(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Bessie was written by Molly H. Darcey.)
Kelly looked at the directions in her notes to make sure she went where she was told to go. She didn’t doubt the carriage driver, but still. They pulled off the main road and into a forest, and finally at the end of this narrow road, the carriage stopped.
Kelly opened the door and looked around as she stepped out at this strange-looking out with rough brick walls and thick shingle roof and cone-shaped turrets. She saw the windows there, but it looked like the windows had been cut out rather than planned beforehand. That was odd.
Nodding her thanks to the driver, Kelly approached the house and knocked on the door.
There was a pitter patter of several feet running to the door. The door swung wide open, with a little girl of about 5 standing there. “Hi, I’m Mary, who are you? Why are you here?”
Soon what must have been her mother, came into the room, she must have been at least 7 months pregnant. “Hi, you must be Kelly. Welcome, lets sit in the library.” They walked through the large entry way which had a huge fireplace and turned right. into the library, which had another large fireplace with couches and chairs that were placed strategically around for the best spots of light. “Let’s sit over here.” Bessie gratefully sank into the couch.
Kelly nodded with a smile. “Thank you for having me.” She lowered herself into a chair across from Bessie. “So, I take it that little girl is Mary…or so she said when she greeted me.” Kelly nodded to the child who lingered near the door, and she smiled at her. “How old is she?”
Bessie smiled, “Mary is 5, and loves meeting new people.”
Kelly chuckled. “Well then, good for her. When I was her age, I preferred to hide.” She smiled at Bessie. “How many children do you have?”
“I have five, with this one coming in a few months. Hopefully we will be back in America before I have him. I am sure it is a boy.
“And mother’s intuition is rarely wrong.” Kelly nodded, settling back in her chair. “When do you leave for America?”
Bessie laughed with her eyes sparkling, and she shrugged, “That is true for some, but I have been wrong before. We set sail tomorrow. It has nice to be back here in England and visiting with George’s family and my old friends, but we will be grateful to be back home.” Her eyes twinkled “we got tickets on the Titanic.”
“Ah, the Titanic.” Kelly had to bite her lip to keep from saying anything else. She knew the fate of that ship, but she couldn’t say anything. That would ruin the story. “So…” She scooted forward, clasping her hands together. “How did George and you meet?”
She closed her eye and leaned her head back as if trying to picture that day. Bessie brought her head up. “We met at a town function, for a summer cook out and games, between our to towns. Since we live so far out, they would combine them. This is actually his family home, I lived in the next area over, really not a town. I was eleven when I first saw him walk across the area.” Though he didn’t notice me for five more years.”
“But you live in America now?” Kelly pointed out and furrowed her brows. “How did you end up there?”
“My parents are the type who love adventure, they decided to move to the new world, George and I had recently gotten married, and we decided to go with them.”
“We came back when George’s father got ill, to help out. We have been here for a little over a year.”
“Interesting.” Kelly mused and glimpsed around when she saw some other children peeking around the corner trying to eavesdrop. She had to smile. Their conversation would be considered boring according to children, so Kelly focused her attention back on Bessie. She decided to ask a very blunt question. “Are you happy with all things in your life, Bessie? Because I can tell something troubles you.”
“I’m happy, I am kind of torn, I don’t want to leave Nana Martha here alone. I am just ready to have this baby and get settled back in America. Though sometimes, I just wonder if we should just stay here.”
“Why do you wonder that?” Kelly tilted her head, curious if Bessie had a bad feeling about the trip—as she should.
Bessie sighed and her shoulders slumped. “I really hate to take bad about him. Stephen that is, I love my brother-in-law, but he doesn’t help out. Nana Martha, bless her heart, will be all alone when we go home, Stephen and George were her only two living kids.”
“So Nana Martha is your mother-in-law,” Kelly realized, nodding. “And I can understand that about men not helping. Some of them don’t, and…ugh, that’s just annoying.” She wagged her head, tsking her tongue. “I’m sorry that is the case for you. However, tell me of your children. What are their names, and what are they like?” She smiled, hoping that speaking of the children would brighten Bessie’s mood.
