Blackberry Lane – Episode 24


OH, no! I’m sorry, but it’s out of the question!”

Kate rose from her seat and stepped towards Jeanie.

“We expected that to be your first reaction,” she said, “but, please, take a little time to think about it.”

“I don’t need to think about it. They’re my sons, and they need to be at home with me.”

“But that’s it exactly,” Kate said. “It’s all about what the boys need and what’s best for them.”

“It’s not like you’ll never see them,” Ted said quickly. “You’ll still visit, same as you always have. They love the farm, pet.”

“Russ is fourteen, Jeanie. Love. He’s almost ready to start work and he’s so good with the animals,” Kate said. “He’d make a fine farmer.”

“And Marty can already drive a tractor as well as me,” Ted added. Look at it from the boys’ point of view.”

Jeanie stormed from the kitchen, leaving Kate to burst into tears, and Ted to wonder what on earth was going to happen now.

****

Jeanie raced from the yard without any idea where she was heading. How dare they say those things to her! She’d believed they were her friends, and all the while they’d been plotting and planning to take the children from her.

Jeanie reached the outskirts of the village, to where the road ahead only meandered on between empty fields. She looked at her watch. If she turned back now she should reach the school just as the boys came out.

The sound of the school bell greeted her as she approached the gates. Figures began to pour out. Russ saw her, and raced over.

“Mum! It’s so good to see you.” He hugged her, folding her in his long arms.

Miss Loveday was strolling with Marty across the yard.

“Hello, Mrs Pryce.” She smiled welcomingly. “So you’ve come to take Marty and Russ away from us.”

“Yes.” Jeanie wished she could say more.

“I’m sure they’ll do very well in life,” Miss Loveday said. “I’m of the opinion that Marty could make grammar school material.”

“Yes, so I’ve been told.”

“That, of course, takes nothing away from Russ,” the teacher went on. “He simply has different strengths.”

“That’s good.” Jeanie realised that her words sounded stilted, but it was beyond her to make conversation at the moment.

“Come on, Mum, time to go home!”

Home, Jeanie thought. Is that how you see it?

They ambled across the road and up the lane until the farmhouse was in view.

Ted had returned to work. As Kate, tight lipped, prepared tea, the boys did all the talking.

“I’m going to milk the cows with Archie tonight. Will you come and watch me Mum?” Russ asked.

“Of course I will, love.” She avoided Kate’s eyes.

****

There was something very soothing about cows, Jeanie thought. Their large, liquid eyes would be fixed on you as they waited their turn patiently.

“You’re quiet today.” Archie had paused in his methodical work, and his eyes were resting on her gently.

“Oh, yes.” It would have been quite nice to talk to him, she thought, if Russ hadn’t been there. “I’ve, um, just got things on my mind.”

He’d resumed his work, the man and boy side by side comfortably. And it struck her that he hadn’t grown in size alone, and that somewhere along the way her boy had become a young man.

“Don’t go back yet,” Jeanie said to her son. “I’d like to talk to you. Let’s go for a stroll.”

They headed up one of the many farm tracks which led away from the yard.

“I’ve been talking to Ted and Kate,” she began. “They want you to stay here; not to go back to Southampton with me.”

Jeanie’s heart sank as she saw relief in his expression.

“They seem to think you both love your life here on the farm,” she said.

“’S’pose we do, really,” he admitted grudgingly.

It struck her suddenly that he was trying not show too much enthusiasm for her sake.

“It’s very important that I know the truth,” she said. “You’ll not hurt my feelings.”

It was a lie, she thought, but a very small one.

“It comes down to a straight choice – do you want to stay on the farm or go back to Southampton?”

“I do like it here. I like working with the animals. They say they might even have more now the war’s ended.”

“And do you think the same goes for Marty?”

Russ nodded his head.

“I think he’s been fretting a bit about leaving here.”

Jeanie looked him straight in the eye.

“Have Ted and Kate spoken to you about this idea?”

“No.” He shook his head emphatically. “No, they haven’t.”

Jeanie felt sure he was telling the truth.

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!