*White Heather

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Everything you need to know about luck.

Submitted: August 17, 2014

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Submitted: August 17, 2014

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WHITE HEATHER

Liliana used the shower because her bath was dry and full of white heather, that she had picked in Scotland when on holiday there some weeks before. She no longer worked, as she had received early retirement from her job in a government housing office. The job had been of the most boring and not at all alleviating. The only thing she got out of it was that, at the end of the month she would get a wage, which went up every year depending on the cost of living index. So, in fact, she had never had a pay-rise, and continued living at the same level as she had always done. Liliana was from a family of dedicated believers in good luck and amulets. Her grandmother made small herb bags of fine cotton, filled with all kinds of fragrant herbs to leave in drawers or hang up on the hangers in wardrobes. Sometimes the bags would be put inside pillows to help people who suffered from insomnia.  There were all sorts of things that herbs could be used for. Liliana’s grandmother used to brush twigs of rosemary over meat when it was roasting or under the grill. There didn’t appear to be anything in life that didn’t come under the herbal influence of the elderly lady.

Liliana inherited her grandmother’s love of herbs. Once having passed the civil service exams, Liliana dedicated her spare time, to trying out all kinds of remedies. Then, one holiday she had spent in Scotland, she had been presented with a small bunch of white heather by a strange woman who had come out of nowhere, and had said the words Liliana would never forget. “Here, Lovely Lady, a bunch of lucky white heather for you.” Liliana had accepted the heather in the same way it had been presented to her - freely, and without any doubt that it would bring her luck. She returned from her holiday and fixed the small bunch to a hook in the bedroom wall beside the mirror. The heather stayed there till it turned a rusty brown and began falling apart. Liliana was a quiet woman, who had never married and had never had a partner. The reasons for her lack of suitors, wasn’t that she was plain or ugly, but simply because other women and girls who were more forward in their approach to men, beat her to those she was keen on. In fact she had missed the boat more often than she knew, and men thought she wasn’t interested in them.

On another visit to Scotland, Liliana had picked an incredible amount of white heather and taken it to her flat in London where she had deposited it in her bath. That action was beneficial, as it meant Liliana always used the shower, and didn’t fill the bath with an excess of water. The white heather was very carefully divided into small bunches, tied up with a thin white ribbon wound round the stems, and then finished off with a bow.

Liliana had picked the heather while still working, and on the first day after making up the small bunches, had given away some of the white heather to her workmates, but changed her mind when she found some of the small bunches had been thrown into the wastepaper bin. The insulted white heather was retrieved and taken home to join the rest in the bath. Liliana’s main aim was to help people to be happy. She had been happy since the day she had received the white heather. She was disappointed by her workmates’ reactions, and vowed never to give any of them anything ever again.

 

From the moment Liliana knew she couldn’t count on them to treat the white heather with respect, she knew that she’d have to have a different strategy. Saturday mornings are monotonous and not looked forward to by many. Liliana went to the local market one Saturday morning when it was teeming with people shopping for the weekend, to give away the precious white heather. The weather was very ominous the first day she ventured forth with a small basket of white heather. She remembered the lady who had presented her with the piece still hanging on the wall in her bedroom, and hoped those she presented with white heather would accept it as she had done, with good grace.  “Good morning, Lovely Lady, have a piece of lucky white heather to help you,” and Liliana handed the first lady of the morning the bunch of white heather.

“How much is it?” the shopper asked warily.

“Nothing, you can’t put a price on luck. Good morning.”

Men and women were presented with a small bunch of white heather that morning. Some of those Liliana spoke to, were a little afraid of a woman who didn’t want money. So what did she want? they asked themselves. The only thing Liliana wanted was to help people be happy.

The experience in the market was not as devastating as Liliana had expected. Those members of the general public who had accepted the white heather had done so with, at times, a slight smile as if to say ‘Well, let’s see what this will bring us.’

 

Liliana had a good think about her life, and thought that just because she felt lonely and sad at times, didn’t mean others had to feel it too. Liliana’s workmates knew nothing about her, but they didn’t know much about each other either. Visits to Scotland and acquiring white heather which was placed in her bath, became the real life style that kept Liliana sane, when everyone else at work was always moaning about partners, spouses, and children. From Liliana’s viewpoint, no one was very happy, but just plain miserable. She never joined in with the general complaints, although at times she was wont to say that they had thrown away their chance of happiness, and as far as she was concerned it was lost for ever.

 

Liliana had another existence, and that one was a nocturnal one. Every night on getting into bed, she had fantasies about the people she had seen in the street or even in a shop that day. Liliana saw the image of a young woman dressed in a long flowing fine cotton nightdress, standing under a tall tree, holding and surrounded by white heather. There was an ethereal atmosphere in the image that Liliana always saw. On waking, she wondered if that was how she saw herself. The problem was, that she wasn’t young and didn’t own a long white flowing nightdress. Before getting out of bed, Liliana played with the idea of the image, and thought of what she might be able to do with it. As soon as she was out of bed, the image dissolved in the harsh daylight, and she got on with her housework and then the preparation of the white heather.

