short stories. Reader, I hope you’ve had a great start to your week and a lovely fourth! The country seems a little unrested right now, but, after watching Hamilton the other night, I’ve reached a point of celebrating the good parts of our young country’s history and learning from the bad parts.
Today, I bring you a short story. Like many of my other works, a lot of my personal experiences and issues creep in. This was a writing exercise from 2018 in which I explored some of my feelings after being diagnosed with a blood pressure disorder (and the following year, a heart disorder).
Celestia is much more ill than I (and I thank God frequently I’m not in worse shape, as some are less fortunate than I). Her illness comes and goes with the seasons. This is the first segment of an abandoned story about her ongoing health phenomena and the carer everyone insists she needs.
I hope you’ll enjoy this little excerpt, and give me a comment. It’s a little rough around the edges, but I think it would be neat to revisit it and take it somewhere new. Happy Monday!
When I’d yelled at my mother to get me a carer, I was only being sarcastic. I never meant for her to actually get me one, and I most certainly never thought my unwanted, unneeded carer would be a convicted felon.
Nathaniel had shown up to the cottage door, knocked three times, and stood with his hands folded at his waist. His parole officer stood behind him, straightening his tie and adjusting his dark sunglasses.
It took me five minutes to reach the door, the ache in my joints creeping in with the approaching autumn, and when I opened the door, I couldn’t help but laugh at the oddness of it all. I was eighteen years old and my mother thought finally, through years of illness, that now I needed a carer.
“May I help you?” I asked, fingers tugging together the silk robe over my translucent white nightgown. At this moment, I believed that whoever had knocked on my door was a servant from the manor, come to bring food or clothes or such for the week. So, it can be inferred that I was quite bothered by the fact I’d decided to answer the door in such intimate apparel.
“Miss Celestia Flanagan?” The officer said, upon closer inspection, I realized the medals at his chest, several for high honors in the royal army. I found this odd for his youthful appearance. No gray hairs could be found in his headful of dark hair, yet I believed, for some reason, the squirming Nathaniel, now in his grasp, would cause the first of gray hairs to form in the officer’s youthful glow.
“Yes?” I responded, a little frown forming on my face. He hadn’t called me a lady- for which I was, and had been since birth. My parents were duke and duchess, in fact. Then again, I hadn’t been to court in – well – in forever, i guessed.
“Officer James.” The man said as if it answered my question before taking in a deep breath and preparing his spill, which above all things seemed pre-rehearsed. “I’m here due to a request from the duchess for a carer. For you, I believe? This is Nathaniel Everly, your carer.”
I nodded at the shackle at Nathaniel’s ankle. “Officer, am I to assume this man is not a felon or do you believe me to be daft?”
The officer’s eyebrows scrunched in what seemed to be awkward frustration. “Yes, Nathaniel is a… felon, but the crown has agreed for him to be a pleasurable candidate for a new program to keep them off the streets. Your father believed-”
“My father is not me.” I interjected.
“Yes, but he, as Duke, is whom we answer to first-”
“Officer, you may take this man back to wherever he came from. I can manage myself, thank you, and I most certainly do not need help from a felon.” I snapped closing the door before the officer caught it with his foot.
“Miss!” He said rather loud. “You must take him for the day at least. I’ll have ti make arrangements for him to be taken back to the capitol where he was help. Please, Miss, for the day?” His voice had taken on a growl and I could see the torture in Nathaniel’s face for being in between the argument.
“And if he tried to-”
“Magic cuff, Miss. Should he try anything, It’d kill him immediately.”
I let out a sigh, muscles quaking at the extra movement. “Leave him. I expect you back tomorrow morning.”
“Thank you, Miss.” The officer said, leaving him behind to push him into my door.
“Come.” I waved the felon on, into the cottage and toward a seat in the small kitchenette connected to the living area and fireplace. “Do you take yours with cream? Sugar?” I asked, heading to the kitchen.
He said nothing, sitting at the edge of the great chair I took up residence in durin the cold bitter months of winter.
“Your tea, criminal, how do you like your tea?”
“None of that,” he said softly. “Please.”
I brought over the kettle, poured a bit into the plain white teacups that matched the boring set I’d had mother buy me rather than the flamboyant kind she has in the manor.
He took the cup in his hands and paused for a moment to feel its warmth before taking a sip and sitting the cup down silently.
“So.” He stated. “What’s wrong with you?”
I didn’t flinch at his snide, rude comment.
“Well if I knew that, don’t you think I would’ve gotten it fixed by now?”
He let out a bland “ha.”
“No one knows, I’m afraid.” I said, pouring myself some tea and adding a little bit of cream and a large helping of sugar. I’d deserved it. It had already become a stressful morning.
“You limp. You ache.” Nathaniel said, peering at me from under his shaggy dark hair.
“Yes. The seasons. As they change, I’m afraid so do I.”
His brows furrowed. “How so? Do you turn red and orange and wither away?”
I smiled joylessly. “No. My body just seems to fall apart. Aches and pain as the autumn sets in until winter comes and my organs seem to begin to fail and.. well come winter in bed ridden and. And I. Well, each year I think for sure it’s the last and I’m afraid it never is.”
He paused, staring at me for a moment. “So I’m here because your mother thinks you need assistance in that transition each year?”
“Precisely, I’m afraid. Though, I manage somehow every year.”
We both stared off into space for a few moments before taking a few sips of tea. I began to feel a headache coming on, and stood slowly despite the dizziness in my temples, and walked toward the kitchenette to fetch some pain medication the witch doctor had made for me a few weeks ago.
“Might I help you?” Nathaniel asked, getting up from the chair.
I paused. Did I really want his help? Did I want to start the cycle of endless helping and fussing? Would it be too much?
I took a breath, faltered a bit at the motion.
And I stuck out my hand.
A peace offering for mother.
And so it began.