I do apologise for the lateness of this post, I got quite involved with my recent Tudor story and couldn't find the drive to continue with this one, however I've got my writers cap firmly on and as it has recently been the anniversary of D- day I only thought that it was somehow fitting to write another chapter.
It hadn't taken long for Ellie to hunt down her grandmother. The house had stayed the same since she was a little girl and she knew that no doubt Mrs Earnshaw would be hiding with her flowers in the orangery or tucked away with her grandfather in the library, reviewing the literature that they had grown up with. Ellie's first guess had been correct for hiding between the dusty pink roses sat her grandmother reading a slightly worn copy of "Pride and Prejudice". It had been tradition for Mrs Earnshaw to re-read the worn pages of the classic every year and Ellie was happy to find that her grandmother wasn't breaking with tradition; it reminded her that although she may appear to be old and frail her spirit still burned brightly.
"Eleanor!" At once the novel lodged in the old woman's hand was placed upon the nearby coffee table as she rose from the small wicker chair to greet her grandchild who had been absent for far too long. "We weren't expecting you till tomorrow my dear" at once Ellie was flung back into her childhood as her grandma's arms encapsulated her. She was once again a little girl in pink picking heather in the fields and reading upon her grandfather's lap, the worries of an adult had disintegrated in those few seconds till finally she unravelled herself and helped her grandmother back into her chair.
"So, I see you dyed your hair and what is that!" Ellie stared at the diamond ring on her left hand and immediately began to try to take it off, it had been one of the many things she had listed to do before arriving and taking off her engagement ring was one of them. It was true Ellie did love Tom, more than she would say however telling her family was something she wanted to leave for a little while yet. Her mother was a busy body and Ellie knew that as soon as her engagement was announced her mother would be pestering her to choose a date and pick a cake, big weddings were not Ellie's style although with Tom's rather large family Ellie knew it would be highly unlikely that a small wedding would be possible.
"Oh" Ellie replied, finally placing the ring in her pocket "that news can be left for another time, you know what mother is like"
"Yes I know exactly what your mother is like, don't worry sweetheart, your secrets safe with me although I had hoped you would bring the lover boy with you" Mrs Earnshaw gave that all knowing wink, it was obvious why Ellie hadn't brought Tom with her but in a sense it was understandable.
"That's your excuse for everything, you're always too busy, and that's why you need a break so you can visit your ailing grandparents more often. Two years is far too long! Your brother lives in France for Pete sake and he visits every Christmas." Ellie didn't respond, she knew in her heart her grandma was right but being so career focused meant that her family life suffered, she had no social life whatsoever and it was a shock that she was even engaged for the only time Ellie and Tom spent together was in the office.
"So how is work anyways, have they given you a promotion yet?"
"No not yet, but I'm working on it! My next book review is on Briony Tallis' new release Atonement, Grandma I can honestly say I have never read anything more thought provoking in all my life"
"That woman's work is garbage; she should stick to writing tabloid gossip instead of passing herself off as a novelist"
"I know you hate her work but this book is different, it's about her own life, her experiences during the war, it's about her sister and.."
"Yes, and a boy, Robbie I think his name was, and how she misinterpreted an event a..."
"I don't want to hear anymore about it"
"But grandma I think ..."
"I SAID I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANYMORE ABOUT IT!"
In the years since Ellie was born not once had she heard her grandmother raise her voice, but in those few minutes she had witnessed a side upon which she had never seen before for in her grandmother's eyes was not anger but fear, pure childish fear as though the woman had discovered the bogeyman was real. Ellie did not wait to hear an apology, she had not come home to be shouted at, instead she left the orangery as her grandmother pleaded for her to comeback but this only spurred Ellie on into a jog, and then into a sprint which lead her past the main hall and through the white rimmed double doors into the gardens. Since Ellie became of fan of Briony Tallis' work her grandparents, mostly her grandmother had voiced their opinions on the woman strongly. If it wasn't Briony's novels it was her attitudes on life or simply how she wore her hair, Ellie had never been sure why but under no circumstance had her grandmother been unwillingly to listen, even if it was about Ms Tallis, yet today was different. Ellie had obviously pulled the wrong strings.
The dew of dawn still clung to each blade of grass as Ellie marched forward past the west garden and into the clump of bushes and trees that separated the Manor gardens and the surrounding fields. It was in these bushes that as a child Ellie had dedicated her time and patience into constructing her very own sanctuary. It had been on the day of her father's death that she had first found the small clearing in between the trees and slowly but surely she began to make the space her own adding her favourite table and chairs and the small plastic tea set her father had bought her for her 5th birthday. It became the one place she could truly call her own and she had often been in the belief that it was in this little sanctuary that she could talk to her father when she needed him the most.
