Author Topic: One day in April - by Norfolk Dumpling  (Read 4934 times)

Offline loopylin

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One day in April - by Norfolk Dumpling
« on: March 03, 2010, 12:03:14 AM »
One day in April.

Steve woke to the unmistakable smell of bacon frying. They only had bacon and eggs for breakfast on one day of the year.

He got up and put on his dressing gown  knowing what he would find in the kitchen. Sure enough, there was Dora standing cooking, tears streaming down her face, watching till the bacon turned from cooked,to overdone then removing it quickly from the pan before it became inedible.The eggs went in next.

Steve went to stand behind her his hands circling her still trim waist.

'Morning sweetheart- you're up early'

Dora switched the power off and turned into his embrace lifting her face for a kiss. At 51 she was still a very attractive woman whom Steve loved with all his being.Their kiss was long and tender. Dora put their food on the plates and Steve cut two doorsteps from the loaf of bread.

Sitting down they held hands and said together
'Eggs is a proper breakfast eggs is. We still miss you Slugs- 'Happy Birthday'

Steve said 'He would have been 100 today- 25 years since he died. What a lot of horses have gone through the stables since then!'

Just then their daughter Pru appeared and looked at their plates in disgust.
'Yuk- I know what day it is!!!' she kissed both her parents in turn. 'I'm off to help Jeff at 'Follyfoot'- big day for us today. I'll get some breakfast over there. Carl will be over soon. See you at the show if not before'

'Her first show' said Dora.

'But certainly not her first kiss' said Steve remembering the time he had planted a peck on Dora's cheek at her first showjumping competition.

'And what a long time I had to wait before the next one-still it was worth it. For a moment time stood still as they remembered the occasion not long after she'd asked him to leave and changed her mind when he told her he needed her.

During the day Dora had been over at Chadwick's stables. Marty who had been retired to Follyfoot despite the protests of the young boy Gip had been taken ill and quite unexpectedly died.Dora had sat with the old horse and Steve who had taken over fish and chips for supper had also been there when he died.

He held her while she cried. She was still upset when they got back to the farm. As they had done so often before they stood beneath the lightning tree.

'It doesn't get any easier for you however many times it happens does it girl?'

In the moonlight she could see traces of tears in his eyes.
'You loved him too Steve- I'm sorry.

Steve had been instrumental in winning Gip over- helping to prevent Marty from dying from the effects of colic. He felt that he wanted to share this moment of grief with Dora so once again he took her into his arms, held her close and let his tears mingle with hers.

Then he kissed her gently testing her reaction to see if she was going to pull away from him but she kissed him back and showed not the slighest sign of wanting to leave his embrace. He tilted her chin and looked into her hazel eyes.

'Dora, from now on this is how I want every day to end with you in my arms and us sharing kisses- though hopefully we won't always be in tears. I thought I'd lost you a while back. I can't risk losing you again- I love you.'

The kiss they shared then was the most beautiful thing that Dora had ever experienced in her life and now all those years later as she looked deep into his lovely liquid chocolate eyes she said the same words as she'd said then
'I've loved you for so long'

Her hands crept inside  his dressing gown and she caressed him lovingly. 'Come back to bed' he said hoarsely 'it's still early.'

'We've got to see to our horses'

'That won't take too long'

She offered very little in the way of resistance and they were soon making love with a passion that had not dwindled over the years. A noise interrupted the peace that enveloped them as they lay side by side sated and content.

'That's Ronny I can hear moving- he'll be wanting his breakfast' said Dora.

'Okay- you see to that and I'll deal with the four footed ones' Steve dressed quickly and went outside. They kept only two horses at their bungalow which they had named Coppers rest. Dora's beloved Copper was buried there in a field they'd turned into a pet cemetery. So too was Alex Steve's favourite.

His current horse,Sabre, greeted him enthusiastically. He was the same breed as Alex and very much like him. After seeing to his needs Steve moved on to Follena, Dora's horse which was directly descended from her first foal, Folly.
As he was finishing grooming her Ronny came running out.

'I'm off to help Pru and Jeff. At 12 years old, the youngest of their three children was as mad keen on horses as the rest of them. With his own mount Sexton, which was kept at Follyfoot, he was entering his first competition too.

Back indoors Steve could hear the shower running. He locked the door and went to the en-suite bathroom. Stripping off his clothes he called 'Can I come in' and without waiting for a reply stepped in with Dora. They'd started showering together when she was pregnant with Jeff and sometimes felt a bit dizzy. There were no problems like that now just two people who enjoyed showering together.

They were both in a playful mood and with the house to themselves made love again. The first time they'd spent the night together Steve had been delighted that once she got over her initial shyness she had responded to his lovemaking with a passion he hadn't expected, a passion she showed him every time they made love.

