In The Pinch

The Pinch, a lonely moorish piece of land, that spanned acres, was bleak at best, and on occasion terrifying. Maggie brought her book with her, as she headed down a beaten path. It led, she knew, to that one place where there was no squalling younger brother, or chickens clucking everywhere, underfoot. She liked to think of it as her hideaway, cozy, even while it was open to the vast ocean, where the coast was craggy and treacherous.

The wind was ceaseless, ever the intruder, ruffling pages, as Maggie settled against her favorite tree, resting the book on her lap. The water was rough, crashing against the rocks. She never tired of looking out to the furthest point on the horizon, wondering if she was right here, in this very spot, would she see the trawler sail into port? It was at least two weeks since her Da went out on the fishing vessel. Ma, said it would be soon that he would return.

There was a lull, and she glanced up at the position of the sun, noting that she had maybe an hour more before having to start for home. She looked down at the cover of the book, and traced her fingers over the letters. “Wuthering Heights,” said, savoring the sound of the title, knowing the book almost by heart. Turning to the place she had set a pressed rose between the pages, she continued reading the story.

It was the sound of a fog horn which pulled her back from the Farmhouse on the Moorland. “Oh Catherine, why must you be so cruel!” Maggie admonished the character, staring at the cover, as if her words might be carried within, and sway the tale’s course. It was time to return to her own farmhouse, which was not nearly as lovely as The Heights’ house.

During the walk back, she listed all the evening chores she would have to do. Ma would want the laundry taken in off the lines, and folded, before she helped with dinner.

Johnny was playing in the front yard, chasing the chickens around, trying to catch one. He looked up as Maggie passed by, forgot about the chicken, and ran to catch up with his sister. “Mag Mag, come play.”

“I can’t Johnny, there’s the clothes to bring in.” She placed her book on the step to the house, and skirted the corner to where the lines were stretched between trees, the sheets and towels flapping in the breeze. “Here, help me.” Pulling over a bag, she began taking off the clothes pins and slipped them into her apron pockets. Johnny grabbed the other end of the sheet, and they managed a clumsey folding, before stuffing it in the bag. At least he was in the mood to help.

Finally in the house, they dropped the bag by the bedroom door, and Maggie went and got her book, setting it on a small table next to their bed. There was no time to think about the comings and goings of the people of Wuthering Heights, when dinner did not make itself, as her mother was fond of saying.

Johnny helped bring in wood, and piled it next to the stove. Maggie wondered what the kitches really looked like back in Emily Bronte’s day. Taking some of the bigger logs, she pushed them into the round holes, on top of a nice bed of shredded day old Carbonear Compass pages with a couple of globs of lard dropped on them. Lighting the fire stick, she pushed it down into the papery kindling. Flames lept up quickly and she brought over a step stool, and told Johnny to feed the little sticks in, while she pulled open the ice box, taking three pieces of left over chicken from yesterday’s dinner, and placed them into the fry pan that sat on top of the other hole of the stove. She wondered why it was that most characters in books did not have to do chores.
“Heathcliff, come on, lets get some tarters so I can cut them.” she said to Johnny. He made a face. “Mama’s goin ta be home soon.”

“Don’t call me names.” Johnny demanded. Maggie, sighed. Life just wasn’t the way it ought to be. It wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t thrilling.

The sound of a horse and carriage pulling into the yard, saved her from sinking into a depression as deep as Catherine’s coffin.

“Thank you, Mr. O’Brien,” Maggie heard her mother say, just before she stepped inside.  “Light the lamps, girl,” her mother said, pointing to the oil lamp on the table and on a counter near the water basin.

Maggie almost curtsied, feeling ever so annoyed that she didn’t even get a hello. A how do you do? Instead, she relit the fire stick, and cupping her hand around the flame, brought it to the table, touching it to the wick, then slid the glass chimney down over the dancing fire. With the same stick, she lit a taper, and snuffed out the fire stick between two fingers.

“Ma?” Maggie said. “Did Mr. O’Brien say anything about when the ships are coming back?”

“Not a word, yet.” She shook her head. “Set the table, while I get on to the potatoes you’ve not gotten around to yet.”

“Yes, Ma.” Maggie began pulling the dishes out of cabinet, and tableware from a draw, setting them down on the table. As she placed each one in front of a chair, she silently named whom it would serve. For Heathcliff. For Catherine. For me.

Dinner was served, and the task of clearing the table was shared between the three of them. Maggied wondered if she could slip a candle into her’s and Johnny’s room, so she could read another page or two.

The darkness, in the dead of night, was complete, unless the moon was out. Then there was that eerie blue hued glow, which shone more sharply only in winter, when the snow covered the ground. It was an odd scraping noise which woke Maggie from her dreams of the Manor house on the Moors three thousand miles across the ocean. She opened her eyes, but remained still.

