Extraordinary Season - John, England 1910 | Penana
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War
Romance
Extraordinary Season
Writer Frances
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  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Extraordinary Season
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John, England 1910
Frances
Jun 10, 2018
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11 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!RTHiKKrZMt104pxOXsMkposted on PENANA

John couldn't find his glasses. It was a problem he rarely encountered. He had been nine years old when his parents had first taken him to a specialist for an eye exam. His nearsightedness had only grown with the years, distressing his father who shared his son's weak eyesight. But getting his first pair of spectacles had been like receiving wings. He was never one to break or misplace them. At least not frequently.copyright protection29PENANAlbS7lAqhev

John yelped as he tripped over an unearthed root in the December wood, gritting his teeth and stomping his foot. It was stupid to have climbed as high as he had in the old oak tree. However, the branches twisted in such an inviting manner, it was impossible to resist for a thirteen-year-old boy as daring as John.copyright protection29PENANAw6peo9YQ9L

“Bloody tree,” he grunted.copyright protection29PENANAjbLnAjcxLY

Snarling the word forbidden by his mother made him feel better but he was still in a predicament. Though he knew those woods by heart, the twilight shadows made it difficult to navigate. Especially when everything was a dark blur. He sniffed, forcing his breathing to slow.copyright protection29PENANAR7aKevlFNz

If only he hadn’t climbed that bloody tree. The branch had given way as soon as he’d settled his back against the trunk and down he’d gone. He hadn't broken anything, only earning himself an impressive bruise on his rump and ego, but his spectacles had been lost in the fall. He had scrambled around in the deep sea of musty leaves but to no avail. They were gone.copyright protection29PENANAbjGAx5KwVT

“Remain calm, John,” he told himself, clenching his fists. “Someone will eventually search for you.”copyright protection29PENANAie43BFmNc8

“Who are you talking to?”copyright protection29PENANAM4fXOut99g

John whipped in the direction of the light giggle that followed the question. “What-”copyright protection29PENANAJkApV7uGEp

“You seem lost.”copyright protection29PENANAAWEFZgkm4w

The voice was strange. It could either be that of a girl or young boy and the accent wasn’t familiar to Sussex by far. It was American, just like his mother’s. He straightened his skinny shoulders and squinted in the rapidly fading light as a misty figure emerged from the blur. It was small, a little more than himself, and seemed to be wearing trousers. Perhaps a young boy, but then why would a young American boy be traipsing the woods of his father’s land?copyright protection29PENANAvQALOofhyo

“Lost?” He scoffed. “I’m not the one lost, Yankee. This forest is mine.”copyright protection29PENANAyhJ8GFgblU

The figure halted. “Yours?”copyright protection29PENANABVQgAQwVdA

John stiffened at the barely restrained note of amusement in the voice. “Yes. Well, my father’s but I have more right to be here than you.”copyright protection29PENANArIr2tfrJxZ

The figure drew closer but not enough for him to get a proper look. “You look like you could use a little help.”copyright protection29PENANA75hRdYxu9S

“Why do you say that?”copyright protection29PENANAoLOf1p6xkj

“Because you’re bleeding, your knee is all scraped up. And you’ve torn your sweater. You look like…”copyright protection29PENANA8M2zPwPgfn

“Like what?”copyright protection29PENANAgnsxeGvLaF

“Like you fell out of a tree.” The strange boy giggled again, much to John’s chagrin.copyright protection29PENANAEzqtOsTV0d

John lifted his dark head and turned to leave. “I suggest you get off our land before my father informs the authorities.”copyright protection29PENANAe80hIPNy62

The American boy rushed forward and caught his arm with soft hands. Not the hands of a rough and tumble village lad. “Please, just wait a second. Don’t do that. I’ll do anything.”copyright protection29PENANAVnpoUE4qpf

“Anything?”copyright protection29PENANA64PxyDZryZ

“Yes, just don’t tell anyone I’m here. My mom doesn’t know, and she’ll flip out.”copyright protection29PENANAFN8F4QvSoB

