It’s “Friday Fact or Fiction”, where I write a little something for the weekend for you to read, be it fact or, um, fiction. This week, it’s ‘fiction’, with the second part of my new short story, ‘The Quiet Life of Megan Quinn’…
The Quiet Life of Megan Quinn – Part Two
It was during this time of the morning, as Megan was sitting out her silent surveillance, that she was caught, quite unexpectedly, by her Father. Holding her breath as she felt the warm weight of his hand upon her shoulder, Megan braced herself for the scolding that was sure to follow after caught on such a clandestine mission. Yet, to Megan’s surprise (and secret delight) her Father, a man of morals, principles and dignity, instead chose to seat himself on Megan’s step, and, cupping his daughter into the soft fold of his arm, said, ‘Megan, you know that whatever you chose to do with your life, I will be proud of you.’ Megan, a girl of clarity and thought, looked to her Father and said, ‘So if I was like Dorothy, a woman with a career but no husband, a woman who has not found love, you would be still proud of me?’ Her Father, one eye on his elder daughter who was busy smearing jam on to bread, said, ‘But Megan, our Dorothy has found love. She is in love with nursing. It is her passion. The trick, my little welsh cake, is to find yours.’ With the sun warming the window, the two spies sat and watched as Dorothy bit into her breakfast, where upon a blob of strawberry promptly slid off the bread and landed in her lap. Sensing her Father’s smile, Megan, suddenly animated, pulled at his ear and whispered, ‘I wish to be a teacher when I am older, more than anything. A woman of career, just like Dorothy.’ ‘Well then,’ said her Father, tapping Megan’s nose and rising to a stretch, for a day’s work was yet ahead of him, ‘that is what you must do. All I ask is one thing, the one thing I ask of all of my children.’ Megan concentrated, sensing a message a great importance. ‘You must,’ said her Father, ‘never, ever, ever smoke. Do you hear me?’ Megan nodded, and with that, her Father smiled and padded back up the narrow stairs. And so, from that morning on, Megan had her mind made up that she would learn all she needed to learn to be a teacher, a woman of an admired profession, a woman with a passion, a woman who had found her love.
Over time, Megan’s day synchronised with her sister’s, the pair of them, under the encouragement of their Father, rising early. Dorothy would attend work at the hospital on the East side of Mold in shadow of the Liverpudlian landscape, and Megan would sit and study her books of Welsh language, calculus and history, her frame now full and rounded from its 15 years of life. It was during this period of hard work and determination that the news came one day, the Quinn family receiving it together, huddled around the wireless in the parlour, each sat on the stone floor, bottoms cold, 1939 being the year that saw their wooden chairs on loan to the local Church hall for the annual jam and scones fundraiser. ‘Great Britain,’ Neville Chamberlain announced, his voice low, his vowels rounded plums, ‘has declared war on Germany.’ Silence filled the parlour that evening and for years to come; it was a silence that spoke more words than a thousand voices; it was a silence that would continue to speak, not only for the Quinn family, but for Mold, for Liverpool, and for every village, town and city the length and breadth of King George’s country, as dark clouds settled over the nation’s soul, lifting only when May, 1945 came calling..
By the time Megan had reached her 16th year, Hitler’s army had commenced it’s soon to be familiar flight of night time air raids on the ports, railways and industrial cities of the British land. Each night the hum of the Luftwaffe would announce their imminent attack on the cells, arteries, organs and veins that were vital to the daily survival of the country’s people. In villages and towns, bomb making and artillery factories sprouted, transformed from their former lives as engineering or car making businesses, and now used as secret but crucial nerve centres in the battle against the threat to freedom.
Two days following the metamorphosis of Greene’s Automotive Parts Factory that rested at the foot of the Mold hills, Megan Quinn received her notice from His Majesty’s Government. Until then, Megan’s day had been an enjoyable yet tiring one of study books at one end and washing with Mother at the other, so by the time she seated herself at the kitchen table to the news her Father delivered, both her brains and hands felt rung out. Her Father took his daughter’s hand and, brushing back her hair, looked at her eyes and said, ‘Megan, you have been called to work at the munitions factory on the edge of town. A full time post, dear.’ Megan felt the warmth of his hand on her and blinked. ‘So, no more study?’ she said, a lump forming in her throat. ‘No more training to be a teacher?’ Her Father, letting out a heavy sigh, took her cheeks in his hands and replied, ‘I’m afraid not, sweet heart. I’m afraid not.’ It was then her Mother, a woman of compassion and duty, set a mug on the table, and pouring in the tea, put it in front of her youngest child, and said, ‘There’s a War on dear. We’re so sorry.’ Megan, trying to smile, simply nodded, poured in some milk and, stirring her drink, took a sip, the hot liquid slipping down her throat, melting the lump. Then, replacing the mug to the table, she looked to her Mother, her Father, and, simply said, ‘When do I start?’ And so, with no fuss, the next day, Megan Quinn, aged 16 years and two months, began her job at the Government Munitions Factory, Mold, her heart broken from the loss of her one love.
Copyright © Nikki Owen 2012
Thanks for reading! Part 3 of The Quiet Life of Megan Quinn will be out on next Friday’s Fact or Fiction post. Have a lovely weekend. And if you’re in the UK – happy Jubilee Bank Holiday!
**I’m having a little break, so there’ll be no Media Monday post until the week after next. If you have any good subjects I could discuss for the next Media Monday post, I’d love to hear them. Thanks & take care.**