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The Good Stuff
Short Story

Becky's Secret Joy

by Charity Moore
Length: 1,933 words

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Becky's Secret Joy

Becky breathed in the strong scent of pine and wood, her hazel eyes looked forlornly through the sweeping branches out onto the rolling green pastures. The trunk of the towering pine trees offered her a place of safety, of comfort. She swept another tear from her eye with the back of her hand, reliving the nightmare.

“Becky” her grandmother’s shrill voice called from the bottom of the lofty tall pines.

“Becky-Lee Todd, you get down here right now missy” her grandmother continued.

Becky’s pulse quickened and her heart was racing as she held her breath, daring not to move. 

“I’m going to count to 3 missy and you better be down here by then, or else

“Or else what?
thought Becky, her mind began to conjure differing punishments. She wrung her small calloused hands together and her previous troubles were far behind her as she faced her newest dilemma.

“1…2….2 and a half, Becky are you coming down?” 

Her grandmother shouted, then she saw the tiny legs of Becky appear, followed by her slender frame and long dark, curly hair, slowly and carefully descending down the gnarled tree trunk.

Becky’s grandmother was a tall, slender, fair and strong looking woman of older appearance. Her hair, a mass of curly grey and her eyes a piercing sea blue. She stood now, hands on hips, her eyes blazing as the little girl stood before her and looked up at her grandmother’s glare.

“What were you doing up there, you could be killed if you fell

It was obvious her grandmother didn’t really want an answer and Becky couldn’t think of one right at that moment, the thought of punishment still uppermost in her mind. Becky just lowered her head to look at the ground, her bottom lip quivering, red and flushed.

“I looked all over the farm for you, you’ve been missing for hours, didn’t you hear me call you? Answer me Becky

“No nanny, I didn’t hear you
Becky squeaked as she looked up at her grandmother, her hazel eyes filled with a mixture of sorrow and fear.

Flossy looked down at her frail grandchild, Becky’s simple cotton dress, two sizes too small was covered in dirt, her bare feet were grubby through walking around with no shoes. She was her mother’s helper, a little Cinderella and the more children her mother Charlene had, the more work for Becky. Inwardly disappointed in her daughter’s treatment of Becky, every time she intervened Charlene would end up making it even harder for Becky. In the end Flossy kept a watchful eye for the child from a distance. Flossy’s eyes softened and her heart melted, the anger washed away with love for her grandchild. She looked into the frightened eyes of her fair grandchild and she felt like kicking herself for acting so rashly. 

“She’s been through so much already
she chastised herself.

Her voice full of compassion, Flossy kneeled, looking into Becky’s emerald green eyes and said ‘Why have you been hiding in the tree Becky?’
Becky’s eyes filled with fresh tears, she bent her head and wept, her shoulders heaving with her sobs. Flossy’s strong arms enveloped her grandchild and she pulled her into herself.

“Tell nanny, what’s the matter?

she choked out the name through the sobs.

Roger was Charlene’s new husband who had taken responsibility of Charlene’s other children from her previous marriage, Becky being one of them. He wasn’t a mean man but his youth lacked maturity and he often made rash decisions based on his emotions. Being a childlike man, he tried to play the role of a good father and husband, or what he thought that meant and Charlene supported all his decisions. 

“Roger what, what did he do?
her grandmother asked, concern flicking across her face. ‘That man’ she thought. 

She loved Roger but sometimes he really maddened her, with the way he treated Becky.

“Roger took my doll my Dad bought me and chucked it away
a flood of tears cascaded down Becky’s face.

“It wasn’t his doll nanny, it was mine
she sobbed.

Her grandmother rocked her grandchild in her arms as she continued to cry and after a little while the crying eventually subsided and Becky quietened.
‘You okay now’ cooed Flossy.

The little head shook in affirmation, in the folds of her grandmothers arms.
‘Okay there, nanny will see what I can do

Becky turned her swollen red eyes up at her grandmother and searched the older woman’s startling blue orbs, confusion flicked across Becky’s face.

“Nanny, he chucked it into the fire
tears bordering Becky’s eyes again threatening to spill over the edge, just at the mention of it.

Flossy pulled her grandchild’s head into her shoulder, stood up and walked back to the old farmhouse, cradling her in her arms and comfortingly patting her small back, Becky’s sobs now subsided.

“Do you want to help nanny bake a cake?
Flossy said as she put Becky down on the wooden worn floorboards of the verandah.

Becky’s sadness disappeared and a new joy leapt within her.

“Oh yes nanny
she beamed, the tears already dried on her grimey face.

“We need to give you a bath first and change your clothes, because only clean girls help nanny in the kitchen, okay?

Her grandmother’s eyes sparkled with mischief as she smiled lovingly at Becky.

Becky’s eyes beamed with joy as she enthusiastically jumped up and down, clapping her hands together all else forgotten.

After Flossy led her grandchild into the bathroom, Becky ran the bath while her grandmother went to look for her a fresh change of clothes.