There were markets in the majority of the districts on Saturdays, and Liliana made a route of the ones she thought might be the most positive for her presenting of the white heather. She waited near the car park to hand out her gifts, knowing that eventually someone would pass by on the way to get their car to go home. A man loaded with supermarket bags came towards her, and Liliana handed out a bunch for him to take. He gave her a peculiar look saying, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I have any change.”

“I’m not selling anything. This is a piece of luck I’m giving you. Please take it,” Liliana said, thrusting the heather at him.

“I hope you’re right, I could do with some luck just now. Thanks,” the man said.

“Good, that’s the spirit. The heather won’t let you down. Bye.”

Liliana went up to her next receiver, and didn’t see how the previous man gave her a long and lingering look.

“Good morning. I’m giving away white heather to give people luck, something we all need these hard times.”

The woman, with two small children, was not exactly receptive to being given presents, but when she knew the heather was free, accepted, and one of her children took it from Liliana with a smile.

The rest of the morning passed in much the same way.

 

Jules, the man who had accepted the bunch of white heather offered by Liliana, led an extremely frustrating life. He was the only member of his family who took upon himself everyone else’s problems, as well as having his own to deal with. When he had split up with his wife of fifteen years, and their two daughters had gone to live with her, not even in his wildest dreams would he have thought that she would leave England and take up a job in Canada. Jules was shattered when she told him, and their daughters were too excited about their new life, to notice the distressed state of their father. For some time, Jules had suffered by not being able to tell anyone how bad he felt. All he got from the daughters when he spoke to them on the Skype, was how they had gone skiing and skating, and how they were making new friends. He never spoke to his ex-wife, she had shown what kind of a person she was, by taking the daughters so far away from their father and their grandparents, and her family, too. Nothing made sense, was his conclusion. It had to be hormonal.

 

 One day, Jules’ brother, Raymond, arrived home just after dinner had been served, with a girl draped around his shoulders.

“Good evening, everyone. This is Sharona. Now, say hello, Sharona,” Ray said to the daft-looking blonde hanging from him.

“Hello, everybody,” Sharona managed to get out of her strawberry-coloured lips.

Jules and his parents never heard her say so many words again in the six months she and Ray lived with them.

Jules never saw either Ray or Sharona make a cup of tea, or do anything in the house at all. Jules would strip the bed they slept in and leave clean sheets on a chair outside the bedroom door. Ray was furious and said, “Hey, what do you think this is? You can’t expect Sharona to do anything in this house. It isn’t hers. So get your act together, and make our bed, too, or Mum and Dad will be hearing about this.”

Jules was angry at his own stupidity in having returned to his parents’ house, when he could have rented a flat with the money he had earned from the sale of his own house after the divorce. It was no good telling his parents about his brother’s behaviour, they would only have said he was jealous because Ray had a girl friend. Jules felt like a male Cinderella, doing all the work and getting nothing but flack instead of thanks. The bitterness was all kept inside him as he went about his tasks.

 

Jules had a job in a laboratory creating all kinds of products for the home. Sometimes it was for shining floors, and other times aerosols for perfuming the atmosphere. The job was fascinating, as there was always the competition to think of, before getting involved with a new product which may or may not be already on the market. The only nuisance he had in his life, he had created by moving back to be with his parents, because he had felt so lonely in the matrimonial house. Jules’ parents were demanding, in that he had to cook the dishes they ordered, and nothing else. After meeting Liliana, and being presented with a bunch of white heather, Jules was in a permanent state of conflict between what he wanted and what he considered to be his filial duty.

 

Ray and Sharona moved out as they had promised, after six months, and went to live in a brand-new bungalow on the coast, far enough away so as not to be called upon, unless there was an emergency. Ray rang up after two weeks in his new home, inviting them all to dinner. The bungalow was bigger than expected, and on entering, Jules saw how impeccable it was. “This is very neat and tidy, do you have a help?”

Ray raised his shoulders, and said, “Sharona does everything in this place, and see how well she keeps it. Be careful where you sit, as she doesn’t like the throws to be disarranged.”

Jules kept his mouth shut all evening, but he and his parents had to listen to Ray praise Sharona’s talents in the home. It appeared that she had made the dinner and had set the table as if royalty had been expected, instead of the in-laws. She had done nothing for her in-laws in the six months she had lived under their roof.

In his head, Jules saw the unmade bed, the dishes left in the sink for someone else to wash up, and the untidy throws left screwed up on the sofa or the floor. Jules saw that his brother was either very much in love, or just plain stupid.

 On the way home, Jules, who was driving, had to listen to his parents echoing Ray’s words and saying how wonderful Sharona was. Jules said, “I’m tired and can’t concentrate on driving in the dark if you keep on talking so loudly. So please, tone it down a bit.”

Jules’ parents felt rather put out, but did as he asked them and kept quiet for the rest of the journey.

 

Jules pinned the white heather on the wall beside the mirror, so that it would be visible every time he stared into the mirror.