He wasn’t sure what the term ‘flip out’ implied but it didn’t sound good. It also sounded like a state he’d seen his own mother in a time or two. If he didn’t find his glasses before going home, Carrie Kipling would surely flip out as well.copyright protection29PENANAUkZkITYNko

John nodded. “Very well. It seems I’ve misplaced my spectacles. Can you help me search for them?”copyright protection29PENANA2qsRY1vXs4

“Spectacles? Oh, you mean glasses!”copyright protection29PENANAX7S5MXWiPl

“Yes, of course,” John snapped.copyright protection29PENANAUKFT4nN3a7

“Fine. Chill out. I’ll help you.”copyright protection29PENANArdyU5wVBun

“Chill what?”copyright protection29PENANAFsvyyhvuAl

“Never mind, let’s just find your glasses. Where did you lose them?”copyright protection29PENANAPu5vnaTbd4

John pointed in the vague direction from where he’d wandered. “There’s an oak tree over there.”copyright protection29PENANAiFiRznovYT

The boy failed at suppressing a shrill laugh. “You did fall out of a tree, didn’t you?”copyright protection29PENANATElodTGIog

“Be quiet or I’ll have you arrested.”copyright protection29PENANA4eLaJ8kCjy

The boy led him patiently towards the roots of the old oak, releasing his hand and digging through the bracken. John joined him, blindly shuffling his hands along the ground.copyright protection29PENANAHCeZuOmTjl

“Aha! Gotcha!” The boy leaped to his feet. “Here they are! Holy cow, you’re lucky. Not even a scratch.”copyright protection29PENANAMd08Bd1hWq

John whipped them from the outstretched fingers and rubbed them against his muddied short pants. As he replaced them, tucking the curved rim over his nose and around the shells of his ears, he blinked up at the figure in surprise.copyright protection29PENANAy0Ejbnsw0M

“You’re a girl,” he stated solemnly, studying her in fascination.copyright protection29PENANA4HoiHT63Mq

The girl shifted awkwardly under his searching stare. Her smooth black hair was cut short at her chin, part of it pulled back by an odd-looking ornament, a brilliant pink butterfly. She wore a light blue sweater that shimmered when she moved and contrasted prettily against her olive skin. And she wore pants. Long pants. The fabric was the rough quality seen on farmers with an embroidered butterfly at the pocket.copyright protection29PENANApzDpHfDJwA

“You must really like insects,” he observed, wrinkling his nose.copyright protection29PENANA95BNoMbQic

The girl crossed her arms over her chest and frowned. “That’s a great way of saying thank you. I should have left you stranded, wandering around blind as a bat.”copyright protection29PENANACnU1GBUNFH

John shrugged. “But you didn’t. And it’s getting dark. So yes, thank you very much.”copyright protection29PENANAd5gRvX68GD

The girl’s fierce expression softened. “So, you won’t tell anyone you saw me here?”copyright protection29PENANAIQIjE66PXo

John wet his lips and stuck out his hand. “My name is John.”copyright protection29PENANA2zMWAsyvfe

Her hand hovered hesitantly before taking his with a firm, confident grip. She was so different from other girls he’d met. Even his own iron-willed sister. Were all American girls like this?copyright protection29PENANActjskOqrX7

“Maria Flores-Hart.”copyright protection29PENANA4GXMZBS6rP

“Flores-Hart?” He searched his memory, trying to recall if he’d overheard his parents mention any visiting families in the area. “Where are you from? Actually, I know where you’re from, you’re an American. That’s clear as day. Or perhaps you’re from Canada?”copyright protection29PENANAutphq0JZwZ

“No. American.” Maria recoiled slightly, kicking the leaves at her feet. He hadn’t noticed her shoes. They were the oddest things. Black canvas with rubber soles and white laces.copyright protection29PENANAdIsxbNlCei

“You are something strange, aren’t you?” he breathed.copyright protection29PENANAJiYH4YjX5K

The girl retreated a step. “I should get going.”copyright protection29PENANANzedQFdAEJ

