Kerensa Mawgan put down the telephone and, standing at the window, stared out at a view of the valley down to the undulating river. On the other side of the river was a tree-covered high bank. Everything glistened in the warm, steaming mist that had come up river after the storm.
Laboriously, she pulled back the sliding window and stepped outside. The Yorkshire stone patio glistened with puddles of water; it gave the stone an intensity of colour, almost as if it were cast with purple dye. Everything dripped wetly in the weak sun that was successfully breaking through the mist. She felt that if she put her ear to any puddle, then it would give out the sound of sizzling.
Tears ran down her cheeks now, and then the sobs came. Sinking onto a stone bench, oblivious to the wetness penetrating the linen of her trousers through to her flesh, she let her body bend double, her head cradled in her lap.
She had just come from the hospital, had kissed her mother, and had gone to do her bidding. Laura had been adamant. Bring me the box from the attic. You will know the one: it has a pink ribbon around it. It was a command and after she had uttered it Laura had fallen back, exhausted.
Kerensa knew she dare not disobey; it seemed to be so important. Just how important she did not know or how catastrophic it would be that she had left her mother. The hospital was a half an hours drive, and that drive had been longer because of the driving rain. She had only just got into the house and brought the box from the attic when the phone rang. The nurses voice was hard and so cold. Certainly not the breed of angel she had been led to believe nurses were.
Your Mother passed away.
How cruel for her mother to die when she had left her bedside. Something she had been reluctant to do at any time, preferring to sleep in the chair in her mothers hospital room rather than go home. Of course she knew her mother was dying; the thing inside her had finally won. After years of remission it had its way. Laura was too young and it was too cruel.
There was no one to telephone, apart from Lauras employers; neighbours would find out as it was a small community. Word would spread soon enough. There had been just the two of them, Kerensa and Laura, living their lives quietly and happily in this Cornish backwater.
Her mother had been born here and then had gone away. When Laura came back it was with Kerensa inside her. There was a lot of gossip but it soon stopped once everyone realized they could speculate as much as they liked. Laura was not going to reveal any secrets.
Grandparents helped out. An only child, Laura had been a late baby and her parents had been dead these past five years. They left the small house to Laura but little else. It did not matter; Laura made a reasonable living as manager of an estate agents.
It was never what I wanted, she told Kerensa. Old Mr Pendle took me on as a typist but I found there was a lot more I could do.
Young Mr Pendle had seen her potential as well and when he opened another office, he gave Laura a free hand.
Kerensa looked at the box that had seemed to be so important to her mother. With reluctance she tugged at the bright pink ribbon. The box was an old chocolate box, the name on the lid now faded with the passing of time. Kerensa lifted the lid and peered inside. There was just a small black diary.
Reluctantly, Kerensa opened the diary. It was more a journal than a record of daily life.
Kerensa, my beautiful daughter, I wonder if you ever truly knew me and I bless the idea that you did not, you see, my beautiful daughter...