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Mrs Jenny Downhill

by George McGinn



What a beautiful day thought Mrs Downhill as she filled up her watering can from the pond outside her cottage and sprinkled her poppy blooms. She thought fondly of a friend whose garden was similarly abundant in flowers. Then in the corner of her eye, Mrs Downhill spotted Belle Fleur emerging from the tree opposite. 'Hello!' said Belle. 'Are you leaving?’ What a strange question thought Mrs Downhill who had no plans on moving. She loved all her lovely friends here in The Forgotten Woodlands of Pondilly. Before she had a chance to respond, she saw that Belle had already dashed back inside to attend to a whistling kettle on the stove. Mrs Downhill returned to her gardening for the rest of the day for it was spring time and much work was needed.

As the sun disappeared over the horizon, the first stars of the night began to twinkle in the twilight sky. Exhausted from toiling in the garden all day, she retreated inside to make a cup of hot root tea and put her feet up by the fire. With a chill setting in, she was about to close the windows, but not before glimpsing Mr Plonquee riding speedily by on his penny farthing. ‘When are you going?’ called out Mr Plonquee who had already disappeared into the distance before Mrs Downhill could ask him what he had meant. She scratched her forehead in bewilderment.

Mrs Downhill's thoughts soon turned to her friend whom she missed dearly. ‘I must go and see her soon’ she said as she prepared for bed. That night, She had the most peculiar dream in which she met up with her friend who was looking very sad. ‘You poor thing. What has happened?’ she asked. ‘There was a terrible accident out on the field where William was working’ replied her friend. At the very mention of the man’s name, Mrs Downhill felt herself being abruptly dragged out of the dream. She awoke with eyes wide open, but could remember nothing.

The next morning, Mrs Downhill ventured out into her garden to water her plants before the sun got too hot when she was overcome with a sense of deja-vus. ‘I’ve been here before.’ she thought. She looked up in anticipation of Belle Fleur calling out ’Are you leaving?’ She even predicted that Belle would rush back inside to attend to a whistling kettle boiling away on the stove. However, this time, Mrs Downhill did not carry on with her gardening and instead gingerly walked over to Belle’s tree.

Mrs Downhill knocked on her neighbour's door which mysteriously opened by itself to the sound of an eerie creak. She peered in, but the lights were out and a thick blanket of fog obscured her view. She felt a sense of otherness as she cautiously stepped inside. As the fog thinned out, she saw before her what seemed to be a catacomb of spiral stairways going in all directions. She did not know which way to turn, but was unable to turn back as the door through which she arrived had disappeared.

A noise simmered from the spiral tunnel in front of Mrs Downhill. It reminded her of the waves gently lapping up against a shingled beach. A different sound emerged from the tunnel to her side - it was birds chattering in a tree whose leaves rustled in a gentle breeze. All around, the spirals produced a cacophony of pleasantness except for one where she saw a shadowy figure walking towards her. A familiar voice whispered in the distance ‘Hello Jenny. It’s me William’. ‘Is that you?' murmured Mrs Downhill responding to her first name. Without warning, she opened her eyes and screamed at the sight of the shadow which stood before her. She ran down one of the spirals which was heavy in fog. ‘No! No! No!’ she shouted with her hands over her ears. She knew not how long she had been running. Maybe minutes. Maybe hours, but her journey came to an abrupt end as she found herself back on the doorstep of Belle’s tree. Mrs Downhill decided to return to her beautiful home. Looking back over her shoulder, she said cautiously ’Maybe I’ll visit Belle tomorrow’.


~The End ~


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