He caught her elbow before she could run off. “No wait. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you. Only…” she met his inquisitive gaze shyly. “You’re not strange. I shouldn’t have said that. I only meant interesting.”copyright protection29PENANAzSs1pEPLg3

“Interesting.”copyright protection29PENANA3Zl2Hq10o6

“Yes. Very. And clearly you are unfamiliar with this area because you would agree with me otherwise. You are very interesting for this dull corner of the world.” John released her and scratched the back of his neck. “I need to go home. My mother will be worried.”copyright protection29PENANALcGZpxFD8k

Maria released her breath and gave a weak grin. “Mine too. Hopefully, she won’t find out I came here. She’ll rip my butt up if she does.”copyright protection29PENANAmHcPJBtymJ

John blinked at her and let out a bark of a laugh. “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it put that way, but I think I understand you perfectly, Maria Flores-Hart.”copyright protection29PENANACqJYtqpvrN

Night fell swiftly around them, a ghostly mist rising from the forest floor. The damp chill invaded clothes and threatened to sink into bones if they remained outside much longer. However, John was reluctant to leave her out there alone, especially since she clearly didn’t belong.copyright protection29PENANACcZjcpQR2Y

“Do you want to come home with me? It’s getting dark. My father could bring you home, so you won’t have to walk.”copyright protection29PENANAbpGoep0HYn

“Oh no! No, thank you,” Maria responded abruptly, skipping back a step. The fog ate away her figure up to her knees. “But I’m glad I could help you, John. It was nice to meet you.”copyright protection29PENANArANbzhCYN3

She turned and sprinted into the thick of the wood.copyright protection29PENANALpgLIsbzkd

“Wait! Will you be here tomorrow?” He called out as she disappeared. Her footfalls slowed.copyright protection29PENANAywCeUREUzD

“Maybe!”copyright protection29PENANAh1e5cNnOLa

Maybe. John bit back a grin, shoving his frozen hands in his pockets, and strode through the wood for home.copyright protection29PENANASxA9jjBuSW

♦♦♦copyright protection29PENANAHrskFmckgL

“Bird.” John approached the short writing table in the parlor. His sister was mulling over a picture detailing a garden bed she and their mother had constructed that summer. “I have a secret.”copyright protection29PENANAYyMcDYZ0NL

His sister, though only a year older than him, had begun to feel superior at the grand old age of fourteen. At the hushed note in her brother’s voice, she arched an expressive, jet black eyebrow. “What kind of secret?”copyright protection29PENANAbGjLPC4r7X

“One that the old folks don’t need to know about,” John replied, dragging up a chair once he knew she was keen to listen.copyright protection29PENANAnPoQ94clpt

Around their home, the old Jacobean estate of Bateman’s with its rooms scented by their dear father’s Turkish cigarettes, his sister was called by their father’s pet name for her. John couldn’t remember the last time he’d called her ‘Elsie’, her given name.copyright protection29PENANA7n1TzFSzGG

“Very well. I’m listening.”copyright protection29PENANAkRmEDchHEo

“I met a strange girl in the wood today.”copyright protection29PENANAF1d3Rn74Iw

“Was this before or after you hit your head falling out of that tree?”copyright protection29PENANAyPTAJtfC2W

John growled in exasperation. “I did not hit my head.”copyright protection29PENANAinNF1qRi8v

“But you did fall out of a tree.”copyright protection29PENANAHNxURphYt0

“Yes, but that’s not the point!” Bird grinned at the reaction she’d gotten out of him. John rolled his eyes and moved to push away from the table. “Very well, if you do not wish to hear about it.”copyright protection29PENANAv1QpBzSRbV

“No, stop it, John. Sit down,” Bird laughed, waving a hand for him to stay put while eyeing the open door for any adults lurking outside. “A strange girl, you say?”copyright protection29PENANANuiB9k21Da

John sighed, playing with an odd silver pendant in his palm. “Very strange. She wore trousers.”copyright protection29PENANAxkY5fPuwOY

“That’s not so odd.” Bird was inspired by the blue stockings that had been invading the country of late.copyright protection29PENANAxj0nJCXCt9

