Monday, August 8, 2011
The day was going to be beautiful. The air had an aroma of flowers wet from dew as the birds were singing a song of rebirth and hope. The sun came through the window with such intensity that it showed its full heat and brightness. Then I wondered why did I have such a depressing feeling creeping up from the bottom of my soul?
I started my day the way I always do. I dressed and readied myself to help my Mother with whatever she needed. She always complained about everything, so the best thing I could do would be to start early before she was even up.
Scrubbing my face, I heard voices coming from the kitchen. Da must be home, I thought as a smile came upon my face. But then I frowned.
“Och, drat, that means she’s already up”, I whispered to my reflection in the mirror as I pulled my hair back with a ribbon. I slowly walked out of the room and toward the aroma of bacon and strong coffee.
“Da, your home; Mother, I would have prepared breakfast for ye. ” I started to go up to him to kiss each cheek when I noticed the strange coldness in the air. Their faces each showed grief and sorrow. I looked at my mother who had her back to me, “Ye know ye get a headache when ye get up so early. ”
A I walked around the old wooden table, that we had used in the kitchen since I was born, I realized she had been crying and Da was trying to console her.
Straining my ears to hear what was being said, I grabbed a plate and started filling it with bacon, grits and eggs. My stomach was growling with anticipation and my mouth was watering. Da had been gone for a few days and it was good to have him back home with this wonderful bounty of food. Sitting down at the table, I slowly lifted the bacon to my mouth .
“Elizabeth, we dinnae know fur sure if thay ur comin or nae. Let’s not upset ourselves ‘til we know for sure. ”
“Walter, I know they are coming. I told you not to join up with the Jacobites, a for what, a chance o’ get Prince Charlie on the throne!”
“Lizzie, it doesn't make any difference now. We are caught and we have to take the consequences.” ￼
Da just shook his head and then whispered something to my mother that caused her to start crying again.
She immediately left the room and slammed the bedroom door behind her. We barely heard her exclaiming she had a headache and would be resting!
With his eyes looking downward he brushed past me so fast not allowing me to ask any questions. Just shaking his head, he left the house.
Within minutes, he was riding away on his horse toward town. Silence was almost peaceful to me as I sat listening to nothing.
Left alone, I planned on enjoying the rest of the day . Since I was use to my mothers hysterics, I didn’t really think much about the scene this morning. After eating a feast for a King, I started cleaning up. It was so much fun to pretend that this was my house. I always took such pride in my work. I imagined how it would be one day when I was married and how I’d take care of my husband and not be the weak, temperamental woman my mother had become. Working made the day fly by. Even though I felt happy, I still had a strange feeling. I wondered about the conversation I overheard this morning between my parents. I felt anxious for some reason..
Later that afternoon, as I was sitting on the porch enjoying the sun’s rays, I suddenly felt the doomed feeling again in my belly. It was like a million moths being drawn to a candle. Jumping up and down, going round and round in circles in the small cavity that was my stomach. I rubbed my stomach to ease the tightness.
Just at that time I saw Da’s horse come racing back. It had hardly stopped when he jumped from the saddle and bounded up on the porch.
“Get yer mother right noo!”
Turning around, I saw her standing at the door. I don’t know how long she had been there. Had she been watching me or had she just walked up? She had a habit of watching me in the shadows. A cold chill went through my body. She turned around and we both followed her in. She weakly fell into the first chair she could reach and I immediately sat down on the floor next to her.
Da, as he came in, kept looking out through the door as if looking for some kind of forbidden ghost.
We all stared at the door in silence several minutes but it seemed to us like days.
You could hear horses hoofs hitting the ground. Da was still standing by the door.
He looked so tenderly at my mother, and then at me. With tears forming in his eyes, he whispered , "Ah think a'm going tae away fur a long time". We barely heard him.
My mother let out the smallest of whimpers and I grabbed her knees.
"A cannae staun this, how come did ah ever mairie ye, ah cannae staun this fear .”
I held on to her knees for comfort. Hers or mine, I was not sure.
"It will be a' richt, mother, we'll git thro' this as we always do!". "I'm 'ere tae help ye.”
Even I did not believe what I was saying, as the horses stopped right at our porch and footsteps echoed up to the door.
"Open Up, In the Name of the King!"
Opening the door, my father was pushed back by a Redcoat. Several men held him against the wall overpowering him with their magnitude. They were English soldiers coming to round up all those associated with the Jacobite movement.
"Please denna hurt mah family," Da moaned as an English soldier chained him.
"When will you Scottish ever learn? Why must you go around causing pain and suffering to yourself?"
The soldier sneered as he dragged my father out the front door.
