Double-edged sword


“Father would want us to carry on, Philomena. You know he would.” I rolled up my sleeves as I spoke, adjusting the black armband. We had no money for full mourning outfits.

“You are a cold-hearted fish – shame on you!”

“The field will not plough itself. Father and Jem are – gone. We have to survive on our own now.”

We faced each other, hands on hips, both insistent that we were right. Stubborn as Father, I thought.

Major whickered impatiently in the background. He wanted to work too, and the brassware and buckles jangled as he strained his harness against the weight of the plough. I pictured Jem rubbing Major’s nose softly on the day he and Father left. It had been a lifetime ago, or so it seemed.

“Philomena! Louisa! Please read this, for I cannot!”

We both turned, our impasse forgotten. Mother was running across the field, hair falling loose from its pins, skirts held high above the mud. She waved a piece of paper, shining white against the grey sky.



It’s been a while, but I thought I should pop my head around the door of Alistair’s Sunday Photo Fiction and get creative in a non-poetic way. The story came to my head quite quickly, once again inspired by family history talk last weekend. There were lots of agricultural labourers in my family background before the industrial revolution took hold. Yes, there was a lucky incident of being the victim of double-booking on third class passage on the Titanic.  A very lucky escape indeed…

Do take part if you have time, or just pop over and read the other entries!

15 thoughts on “Double-edged sword

    1. Thank you, Steve. Well, one one side of the family, I know that the Titanic experience didn’t put them off and they did make it to Canada later on, and then came back. I’m not sure about the other side.

    1. Thank you! I’m not great at writing happy endings in the way others are – so this is quite effusive for me! The photo just seemed to tell the story – serendipity!

  1. This a great story and a very interesting look at things. It’s all the more poignant to me because of the ferry disaster here in Korea where parents were originally told that everyone was safe, and then found out later that . . . no. Luckily your story is the opposite and has a happy ending.

  2. I’m glad the story had a happy ending! My first time visiting, but from people’s remarks, it sounds like the story was a piece of your family history! Wow.
    My great-grandfather was a schooner captain who went down with his ship (one of his sons did too) when 20th technology (a steamer) rammed 19th century technology — a masted, wooden sailing vessel.

    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting! Yes, a slice of real family history there. Goodness me – your poor great-grandfather. Life was far more risky not so long ago…

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