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Wishing For Home - Chapter Two Meet the Flints
By
redwriter

Wishing For Home - Chapter Two Meet the Flints

Danny discovers the hardship of being with the Flints

Approaching the cottage from the long country lane, with the sunlight shining directly on it, it held so much promise. Behind it was an inviting deep wood, and in one corner of the garden hens strutted, clucked and pecked behind mesh. Across open fields, corn gold in the summer lay the farm where Frankie was staying.

Rabbits appeared all the time, stoats and foxes could be seen from time to time, and birds, all kinds of birds fluttered everywhere. After a life on a closed-in city council estate, it could have been a dreamland.

“You’ll love it here,” his mother had assured him on that first cool March day. “All these fields and trees. Mr and Mrs Flint will take care of you.”

From the moment his mother left Danny had realised this was no dreamland. The Flints had stood over him in the cluttered greyness of the front room. Eliza Flint had tight thin lips like two slices of the dried pressed meat she was to serve so often. With narrowed eyes, she was the coldest, most unsmiling lady Danny had ever met.

And Danny could never imagine Albin Flint ever smiling. Was there anyone who had such deep dark, dark eyes? Everything about the man was dark. A big, black-haired man bursting out of his grey shirt and corduroy breeches. Even his black eyebrows, in strands like tentacles, appeared threatening. If Danny ever painted a picture of the devil it would look something like Albin Flint. The man just oozed menace, even though at first he simply ignored Danny.

Then there was little Sarah, their daughter, who was nearly three-years-old. Sweetly solemn, and Danny wondered if she ever experienced a warm smile. Yet even she would be an innocent source of trouble for Danny.

From that first day, he was even denied the luxury of playing in the woods behind the cottage. Albin Flint’s eyes had glowered as he issued his stern warning, “You’ll keep out of those woods, boy. You hear? They’re my responsibility.”

So, he had tried to be helpful. He had run their messages and carried heavy sacks of hen corn from the mill. He had heaved big cans of milk from the Ainsley farm, a mile down the road. The wire handles on those cans cut into his fingers when the cans were full. Always he was dreading the scowling countenance of one or the other if they found fault. And it didn’t take much.

At mealtimes, he would struggle to eat the dry pink slice of meat slapped on his plate. But should he ask for a second slice of cake, or if the odd crumb dropped on the gingham tablecloth instead of his plate, then the black scolding stares switched on. From hard eyes, cold eyes.

Eliza Flint would “Tut”. She always “tutted”. Nothing in Danny’s experience had prepared him for people like this. How he missed the warmth and comfort of his own mother and father. Even the grumpy old park-keeper back home, who chased them if they stood on the grass was kindly in comparison.

He never did get a second piece of cake.

Danny was thankful that, in the main, Albin Flint, most of the time, treated him as though he wasn’t there. The occasional black looks were his only sign of recognition.

If things had been bad up to that point the day of the depressing news was to raise the darkness to a new level.

He had been there for almost two months, which had seemed like forever, and the blow was kept until he had finished the evening meal.

A slice of Spam with bread and a single piece of ginger cake. Albin Flint sat and frowned silently throughout the meal. Situation normal.

Suddenly Eliza Flint’s croaky voice spoke up, sounding almost triumphant, “Your mother won’t be coming for a while.”

“Why?” Danny gasped a heavy weight grew in his chest. “It’s her weekend.”

Horrified that he might be deprived of the one beacon in his current existence, he sighed. His mother could only manage fortnightly trips, largely because of the cost of travelling such a distance. Saturdays, Danny would stand at the gate, just longing for the sight of her small trim figure coming up the lane, always in her best tweed coat and the funny tilted blue hat.

Yet, whenever she came, he forced himself to hide his unhappiness. He knew she was worried about his father being at sea, and Danny knew they wanted him to be brave, so he didn’t add to her worries. Anyway, Eliza Flint always seemed to be hanging around as though making sure he didn’t say too much.

Now her eyes focussed on him as she went on, “It may be a few weekends before—”

“But why?”

“Stop your interrupting, boy,” Albin Flint’s harsh voice exploded over him. Dark eyes glared at him from under his bush of eyebrows. “You’re being told.”

The unexpected rebuke shocked Danny. Albin Flint rarely addressed him. His wife nodded her approval and went on, sounding almost gloating, “Apparently, she’s not well. Has to—well, some complication or other.”

“What-?” Danny began another desperate question but stopped as Albin Flint’s eyes fixed angrily on him.

Eliza Flint gave a loud sigh to signify her annoyance, before she pushed a white envelope in front of him, “Look, there’s a note for you.”

As Danny reached out with eager fingers, he noticed that the envelope had been opened. But before he could go any further Albin Flint’s large heavy hand slapped down on his, “After you leave the table, boy.”

Although startled by this sudden reaction Danny began to slide from his chair.

“After you’ve been excused, boy." How cruel those eyes looked at that moment.

“May, may I leave the table?”

“Please.” Every word was spat at him.

“Please.”

“You can.”

Danny slid from his chair and reached for the envelope.

“Put your chair back, boy.”

Chairs were kept back against the wall. They were big, ornate and heavy, and always gave Danny some trouble. This time he managed without any problems. As he left the room Albin Flint’s voice, having used more words on him than ever before, called, “You’d better mind your behaviour from now on, boy.”

That sudden threat had puzzled Danny, but in the quiet of the small back room, sitting by the window that looked out into the darkness of the woods, Danny quickly opened his mother’s note and read:

Dear Danny,

I hope you are being a good boy for Mr and Mrs Flint. I’m sorry that I can’t come on Saturday, and maybe not for a few weeks. I’ll tell you about it when I see you.

But the very good news, which we have been longing for is that your father is coming out of the Merchant Navy. His ship was bombed, but he is fine. He’ll be home soon because of my little difficulty.

I miss you both so much, but everything will be all right, I promise.

Just try to be a big brave boy like your father would want you to be.

With so much love, Mam xx

And that was all. Good that his father was getting out of the danger of being on a ship. But if she really missed him, why couldn’t he be home with her?

If the attitude of the Flints had been a bitter pill before his mother’s letter, what was to come put everything beyond his worst dreams. Suddenly they seemed more keen to find fault with him, issuing threats of dire punishment if he should displease them.

And too soon he learned that they were more than just threats.

 

 

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Copyright © Copyright redwriter 2019
The right of redwriter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Design, and Patents Act 1988

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