The Culprit.

ambulance_bedford

 

“Their Daddy had been away a long time; I remember it well”. As Winifred  recalled, she spoke with clarity, her eyes misted over then sparkled as the memories crowded in. I looked at the tall, slim, straight lady who wore her ninety years behind a mask of order and discipline; I was surprised at her gentle voice.

We sat at the table with a tray of tea pouring paraphernalia between us. “I would like to hear” I said, as I played Mother with my Mother in law across the damask cloth.

“After his accident it took two years one to recover his health; it was a very bleak time, then another to rehabilitate. We had to fly him home a closer unit was required to… acclimatise”. Stopping to gaze thoughtfully she smiled. “We were made of stronger stuff then. Howard had one leg amputated at the thigh the other was so damaged it was a useless limb full of pain and infection”. She shook her head and tutted.

“They had fitted a tin leg with leather straps which he was trying to use; but it was not easy. Roehampton took him in, they decided he would be bought home one weekend in two as a precursor to returning permanently.” Occasionally she would drift off as if visualising his face. “Our boys were five, they couldn’t remember not really”. Winifred shook her head.

 

“The day had arrived the boys knew Daddy was coming and I had explained the best one could. It was four o’clock, I recall having just laid the table for tea when the clanging began in fury. They rushed to the window, jostling for space with me close behind.  The lights were flashing and that dreadful racket ringing out.  Howard had arranged it for them you see, with the driver”. She collected the cups, leant on the table, frowned and said. “As I pulled back the nets to look, the Ambulance arrived in the lane.” Then tapping her finger  like quotation marks she raised her voice “There’s the culprit! I said guiding them to look. From that day on an Ambulance became the culprit.” Winifred dropped the dishes into the sink. “Well my girl a little magic sometimes works wonders; after all a culprit is far more interesting than a Daddy”.


Author Notes

26 Comments for “The Culprit.”

Mary Cooney-Glazer

says:

Winifred is a compelling character. She reflects a time when people just got on with it as best they could. Love the way you portrayed her as gentle, yet steely. Nice read. Mary

says:

Once again you are very complimentary and I am touched . Thank you very much Mary there once were characters made of strong stuff, alas there are not many left. ?

Marcia Yearwood

says:

Well done Ellen! When I saw the ambulance in the image I couldn’t imagine why it would be the “culprit” but you explained so nicely. I love stories where seniors are reliving their memories for the younger set. They can be sweet or sad or funny or a combination, and usually we (the younger) come out having learned a lot from our elders.

Tim Hillebrant

says:

Hi Ellen,

Great read, here. Reminds me a little of my grandmother talking about when my grandfather came home from the war. He was wounded in battle, and had some recovery he had to go through. Your writer’s voice here with Winifred reminds me of my grandmother very much.

I think the others caught the nits, so I got to benefit from the great read. 🙂

Tim

says:

Ellen,

Very well done. Loved the POV, and having the mother-in-law tell the story. Good choices, both. It’s a wonderful family story!

Coupla nits:

“After his accident it took two years one (delete ‘one’) to recover his health;

We had to fly him home a closer unit was required to… acclimatise (acclimatize)”.

Occasionally she would drift off as if visualising (visualizing) his face.

Small nits, really… Keep up the great writing!

says:

Thank you Dave the nits “acclimatise and visualising are correct British, English spellings. Thank you for them nonetheless , I am still learning the peculiarities between American, British and Canadian spellings and meanings.

says:

What I like most about this piece is the voice you use for Winifred, it reflects her age, her memory, and reads very realistically. The tone is reflective, not just in memory but in pain on the whole family. She never says this, but you feel it in her words. Great job with this!
Nits:
-As Winifred recalled, she spoke with clarity, her eyes misted over(,) then sparkled as the memories crowded in. (You may want to revise this sentence somehow, a bit awkward, but I get what you mean. The word ‘recalled’ and then the comma and the word ‘spoke’ threw me off, as I was expecting her to speak but it was about how she spoke.)
-“After his accident it took two years(,) one to recover his health; it was a very bleak time, then another to rehabilitate.

Write On!
Becky

says:

A touching little piece, Ellen. Great read.

Edit note:

This sentence is kinda disjointed and ramble-y:

They rushed to the window,jostling for space with me close behind{,}(–) flashing lights and that dreadful racket, Howard had arranged it for them with the driver.

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