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The story continues

I am very aware that I have not actually yet posted a sequel to my previous opening of one of the stories I am working on. (I say one of, there are about seven on the go at the moment – and I simply can’t bring myself to stop writing any!)                          So here is some more on the story. Looking back on it, the writing seems rather bad, but any opinions would be greatly appreciated!

She was taught a little Indian from listening to native lullabies now and again, but up until the age of seven had never had any proper schooling. So her father employed the first of the governesses. Then the second, after the first was too violent in her approach to teaching. Then the third, after the previous governess was simply too weak to teach Evelyn.

Finally growing chilly, Evelyn retreated from the balcony and walked to her bedroom, letting her fingertips trail along the walls as she walked. A flake of beige paint crumbled to the floor as her finger brushed over it – all the rooms in the big house had the same shade of beige paint for their walls and ceiling, bar the library which had charismatic wooden panelling, which her pitaa (the Indian term for ‘father’ which she had grown up using and had no intent of stopping, much to her Akane’s dismay) had told her was put in during the reign of the English king, George the Fourth. Although Evelyn had learnt English history, names of kings had not meant much to her at the time, but it was a long time ago, her pitaa said.

In Evelyn’s room there was a desk. In that desk were nine drawers: four on each side of the middle and one large one at the top. It was an oak desk, polished to within an inch of its life every Monday and Thursday by a maid of some kind, and the handles to the drawers were elephant-tusk ivory. One of the drawers was locked, and Evelyn kept the key in a place so obscure, she was certain no-one would ever find it – on the underside of her dressing table was a small knob, and when pulled, that knob opened a secret chamber inside the table, just large enough to hold a piece of rolled-up paper. At the moment, it held a pearl bracelet bought for her tenth birthday by her pitaa, a diamond necklace which had belonged to Evelyn’s memsahib (or at least, she was almost certain it had belonged to the memsahib) and a key. This was the key to the top left drawer in the desk.

The drawer contained things that were secret; not so secret as to hide them inside the dressing table, but secret enough not to be looked at by any eyes other than Evelyn’s. It was in this drawer that she kept the letter that her last governess had written to her, explaining her sudden departure.

Mrs Nightkin was the third governess. She and Evelyn had gotten on very well, and so Evelyn had tried to concentrate in lessons. Mrs Nightkin had told Evelyn all about the fashions in England, the music and the art. Evelyn found it hard to imagine a place where it was cold even in the summer, but Mrs Nightkin assured her that sometimes that was the case. In return, Evelyn’s writing, reading and arithmetic had steadily got better, but after three and a half years, Mrs Nightkin left. At the time no-one knew why, and she hadn’t even said good-bye to Evelyn, who was ill at the time. She had simply left a letter to her:

 

Dearest Evelyn,

I am very, very sorry at my abrupt leaving, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I hate to leave you now, while you are ill but I could not bear it any longer. You see, I once had a daughter. She was, it pains me to write the words, mentally disturbed. For some years we, my husband John and I, struggled to bring up a child who was not normal, as normally as possible. But when she was ten, she was struck down by an illness that was like no other I had seen. She thrashed about and screamed like she was being attacked and used to sob and cry so hard that I feared her heart would burst. One night, when she didn’t cry out in her sleep, I went to check on her. She was gone. I immediately raised the alarm, and half the village was out looking for her within half an hour. We searched everywhere, and then around the cliff tops. Sure enough, there was a small silhouette against the night sky, her nightgown flapping like the angel of death’s wings. She was walking towards the cliff edge. Through my tears I saw her stop and I breathed a small sigh of relief. Then, as somebody moved forward to help her, she stepped forward and fell. Off the cliffs. Onto the rocks below. And for me, everything went black as I fainted.

John was, at first, patient with me, but grew increasingly tired of my listless being. He enlisted into the army when war came, and although I begged him not to, he went to France to fight. He never came home. Within two years I had lost almost everybody. Then, at the end of the war, I moved to India to become a governess to a small boy. I have tutored many boys, but you, dear Evelyn are the first girl. It was a brave step for me. And now that you are ill, I fear that I am reminded of the time when my daughter was ill. I cannot bear it. I am very sorry. I wish I could watch you grow up, into a fine young woman, but my mind is always conscious of the night when I saw my own daughter take her own life.

 

Goodbye, dear Evelyn. My life has been riddled with sorrow and I wish now to help more young boys to achieve their dreams.

Forever yours,

Penelope Nightkin.

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