{scraps of things from the pocket of an old coat}

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the secret of crossthwaite boggle - excerpt #2

as has been my habit from time to time -- i think i have three patchwork stories built from excerpts and prompts -- i'm going to carry on with this one for a while. if it wants finishing, there's no guarantee that the bits i write here will end up in the final draft. i like to think of these as the bones of the thing...where i get to know a bit about the characters and find out where the story wants to go.

as such, it felt a bit like cheating to use this piece as my 'official'  submission but i've left it here anyway. something about it doesn't fancy just staying scribbled messily in my notebook.

{Rose - you'll be pleased to know that i scribbled it whilst sitting outside in the darkening twilight, a cup of tea and a chorus of crickets to accompany me. oh, and a dog or two.}

you can find the actual prompt here. as also is my habit, i tend to take great license with these prompt-thingies.


excerpt #2 - Dr. Hall and Elsa Fintan

Dr. Hall was in no frame of mind to suffer another visit to the Fintan farm.  In his own esteemed opinion, Donal Fintan was two bacon sandwiches away from a heart attack but no amount of telling Donal that would shift a lifetime of habit.

Dr. Hall was increasingly weary of  his patients. More and more his mind wandered to his fishing pole and leaving the Moor-folk to their stubborn selves. The trouble with them, grumbled the dour old physician to himself, was that they’d been weaned on fresh air and lard sandwiches and had generations of longevity to argue any medical text. It didn’t help that Donal’s sharp-tongued sister was feeding him cordials and potions and prescriptions of vigorous exercise and mustard plaster. The most frustrating part of it all was that Donal was making a marvelous recovery, against all of Dr. Hall’s gloomy predictions and recitations of laboratory results.

The doctor’s elderly car rattled along the track and came to a shuddering stop at the back gate of the kitchen garden, where Elsa Fintan stood waiting for him.  She had a basket of flowers over one arm and a bottle of deep red liquid in the other hand.

“A blessed good morning to you, Dr.Hall,” her voice was strong and clear, a mismatch to her tiny frame.  “Donal is grand this morning, you’ll be delighted to know. He even took a walk to the west pasture to check on the sheep.”  Her smile was triumphant and she held up the ruby-filled bottle in a sort of salute.

Dr.Hall grimaced as he got out of his car.

“You may be surprised to know that I am not, in fact, delighted in the slightest to hear that.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times; Donal must not exert himself yet.  He needs rest and a low-fat diet.”

Dr. Hall scowled down at the speckled brown shells of the eggs nestled amongst the nasturtiums in Elsa’s basket.

“How many of those did he have for breakfast?” he asked sharply.

“Three. Just like always,” Elsa retorted just as sharply. “I wonder, Dr.Hall, have you ever been delighted about anything in your life? Or is it always dire and desperate with you?”

Hector Hall had spent his  life doctoring the Moor-folk, as had his father before him.  Life on this side of the Great Moor could be hard and unforgiving and it bred strength of character in its people and a singularity of mind that was a force to be reckoned with. He knew at once that he’d not get around Elsa Fintan.

He sighed wearily. “What is it that you’re wanting me to tell him, then?”

“Just what’s true.  You know yourself he’s got the constitution of a bull. This was just a simple chill let go on too long.  He’s finished up with your blasted pills and I’ve just made him a fresh bottle of cordial. That will see him the rest of the way.” 

Elsa’s blue eyes were flinty and her mouth set in a firm line.

“You can’t go on with your doom and gloom and waving sheets of paper at him and telling him to stop eating his breakfast the way he has for the last seventy years. For some reason he thinks you know what you’re on about so he needs to hear it from you.”

“And I suppose as his medical doctor, I don’t know what’s best?” Dr. Hall was finding it difficult to curb his impatience. “Elsa, it’s not his chest cold I’m worried about. The tests showed that his heart isn’t faring well….”

Something in Elsa’s expression stopped him. She looked tired, suddenly. As if all the fight had seeped out of her. The piercing gaze softened.

“Please, Dr. Hall. I’m not asking more than what you can honestly give. I need to get home. Donal will rest easy if you just tell him to go on with things.”

She gazed into his face, as if looking for something.

“And I can tell you that I don’t think what’s troubling his heart has anything to do with how many eggs he eats for breakfast. Please, can you find it in yourself to trust me on this? I have to get back to the children.”

Hector stared at the small, wiry woman.  He knew she was right and that Donal would likely be fine – he defied explanation as it was. He wondered, though, at her anxiousness to be home. He knew a little of her life on the coast-side of the Moor, how she’d taken in her son’s children after he and his wife had mysteriously vanished some years ago.  The pony-mad twins and their small, serious sister – the four of them rattling about in that draft, crumbling old farmhouse.  He stifled a scowl. In his educated opinion, the wild coast and wind-ravaged western Moor was no place to raise children.

“Are the children well, Elsa?”

Elsa stared off to the west, as if hoping to catch a glimpse of them in the distance.

“I don’t know, Hector. I truly don’t.”

Her gaze seemed to turn inward, to a place Hector couldn’t see.

“I just need to get home,” she whispered.

1 comment:

Rose said...

Love it! There is such a story here, weaving between characters. Not clear yet, but the mystery there and I yearn to read more....

Writing outside in the twilight which such accompaniments sounds divine!