The telephone rang and Steve picked up the extension by the bed. 'Hi Ron- yes we're still on for today. We should be back from the show late afternoon so we'll see you about 5.30pm. We're going to have a barbecue- hopefully we won't burn the sausages. Yes sure- bring a bottle if you want. Okay mate- see you and Teri later.

Dora stretched contentedly. 'Come on lazybones, we'd better be making a move'
linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Norfolk Dumpling -One day in April
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2010, 11:50:15 PM »
She reached up and pulled him down to her.

'Not that kind of a move woman- behave yourself!' He tapped her rear then moved swiftly out of her reach. Laughing she got up and dressed and was soon in the kitchen making a picnic lunch for everyone as the young ones would probably be too caught up with the horses to think about food- how familiar did that sound!!

Jeff phoned to ask if they would take Jenny to the show in their people carrier. She was in the final month of her pregnancy and if the show had been any further away would not be going but she wanted to support Pru, Jeff and Ronny.Steve and Dora loved Jenny like a second daughter and Jeff  knew they would take good care of his wife.

Steve put fold up chairs, cushions and the picnic in the car and they drove off to pick up their passenger. They found everyone in the stables. A mare called Caramella was in foal and the birth was expected any time. Their stablehand Rikki Stryker, Ron's daughter,was staying at the farm to keep an eye on things and her dad was on standby in case she needed help which was unlikely if all went according to the laws of nature as Rikki was calm and level headed- attributes that definitely came from her mother.

It was a beautiful April Sunday, the weather was really hot for April and it made the day even more special. Apart from the sadness of the anniversary Dora loved April- the month when Steve had returned to her from Liverpool after his mother rejected his help. Scared of getting too attached in case he left again she was distant with him fooling about with Ron instead of getting on with the work and making Steve really angry. In the end this helped to send him into Wendy's arms. Ironic that Wendy was now married to Dora's first boyfriend, Chip Lockwood

As they drove to the showground wih Jenny in the back Dora felt her mind drifting back to the day when Chip had come back into their lives. She and Steve were already an item but he was still sleeping in the loft room and they had not slept together. They were mucking out when they heard a car approaching so they looked out to see who their visitor was.

'It's Chip' said Dora. 'I wonder what he wants.'

They went outside. As Chip got out of his fancy sports car
Steve looked down at the ground- hands in pockets and a sullen look on his face. Dora put her arms round his neck and kissed him lovingly. 'I love you Steve Ross'

'And I adore you mistress of Follyfoot' he said returning her kiss and taking possession of her hand as they went over to Chip.

'Hi Chip,' said Dora and Steve merely nodded in his direction.
'What can we do for you?'

' I just came to let you know I'm back in the area and ask if you'd like to come for a drink' There was a definite pause and then he added 'Both of you of course. I'm opening an indoor riding centre in Marchester and I may be able to put some  work your way.' So their business association began. They did go out for a drink with him but the atmosphere was rather strained and Dora pleaded a headache to allow them to leave early.
When she had gone to the cloakroom Chip said' I can see how things are between you and you needn't worry that I'm going to try and come between you. I'm grateful that you didn't try and make trouble for my dad. I'd like to say he's changed but I'm afraid that wouldn't be the truth. I'd really like it if we could all be friends- I need to be around people like you and Dora. He held out his hand to Steve who , with only the slightest hesitation took it. Dora came back and as they were saying goodbye Chip leaned in for a kiss. She turned her face away so that it landed on her cheek and slipped her arm through Steve's.

Wendy called in at the farm a few weeks later asking for some more riding lessons. Steve insisted that they were too busy but told her about Chip's riding school and gave her his card. As well as not being short of money Wendy and Chip shared an interest in fast cars and disco music. Also they were quite content at the end of the day to leave their horses in the stables and not talk about them all the time. They were well suited and had now been married almost as long as Dora and Steve.

Pulling in to a parking spot at the show they were not surprised to see Wendy and Chip get out of their latest car and go over to a large horsebox. 'Looks like we may have some competition' said Steve as he unloaded the things from their car. Dora carried the picnic basket and they walked over to the open area by the arena where they set up the chairs. Steve went in search of the others and returned a little later with Jeff. Seeing them approach together Dora caught her breath.

'What is it mum? ' enquired Jenny.
It's just struck me again how alike they are physically, though Jeff's temperament is not at all like Steve's was at his age. Perhaps that's because he's never felt rejected but has grown up in a loving home with both parents'
Dora remembered Jenny's background. Her mum had died young and her father, barely turned 18 had just run off leaving the baby girl to be brought up by her mother's parents.

'Gran and Gramps gave me lots of love- and taught me most of what I know about horses- they had several on their farm'

Jenny had arrived at Follyfoot in search of a job during her gap year before starting university. For her and Jeff it had been love at almost first sight and she had been with them ever since. When after knowing each other for only six months they shyly announced that they wanted to share a room together Dora and Steve told the to go ahead and not wait as long as they had. They had been married for just over a year.

