Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hide and Seek (08/07/08)
TITLE: Abandoned Search
By Fiona Dorothy Stevenson
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In the bedroom the baby stirred and cried. She teetered for a moment. The cry became a howl. Oh, that would have to do! Lifting off the lid, she laid away her precious note, hurried to the bedroom. It would be several months before she wanted to find her treasure, but couldn’t remember the hiding place.
The family was to move to another town. Willie agreed to drive a newly bought, newly-crashed vehicle – a ten ton truck – to the motor dealer in their new home town on behalf of a garage owner. He couldn’t spare a mechanic who would need return transport. There were no buses or trains serving the route. This was convenient to Willie and Dora as they had no car, and their few items of furniture could be carried on the truck.
It was a cold autumn evening when they set out. The furniture on the open truck was adequately protected, unlike the family in the cab. The windscreen was broken out in the crash, leaving a jagged, splintered rim of glass in the surround. Huddled against the wind and flurries of rain, Dora brushed from the baby the fragments and slivers of glass that blew in.
As they traveled the long road her mind wandered back to the now empty house. Where had she put that ten-pound note? She couldn’t remember where she had hidden it. A general search failed to reveal the hiding place. Frantic and intense searches at spasmodic intervals also failed. When it was time to pack she looked again, unsuccessfully. So much had happened in those intervening weeks – including the decision to leave Fort Victoria – and memory of individual events became clouded. Her treasure was lost.
She sighed, pushing the weary thoughts away, holding the rug higher to protect Baby from the onslaughts of wind, rain and glass. “You okay?” she asked Willie, who glanced at her with a chilled smile. “Okay. Glad you found these gloves!” His woolly mittened fingers grasped the wheel. “We’ve passed Sosera. Only another three, maybe four, hours. Truck’s a bit slow, but we’ll get there.”
It was close to midnight when they drew up at the block of flats where her parents lived. Welcomed with hot cups of tea and wonderfully warm love, they dragged the mattress from under the tarpaulin and slept until the breaking of the dawn. Accommodation was hard to find, but mother had said, “Come. We’ll make a place for you.” And they did. The small two-roomed flat became a haven for seven people, soon to be eight.
In a snug corner Dora completed the layette for the expected baby on the sewing machine her mother had loaned her when the first baby was on the way. The sewing machine had been a wedding present to her mother, and had already sewed seven layettes, and countless other outfits, over many years.
Their names listed with estate agents and the government housing authority, they searched for a house or flat, but it was several months before they were able to move out of the tiny flat. One morning while searching through the paper for houses to let, an advertisement caught Dora’s eye: a generous amount was offered on an old sewing machine traded in on a new electric model. After discussing the matter with her mother, Dora gave the old Jones a special clean and polish before taking it to the shop.
The wood of the lid and base was beautifully grained. The old machine had served for more than forty years, and was still unmarked, the tools and spools still bright. Dora arranged them in their small case, folded back the heavy machine from the wooden base to put the case in the cavity. There she found the ten-pound note.
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