“Please och please dinnae tkae him, please ah cannae staun this, Please!”, my mother cried,
Before the door slammed, we noticed Captain Roger, a friend of my fathers. Or so I thought. He stood behind the door with his head down so low. He looked up once before running out the door. My mother seem to recognize him too, but his name was stopped in mid air.
All I heard was a “Ca……..” then silence.
I sat by my mother’s knees as we held each other listening to the Redcoats drag Da away. We cried and Mother moaned as if her spirit had finally given up and left her body.
“Da, Da, I screamed!
Our ears rang with the ear splitting noise of the soldiers’ yells and their horses galloping away. Then it slowly died down.
We sat in silence not moving - for what seemed like hours. The sun was going down and the shadows of nightfall crept across the room
"Get up, Ginny. That's a' we kin dae noo," she whispered as she pushed me off of her knees.
I was use to her coldness. My mother’s heart had hardened over the years from the disappointment of her marriage and from my birth. She never seem to show emotion and quickly snapped back from any adversity by always centering on herself. What she needed, when she needed it.
“Night, mither.” I arose and walked slowly to my room, looking back to see her face showing some kind of determination and coldness.
The night seemed to go on forever, as I lay awake listening to all the sounds echoing through the house. The heat of the day had made the wood frame expand and as night was coming the coolness of the evening made the wood shrink with noises as it settled to sleep. Also, the sound of the mantle clock ticking to the rhythm of my heart seem to slowly cause me to drift off. But wait, someone was moving around. I needed to get up. I tried, I tried! “Wake up, git up“, I silently screamed to myself, but sleep had overtaken me and was now my master. I fell into a deep sleep.
I awoke to birds singing and to a warm sun shining through the window. For a single moment I had forgotten what had happened. Then the tears started. Strange no sounds echoed anywhere in the house. It was eerily quiet. Too quiet. Silence.
I guess I should have known it was not over - more was coming!
The only sounds I heard were my own breathing and then my own footsteps on the cold wooden floor.
“Mither, mither, are ye ‘ere? Only silence.
Sitting down at the familiar kitchen table, I rubbed my hand over the wood that had known finer days. It was now a broken piece of dried wood with splinters erupting every few inches just waiting to hurt anyone that dared to try and get one more day of use out of it. Then my eyes focused on a piece of paper laying against the old cracked butter dish. Picking the paper up, I soon realized it was from my mother.
The paper was old and faded, the writing was hardly recognizable because of the dullness of the quill pen. The ink must of ran out because the letters faded in and out as she wrote:
You’re fourteen , auld enough tae tak' care o' yersel'. Sorry, bit I’ve git tae go. ￼
No explanation, she didn’t even have the decency to sign it.
I read it several times, trying to concentrate on what she had written. This old piece of yellowed paper was now changing my life forever. Suddenly I realized I was screaming ………
“Oh mither, we could have handled this together. I would work and take care of ye! Donae leave me too, donae leave me too!!”, I pleaded with anguish to an empty room.
The sound of my own voice bounced off of walls that were once warm, alive and fragrant with smells of a happy life but were now cold and hard.
Tears were streaming down my face, my stomach ached from grief and hunger. I moaned this time.
“What am I going to do?” I asked the empty room and received no answer.
Rubbing my face, I dragged myself back to the bedroom to pack. Hysterically I started throwing everything I could at the walls, screaming, “It’s not fair, Oh God, it’s not fair!”
It looked like horses had trampled through the room when I was finished. Our only mirror, faded as it may have been, lay in many pieces. No use to anyone now. Then I sat crumbled to the floor.
Silence once more.
I fell asleep as a baby sleeps, weak from tears and a tantrum. Hearing my own cries puts me into a trance. Then darkness.
I awoke from my dreamless state to look around and not really knowing the time, I saw the sun going down with the hint of blackness to come. I knew I had to hurry or I’d be stuck in this now lifeless house for another night, alone.
Finally getting myself together, I packed what belongings I could carry, including the only other dress I owned. It all seemed like a dream, no a nightmare!
I tried to lock the door as I left, then hysterically started laughing,
“Who cares, if anyone breaks in? Wish the damn thing would burn to the ground!”
Now looking through tears, I turned around just once to remember the house that at one time full of some sort of security and well-being; now, it was just a betrayal that caused pain with the terrible memories of heartbreak.
My tears were now drying up. I started on my journey. Hanging my head low I walked toward town realizing a coldness within. Then I realized I was becoming like my mother.
I began to feel like I was going to become hysterical again. “Why I know, I’ll look at this as an adventure”, I said out loud trying to reassure myself. My sanity has been tested beyond its limit and I had to think of something else besides the misery.
“I’ll make good things come my way!”
For the first time in a long while, I felt better about myself. I knew what I had to do!