Tell A Tale in 500 Words


She gently shook her daughter and watched as she opened her eyes with a smile, wide despite the early hour.

‘Mummy?’ she said quizzically.

Shhhhh…..’time to get up, sleepyhead’.

The girl yawned, stretched and whirled her young limbs out of bed. Dressing quietly, hurried along tenderly by her mother, she took in the darkness, and the quiet and chose to hold onto her forming questions. Once dressed she was led downstairs, the mother missing the final two steps which had groaned for years. She turned and held out her arms for the child to jump into as they did every morning. For the briefest of moments, she held her young daughter tightly to her. Before she could change her mind, she lowered the girl, helped buckle her brown T-bar shoes, and wrapped her coat around her, kissing her cheek. She handed her a small worn, brown suitcase with initials embossed loudly in black. The girl looked at it in wonder, tracing the initials with a finger: S. C. Strong and bold; an announcement to the world.

Her mother carried a similar, larger version. Its weight comically pulled her sideways. She made a funny face and the girl laughed. They stepped out into the darkness; the door quietly closed for the very last time. The woman allowed her eyes to glance fleetingly towards the upstairs window. Curtains drawn, no movement; all clear. She took the girl’s hand firmly. Head down and away, as fast as possible.

‘It’s so dark Mummy!’, the girl declared, fear in her voice.

Her mother smiled down lovingly and squeezed her hand.

‘Soon be there’.

Rounding the corner the girl caught sight of her friend’s house.

‘Aren’t we calling for Ruth, Mummy?’

‘Not today, baby’.

Looking behind her at anxious intervals, the mother silently encouraged her daughter onwards. Amidst the darkness and the quiet, the girl suddenly stumbled. She was swiftly caught by her mother, but the small suitcase crashed to the ground, worn clasps giving way and contents spilling before them. Together the pair quickly scooped the items up: white pin board into which accompanying coloured letters made new words each day; her cherished Brownie doll; her beloved teddy. The girl paused but asked no questions. The woman took off her scarf, tied it firmly around the suitcase and onwards they marched with quickening pace.

One more turn of a corner and their destination was revealed.

The door of the cottage opened and the child ran in excitedly; eager to share her grandmother’s lap with the ginger cat already in situ. The door was locked and the woman immediately folded into her own father’s embrace. She began to sob quietly. Words were not needed; she was home and her young daughter safe.

Sylvia Cole had bravely led an escape from the oppression, the violence and darkness which had enveloped her past; her daughter’s whole life.

As the dawn broke that cold December day, freedom was theirs. Two lives forever changed.

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