Flossy’s eyes wrinkled as she smiled to herself, the wrinkles were testament to her hearty laugh as she joked with her husband Jim over the years. Her face was lined through hard work in the cruel winds, rains and scorching sun, but her spirit never dulled. It always shone brightly and that is what everyone loved most about her. Becky loved her grandparents more than anyone else in the world, even more than her own mother and Roger. She never told anyone that though. 

Flossy stole glances at Becky while they prepared the cake, contented inwardly, her former frustrations now completely gone. She wondered at the ability of children to be pleased so easily. She loved to see her grandchild happy.

Later that evening, after the children were in bed, Flossy sat down with a cuppa and spoke to Roger and Charlene.

“Becky was very upset about her doll today
directing the statement at Roger

“Oh yea
said Roger unperturbed.

“She told me that you had burned her doll that her father had given her.

Yea, she’s too old for a doll Flossy Roger replied with conviction in his eyes.

It was the only thing that her father has ever got her and she loved it Flossy said with a tinge of annoyance, trying hard to control the tone in her voice and the anger rising within her.

I don’t want her to get spoilt ma, we have other children too and you can’t get something for one without the others having something too intervened Charlene. 

Flossy looked across the table at her pretty daughter who had been quiet up until then and replied.

For goodness sake Charlene, spoilt! The child doesn’t have anything. The doll is the only thing she has ever got from her father, she works so hard for a little girl, you two could have let her have one thing for herself .

With that Flossy stood up, and declared she was going to bed, closing the door behind her. She felt frustrated, and very annoyed at both of them. 

Early the next morning Flossy got up and pulled out her best clothing. 

‘Nanny, where are you going
said Becky, surprised that her grandmother looked so nicely dressed.

She had heard noise coming from her grandparent’s room and decided to get up too.

I’m going into town.

Can I come too nanny, I can get dressed quickly

No, not today Becky, nanny has to go into town to do some business okay

Becky watched from the window as her grandmother’s small car bumped and jiggled along the dirt road leading from the farm. As it got further and further away from the farmhouse Becky’s frown deepened and her heart sank lower and lower, then it went over the hill and disappeared. 

Later that day, after all her chores had been done, Becky went back into the plantation at the back of the farmhouse, but this time she went to the bottom of the hill, just before the plantation ended. She stood in the middle of the tall pine trees, opened her arms and twirled around and around as the strong winds whipped her clothes and hair about her. She breathed in the smell of fresh pine and wood and made her way to the gently rippling waters of the plantation stream, letting her fingers feel the cool waters trickle through them.

Oh, how nice she thought.

Suddenly in the distance she thought she could hear a faint call of her name, looking up the hillside she saw her grandmother appear at the top of the hill.

I’m over here nanny yelled Becky.

Becky stood up and started the ascent to her beckoning grandmother, who was dressed in her old farm clothes.

When she reached her, her grandmother pulled a brown paper parcel from beneath her cardigan and gave it to Becky. 

This is for you Becky, but it has to be our secret okay, you can’t tell anyone about it because they might take it from you. You’ll need to hide it away okay?

For me? said Becky in wonder, carefully turning the parcel over and lovingly stroking the brown paper.

Open it said her grandmother.

Flossy watched Becky carefully taking the wrapping off her gift. 

A book!, nanny thank you so much Becky made a grab for her grandmother and swung off her neck as Flossy bent to receive her kiss.

I love you nanny Becky beamed.

Open it Becky

Becky flipped the book’s front cover of a girl doll over and inside the book was a cardboard cut-out of four different dolls. As Becky flipped though the pages of the book, there were hundreds of different cut-out dresses, shoes, hats and bags for the dolls.

Flossy was filled with quiet satisfaction as she watched Becky beam with happiness, revelling in her granddaughters ‘Oohs and aahs’ and ‘look nanny’, as she pointed to the different dresses, telling her what she was going to put on each doll.

Flossy left her there with the book as she went back to the farmhouse, happy that Becky had something for herself.

Maybe next time I will buy her a book of poems she thought to herself with a smug smile on her face.

Becky carefully flicked though the worn pages of the book, the memories flooding through her mind. A tear trickled down her cheek, but this time they were tears of happiness. She carefully wrapped the book back up and lovingly put it back into the secret recesses of the pine tree trunk as she had done on so many occasions since her grandmother had given it to her. 

Her grandmother Flossy had long past away, as was her grandfather. Becky had children of her own now, but every now and then as the years ticked by she would steal away to the old farm. To the old pine tree. She would revisit the time that nanny had given her a secret joy.

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Reviews (applause received)    Applaud with your positive comments by clicking here

Caroline Crowley   Australia
"What a beautiful story! A very creative look at some 'real-life' issues. Well Done!"

Parul Sahgal  Australia
"I think Its written beautifully and I can straight away empathise with the characters especially Becky. very good use of vocab. Done Well!"

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