The Call Of The City – Episode 01

All the main characters Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

“Letter from America for you, Grace.” Henry Telford smiled as he waggled the letter just out of her reach.

Grace resisted the urge to snatch the letter from Henry, who’d been the postman for this village as well as three others on the North Yorkshire moors, since before she was born.

He tapped the postmark.

“Looks like New York City. The Big Apple. Ever been there?”

“You know I haven’t.” The farthest Grace had gone was to France on holiday.

“You’ve an auntie, haven’t you, who lives there?” He nodded. “Juliet. She hasn’t been back here in more than twenty years, but I remember her.

“Little slip of a thing. Bright blonde hair.”


Grace didn’t know much about her mother’s younger sister. Beside a few phone calls and a yearly Christmas card, Juliet didn’t keep in contact, and Grace’s mother, Meg, didn’t seem to mind.

Grace wondered if they had had a falling out at some point, but had never dared to ask.

She’d seen the way her mother’s mouth pinched when she opened Juliet’s Christmas card, usually a large expensive one, and then she’d put it up on the mantel with the others without a word.

But this missive from New York wasn’t a Christmas card, and it wasn’t from Juliet.

It was January, and Grace had been expecting a letter from the Juilliard School since early December, when she’d submitted an audio recording of her violin playing along with an application.

Henry studied the return address.

“The Juilliard School.”

“It’s a school for music.”

Henry’s eyes widened.

“And drama and dance.”

She’d managed to keep her application secret from everyone in Hawes, even her own family, not wanting the humiliation of their sympathy and pity if she was rejected.

But if she wasn’t . . .

“Please may I have the letter?”

With a smile Henry gave it to her. He probably wanted more information, but Grace would not be drawn. Not now, when she was so close to finally realising her dreams.

“Thank you,” she murmured.

As Henry took out the rest of the family’s post Grace slipped around the corner of the substantial house of golden-brown Yorkshire stone that she’d lived in her whole life, as had her mother before her.

No-one was about. Her mother was in the kitchen, and her father, Andrew, had gone to his local GP practice an hour ago.

Grace’s sister, Kerry, had left home three months ago after marrying a local farmer, Daniel Porter. The wedding reception had been in the family garden.

Grace missed her sister in the house. Even though Kerry was only a few miles away, on Embthwaite Farm, her life had changed completely.

Now, perhaps, Grace’s was about to, as well.

She sank on to a garden bench. Around her, the garden stretched out to the moors that rolled on to the blue-grey horizon.

In the distance she could hear the familiar sounds of sleepy Hawes: Henry starting up his van; the chickens in a neighbour’s garden beginning to cluck; the clock on the church tower chiming eight.

Grace hesitated, torn between wanting to know whether Juilliard had called her for a live audition and afraid to face the end of her dreams.

For the last year and a half she’d been at home, working part-time and giving violin lessons at the primary school.

Her parents wanted her to apply to university, take a sensible course in education and gain her teaching certificate.

Grace wanted more. To fly on the wings of music all the way to New York . . .

She tore open the letter and slid out the page.

To be continued…

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.