 

Liliana took to strolling along the main streets of London on Saturday mornings, when she felt the desire to stay away from the markets, as a way of making her life a little more interesting. She began surfing the web for any information about white heather. There had to be something she could do, other than walk around giving it away. Liliana read all she could about white heather. She had thought of making a white heather perfume, but unluckily for her it had already been produced and sold. Liliana had a lot of other ideas but no one to share them with, so she kept on looking, and at weekends giving away the small bunches.

 

 Time passed, and Jules took it into his head to see what Liliana had to say about the heather she had given to him. The second time he went shopping at the market he didn’t think he’d see her, and he didn’t. So, he began to roam from one market to another, but although he found other people selling plants or giving away cakes or honey, he never saw anyone giving away good luck. Jules wanted to see Liliana, as he was grateful to her for the present of the heather.

 

Not so long after the visit to Ray and Sharona’s, Jules found a flat to rent. That was his first piece of good luck. It wasn’t too far away from his parents, so he could still visit them without any problems. Now he had his independence, and the first thing he did was to pin the heather on his bedroom wall. For reasons unknown, Jules painted the flat in the different heather colours: gold, white, yellow, and dark pink. When finished, the result was welcoming and cosy. Then he had to choose furnishings to go with the colours. Jules felt a great deal better, and wondered what Ray and Sharona were up to in their bungalow. He still got to talk with his children on the Skype, and they were still keen to hear from him, in spite of the time and distance. He often thought how much he would like to see them again.

Jules also began thinking that the white heather was what was bringing him luck, or at least a better life. At weekends, he still ventured forth to the different markets that he considered not too distant from where he lived.

Then he got an e-mail from his ex-wife, saying she had met someone and wanted to get married again, but the children were being obnoxious. Jules spoke to them on the Skype and asked them what the problem was, and they said that if she couldn’t make it work with him, then how was she going to make it work with a man she hardly knew. Jules said that they had to sort it out with their mother. Was it possible that he could get his children back? That really would be another piece of good luck.

 

Liliana was beginning to get rather tired of giving the white heather away every weekend, and felt more like having a lie-in, than making a journey in the pouring rain or freezing cold to stand outside in the inclement weather.  However, one Saturday, she made the effort to get up and get dressed in waterproof clothing, much against her natural inclination that day to stay in bed, or at least remain indoors and enjoy the warmth of her flat. The rain that morning was torrential and made it impossible to see what was on the other side of the street. Liliana made it to the nearest underground station, and got on the train which would take her to her destination that day. The rain became less persistent during the train ride. Liliana felt a bit lighter-hearted as she walked to the market place which was quite near to the station. All the stalls were covered with waterproof awnings to protect the sellers’ goods. There wasn’t much life or colour in the market, due to the rain and the grey skies. Liliana went into a small café and ordered a cup of coffee and a bun, and sat down at a corner table at the far end. She put the basket of white heather on an empty chair and sat thinking about what to do if the rain started up again.

“Hello. May I sit here?” a man said to her.

Liliana said, “Of course you can.”

“My name’s Jules, and I’ve been looking for you, to tell you how grateful I am to you for the white heather. Ever since you gave me a small bunch, my life seems to be turning round in a better direction.”

Liliana sat enthralled at those words, and the miserable day disappeared. She stared at the middle-aged man sitting opposite her in the warm, steamy café, and wondered who he was. “Where did I give you the white heather?”

“Right here, in this market. I told you I didn’t have any change, as I thought you wanted some kind of remuneration for the heather.”

“You must forgive me, but I meet so many people, that it’s difficult to remember all of them. I’m glad you’re having some luck in your life. So many people are out of luck and good things in general, that it’s good to hear your news.”

“How did you get here today?” Jules asked her.

“By Tube. The market’s not far from the station.”

“When you’re finished here, I’ll take you home. That’ll be me giving you back some of the good luck you’ ve given me. The weather today’s not for walking around in.”

“That’s very kind of you. I look forward to it. I wonder how many more I’ve given the heather to have had good luck.”

“A lot, I should think.”

 

After Liliana had given out all the bunches she had taken with her in the basket, she told Jules her name. “I’m Liliana, and you?”

“I’m Jules.”

“Jules, what is luck? Is it given to us? Do we make our own luck?”

Jules sat back and laughed, “Fancy you giving away white heather for luck, and you say such things.”

Liliana said, “Sometimes I think it sounds rather arrogant to say I’m giving away luck, when it’s the heather that’s lucky. What do you think?”

Jules stopped the car, and said, “I think meeting you again has been my good luck. Now then, we’ll both be hungry in about an hour’s time. What shall we have for lunch?”

 

During lunch Jules asked Liliana. “Have you ever thought about creating products related to White Heather? I’m in the business of household air fresheners and the like, and maybe we could work something out together.”

Liliana remembered she had once thought of White Heather Perfume, only it had already been put on the market. As she sat opposite Jules in the restaurant, she came to the conclusion that it might be her own good luck coming into her life, after giving out so much to other people.

 

The first product brought out by the tandem of Liliana and Jules, was White Heather Shampoo, which left the user’s hair with the wonderful aroma of the Scottish Highlands for days.

 

The trial shampoo was tested by Jules’ daughters after their return from Canada - which was the best good luck of all. 


© Copyright 2018 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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