Bessie smiled and her eyes lit up. She loved her children and could talk about them all day, but she also was smart and didn’t like to bore people unless they asked. “Mary as you know is 5, her birthday is in a few days and she will be 6, she loves to read. Then we have the twins Lizzie and David. Lizzie takes control as being the older one, by three minutes. They are four. Paul is two, and is into everything, but he makes everyone laugh. He is such a character, and then there is little Ann who is barely one. She is sweet and cuddly and follows Paul into mischief.”
“And if that little one is a boy, do you have names picked out?” Kelly gestured to Bessie’s belly.
Bessie rubbed her tummy tenderly. “If he is a boy it will be Georgie, and if a girl I want Susie and George wants Emily. So we will see. The kids are all getting excited for the new baby, I am getting to the point I just want it out.”
Kelly laughed. “I bet you are, and I don’t blame you one bit. I hope all goes well, for sure.” Her smiled lingered on her face for a moment, but then she pondered her next question. “Have all your dreams come true for life having a loving husband and a wonderful family? Or is there more you wish you could do?”
Bessie, paused and looked around the room at the kids who keep on peeking around the furniture, Paul finally gets the courage and climbs up on the couch besides his Mum. Looking pleased with himself. “I love my life, and I really can’t wait to grow old with George with the grandkids playing near by. That is my dream.”
Kelly nodded. She had expected this. “So, what was life like before marrying George? I’m sure you had–still have–wonderful friends you did things with?” She raised her brows.
“I really don’t have many friends in America, they are all here in England. Though my parents live in America. Before I married George, I went to a what would be a finishing school for ladies. I didn’t grow up first class, we are middle, but there was a finishing school for us, and I read. I love to read.”
“Fantastic. See, I love to write, so meeting people who love to read is always a pleasure.” Kelly smiled then tilted her head to a side. “Have you ever considered writing?”
Bessie’s eyes went wide. “Me, write? Never, I don’t have the imagination for it.”
Kelly shrugged. “Just thought I’d ask.” Some people were readers and that was all, and that was good. “So, which do you prefer–America or England?”
Bessie shrugged her shoulders. “Hmmm, that is a very hard question. I love them both for different reasons. I love the hustle and bustle of America life. Though I am a born and bred country girl. So I like the slow pace as well.”
“It depends on where you are in America because, like you, I’m a country girl myself.” Kelly then sat back and considered what she should ask next. She looked at young Paul and thinned her lips. “I’m not sure you want him to hear the answers to some questions I may ask.”
Bessie ruffled his hair and kissed his forehead. “Mary, come get Paul and you all go out and play on this nice day. Tell Nana Martha, that you are going out.” Pretty soon Kelly and Bessie were all alone.
“Thank you.” Kelly softened her voice, but she wanted to dig deeper. “What is your greatest fear, Bessie?”
Bessie was expecting this question. It was not one she liked to even dwell upon. “Having George die to soon and losing a child.”
These fears were understandable and sometime any mother would fear, especially in this era, but Kelly had to ask, and she did so quietly, “Have you lost many children?”
Bessie’s eyes filled with tears. “Luckily none that survived to be born, but I have had a few miscarriages. We have been married for close to eight years. We were married when I was eighteen, and now I am twenty- five. We miscarried before Mary Plus we miscarried after the twins, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone”
“I am sorry,” Kelly bowed her head. “Though I’m glad you haven’t sorry the loss of a child after birth.” She took a deep breath then rose to her feet. “Do you mind if I walk around a bit? It helps me think.” As she meandered around the room, looking at all the odds and ends, she mused her next question before turning back to Bessie. “What is your hopes and dreams for your family?”
Bessie watched Kelly walk around the room. Her eyes closed gently as if she could picture the future. “I really want my children to be happy, I want them to find decent people to marry. To have a family and to just live decent lives.”
“And what is the happiest memory you can pick out of your mind?” Kelly raised her brows but then added, “Although I know this might be an unfair question since I’m sure each child has likely brought a specific happy moment to your life.”
Bessie smiled. “The two memories that jump to my mind is walking down the isle at my wedding and when I found out I was going to be a Mum. I have always wanted children. Granted that happiness soon left when I lost them ten weeks later, but the joy of being a Mum. So I guess another one would be delivering healthy babies.”
“And from what I’ve seen, you have raised wonderful children.” Kelly smiled at her warmly before returning to her seat. “And what of your family? Do your parents still live? And do you have any siblings?”