Jeff was now squatting down in front of his wife enquiring how she was.Steve sat down beside Dora and draped his arm over her shoulders.

'Are you nervous sweetheart?' he asked.

'A bit- shouldn't you be with Ronny?'

'Nah- he's gor Pru and Carl and Jeff's going back over in a minute. Don't want to leave you girls on your own'

to be continued
linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Norfolk Dumpling -One day in April
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2010, 11:09:36 PM »
'Actually' said Jenny 'I feel like stretching my legs so I'm going back with Jeff for a while.

Ronny's class was next in the ring and he acquitted himself very well coming in 6th place. He was a little disappointed but his parents were very proud of him. Everyone met up to enjoy the picnic lunch and then it was time for Pru to make her debut. Carl was standing with his arm around her and now it was Steve's turn to think how alike she and Dora were. Again the similarity ended there. Pru was outgoing, the life and soul of any party, loved dancing and could never stay serious for long.
The kiss that Carl gave her for good luck was nothing like the silly peck on the cheek he'd given Dora. Now he cleared his throat and repeated his action of all those years ago saying 'Pru can't spell chrysanthemum'. Dora laughed and they both added their good luck wishes. Jeff, Carl and Ronny went back to the horses with Pru. Steve, Dora and Jenny returned to their seats, Jenny looked puzzled.

'What does it matter that Pru can't spell chrysanthemum?

'Ron started it' said Dora.'When he thought uncle was trying to marry me off to Lord Beck. He said I was a fine looking filly, well worth looking over, clean behind the ears and could spell chrysanthemum. When I got through to the jump off against Lord Beck Steve used the same words to me. When Iwas in the ring going against the clock the words kept going through my head but I didn't finish the round because uncle was taken ill'

Pru didn't just get through to the jump off but won the competition. 'I'm so proud of you' said Carl giving her a kiss.

'We all are darling' said Dora patting Pru's horse Follydream now sporting her winner's rosette'

'We're going to head back now to get ready for the barbecue' said Steve. We'll take Jenny and the rest of you can come over once you've settled the horses.' He put his arm round Ronny's shoulders. 'We're proud of you too, son.You did really well. Sexton's not really a speed horse so a jump off against the clock was not really his thing- but you cleared all the fences easily. We'll have to work on your turns' He remembered once saying something like that to Dora too.

'I wish I'd beaten Susan Lockwood- still at least Pru beat her brother Michael.'

'Susan's a bit older than you and more experienced in competitions- you beat Charles Beck though. Perhaps we should send you over to Chip to give you some pointers on riding indoors where the turns would be tighter'

'I don't know whether I'd really want that. Susan's mum's so stuck up.'

Steve grinned. 'Yes- she always was a bit- too good for a miner's son'

'Thank goodness' said Dora.

She's still a looker though- but not a patch on you sweetheart' he said giving Dora a kiss.

'Fancy us all being here today' she said as Lord and lady Beck came past '
 He acknowledged their presence saying to Ronny
' Nice horse you've got' what!'

Jeff helped Steve take their things back to the car, Dora followed slowly with Jenny. 'You're very quiet Jen, are you okay?'

I've been having a few sharp twinges  but I've still got three weeks to go. The baby can't come yet can it mum?'

'Well- they come when they're ready. do you want me to fetch Carl?' Pru's boyfriend was training to be a doctor'

'No- let's just get home and I can phone my midwife'

'Have you got her number in your phone memory?' Jenny nodded. 'Well phone her now. Shall we tell Jeff?'

'No he's so chuffed about Pru's win and Ronny's good performance. Don't worry him yet when there might not be any need. 'Let him enjoy the moment.'

They'd reached the car and Jeff settled Jenny in giving her a kiss and saying he'd see her soon at his parents. When he'd gone Dora said 'Steve I'm going to sit in the back with Jenny- she's been having a few twinges

The midwife said she'd be with them in about an hour which gave them plenty of time to get home. Steve drove steadily. He put the cd player on with Robbie Williams singing in the hope that Jenny would be able to relax. Both she and Dora liked his music, Steve was more into 'The Killers'. Dora surveyed the back of his head showing flecks of grey now and felt so glad that as well as her husband he was still her best friend.

Back at home she settled Jenny onto the bed in one of their spare rooms and took the midwife, Meg to her when she arrived.  Steve was setting up the barbecue.

'Do you remember when Jeff was born darling?'

'Do I- I tell you this girl- I thought I'd seen enough foals born that when our baby arrived I'd be able to take it all in my stride- but it was so amazingly beautiful- particularly as it happened at home.'

Dora had awoken in the night with pains just two days before her due date. They were quite close together so Steve immediately phoned their midwife, Teri who at that time was Ron's girlfriend. when she got there she didn't think there was enough time to get to the hospital so she delivered the baby herself without any complications. Steve was very involved in everything even being allowed to cut the cord. Like Dora he bonded with Jeff immediately.

