard the tap, tap of Great Aunt Jo’s cane on the wooden floor. She was Gran’s younger sister and lived in the city. Amber gripped the seat of her pew so tightly that her knuckles were white. Great Aunt Jo wore an old-fashioned black dress and her black veil covered her face giving her a mysterious look. She hadn’t visited for a long time but wrote twice a year. Great Aunt Jo dabbed her eyes with a crumpled, lace-edged hankie. She had criticised Amber for not crying and said it wasn’t natural.
Amber sobbed silently into her pillow last night. It had just been Mrs. Hobbs, Gran and her most of the time. When Great Aunt Jo visited she left in a huff and Amber felt relieved, when she left, because peace had been restored.
Amber’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the organ and shuffling feet as everyone stood up for the final hymn, ‘How Great Thou Art,’ one of Gran’s favorites.
Amber stiffened as her uncles and cousins shouldered the coffin and marched down the aisle towards the door. In a few minutes, she followed her family down the aisle behind the coffin. Outside the coffin was placed in the black hearse and everyone drifted to waiting vehicles.
Black threatening clouds formed overhead as Amber watched the coffin being lowered in the ground. She clenched her hands until her fingernails dug into her palms. She hung her head and shivered watching in disbelief. What now? Her life had been turned upside down in a few short days. Amber followed the others as they dumped clumps of earth and roses on the coffin. Tears filled her eyes as she stumbled along. Oh Gran, don’t leave me. Everyone turned to leave as rain splattered the ground leaving circles in the dust. Amber stumbled and almost fell forward as tears blurred her vision but someone grabbed her arm preventing her from falling.
Great Aunt Jo gripped her cane with her gnarled hands and gave Amber a stern look from under her veil. “Don’t make a public spectacle of yourself.”
Tears poured down Amber’s checks as she looked up at Great Aunt Jo. She should talk. Great Aunt Jo had been sniffling and dabbing her eyes all the way through the service. Now she was smiling and talking to everyone as if nothing had happened. How could she?
Then a gentle hand touched Amber’s shoulder and she looked up to see Uncle Mathew standing beside her with a gentle twinkle in his blue eyes. “Let’s go to the house. Tomorrow is a fresh day.” He put his arm around Amber’s shoulders as they walked towards the car.