As she finally reached the clearing it was to Ellie's dismay that her hiding place was already occupied.
"I see that in my absence my den has been put to good use"
Noah raised his head from the newspaper in his hand as plumes of grey smoke left the end of his smouldering cigarette. The tea service had gone but the chairs and table were still there as a lasting reminder of Ellie's childhood. Almost as a reflex Noah left his chair and pulled the cigarette from his lips.
"I apologise miss, I thought this place had been deserted years ago."
"Please...don't call me miss, I'm Ellie and your welcome to use this area to your leisure so long as you can afford to lend me a cigarette."
"Ellie? No it can't be! I suppose you don't remember me, I'm Mrs Matthew's nephew, I used to visit on weekends, we used to play pirates in your grandfathers library"
"Noah? I thought I recognised you earlier! I wanted to say something but it looked as though your Aunt was giving you a hard time."
"What's new? This is only a temporary job but still my aunt believes it's her duty to boss me around!"
Ellie chuckled as she pulled up a chair, taking a cigarette from the packet that laid upon the small plastic table and for what seemed like hours Noah and Ellie caught up on the years that had passed them. Ellie could still see the innocent little boy lurking in Noah's eyes but knew those days were past them both.
"So what is it like working for my Grandparents? I hope they pay you well!"
"They pay me well enough" Noah replied inhaling the intoxicating fumes of his third cigarette "but I must say they are an interesting duo"
"What do you mean?"
"Well the two of them in that big house, they must have hundreds of secrets lurking behind each door, I'm sure your grandfather has thousands just on fighting in WWII alone"
"WWII? My grandfather never fought in WWII he was a doctor and worked in St Thomas down in London"
"Well you would never guess what with all the D-day posters in the attic and I'm sure I came across an old regimental army uniform"
"Th..thats absurd how could..." but as Ellie thought about it she too had some vague memories of army memorabilia lurking about the house yet upon the wall in her grandfather's study all that could be seen were doctors certificates. "Perhaps he just has a fascination with the war."
"Well there's only one way to find out"
"Are you suggesting we raid my grandparent's attic?"
"Why not? It would be an adventure! It would be like old times. Come on, I know you want to. I have the keys!"
What harm could a simple attic hunt do? Ellie thought as she and Noah made the trek back to the house armed with the small set of keys that had been given to Noah by his Aunt. At first Ellie was ambitious about their little expedition, she had never ventured into her grandparent's attic and hoped she would find clues to their past however as they reached the door to the loft Ellie wondered whether she was really ready to open the door to the past for in the back of Ellie's mind she knew that somehow this was wrong. There was no going back as Noah began to place the key in the bronze lock. With a quick turn to the right the door clicked open and creaked to reveal the darkened stairs before them.
"After you" Noah proclaimed after finding the light switch on the opposing wall.
It did not take much to get Ellie up those stairs, with a deep breath she slowly began to climb, finding some reassurance in the fact that Noah was only steps behind her. As they reached the floor the false light emitted from several dusted lampshades guided their eyes to the collection of wardrobes and boxes. An assortment of items of different decades covered each surface as the duo split in different directions in a hope they would discover something interesting. Noah headed to the left finding an old closet full of elegant 1920's evening gowns and dinner jackets. Ellie however veered to the right to where a lonely typewriter lay; beside it were several books, mostly cookbooks from the 1970s. Not satisfied by her find Ellie decided to search the draws of the workbench that the typewriter sat upon. Most were filled with garbage, old receipts and drawings however, as she came to last draw, Ellie found something she had not been expecting; a script. Taking the play out of its resting place, Ellie gave it a closer inspection.
The Trials of Arabella
By Briony Tallis dedicated to my dear Robbie Turner.
"Oh my God" Ellie didn't know what to think, hundreds of questions entered her mind as the script fell to the floor alerting Noah at once.
"What is it? What's wrong?" he replied picking up the dropped paper as he noticed the confusion that was washed over Ellie's face.
"That play, that...that thing is written by Briony Tallis"
"Briony Tallis? The author of all those Romance novels? But what's it doing here?"
Ellie shook her head, unable to comprehend the numerous questions that were entering it. Where did her grandparents get hold of a play that was written so many years ago and by an author they despised? Did they know the woman? Or perhaps they knew Robbie Turner..
Robbie Turner Ellie thought, was this the same Robbie Turner epitomised in Briony's recent novel? Ellie couldn't be sure. But what she was sure of was that she needed answers and she knew that they lied with those on floors below.
I'm not really pleased with this chapter but I'm glad of the progress it has made in the story. I am however considering whether I should continue with this story due to the fact that no-one seems to read it and I believe it is quite obvious where it's heading however, if I get a good response to this chapter I'll continue. I just want to make sure that what I write is enjoyable.