Teri had called Ron when she'd got their phone call so he had gone to the farm too. It was seeing the new young family so happy that made him realise that he was at last ready to settle down and he proposed to Teri later that same day. They married a year later and moved into the farm to keep Slugger and Hazel company when Dora and Steve moved to Copper' s rest with Jeff.
When Meg came out from seeing Jenny she said that she was definitely in labour but not very much dilated and nothing was imminent. Things could even stop so she said she would call back again later but to phone if the contractions got closer together. She told them to make sure Jenny's bag was handy just in case.

Steve rang Follyfoot and was glad that everyone was back. He told Jeff what had been happening and to bring Jenny's bag when he came over and to come in his car so he could run Jenny to hospital if necessary.

to be continued.

linda-norfolk dumpling

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Re: New story by Norfolk Dumpling -One day in April
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2010, 12:21:02 AM »
Dora was busy making salad so Steve took Jenny a cup of tea.
'Jeff will be here soon and Carl and Terry so there's nothing to worry about love 'he told her.

Over the next half an hour or so the rest of the gathering assembled on the patio by the garden pond where chairs and loungers had been set up. The weather was still unseasonably warm.

After the family had arrived from Follyfoot Teri and Ron came next. Ron now walked with a pronounced limp having had a motor cycle accident not long after he and Teri married. It had not been his fault and his compensation came through after Slugger died. They then moved to their own bungalow in the village. Ron still went to work at Follyfoot most days

A retired couple, Vi and George Lawson were taken on to live in. Vi took over the housekeeping and looked after Jeff so that Dora and Hazel could both work with the horses. George helped outside too.

Then there was Ben who had answered their advertisement for part time help in exchange for board and lodgings and a small weekly wage. He was a student at Leeds university and used his beat up old car to travel to and from his studies. He lived in Steve's old loft room which had now been upgraded considerably. Ben was very happy there .

Ben and Hazel were next to arrive. following Dora and Steve's example they had fallen in love whilst working together at Follyfoot. Ben was now a successful lawyer. He and Hazel had not got married until she had turned thirty because of the length of his training. She had taken a course in cookery and when after only three years the Lawsons moved to live with family she took over meal preparation. It was Ben who was often the one who helped with the children (Pru had arrived by this time). Hazel was quite good with them especially Ron and Teri's only child Rikki but she and Ben chose not to have children of their own because she still felt too emotionally scarred by her upbringing. Hazel now catered for parties, made and decorated cakes and still helped out at Follyfoot when needed.

Last to arrive were Callie and her husband Dave. They were both vets and had been at the show where Dave had been on duty. They had twin daughters Annabelle and Marianne the same age as Ronny. The girls were sppending the weekend with  friends. This suited him down to the ground because he thought he wanted to be a vet and followed Callie and Dave around picking their brains at every opportunity.

When all the hugs and kisses of greeting were over Teri, now a practice nurse went to see Jenny. Her pains were coming a bit closer together now and she said she really did not want any food. The barbecue was now fired up and ready to receive sausages, pork chops, burgers and chicken. Hazel took over the cooking from Steve who went to get everyone a drink.

They all enjoyd the meal and the company and as the light faded Steve refilled everyone's glass and proposed a toast to Slugger. Dora added another to the future success of Ronny and Pru.

Callie, Dave and Ronny went to settle Dora and Steve's horses, Ron took Jeff for a walk to try to settle the younger man's nerves while Teri went to see Jenny again. Hazel and Ben cleared some things up in the kitchen with Dora. Steve said he would go to Follyfoot with Pru and Carl to see how things were getting on.

' Just a minute dad- we have something to say- can you get mum for a few minutes?'

He was soon back with Dora who said worriedly 'There's nothing wrong is there you two?'

'Quite the contrary' said Carl. 'I love Pru very much and I'd like your permission to marry her. It wont be yet as I need to finish my training first but we would like to get engaged.'

' We'd like to move in together at Follyfoot' said Pru. Jenny will be quite tied up with the baby from now on and if we move in I can be there most of the time and Carl and I will be able to spend most of our free time together. He will still be at the hospital quite a bit but it will save him money on digs. We spoke to Jeff and Jenny earlier and they're quite okay with it'

'Obviously I'll contribute to the housekeeping and help out with the horses and other jobs as and when I can.,

'Well' said Steve, 'all I can say is welcome to the family although we already feel you belong to it anyway. We gladly give you our permission don't we love?'

Dora nooded and smiled adding 'We hope you'll be as happy there as we were and as Jeff and Jenny are now.. When the others arrived back to be told the good news there was more hugging, kissing, hand shaking and backslapping and of course rude remarks from Ron.

Pru said 'Do you mind if we go now dad as we'd like to break the news to Carl's parents tonight?'

'No- off you go. We'll go over to Follyfoot in a bit to see how things are'

As Pru and Carl were leaving the midwife returned and Jeff went back into the house. Teri went over to Ron who was sitting by the pond deep in thought.

