Laura

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


The North Wind was curious and is made responsible for an innocent life.

Submitted: January 08, 2018

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Submitted: January 08, 2018

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The North Wind was curious. That the people came to the cliffs was nothing new, they did that most days, their laughing and shrieking scaring away the seagulls. But here was something different, something much more interesting. Why was the young woman standing so close to the edge? He could feel her presence, the fear and the excitement, then a new emotion which he found difficult to place. Despair. Her heart was beating faster now, the heart pumping, the blood coursing through her veins. Would she jump? Some did, while others overcame their personal demons and retreated back to whatever lives were ordained for them. Would she or wouldn’t she? The shuffle closer to the edge, the little look down, the moment of decision was coming. A life, a young life, perhaps too young, could a pain be so terrible that it could only be ended this way? Each time he saw it, it saddened him, something so precious so easily thrown away. There was nothing he could do; the rule was the rule, the eternal rule by which all were guided. ‘Never interfere.’ He could feel the stillness within her, she would jump. It was as certain as the rising of his friend, the Sun. She would jump and her life would end on the rocks below. The heart was beating faster, her eyes closed, the summoning of the last ounce of courage; the movement closer to the edge. Fear has an echo. The North Wind does not understand. She jumps; the scream, and then the scream from within. There are two lives, one beyond hope, the other innocent. She plummets to the rocks below. ‘Not the innocent’ roars the North Wind guiding her fall away from the rocks and into the sea below.

‘You have broken the eternal rule?’ The Voice asks.

‘I could not let the innocent suffer,’ replies the North Wind.

‘It is not for you to decide.’

‘Spare them.’

‘One life is forfeit, as for the other, that life will be your responsibility until the end of its days that will be your punishment.’

The North Wind walks through a hospital where, save for the rustle of some paper, none notice his passing. He comes at last to a room. Doctors and nurses, sound and movement, joy mixed with sorrow. The North Wind closes his eyes and listens to the symphony of life and death. One soul departs, the other remains, a baby girl. The machines show she is not breathing. They try desperately to revive her. The North Wind watches and waits. A clock shows the seconds ticking away. A nurse fights back the tears. A doctor shakes his head, they cannot save the baby. The North Wind leans over her and kisses the child on the lips. Tiny lungs fill with life giving air. Machines certify life has returned to the baby. In the days to come the nurses will call her Laura. She is such a slight thing; will she survive the trauma of the birth? No one knows. They say she is fighter and tell her not to give up. Some will pray for her, all will watch over her. For a time, she will be safe and will prosper.

Time passes and Laura is classed ‘an orphan’ and claimed by the state. A picture in a file, one of many, that sits on top of a broken filing cabinet. They try to help, but she is unwanted, they say there is something ‘strange’ about her, staring out of the window for hours on end, never making a sound.

Laura starts school, but she makes no friends. Instinctively, the other children feel that she is somehow different and being ‘different’ they begin to pick on her. First it is silly things like moving her crayons or paper. Then it progresses to comments and whispers behind her back. She tries to pretend that it does not bother her, but like water over rock, she is worn down, it begins to hurt until it becomes an open wound when even the slightest look causes pain. She tries to be late for lessons; she refuses to put her hand up in class, wherever her tormentors are, she tries to be elsewhere. The North Wind wonders why nothing is said or done by her teacher. Of course the teacher notices, but she tells herself it will ‘sort itself out’ in the end and goes back to her marking. Silence implies consent think Laura’s tormentors and decide to go for her in the playground. They see she has been distracted by something and has not noticed them approach. It will be easy. They watch her as she turns round and sees them, but they do not see fear in her eyes, only curiosity. Then something happens, everyone agrees that something happened that day, but nobody is ever able to agree on what. For a while she becomes the talk of the school, but no one ever goes near her again.

Her school career progresses, although academically undistinguished she does seem to have an aptitude for sports particularly those that require throwing things. Her winning throw in the inter-school netball competition becomes the stuff of legend. Most days she can be found sitting on a low wall reading her book. The North Wind sits by and reads with her. Today’s is an interesting one by James Joyce. A breath of air and the page is turned. She frowns and turns the page back again, she had not finished that one yet.

Like all teenagers she tries to experiment and one day sneaks out of school. The North Wind is puzzled by this and decides to investigate. She goes to the shop by the school gates and buys cigarettes and matches. The North Wind is not amused. He follows her to the trees behind the new computer block. She takes a cigarette and places it in her mouth. Then she tries to light a match. It goes out. So does the next. No matter what she does, they all go out. Should she buy some more matches? The North Wind roars. Startled, she abandons that particular experiment.

Time passes and Laura meets someone, a young Marine, Simon is his name, they like each other. Hand-in-hand they go for long walks down tree lined country lanes. The North Wind follows at a respectful distance. Romance blossoms, a kiss, a proposal, a wedding is planned.

The day of the wedding, the weather forecast is not good, Laura looks to the sky, will it rain? ‘Please don’t let it rain,’ she says to no one in particular. The North Wind smiles, no, it will not rain today. Nervous, the bridegroom and his best man stand waiting in their uniforms. As the bride appears, the clouds part and Laura is bathed in sunlight. An angel has appeared before them. The North Wind wipes a tear away, he feels something that transcends mere happiness, but also at the same time a feeling of sadness, of something indefinable that is being lost.

