by Lucinda Lynx
Life can get unexpected turns during one day, as Helen Eames learns.
|Bear Ditch House
Chapter 1, version B
June 13th, 2001
I sat at one of the tables and ate my sandwich. The third day of Teachers’ Education Days had started well. The morning session’s talks were still fresh on my mind, thanks to the notes I had made.
My career as a teacher had taken me from children’s needlework courses to classrooms of elementary school to teach English and other subjects for first - graders. Of course teaching English was my actual work, but teaching needlework wasn’t bad either. It was still funny how my pupils might stare at me, when I showed them and named a knitting pattern they had never heard about.
“No one can knit like that!” one of my pupils had said once when I’d shown them some entrelac.
“That’s impossible!” another pupil had said, when she had seen a knitted piece of moss stitch.
“Oh, but all this I’ve shown you is possible. These are old, many times tested patterns,” I had told them.
I took a bite of my sandwich.
A terrible stomach pain hit me.
“Helen, what’s wrong?” a colleague next to me asked.
“I’m in pain! My stomach hurts!”
Another colleague rushed to us.
“Tell the staff to call an ambulance,” the first colleague said. “I’ll stay with Helen.”
Ten minutes later my second colleague rushed back.
“The principal made the call,” she said.
A nurse stepped in and forced me to face reality again.
"Good, you're awake," she said. "The results have arrived."
"Well, what's wrong with me?"
"You are pregnant."
I shook my head. Could this be true? George and I would become parents.
"If only I could tell my husband about this. He'd be over the moon."
“The doctor said you should take it easy for a few days,” the nurse said. "The pain attacks are so severe you should travel only if you can't avoid it, and only short trips."
I was in Calidris, more than three hours' journey from Lichens. The doctor's words meant I couldn't go home, at least not right away. I should've taken a flight, but no flying company would take a woman who could get a stomach pain attack in any moment. I had no one in Calidris, at least not a relative.
One face flashed in my mind. April Silver, my former pupil from a needlework course. She lived in Bryales, a small town two hours south from Calidris, but one of her uncles had a cottage somewhere in Calidris. Maybe she'd help me.
I picked up the phone from the table on my bedside. Please, be there, April!
“Miss Silver,” the familiar voice said from the other end.
”Hi April, it’s me, Aunt Helen. I am at the hospital in Calidris.”
“Hi! I've been thinking about you. Why are you there? Is it serious?” she asked.
"I got a terrible pain attack, and an ambulance brought me here. I just heard I’m pregnant.”
“Thank you. The doctor said I should not travel if I don't have to, and only short trips if necessary. Could I stay at your Uncle’s place a day or two? I should avoid stress now.”
“ I must ask from Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Jason first, but if they agree, I see no reason you couldn’t come here. I let you know as soon as I can.”
“Thank you, April. I won’t forget this.”
Ten minutes later April texted me: “They said yes. You can come here. My uncle Jason will come and pick you up as soon as the doctors allow it.”
On the June 15th a doctor came to see me during his morning round.
"The night went without any pain," he said. "I think you're stable enough to go home. Do you have a place to go?"
"Yes," I said. "My cousin will come and pick me up."
A nurse removed my IV, that had given me the medicines.
"Please, Alex, stay calm," I whispered in the thin air. "Mommy will take care of you."
April had said Jason would come to pick me up, so I sat down to wait for him in the lobby of the ward.
Half an hour later the ward's door opened, and a bald man walked in. He looked around, as if he had searched for something or someone. He had no beard or moustache, not even eye glasses.
I took a deep breath and stood up, hoping I wouldn’t collapse again. The bald man noticed it and walked towards me.
“Helen Eames?” the man asked in a deep voice.
“That’s me.” My throat felt raspy. “You must be Jason. It's a pleasure to meet you. I’m ready to go, but we must go to hotel Paragorn first to get my luggage. I stayed there. This hospital visit has messed up my schedule."
“Let’s go then,” Jason said.
Jason led me to the hallway, to the elevator, the lobby downstairs and out through the door of the hospital. I breathed in the salty sea air. "Take it easy, Alex. I'll protect you."
“I’m not alone. I have a friend with me, Leo Inman. He’s a writing buddy of April’s.”
We walked across the parking lot, until Jason stopped next to silver gray Toyota Corolla.
Jason opened the left back door of the car.
“The back seat is all yours.”
I climbed in. Jason settled behind the wheel and started the engine.
“Don’t worry, we can house three guests. You can sleep upstairs, be it the room is sparse, but the Bear Ditch House is a family home. My maternal grandparents and parents have lived there and I and my siblings have all been born in there.”
“It sounds like the Bear Ditch House is full of history,” I said.
“It is,” Jason said. “Our family appreciates it a lot. Or at least I do. Not one of my siblings wants to study the history of this family further with me, and I am getting old.”
The man sitting on the right front seat turned to look at me. He was clean shaven with short, straight, brown hair. He wore glasses. I believed him to be around Jason’s age. He struggled to get his right hand through the hole between the seats.
“I’m Leo Inman.”
I shook his hand. “Helen Eames. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Jason told me you are April’s writing buddy.”
Leo raised his eyebrows. “How do you know April?”
“I was her teacher on a summer needlework course years ago.”
“April has a needlework project with her. I saw her stitching it,” Leo said.
I smiled. “It may be stamped needlepoint project. April loves them.”
“Stamped canvas is a fabric where the picture is printed on it. You don’t need to but grab the needle and get going,” I said.
Leo just nodded.
“April invited me here to help her with her writing, but she mentioned nothing about you. She is creative, but certain elements of her stories defy logic.”
“Have you helped her to edit the stories?”
“I’ve tried,” Leo said. “But I feel she’s not ready or willing to make the changes I suggest.”
Jason stopped the car in front of Hotel Paragon. I sighed. It wasn't sure I'd get my luggage, thanks to the fact the key card of my room had been stopped working many hours ago. I hoped the staff of the hotel would have a master key.
# # #
Fifteen minutes later we all sat in Jason's car again. Jason drove through Calidris centrum. Near the Calidris airport he turned to a small lane. We passed wooden houses on the right side and brick houses on the left side. The lane stopped in the dead end and Jason stopped.
“Do you see that red building?” he asked.
“Just walk through the opening you will see on its’ left side,” Jason said. “You can’t get lost.”
“Thanks for bringing me here.”
I released my seatbelt and opened the door, but noticed that Leo exited the car as well.
"Hey, I was going to show you the shore, and the shore isn't here," Jason said.
"Helen needs her luggage. I risk nothing with a pregnant woman," Leo said.
Jason nodded and gave Leo the key.
Leo opened the trunk and took my luggage.
"Thank you," I said.
Leo returned in the car and closed the door.
I pulled my luggage with me, happy that my luggage had wheels, so I didn’t need to carry it.
The yard was small. The main house formed one side. Opposite the main house I could see an old outbuilding with a very visible, wooden ramp. The outbuilding had yellow double doors, red walls and white corner boards.
The main house itself was made of orange-red painted wood. Its corner boards were white, same as the outer frames of the windows. The lattice divided the big window into six smaller squares.
My heart pounded in my chest. Would April be here? Why wasn’t she here to greet me? Had this been a wise idea after all? I took some calming, deep breaths. No, this was my only choice. The travel home was too risky. The little one needed me, and I had to stay calm because of her.
THE END OF CHAPTER 1