Tiaro – Small Town Large Hearts

Fortuitous Tide

Reminder: Free short story – see below ‘A Pearl for Your Enjoyment.’

You might pass through Tiaro with little thought for the small community hidden behind the main/Mayne Street. I suggest you take a closer look.

I had the pleasure of meeting the sub-branch members of the Tiaro Returned Soldiers League social club last week. This group of over twenty members was gathered for one of their regular meetings where it appeared obvious to me, they are devoted to working for the good of their community.

I thank them for listening to the presentation of my latest novel and for their support.

Keep smiling, Keep reading, Keep writing.

Current Weather and Tides

Like a bloodhound, my nose is to the ground in research for this next novel which will be a family saga – come tragedy – come struggle for women’s rights (maybe) starting in Southern England in 1856 and ending at Townsville Australia in 1920.

www.elizabethrimmington.com.au

facebook.com/elizabethrimmington.author

A Pearl for Your Enjoyment

This short story was written in answer to our lecturer’s three questions for homework:

 (a) Who is knocking at the door? (2) Do you know them? (3) What do they want?

 

STRANGER AT THE DOOR

The damp penetrates the worn soles of my shoes. I shiver. Thin socks on my feet offer little protection. It is a rough track through the forest from the river to our home on the other side of the hill. Tears threaten as I watch Tola and Mala, my ten-year-old daughters, struggle with the weight of the bucket of fish they carry. Our traps were full for a change this morning. We will have food to preserve for the deepening winter. Cold water trickles down my back through the sack I carry, also filled with bounty from the river.

“Look, Ma,” Tola’s quick eye caught sight of the struggling herbs sheltered beneath a shrub.

When I bent to pick the leaves to add to my supply of healing herbs at home, my back complained bitterly. A moan rolled out of my mouth.

“You pair keep on going, I’ll only be a moment,” I called to the girls. My gaze glanced up to the sky. The sun rode low in the heavens only a short distance from the horizon. Shadows deepened within the forest. My stomach rumbled. Our midday meal of dry crust and wild fruit did little to assuage my appetite.

The girls strained to push open the old swollen timber door when I joined them. We rushed to the fireplace, stirred the coals, and added dry timber from the supply in the corner. Tola and Mala lay their catch on the wood slab table in the centre of the room. With long thin sharp knives, they began to remove the scales and clean the fish ready to go onto the wire netting frames to be dried in the sun on the new day. The one bed in the corner of the single room tempted me, but with all the fish to be preserved ignoring the call was not too hard.

When we filled six of the framed wire netting trays, I opened the door. Mala helped me carry them outside where I climbed the fragile ladders to tie them in place on the timbered frames above the reach of wild animals. We briefly admired our handiwork before scrambling back into the warmth of the hut where Tola had already begun to prepare a feed of fresh fish soup with native greens picked and dried weeks before.

After eating, I cleaned the dishes and set them near the fire to dry. The girls washed themselves in a bucket of warm water and crawled into the bed.

The opportunity for me to freshen up was interrupted by what sounded like a knock on the door. At first, I assumed it was an animal scrounging around outside on the doorstep but a solid rat-a-tat reverberated inside the small room a second time. I gave an anxious glance at the girls. The wide-eyed gaze of my daughters met my own nonplussed look. The only person who ever came to the door since my husband died fighting in the civil war had been Olaf the fisherman who sought treatment for a poisoned foot. Olaf lived in a large boat on the river.

I felt the quickening of my heartbeat. A pulse throbbed in my neck. My gaze met those of the girls. I touched my finger to my lips. Taking up the filleting knife from the table, I moved towards the door on silent feet. I peered through the small gap in the slab timber looking out to the stoop. A stranger stood tall. Quality clothes draped his back and strong boots covered his feet. The dark hood added to the evening gloom to shadow his face. Gloved hands held no weapon. Large pockets in the coat may have held many. A laden mule stood tied to the pine tree a short distance away.

I rolled my tongue within a drying mouth. My mind flicked through the possibilities. A lost traveller – unlikely in this desolate outpost. My rational thought began to cross the options off the list. A friend of Olaf with a message perhaps? What message would he have for me he couldn’t deliver himself?

A sickness stirred in my belly. A soft gasp exploded through my lips. The only other possibility was a soldier out of uniform – a deserter maybe, but from which side? We are not that far from the border. The flotsam of the war in our country bypassed this area using the more accessible thoroughfares to the east.

“Dala Graster,” a warm deep voice called. From his right hand, he dangled a familiar locket. “I have a message from your husband Darm. Darm was my friend. He asked me to deliver this locket and a letter he wrote before he died.”

My trembling hands lifted the heavy wooden bar across the doorway.

THE END