Trying to write with emotion.
|The villagers of Clovelly knew the Jenkins very well. Mr Jenkins had a reputation for fighting in his youth which he retained through to middle age. His wife Anne, a small woman in her late forties was often on the receiving end of those right hooks. It never occurred to her that this was wrong because like her husband, she was raised that way. Mr Jenkins was a large and formidable type of person in his early fifties who worked 6 days a week driving lorries; delivering goods to many locations in the UK, but Sundays were spent in his favorite armchair with a can of lager in front of the television.
Anne Jenkins also worked full-time. She would commute to Plymouth by train every week day and wouldn’t return home until after 8 p.m. Bill and Anne Jenkins had a foster child. Unable to have children themselves, it seemed prudent to foster considering Anne was responsible for finding children a family in her job description. James Wright; a 15-year-old boy lived with the Jenkins for five years. Having lost his mother in an accident at the age of 10 and a father whom disappeared when he was but an infant. James Wright was a bright boy; shy, reserved. Who had a passion for stories. He always enjoyed books. They were his escape. Other boys of his age played sports or console games – he read books. None of his friends could understand this, and yet they felt he wasn’t even worth bullying. He was ignored, allowed to indulge in his passion without the burden of friends.
“Reading again James?” Anne asked appearing at his bedroom door. There was no anger in her voice. James thought she sounded unusually cheerful for a change. He liked Anne; unlike Bill whom he despised. Anne was nice and always made sure he didn’t want for anything. “Yes... Oh and by the way Anne, it’s an inset day tomorrow. No school.” he answered, not caring to lift his head, focusing on the book which lay open in his lap and savoring the musty scent of its pages which now filled his nose.
“Well, you’ll have the house to yourself again then won’t you. Plenty of time to get a few more chapters in, eh?” she smiled, but it wasn’t noticed. James listened to her walk away. His mind drifted to his own parents, gone for too long, and wondered if they liked to read too. Or was he just completely different to everyone? “Get me another drink woman.” Bill bellowed downstairs when Anne had joined him. James sighed and rolled over on his bed.
James awoke the next morning to an empty house. The sun was already penetrating through a gap in the curtains. He lay there for a moment watching the dust particles float around his room. The letterbox sounded in the hallway causing him to start and he yawned. Stretched his limbs and hurled himself out of bed, making his way towards the landing. He proceeded down the stairs to find a pile of scattered letters and small packages. He thought there was quite a lot of post today and bent to gather them up. He stopped abruptly. He'd seen his name. It stood out against the others and he fingered through the rest of the post to retrieve it with a fevered excitement.
A small brown package which bore only his name and a message saying: ‘open immediately.’ James wondered who had sent it. He never got mail. There was no stamp either and his brow furrowed. This package was hand-delivered. James collected the rest of the post and carried everything through to the lounge; placing all of it; bar his own, onto the coffee table and sat down in Mr Jenkins armchair. Staring at the package in his hands. Unsure why, James felt uneasy. There was something about the ‘open immediately’ which suggested he shouldn’t. Yet, he couldn't find any reason not to. Nonetheless, the tension rose inside of him as he prepared himself to open it.
Several minutes passed and James was still looking at the package. The shrill cry of a seagull overhead made him start. The package shot out of his hand and landed on the floor by his feet. Why was he so nervous? It was just a package. Annoyed at himself, James snatched it from the floor and tore it open with haste to reveal a rather ornate quill. The red hue of its plume was beautiful; intricately decorated and James held it in his right hand feeling the weight of it. Turning it over and admiring the quality. It felt cold against his fingers as he pretended to write with it. Who could have sent it? And why? James was puzzled and reached for the empty package again. He found the note he’d overlooked the first time. And with his fingers fumbling, opened it and began to read:
Dearest James. My name is Sophie. Please use the quill and write the following words with it - ‘don’t tell me, show me.” and you shall be able to come to me. Please James, I have news of your father. I need your help, we all do. We’re counting on you James... please.
James stared at the words on the note for the longest time. His feelings mixed. Was this some cruel joke? Was his father still alive? Did this Sophie know him? His stomach knotting as he reread the words. He panicked. And stuffed the quill back into its package and crammed it under the cushion he was sitting on. His heart was racing. He needed to think. Perhaps Anne could make some sense of it? But he didn’t want to disturb her at work. Besides, neither of them knew a Sophie anyway. He knew better than to ask Bill. He had to figure this out alone. Yet, part of him preferred it that way. Then something peculiar happened which made James leap off the chair in fright. The package; clearly not content being crammed under a chair cushion and sat on, was flapping violently, seemingly trying to free itself. James stared with his mouth agape, eyes fixated on the spot where he'd placed it. The quill not only removed itself from captivity and packaging, but was now in the air shaking itself at James, covering him in ink.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry. Calm down will you.” He apologized on impulse, wiping his face with the back of his hand. Smearing ink across his forehead. The quill calmed and bobbed up and down gently, ruffling its single feather. He stood there in awe of the spectacle before him; momentarily distracted by the sound of car horn from the outside traffic. He forced his attention back. Took a couple of reassuring breaths and slowly approached the quill. It didn’t move away. But as he circled it, the quill rotated around with him. And he laughed nervously. How odd was this? After all, it wasn’t something one would see every day, was it? Yet, a sense of caution was needed despite being caught up in the moment he reminded himself. He circled the quill in the opposite direction and it adjusted itself accordingly; following James’s movements. He stopped still. So did the quill. The words of the note flooding his mind again; ‘Don’t tell me, show me,’ what did this mean? And more importantly, what would happen if he followed the instructions of the note?
James was bewildered. Half of him wanted to write the words. To see what would happen. While the other half resisted; fearing the outcome. Leaving him torn. His stomach now churning. He knew his choices even with the angst building inside him. He reached out his arm and plucked the quill from the air. In haste, he grabbed the empty package and wrote the words before he could change his mind. A blinding flash filled the room, forcing James to shield his eyes from its intensity. He could hear some commotion but still couldn’t see. A low humming sound could be heard and a scent of something electrical maybe? The room returned to normal. But in place of the quill, there stood a gateway with a distorted center. James gasped. Unprepared for this he shrank back towards the lounge door. His heart thumping hard against his rib cage.
The gateway hung in the center of the room with no obvious suspension. And James tried to calm his trembling hands. He'd much prefer the quill to this. Yet, the illuminated edges of this object were striking. Making it difficult not to look. In fact, it demanded attention. And before he realized it, James was already standing before it; taking in the splendor, and running his fingers around its sides, feeling the static tingle his fingertips. The hum grew much louder now; ringing in his ears, and seemed to be emanating from inside the gateway. He looked behind the gateway half expecting to see something else. But the gateway only mirrored the image of the other side. James scratched his chin and pondered his next course of action. What would happen if he stepped inside? Could he get back? He looked around the lounge; home for the last five years, knowing this may be the last time he’d see it. He thought about Anne with a pang of sadness. He didn’t particularly wish to leave her but nor did he care to involve her. He cared nothing for Bill. So, taking one last breath. His heart thumping. He closed his eyes and stepped inside the portal.