'Are you thinking about Slugger love?'

'Yeah- he was just like a father to us. The number of times he had to come between Steve and me and mop up Dora's tears too- often within minutes of each other. You liked him too didn't you?'

'Yes -he was a real character. What's your favourite memory of him?'

'Well it's got to be when the colonel was taken ill and Dora's parents were threatening to cart her off back to London with them. Steve was talking about leaving too. I went into the kitchen and there was Slugger going about his usual cooking chores and whistling tunelessly.'

'You're gonna 'ave ter pull yer finger out young Ron if there's only gonna be you and me 'ere to look after all them 'orrible great brutes.'

'It won't really happen though Slugs, will it?'

' Won't happen he says, won't happen. Well if it does, it does. Sest Lavvy as the French might say'

'He waved his greasy spoon at me and said - now git on wiv yer work' As he turned back to his cooking I thought I saw a tear in his eye so I gave him this dirty great man hug and said ' I wont leave yer'

to be cont'd

linda-norfolk dumpling

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Re: New story by Norfolk Dumpling -One day in April
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2010, 11:41:36 PM »
'No an' you better not neiver'

'When he found out Dora was to be mistress of Follyfoot and had persuaded Steve to stay he had such a wide grin on his face. He hugged each of us in turn and told us he would be there for us as long as we needed him. He was too- till Dora and Steve woke up to the fact that they needed each other and till you and I were safely hitched. That grin of his is the thing I like to remember most. It still appeaed occasionally during his last illness and when it did it lit up even the darkest of days.'

'Come on you old softie- we'd better be off soon.'

Jeff came out looking for his dad. 'Jenny's waters have broken and we need to get her to hospital. Meg's phoning to let them know to expect us and mum's clearing up. I'm going to carry Jenny outside. Can you bring the bag dad and go and get the car open?' Dave and Callie decided to go to Follyfoot to see what needed doing and Ronny of course went too.

Teri and Ron said their goodbyes. Steve helped Jeff to settle Jenny in the car and Jeff drove off with Meg just behind. Steve began to stack the garden chairs and dismantle the loungers with Ben's help. Hazel was inside with Dora and had put the kettle on. Steve checked with Dora that everything was okay and said he would go to Follyfoot himself.

'I'll come up a bit later' she said flopping down onto a chair and smiling gratefully at Hazel for handing her a cup of tea.
She and Ben had a cup too and then said they would be off.

'Thanks- you've been great- everyone has'

'Let us know what happens with Jenny- we're usually up till midnight' Hazel said.

Dora nodded and gave them both a hug. Suddenly she was on her own. She felt a little sad that Pru would be moving out but happy that the farmhouse would be filled with family. She must have dropped off because the next thing she knew Dave had returned and was calling her softly.

'Caramella has had her foal- it's a boy. I've just come to pick the car up-would you like a lift to Follyfoot?'

'Thanks- I'll just lock up'

 Minutes later she was saying goodbye to Ben and Callie promising to let them know any news too. She found Steve and Ronny with Caramella and her foal in the stable where Folly had been born all those years ago. They talked about a name and Dora suggested Fred because that is what Slugger had wanted to call Folly. Steve laughed and said that it was perhaps a bit plain so they came up with FollyFred - Fred for short. They would wait to see what the others thought before finally deciding.

Rikki put her head in and asked if she could go home. They told her she could and Dora said to be careful on the bike. Rikki loved her small motorbike and unlike her father was careful not to start it up near the stables. Ronny sent Pru a text message telling her about the foal and she replied saying she'd be home in about an hour.

Leaving Ronny where he was Dora and Steve went round to all the stables and closed the doors calling goodnight to each horse as they did so then they went to collect Ronny.

'Please let me stay a while- at least till Pru gets back.' Since the next day was Sunday and there were still a few days of the Easter holidays left they agreed. 'I'll come and pick you up later' said Steve.

I'm not a kid dad- it's only ten minutes across the fields. I can bring myself home.'

'You know your mother worries son- humour us eh?'

'How about I phone when I'm leaving and you can meet me halfway?'

'Okay son- we'll do it your way. Phone my mobile in case your mum and I decide to go on a romantic walk.'

Ronny grinned knowing his dad was serious. It was the kind of thing they often did after their final check of Copper and the others. Dora smiled to herself thinking how good Steve had become at avoiding confrontation.

They set off hand in hand on the short walk home.
'Well sweetheart- it's been quite a day- look- a new moon. Make a wish.' Dora was still a compulsive wish maker.

Steve took her in his arms and kissed her tenderly. 'Well- I don't know what you wished for but mine just came true- kissing the girl of my dreams still as lovely as the day I first met her over 30 years ago.'

The ringing of his mobile phone broke the mood. Recognising Jeff's number he held the phoe so Dora could listen too.
' Granny, Grandad, we have a lovely little girl. Stephanie Jennifer was born at 8.00pm and weighed in at  8 pounds 6 ounces. They're both doing well and should be able to come home on Monday.'