Laura has a family, first Emma and then Christopher is born. They move to a new house with French windows that open onto a large garden overgrown with weeds and brambles. Simon tells her it will take her years to tame that wilderness. She laughs. She admits she might have to ask for a little help taming that wild blackberry bush opposite the young apple tree.

As the children grow, Laura spends her spare time in the garden. It becomes her passion, potting, planting and doing things that seem to involve an inordinate amount of compost. Over time the wilderness is tamed, though the North Wind is pleased to note, the blackberry bush remains something of a free spirit.

A day comes when Simon must go away for a while. He explains to Emma and Christopher that he will only be gone for a few months. He shows them where in the atlas that lives in the tall bookcase. On the big calendar in the kitchen they mark the day when he will come home. He tells Laura not to worry, but they both know that she will. The North Wind asks the Sun to watch over Simon. Each morning Laura and the children mark off a day on the calendar. Laura misses him so. Each evening she sits alone in the garden and imagines herself there with him. As the day comes closer the children become more excited. Daddy is coming home soon. A day starts; it is much like any other. There is a knock on the door. It is an officer in the Corps, there is news, but there no need to say more, the look on her face tells Laura everything. She looks at the children playing in the garden. One day they will learn that their father died in a night action trying to rescue a fellow Marine. All they will learn for now is it that daddy will not be coming home.

For Laura there is only a feeling of emptiness in a world turned to grey. She takes long walks with the children in the park. She sits on a bench staring into space. Sometimes there are tears, when Emma asks what is wrong she says it is just mummy being silly again.

The North Wind knows there is nothing he can do for Laura, her grief must be given time. Instead he watches over the children as they play with a small red kite. He helps Christopher launch the kite into the sky. Emma watches it perform somersaults, loops and other complicated manoeuvres, not bad for a boy she thinks, not that she is ever going to tell him that.

The needs, wants and tantrums of her children call Laura back to life. Slowly she picks up the pieces. She joins in the school run and the various after-school activities. She is liked by the other mothers, but they sense the sadness that lies behind the smile. Only in her garden does she feel a sense of tranquillity. When the children are at school the North Wind sits under the big apple tree and watches Laura as she prunes and re-plants green things with unpronounceable names, but mostly she just potters about, pleasurable activity without purpose or reason.

One day a robin flies into the garden and liking what he sees decides to stay. As winter is cold that year Laura places a small amount of bread and a dish of water near where the robin lives. Slowly, over the time, she wins the trust of the robin. She has made a friend for life. The seasons pass, the robin finds a mate and introduces her to Laura. The robins sit on the branches of the apple tree and like the North Wind they watch Laura in the garden. She tries to master the blackberry bush once and for all; the struggle is heroic with no quarter given on either side. After several hours, the North Wind asks the robins what they think, honours are even they reply.

Years come and go. Christopher is a Marine like his father while Emma is a doctor, both are married with children of their own who come to visit granny for afternoon teas in the garden. Somehow a pet rabbit appears which the North Wind enjoys chasing around the lawn, closely followed by a laughing grandmother and shrieking grandchildren. As for the robins they still live in the garden, not the same ones of course, but the descendants of the original pair that came so many years ago.

Laura is old now. For her birthday Emma presents Laura with a walking stick; pretending not to understand Laura asks whether it is something for beating the grandchildren with. In response Emma gives that little sigh children sometimes give when faced with exasperating parents. The grandchildren still visit, but not as often as she and the North Wind would like. Laura spends her time sitting in her armchair under the old apple tree; the North Wind sits silently at her side. Both enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the long summer evenings in the garden. The robins go about their business. As for the blackberry bush, it has defeated all attempts to curb its natural enthusiasm and remains defiant to the end.

Laura is ill, everyone knows it, but nothing is said, there is no need. What little time remains she will spend it in her garden and the North Wind will spend it with her. It is a glorious summer evening tempered by a soft cooling breeze. In the trees birds sing. She walks round the garden tending her plants. She brushes dirt from the petals of a flower and adds a little water to the base of another. Every plant and flower in the garden is given loving attention. Finally, she comes to the blackberry bush.

‘Well you old rogue, I never did manage to do something about you,’ Laura says with affection.

Her work done she turns to the North Wind and smiles.

‘You can see me,’ he says.

‘I have always been able to see you. Throughout the years you have been my protector, my guide and my friend. It is you that carried me through the darkest hours of my sorrow and despair.’

The North Wind notices that the branches of the old apple tree are lined with robins. They have come to say goodbye.

‘Do not be sad for me,’ she tells him as she wipes a tear from his face. ‘I know that I am loved by my family and by you, what more could I ever ask for? Now you must let me go.’

The North Wind nods.

She takes a last look at what has always been their garden.

‘Will it hurt?’ She asks, closing her eyes.

The North Wind takes her hand, ‘no my love,’ he replies, as he kisses her farewell.


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