Thanks for Returning
The first in this new short story series was met with less-than-enthusiastic support. LOL That’s a very polite way of saying hardly anyone read the damned thing. LOL But I will not be discouraged! In a blatant attempt to prove that misery does indeed love company, my first lonely chapter will be given this second chapter to keep it company.
Let us continue, then, with the story of Sheila as a child, a very special child, a child you all would feel pretty good knowing.
Follow me! I think I see her in the fields playing.
The first in this series
- When Angels Sing: Chapter One. The Prequel to The 12/59 Shuttle
Join me for a new series of short stories about my favorite character, and a message that should never grow stale.
In a Field of Lavender
The child named Sheila, so named, by the way, because she was a caring and loving child, which is what the name means, of course, was playing in a field of lavender one day late in her fourth year. Her father, Sam McCabe, and her mother, Heather Miller, were nearby working in the strawberry garden, if “working” can be used to describe picking one berry and eating one, picking one and eating one. It was a pastoral scene, a feel-good scene, and when the sun hit the perfect angle, a Monet-type scene, the stalks of purple swaying in a gentle breeze, the black hair of the precious child flowing with them, mother and father gazing with love upon their amazing offspring when all of a sudden they heard their cherub say “oh no!”
The parents immediately suspended their grazing and gardening and rushed to young Sheila, and there they found the girl holding something in her hands, seemingly swaying in the breeze, rocking back and forth and whispering words which could not be heard.
“What’s wrong, my darling?” inquired the mother.
“I found a dead field mouse, Mother,” said the child, a look of peaceful calm upon her face.
“And what are you doing now?” the mother asked.
“Why, I’m bringing it back to life, of course,” came the small reply.
The father and mother exchanged glances upon hearing this response. The father stepped forward and kissed his daughter on top of the head.
“Do you mind if we watch?” he asked her.
“You are welcome to do so,” said the girl.
Thirty Minutes Later
The breeze continued to blow gently, the girl continued to rock gently and the words she spoke continued to flow gently. Mother and father heard occasional snippets of the one-way conversation, words like “love” and “parallel,” words like “energy” and “transference,” but it all made very little sense to them. Still, it was a lovely day, and there were certainly worse ways to spend a day than watching your dazzling child under the dazzling sun.
A half-hour came and went, and just about the time mother and father had decided it was time for another strawberry, Sheila stood to her full height, held her cupped hands to the sun, said “thank you” for all to hear, and then bent down and released a perfectly healthy, perfectly agile, perfectly jaunty field mouse, which scampered off in the tall grass, showing no signs of its recent death.
Now you might expect mother and father to be aghast having seen this. You might expect them to question their sanity, question their daughter’s sanity, or just question the reality of it all, but none of these things happened. Instead, Heather bent over and kissed her daughter on the forehead.
“How did you do that, Sheila?” mother asked.
The young girl giggled.
“Silly Mommy, I transferred my energy to the mouse and told him it wasn’t his time to die yet. It was a he, by the way, Maurice is his name, and he remembered his manners and said thank you before running away.”
“You spoke to the mouse?” father asked.
“Of course, father.”
Sam and Heather looked at each other, looked at their daughter, and then both nodded in unison.
“That’s lovely, dear,” said Heather. “Now, I really must have another strawberry. Who will join me?”
On Her Fifth Birthday
As you might suspect by now, Sheila’s fifth birthday was not ordinary. In truth, there was nothing ordinary about this child, so why should her birthday be any different?
Sheila’s parents invited all of her friends to the celebration, the field mouse, Maurice, the robin red-breast, Lola, who was once killed in a freak hailstorm, the golden dragonfly, Agnes, who two months earlier had been sliced and diced by the nearby wind turbine, and Sheila’s bestest of friends, Clarence the rat terrier, who had been flattened by a semi hauling Purina six months earlier.
A grand time was had by all.
Just as the celebration was winding down, a visitor drove down the driveway in a ’48 Plymouth, a dust cloud following on the car’s heels. The car was parked, the engine was shut off and the driver’s door was opened.
And out stepped a penguin!
I jest of course, for penguins cannot drive. No, this driver was simply a woman dressed like a penguin in the distinctive garment of a Catholic Dominican nun. Her name was Sister Mary Louise, Head Prefect of St. Elizabeth’s Home for Children in Tacoma, the orphanage where Sheila once resided.
She was a strong woman, a no-nonsense woman, a woman who could make a lumberjack quiver in his steel-toed boots, but inside that rough exterior beat a heart of gold, not surprising for someone who dedicated her life to the care of young children unwanted and ignored by society.
She stepped out of the car and smiled her warm smile, a smile rarely seen by adults but known well by the children of St. Elizabeth’s, and she waved at Sam, Heather and Sheila and they, in turn, smiled back and then rushed to the nun with open arms. Hugs were exchanged, warm hugs, hugs that meant something, a transference of emotion and love, hugs that said it all and left nothing on the playing field of life.
“Sister, it’s so good to see you,” said Heather. “To what do we owe the good grace of this visit?”
“No special reason, Heather. I simply wanted to see this special child and hear of her progress.”
And so a good hour was spent telling Sister Mary Louise of the rebirths of Maurice and Lola, Agnes and Clarence, the circumstances of their demise and the reversal of their fortunes thanks to Sheila’s energy.
When all details were told the nun nodded and smiled once again.
“So,” she said. “It is as I predicted.”
“Exactly as you predicted, Sister,” said Sam.
“Wonderful! Simply wonderful,” said the gentle woman dressed as a penguin. “Take good care of this precious child. The world needs her. Allow her to grow and develop at her own speed. She will know when to move to the next stage. Do not waste time with traditional schooling. Public schools will only hamper her development, a wet blanket they are for any non-conformist. Instead, school her yourself in all the things of importance, and always use love as your true north.
“Now I must go. We will not meet again. My part in this story is over and soon I will move on to another plane of existence. Sheila?” The old nun bent down and looked the child in the eyes. “You have been given a gift and a gift must never be wasted. Help others with your gift. Make this world a better place with your gift. Teach others love with your gift, and when your part has been played out, pass your gift on to your daughter, Astarte, and her daughter, Hope, and praise be to God, let us hope our efforts are not in vain.”
She kissed Sheila on the top of the head, gave Sam and Heather a final hug, climbed back into her Plymouth and drove from their lives.
Sheila squeezed her mother’s hand. She squeezed her father’s hand. She looked at them both and smiled.
“I’m starving. Is there any birthday cake left, or did that rascal Clarence eat it all?”
More Next Week
In a bold exhibition of nonchalance, even though no one is reading this, I will continue with it. Why? Because I love these characters and I’m entertaining myself…that’s why!
See you next week…or not!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)