Please welcome my guest Sylvie Grayson today. She has a wicked story!
This story is set in the dirty ‘30’s when times were very tough, and people were on the move looking for opportunity, or just food to feed their families. Julia Butler, a widow, has two small children and is barely hanging on. When two young strangers happen by her farm, she feels compelled to let them in. But they don’t come without connections that make things dangerous for the whole family. Here is an excerpt –
“Ben, quick! Around the corner!” Ollie grabbed his brother’s sleeve as he whipped past, heading for the side of the school building. Ben looked startled but Ollie kept going, his head down and legs pumping. Alarmed by the panic in his brother’s voice, Ben abandoned his game of ball and ran after him, past the duty teacher and into the shadows of the woodpile at the back of the school.
“Ollie, hold it! Where are you going? What is it?”
His brother had stopped, holding his side, his eyes wide and unfocussed. “Ben, he’s here, we have to hide!”
“What are you talking about?” Ben shook his shoulder and peered into his face. “Who’s here? Ollie, stop it!”
Ollie shook, holding his arms against his thin chest. “He’s here, Pa’s here. I just saw him.” He pointed a wavering finger in the general direction of the front yard.
Ben’s jaw dropped. He lowered his voice. “Are you sure? Was it really him?”
Ollie nodded, staring into his eyes, panic written on his face.
Ben’s head swiveled around and he looked back the way they’d come, then he moved to the corner of the building and peered cautiously around.
“Ben, don’t do it. Come back, he’ll see you!”
He waved Ollie back and stuck his head further out.
“I don’t see anyone,” he whispered. He slowly eased around the corner.
“Ben, he’ll notice you more than me. Don’t go out there!”
They stood still, breathing shallowly as Ben scanned the schoolyard, then he snuck back toward his brother. “What should we do?”
Ollie shook his head, “I don’t know.” His legs suddenly wobbled under him and he sat heavily on a stack of firewood.
Ben crouched beside him. “Do you want to see him, Ollie?”
He shrugged, uncertainty shining in his eyes. “I’m afraid he’ll take us back there. Back home.
“That’s not home, not anymore,” Ben said fiercely. “We’ve got us a new home, a real nice one, with a Mum and everything.”
Ollie whimpered. “We had a Mum before, didn’t we?”
Ben shook his head, “Not really.” They fell silent.
When the bell rang by the schoolhouse door, both boys jumped, then rose and cautiously joined the throng of children lining up at the entrance. Their heads turned this way and that, but they couldn’t find their father.
“Are you sure, Ollie? I can’t see him.”
Ollie hung his head. “I don’t know. I’m pretty sure, but I don’t know.”
Ben’s arm snaked around his shoulders for a quick hug, then dropped to his side.