Bessie kept on rubbing her belly absently. She stretched her arms. “My parents are both still living and they are in America still. I have two siblings. One sister and one brother. They are both a few years younger then me, so they moved to America with my parents, but they both jumped at the chance to come back and visit with us. They also have tickets for the Titanic. It was such a blessing for them to come and help us with the children.”
Kelly nodded then leaned forward, setting her chin in her palm. “So, you’re the oldest, I’m assuming. What was it like growing up? What are your siblings like?”
Bessie’s eyebrows went up. “Growing up was forever ago.” She laughs, “It was fun, even though I went to finishing school. We had fun. We would run through the fields and pick the wild raspberries that were growing . My brother was a brother. He would tease us relentlessly. My sister is close to me. She is only one year younger. They are fun and have great sense of humour. Laurence likes to play practical jokes, so watch out when he is around.”
“And what’s your favorite childhood memory of them?” Kelly smiled, sitting back to listen.
Bessie’s face scrunched up. “Hmm, I really can’t say. “They have always been around, and we always have fun.”
“Well, what’s one that sticks out the most. Maybe not the favorite, but one that’s most memorable.”
Bessie laughed with the memory. “Probably when the cat had kittens. We gathered them all up, Since we lived more outside the city, we had cats to keep the rats down. Anyways, the cat had kittens, and we gathered them all up and brought them into the house and raced them on our parents bed. Since it was big, we were told to leave the kittens alone and outside.”
“Aww, please tell me that the kittens survived! Because I love cats, especially kittens!” Kelly was thinking of her own cats back home.
Bessie laughed hard. “Yes, no kittens were harmed while racing. Though we were all seriously spanked and couldn’t sit for a while. I of course got into the most trouble with being the oldest. I should have known better. The fastest was white, so we named it Lightning and the second fastest was white and gray and we called it Thunder.”
“Sounds adorable.” Kelly smiled. She missed the fluffballs that kittens always were. However. she had to stay on topic. “And what were your parents like? How would you describe them?”
Bessie looked thoughtful for a moment. “My parents are hard workers and they raised us right. We had money growing up, but they didn’t turn snobby, like most rich folks are. They are down to earth.”
“And what is one lesson your father taught you that you’ll never forget, and one your mother taught you that you will always remember?” Kelly raised her brows.
Bessie thought long and hard. “Like I said, we are middle class. My dad works hard, he always said. Its nice to be rich, but to live as though you are rich, you will soon be poor. My mom always told me to remember who I was and what I stood for. Meaning to be a decent person and to stand for what I knew to be right.”
“And have you had to take that stand? Has anyone ever challenged your view of life or what you thought was right?” Kelly leaned forward.
Bessie changed position on the couch and brought up her feet, her feet were somewhat swollen and they ached. “No, no one has challenged my view of life or what I thought was right.. I hope they never do. I really haven’t thought about what I would say if questioned.”
“Hmm, I envy you then.” Kelly sat back with a deep breath. “Well, you will have to start thinking of what you will say because the very ones who will challenge you the most will be your children.” She looked to the door where the children had once stood. When she did so, she noticed the clock on the wall and saw the time. Kelly frowned and looked back at Bessie and smiled. “My time is about up. I do appreciate you taking this time to answer my many questions.” She rose to her feet. “And treasure every moment you have with your family–especially the children. They are God’s gems indeed.”
Bessie slowly pulled herself up from the couch so she could show Kelly to the door. “Not a problem, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.” Soon the children were under foot and all asking Kelly to stay.
Kelly chuckled at the children’s request but shook her head. “Unfortunately I cannot stay. I need to get home. However, a little treat for all of you…” She turned away from them then turned back with a plate of cookies she conjured just out of their sight. “Homemade chocolate chip cookies. You may have it if only your mother allows,” She offered the plate to Bessie. “Please, this is my thanks for this conversation.”
“Children who eat all their veggies, get cookies!” The children groaned but ran to get ready for dinner. “Thank you for the cookies and the chat. Come back again.”
“My pleasure. Have a safe trip back to America.” With that, Kelly left with a smile.
Molly H. Darcey’s novel, ‘Passenger 642’, has no release date set yet, but follow her on social media for the announcement of her story title, a release date, and book cover!