'Well done son- give our love to Jenny. Oh, by the way we have another addition to the family. Caramella has given birth to a male foal'

'That's great dad- I'm just going to say goodnight to my girls then I'm going to get something to eat. I didn't have much of an appetite this afternoon. I'll see you bothin the morning. Goodnight.'

'Goodnight Jeff' they chorused.Steve rang Ronny, then Pru and set up a round robin to let everyone else know.
Well granny- we're coming towards the end of a perfect day'

'Can we go down to the lake for a bit?'

' Of course he replied knowing that once again her thoughts had turned to Slugger. He remembered her first birthday at Folllyfoot when Slugger had got him an Ron to build a raft out into the lake so they could hold her tea party there.
Dora was remembering that too but even more memories came tumbling into her mind. Firstly there was the night when she'd told Steve to leave:-

After she'd spoken to him she'd run back to the farmhouse and too upset to talk to anyone had gone straight to her room. She'd heard Steve's voice in the kitchen speaking to Slugger- she couldn't hear what they were saying. Looking out of the window she saw Steve leave and head for the lake. She'd covered her mouth with her hand and made to run downstairs but then saw Slugger follow Steve.

They were gone for a long time. She saw Steve come back and go to his loft room  but not Slugger. She waited and
waited and when he still didn't come put on her coat and boots and went out to find him... to be continued

linda-norfolk dumpling

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Re: New story by Norfolk Dumpling -One day in April
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2010, 11:40:48 PM »
He was standing looking out over the lake which was lit by the moon and a few stars.
'Slugger- what are you doing out here?'
'Been talking to Steve aint I' he said keeping his back to her and drawing a hand across his eyes.'

'Yes I know-I saw you both come out but Steve's gone back now'

'I'm just gatherin' me foughts girl.'

Gently she turned him round to face her. For the first time he looked old and sad and she knew he'd been having a little weep.

'What are you trying to do to me girl? First you're going, then you're not and just when I fink fings are gonna be okay yer give Steve 'is marching orders. He's devastated girl and so am I. Your uncle and I wont always be around- yer'll need someone ter look after yer. There's no-one who can do that better than Steve. He's stuck his neck out for you more times than I'd care ter mention. He's loyal- even when he doesn't agree with how yer do things 'e backs yer up and sticks up for yer and you go and kick him in the teeth. He told me you wouldn't dream of treating a 'orse the way you treat him sometimes and he's right!' You should have had that spanking I said you needed- not that I would've done it and neiver would 'e. I thought I understood yer girl- but this beats me I tell yer straight'

'He's too strong'

'Too strong she says- Yeah- that's why e's breaking 'is 'eart.Well you think on girl. I've told 'im ter ask yer tomorrer if he can stay- swallow that blessed pride of his fer once. It's up ter you girl. If 'e goes part of me goes wiv 'im. Yer know 'e's like a son ter me- 'im and Ron both'

'Oh Slugs- I was so sure earlier today that I was doing the right thing. I've hurt Steve and I've hurt you- but he was so unreasonable today. So sure about the gypsies. I don't know how he could be like that after what happened with Tina and her family.'

'Unreasonable she says- which one of you was unreasonable about Hazel eh? Even when she smashed his photo frame he was willing ter give 'er another chance- maybe that was what stopped 'er from hurting Copper. You took a lot more persuading girl. Steve knows where she's coming from. She's not going to be easy to handle that one. '

'Ron's good with her too.'

'Yes he is- but where's Ron at the first sign of trouble? On 'is bike- that's where. Between you, me and Steve we can show Hazel what she needs- a firm hand, a good example and love. Ron can show her how to laugh and have fun. I'm saying no more girl- just you fink about it, that's all!'.

They went back to the farm. Dora glanced over to the loft room but no light was showing so she'd decided to sleep on it.

How glad she was that she had re-considered. Now all these years later she and Steve had reached the lake.
Do you remember bringing Slugger down here a couple of days before he died Steve?

'How could I forget?'

It had been a lovely warm day just like the one they had just had. Slugger had been unable to leave the house for several weeks. He had suffered a couple of strokes and the latest had left him with severe mobility problems. The powers that be had suggested that he might be better off in a residential home but none of them could bear to even consider it and vowed that between them they would look after him as he had always looked after them. They knew that he possibly did not have much time left.

Hazel had taken over most of Slugger's catering duties and Teri helped with the housework when she was not at work. Sluggers grin had been missing for the past couple of weeks. The lighter nights and warmer weather made him long to be working outside.

On the day in question Dora and Steve decided to take Jeff down to the lake. Steve took the wheelchair into the kitchen 'Come on mate- we're going for a breath of fresh air'

'I aint going nowhere in that fing!' he said.