“Long pants though. And she was around my age or there about. She never did say.”copyright protection29PENANAyhDQSNbUPO

Bird shrugged. “She could have stolen them from an older brother for play.”copyright protection29PENANA5m93roSWUH

“And she was an American. Not just an American, she spoke so strangely. Not like mother at all.”copyright protection29PENANAUr1UPKwMn0

“Well mother isn’t like most Americans. She is here with us after all and not back in Connecticut.”copyright protection29PENANAVVhzMamX4b

“It wasn’t only her accent. It was the words she used, her phrases. Have you ever heard anyone tell you to ‘chill out’ before?”copyright protection29PENANAMayVe0k7Wf

Bird wrinkled her aquiline nose. “Chill out? Used in what context?”copyright protection29PENANAOQHPLwAiiX

“I was upset because I had misplaced my spectacles, and she told me to chill out.”copyright protection29PENANAieSAOFKbCP

“Huh,” Bird puffed, sitting back in her chair and tapping her fingers on the table in thought. “I don’t believe I have. It certainly is an odd colloquialism. Was she from the southern part of the United States, I wonder?”copyright protection29PENANAmpZVkdVEkS

“I don’t believe so.” John shook his head though her comment did give him pause. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to recognize an accent from that part of the Americas. “She was quite vehement about not returning home with me, though I felt rubbish leaving her in the wood all alone with night coming on.”copyright protection29PENANAU8IBYu7yMq

“Maybe she was shy.”copyright protection29PENANAv5FoFt3pEF

“Maybe but there was something else, as if she was reluctant to be seen.”copyright protection29PENANAe15eWpsS4M

“She was on our property after all.”copyright protection29PENANAKYVtATXHrK

“I suppose.” He grinned. “She said she might be there in the wood tomorrow. I’m going to try to meet her again.”copyright protection29PENANA7XPMlufpUU

“Can I come too?”copyright protection29PENANA58VanRAPKF

“No, I rather think not.” John rubbed the pendant between his fingers. “It might scare her away. Let me make friends with her first and then I’ll see.”copyright protection29PENANACuExXerVVT

Bird carelessly threw her curls over her shoulder, her expression blasé as though being left out didn’t matter to her. But John knew she was annoyed from the way her fingers continued to tap the table. Like most little brothers, the sight filled him with satisfaction.copyright protection29PENANAG3QwQc05BV

“You still carry that silly thing around?” Bird commented dryly, nodding towards the small, coin-like object in his hand. “We’re not even catholic.”copyright protection29PENANAZG4VRrNrgx

John held up the small St. Christopher’s medal he’d found in the wood by accident. It was impossible to tell how old it was, but he had held onto it for two years. Their father had told him that St. Christopher was the patron saint of travelers. The fact that it was just waiting for him in the forest on a bed of moss felt fated.copyright protection29PENANA6S1KqZYRVU

“I don’t care. It’s mine. It found me.”copyright protection29PENANALCXC8NP9Tq

Bird scoffed. “You mean you found it.”copyright protection29PENANA4T78OYABqQ

“No. It found me.” He slipped it into his pocket with a haughty toss of his head. He ignored Bird’s snickering as he stalked from the room towards the stairs to take his bath.copyright protection29PENANA8wJahaaf26

John laid awake most of the night, thinking about the girl in the wood. He wondered whether she had made it home safely or perhaps she was still out there in her embroidered pants and hair ornaments. He wondered if she had been a ghost, a spirit of a Druid. He snorted to himself, recalling that Druids were old men with long beards, tattooed arms and amulets dangling from wrinkled necks, like Merlin of King Arthur’s court.copyright protection29PENANA9NI7qQUfZN

She was certainly something not from his world though. He couldn’t explain how he knew but he’d sensed it from the moment she first spoke. Maria Flores-Hart was otherworldly. And the most exciting thing to happen to him since his father had been named Nobel laureate and they’d built the surrounding gardens with the prize money. He drifted to sleep, palming the St. Christopher’s medal and dreaming of ancient Celtic ghosts roaming the woods that surrounded Bateman’s.copyright protection29PENANAF3HNcvMM7d

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