Lucinda jumped as the new hymn began to play enthusiastically on the well-used wooden piano. It echoed through the small building . She had been so deep in thought and couldn’t recall what had been said during the sermon. She grasped the hymn book which was carefully balanced on the small wooden ledge in the pew. She gazed up at the blackboard where the hymn numbers were neatly written in chalk swirled writing. It read ’58 : Ode to Joy‘ Lucinda fumbled with the pages and swiftly passed a copy to Thomas. He mostly found it difficult to read some of the harder words, but he put his little heart and soul into everything he did.
It wasn’t long until her ears started to burn slightly as she overheard the conversation coming from the women in the pew behind them. “Well he wasn’t a church goer was he? What a cheek it was!”
Lucinda automatically knew what they were referring to. They had few savings as a small family and some locals had paid for the coffin for Jim’s funeral as a kind, friendly gesture. It hadn’t been expensive, but some people turned up their noses at the idea in complete disapproval. Lucinda glared at them sharply to show that she had over heard every single word. The gossiping immediately ceased and they looked slightly embarrassed. ‘People can be so cruel and judgmental’, she thought to herself. They left quickly after the service and returned to the safety of their own home.
Sheltered under a large black umbrella with rusty, squeaking spokes they walked at great speed back to the cottage to get out of the deluge. The horrid weather continued. They had no other option but to remain cooped up inside all day. At least it gave her the opportunity to complete the household chores she thought to herself. Lucinda never followed the ‘Sunday should be a day of rest’ principal there was always far too much to be done.
Thomas sat cross-legged in front of the fire looking at one of his Dad’s beloved books. He would mainly pick them up to view the interesting pictures. ‘I will ask Mummy to read it to me later’ he thought to himself. He gazed proudly at the wall where yesterdays family drawing had been hung among his other pieces of art work. It was his art gallery. The rest of the evening was quiet and simple with a plain stew for dinner, cheap but filling enough.
Lucinda wanted a change, she desperately needed excitement to be injected into her life once more. She needed more adult company. People say ‘be careful what you wish for’ however, it was certain to say that large changes were looming ahead in the horizon.
Monday morning meant school for Thomas. He loved attending the small village school of 80 pupils and had many friends, they were real characters. His kind personality was infectious and shone through. His progress was very promising and he received glowing reports from his teacher Miss Lockwood. She was a bubbly woman with rosy red cheeks and curly strawberry blonde hair,which was pinned up into a bun to tame it. Shortly the bell rang. Each week a child was selected and given the responsibility of ringing it when classes were due to start in the morning at 8.45 am and on leaving at 3pm. The children ran merrily to the front of the school and formed an orderly queue. Lucinda nodded at Thomas and he went to join his friends.
“Bye Mum!” he waved confidently. The children silenced and entered the school one by one. ‘Children grow up so fast’ Lucinda thought. It didn’t seem moments since Thomas was a baby in her arms. Now he was growing into such a fine young boy; a son any family would have been proud of. Lucinda traipsed back to the house to complete her list of jobs. She always baked on a Monday, something different every week along the line of pies and pastries. On entering the kitchen an appearing damp spot on the ceiling caught her eye. ‘I must do something about that’ she thought. Lucinda washed, ironed and dusted until the house was spick and span. She was a very house-proud woman and was a great believer of bringing out the best in everything and everyone.
Lucinda hated the dust. Upon emptying some old items from the loft she found plenty. It was a job that had needed to be done some time ago but she had delayed it. The dust affected her lungs so after a couple of hours she stopped. Lucinda checked the time – ‘1pm, so early still’ she thought ‘I’ll do some baking’ She decided upon apple cake and set to making the sponge and peeling the large cooking apples. With great care she took a cloth and placed the cake into the oven. A delicious aroma filled the house as the cake slowly raised in the small oven. It was soon cooked and Lucinda placed it on a wire cooling rack on top of the small table. It was one of the best that she had ever made. She beamed proudly at her creation. It was perfectly risen. Jim always used to joke stating that he married her just due to the fact that she was a wonderful cook. Lucinda chuckled to herself and wrapped her black woolen shawl around her in preparation to collect Thomas.
Lucinda had an after school meeting to attend with Miss Lockwood. Thomas’s reading age was above average and both his teacher and she were keen to help him extend his knowledge. Lucinda returned to the school and Thomas ran to play outside with his friends after greeting her with a warm hug.
They were seated in the now empty classroom. Miss Lockwood smiled and stated :
“Thomas is such a bright young boy, we need to extend his reading and classwork further so that he can full fill his full potential. I think he would benefit from doing work aimed at the slightly older children” Lucinda nodded in agreement. “He works so hard at home with his homework and he loves his sums.” She smiled to herself, Jim had also loved maths. They shook hands and Lucinda exited the classroom with a smile. She was so proud of her son.
On walking home, they decided to take a slight diversion and go through the woods. It was so picturesque. The trees were sprinkled with a fine frost and the thin strands of weather-beaten grass crunched beneath their boots. Hand in hand they meandered through the towering trees to get home.
“Look Mum! There’s a rabbit!” It spotted them and darted terrified into the safety of its burrow, almost as if it could sense danger. Animals are always the first to perceive it. They had believed themselves to be alone in the woods, but Lucinda had misjudged that fact completely.
Part 3 coming soon!