'Ah Slugs- Dora's taking Jeff in the buggy and I thought we might give them a race-might even take the fishing gear. I promise not to tip you out. You can sit and fish while we play with Jeff. We're going to give him his first ride on a horse.'

At last Slugger's grin broke through. 'Okay' he said.Steve put his coat on for him and settled him in the chair.

Jeff had been having a nap after lunch. Dora changed him and took him through to the kitchen. He held out his arms to Steve who took him from her and gave him a cuddle.
'Hiya mate' he said. He dressed him in his outdoor things and strapped him safely in his buggy. Dora brought a blanket and wrapped it around Slugger's legs. Steve picked up the fishing gear and a chair and set off.

Dora won the race easily because Jeff was a lightweight in comparison to Slugger and the wheelchair was also hampered by having the fishing gear on it.'This is the life' said Steve 'skiving off for the afternoon with my three favourite people.'

'Whoopee' yelled Slugger moments later. I think I've got a bite!!! Steve helped him to land a fair sized pike. 'a few more like that and that will be supper at the farm taken care of ' Slugger exclaimed delightedly.

Ron came up leading Midnight- a gentle old horse well used to children. Dora mounted and Steve put Jeff on in front of her. She supported him while he led them on a short rein.
Ron kept an eye on Slugger and helped him land a couple more fish. After a while Steve lifted Jeff down from the horse, Dora dismounted and Ron took Midnight back to his stable.Slugger caught several more fish during the afternoon while Dora and Steve amused Jeff tossing him in the air, letting him try his feet and playing peek a boo behind the buggy. When they returned to the farmhouse kitchen Slugger was holding the fish like trophies and the look on his face was a joy to behold. It was good to be doing something useful again.

As Steve helped him out of his wheelchair and removed his coat he said' Thanks for today son, I really enjoyed it.'

'We'll do it again soon' said Dora as she held Jeff near to her old friend so he could kiss him goodbye. The little hand waved as his daddy carried him away. to be cont'd
linda-norfolk dumpling

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Re: New story by Norfolk Dumpling -One day in April
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2010, 10:57:39 PM »
Steve liked to walk them home every night. Dora pushed the empty buggy while Steve took the opportunity of pointing out interesting things to their son. They would always stop at thefield of horses and tell him all their names. Tonight Dora seemed miles away.

'Penny for them' said Steve.

I'm just worried about Slugger.'

'Why- he seemed in fine form this afternoon.'

'I don't know- I've just got this funny feeling and'

'Don't tell me -you saw that magpie this morning.' Dora nodded.

'I've seen one on lots of occasions since your uncle died without anything bad happening'

'I know. I'm just being silly'

When they got home Steve gave Dora and Jeff a big hug.
'Since I had this afternoon off I'd better get back and help with the horses. Shame there's not enough pike for us. Don't bother cooking anything for tea- I'll take the car back and fetch us a Chinese. See you later JR'  He handed Jeff to Dora and tickled his cheek making the little one chuckle.

'No tears now girl, you hear -I'll be back as soon as I can.' In the doorway he turned and blew her a kiss.

Dora kept herself busy by feeding Jeff then sat him in his bouncy chair while she put some washing in the machine and did some other odd jobs. Every now and then she'd stop and give Jeff some attention. The time flew by till Steve got back with their food. He took Jeff out of his chair and played with him while Dora set out the food and poured them both a shandy.

Steve had become an expert at eating with Jeff on his lap. Tonight he offered him small spoonfuls of rice which he seemed to like. After they had eaten and Dora had cleared away they sat and watched the news and then Steve took Jeff for his bath while Dora watched a soap opera. She could hear Steve chatting to Jeff all the time and him responding with laughter and a few words.

When they came back Steve said he'd better go and see to Copper Alex and Folly. He kissed Jeff and was delighted when the little boy said 'Da da 'lex'

'Clever boy, yes daddy's going to see Alex' said Dora.

When Steve had gone she put Jeff  into a clean nappy snd sleeping suit and sat to give him his bedtime bottle. Then she sat him up on her lap and rubbed his back singing to him softly. She popped him in his cot and wound up his mobile. Leaning over to kiss him she said softly ' I think very soon you may be having a little brother or sister'

'Oh yes, ' said Steve from the doorway 'and when were you going to let me in on the secret?'

'Tonight of course'

'How certain are you?'

'I did the test this morning. I'm about 12 weeks gone'

'Best you get along to the doctor soon ' he said taking her in his arms and hugging her gently.

'I'm so glad I haven't had any morning sickness this time yet.'

'Are you happy about having another baby sweetheart?'

'Yes - are you?'

'Very. We're both only children. It'll be good for Jeff to have a playmate and for them to grow up together'

The next morning Slugger again seemed in fine form and Ron said he would try and take him for a drive later in the day. He couldn't however as he had to go and pick up a horse. Dora and Steve were both busy schooling horses with Jeff watching from his buggy. By the time Ron got back it was getting dark.