The scraping came again, and Maggie thought that Ma was up, moving a chair across the wooden floor in the kitchen. Yet it was a deeper sound, and if it had been her mother, there would be the glow from a candle, or the oil lamp. Quietly sitting up, she slipped her bathrobe on over her nightgown, and pushed her feet into her shoes. Instinct led her toward the doorway to the kitchen. Maggie stood on the threshold and listened.

There it was again! Someone was outside the house. Afraid of lighting a candle, for fear that the person beyond the walls of their small house, would know someone was awake, and might come in and… Maggie didn’t know what they might do.

With her hand held out, she touched the wall, as she made her way to the second bedroom. “Ma?” she whispered into the room. No response came. Stepping carefully, she tentatively crossed to where her mother slept. “Mamma?” she called, reaching out and searching for her mother’s shoulder.

“Margie?” came her mother’s voice.

“Ma, there’s someone outside. I think they’re trying to get in.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Wait. Listen for it.”

The scraping seemed closer, but was still beyond the walls. She heard her mother getting out of bed, and they both went into the kitchen. By the table, they both stood still, waiting, again for the sound. It came a moment later, now as if someone was moving along the clabboard siding. They moved toward the door. There was no lock. Nobody had locks. There was a simple leather tether which held the door closed.

“Mamma, who is it?”

“I don’t know, Margie.”

For an hour, they sat huddled at the table, waiting for the intruder to enter. The scraping continued, crossed in front of the door, once, and continued back around the house.

Through a window, near the water basin, Maggie could see the slightest bit of light, touching the Eastern sky. “Ma, the dawn’s coming.” she whispered, with some relief. In the daylight, they would be able to see who was outside, and what they were doing. They would see what they wanted.

Johnny had joined the vigil as time slowly moved forward. The sound continued, taunting them. Their mother managed to find the broom which was leaning in the corner. Together, the three moved across the room, and opened the door, slowly, inch by inch. The sound moved closer toward the door. They all froze for a moment, and then they all stepped through the doorway, and looked slowly to the right, around the doorjam. This time the sound was right upon them, and they saw a silhouette moving toward them, very close to the wall of the house.

All three were peeking around the door, and two big eyes blinked back at them. They moved back, looking at each other in the dimmly lit day is dawning light. Their mother looked back outside. “Oh my Lord.” Maggie was certain she was staring down a barrel of a gun, or something.

“What Mamma?”

Her mother was stepping outside, and Maggie and Johnny moved in unison, following. The two eyes blinked, and the body pushed against the house, and somewhere from very near, they heard another sound which was different, and vocal. “Mooooo,” came the plaintive cry of a large cow.

“It’s one of Clancy’s cows!” Johnny said. His own eyes mirrored the big saucer eyes of the poor bovine which seemed to have gotten itself caught in a trap. It looked as though it had it dragged behind, catching it up where the house met the ground, digging a groove, trying to disentangle itself.

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. HumaAq
    May 03, 2015 @ 14:46:18

    I woulD like to nominate you for Liebster award.. Your heartfelt stories and inspiring blogs helps readers to improve:)
    Liebster Award Questions – Answered! | HumaAq
    https://humaaq.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/liebster-award-questions-answered/

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature
    May 03, 2015 @ 16:28:50

    This is great! You had me all the way to the end. I would never have guessed a cow. Loved the descriptive writing and how you drew me in.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. calensariel
    May 03, 2015 @ 17:15:14

    Absolutely splendid! I could imagine it all. Especially Maggie sneaking out to read. In fact, your writing reminds me very much of a book I’ve been trying to get read inbetween doing this bloomin’ blog stuff. It’s Elemental, in the side bar of my blog. And the young girl in that book is Meggie.

    I loved this story. True ones always are the best, aren’t they…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Fimnora Westcaw
      May 03, 2015 @ 19:23:26

      Thank You!!! I’m glad that it came through so realistically. I had some difficult with keeping the voice throughout, though. But I’m here to work on that kind of thing. I saw Elemental on your side bar, and was going to look into it when I finish the book I’m reading now. It looks really interesting.

      Like

      Reply

  4. ivaberanek
    May 06, 2015 @ 10:49:16

    Wow, this was an incredible read. And the ending was a total surprise. I would have never guessed the cow either. Did you see that I wrote the third part of the little story about the mysterious letter?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Fimnora Westcaw
      May 06, 2015 @ 18:57:13

      I’m so glad I was able to hear that you had posted the third part! I’ve fallen behind in everything! Thank you!

      And thank you also for your words about my story. It always stayed with me, from the first time my mother told us about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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