'Never mind me ole mate- tomorrow is another day.'

Sadly for Slugger this was not the case. When Dora left with Jeff she called 'See you in the morning Slugger' and went outside to find Steve to walk them home.

'Slugs was asleep when we came out Steve. I didn't want to wake him- tell him I said Goodnight'

'Okay' he said. When he left them he ruffled Jeff's hair and said 'Be good young man' Dora kissed him and went to the door with Jeff to wave him off.

As he was walking back to the farm Steve heard the wail of an ambulance siren. As he got to the farm he saw the vehicle draw up and the noise stopped. Ron was standing by the gate looking worried. He took the ambulance crew into the house. Steve followed and met Ron coming out again.

'What's up Ron?' he said.

'It's Slugger Steve- we think he's gone.'

Steve covered his mouth with his hand and looked at the open door wondering whether he should go in but deciding he would probably be in the way.

'I'm going to get on with some work- let me know as soon as anything happens.'

Hazel was already feeding horses in a very half hearted way. Steve joined her but they both kept stopping what they were doing and looking out of the stable door.

After what seemed like an eternity they saw Teri come out and shake her head sadly. She put her arms round Ron who was standing guard in the doorway. Being a nurse she had known all along that Slugger was beyond help. Soon the ambulance crew brought out a stretcher with Slugger's inert form on it. Steve ran over for a last look turning back the sheet and touching the cheeks of his old friend who looked like he was sleeping peacefully.

'Dora said to tell you goodnight'

He heard very little of the conversation that went on between Teri and the crew about the formalities that needed observing. Ron was openly weeping and unashamedly Steve found himself doing the same. Hazel came over and put an arm round each of them' Her bottom lip quivered but she didn't cry- then.

They kept Slugger's sister's phone number in their book and Teri went to call her. The basic chores still had to be done and with heavy hearts they got on with them. All the time Steve was wondering how he was going to break the news to Dora.

'Do you want one of us to come with you?' asked Teri.

'No- I'd rather do it alone thanks- I'll call if we need you.'
On legs that felt like lead he walked the short distance home. Dora was spooning gloop into Jeff's hungry little mouth.

'You've been a long time'

'Yeah' He waited until she had finished feeding Jeff and cleaned him up then he sat her down on the sofa and sank down beside her with Jeff on his knee. He held him against his body with one arm and put the other around Dora.

'Sweetheart, there's no easy way to tell you this'

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One day in April by Norfolk Dumling
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2010, 12:00:00 AM »
She looked into his face and saw the distress there. She thought she knew what he was going to say- she had heard the ambulance too.

'Slugger wasn't asleep was he Steve?'

'I dunno Dora- probably not. I'm so sorry girl, I'm afraid Slugger's dead.'

'No Steve, No!. Not Slugger, not yet. It's too soon.'

Jeff let out a wail frightened by his mother's outburst. Steve managed to tighten his embrace on them both.

'His big heart finally gave up. He'd had enough. He knew he wasn't going to get any better. I went and saw him before they put him in the ambuilance. He looked like he was in a peaceful sleep. I said goodnight to him for you. We can't wish him back love.'......

The past faded and they were back in the present again standing by the moonlit lake.

Running along one of the borders was a row of trees. The one nearest the shore was a strong oak tree planted after the colonel had died. Next came a pear tree added after Steve and Dora married. For Jeff there was a plum tree and for Slugger a Cox's apple tree.The next in line was a cherry tree.

No-one was surprised when after Slugger's funeral Dora was not seen for about ten days, nor when Jeff spent some time with her friend in the village. Nobody thought it strange when Steve was quiet and withdrawn during this time and spent a lot of time at home doing only absolute essentials and with scarcely a word to anyone. Everyone thought that they were both grieving deeply. They were certainly grieving for Slugger but also for the precious little life that had been lost after only thirteen weeks in the womb. Only  Dora, Steve and a few hospital staff knew. That was how they wanted it. They did not want to inflict extra grief on their friends- it was bad enough that they had to bear it.
The planting of the cherry tree had helped- they had done it together and everyone assumed it was another tree for Slugger. Every year when they remembered him they also remembered the baby that should have come between Jeff and Pru.

Standing by the tree now with eyes filled with tears Dora said .'God bless little angel.'

Steve's mobile interrupted their shared memories. 'Okay Ronny- we're down by the lake. See you in a few minutes..'

Steve swallowed a lump in his throat 'Come on darling, dry
your tears and leave your grief here for another year.'

They walked past Pru's Bramley apple tree and another plum tree for Ronny.

'We need to move on to a new chapter in our lives- Carl's becoming part of the family, Follyfred's arrived and we need to plant another tree for Stephanie. Never a dull moment eh?

Managing rather a watery smile Dora said the two words she'd so often used to him before in happy times as well as sad- same words said in different ways- 'Oh Steve'

The end.
linda-norfolk dumpling