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December 1, 2019

April Gale 24

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April Gale 24

Josephine Tyler finds herself feeling a bit like a child again with her father's older sister — her Aunt Josephine. It is she that Josephine is named after. Sometimes Josephine wishes she has been named after someone else, anyone but Aunt Josephine.

"Well? Have you got the water or do I have to wait all day?" Mrs. Hillofbeans as Aunt Josephine prefers to be called, glares at Josephine with her beady eyes and lips squeezed together in a tight, thin line. Her white hair is in a loose bun but not a strand is sticking out. Her wrinkled hands are on the folds of her black gown. She has always worn black since her husband left her.

"I have it, Mrs. Hillofbeans." Josephine wonders why Aunt Josephine hasn't returned to her maiden name. After all, her husband, Theodore, has been gone a while. Though no one knew where he went or how he went. Aunt Josephine and Uncle Theodore were visiting Windy Shadows after their honeymoon travels. On the second day of their visit, Aunt Josephine came down to breakfast and while buttering her bread, she announced. "Theodore is gone. We will not speak of him anymore." Nor she nor anyone in the family had seen Theodore since. Josephine was only eight then and she had no care of Aunt Josephine even if she was named after her. Aunt Josephine left after two days and she had not returned for a visit. Not until now.

Josephine tries keep her face calm as she sets the jar of water on the little side table between them. Mrs. Hillofbeans insisted on purchasing all four seats so that they may travel alone. Josephine pours Mrs. Hillofbeans a glass of water and watches as the old woman takes a sip. Mrs. Hillofbeans places the glass down and closes her eyes. "I am taking a rest. Wake me when we have arrived."

"Yes, Aunt... I mean, Mrs. Hillofbeans," Josephine replies and then waits until Mrs. Hillofbeans starts snoring before letting her eyes veer toward the train's windows. Outside in the darkness, the landscape is barely discernible.

Josephine did not fret when her father informed her she must go and bring Mrs. Hillofbeans to Windy Shadows. As Mrs. Hillofbeans does not much like traveling and she is after all of 80 years old, her father has instructed that Josephine must allow Mrs. Hillofbeans to do as she pleases. But Josephine does not believe Mrs. Hillofbeans needs anyone to help her to get to Windy Shadows. She seems fine bossing strangers around and Josephine rather not like spending too much time with Mrs. Hillofbeans. She has never been a favorite of hers. Mrs. Hillofbeans always favored her sister Lizzie and she did not try to hide it.

Josephine knows she has been sent out of Windy Shadows for April's sake. But her father has said nothing of what April will be doing, only that it is best that Josephine is not around for a bit. It has been over a month but Josephine could not help but wonder if perhaps she should have return sooner. She have wondered now and then if perhaps April would have been different if her sister had been alive but Lizzie was a bit of a free spirit so perhaps it was best that April was without her mother's influence.

Faint daylight spills into the compartment. Mrs. Hillofbeans' quiet snoring does not disturb the peace. There is a knock and the compartment's door slides open.

A tall man with short black hair with bits of gray at the temple, leans his head forward a little. "I am looking for Mrs. Hillofbeans."

Flashes of a boy with a mop of long and tangled black hair and dark blue eyes appear in Josephine's mind. She knows him or she once knew the young version of him.

"Josey, is that you?" Albert Joseph Noon has the same quiet voice that Josephine remembers. She used to call him AJ and would always remember AJ as the first boy she beat up in school.

Josephine nods. "Yes." It must have been nineteen years since she have seen him.

"Is that you dear Albert?" Mrs. Hillofbeans has woken. She checks the watch that hangs near the collar of her gown held by a short silver chain. She smiles up at Albert. Josephine almost laughs at that smile. It always gives her a strange delight to see Mrs. Hillofbeans smile.

Albert turns to Mrs. Hillofbeans. "Good morning, Mrs. Hillofbeans."

"Have a seat. I believe you know Josephine." Mrs. Hillofbeans instructs with a glance at the empty seat beside Josephine.

Albert slides the door close and sits down. "Yes, Josey and I are old school chums." He grins at Josephine. His fingers on the hold of his hat shifts a bit. He turns back to Mrs. Hillofbeans. "Mrs. Hillofbeans, I just want to thank you for your generous offer."

"Albert, you know you deserve it." Mrs. Hillofbeans sets her eyes on Albert.

Albert nods. He glances sideways at Josephine. Josephine turns to look ahead of her.

Mrs. Hillofbeans hardly blinks. "It is I who should thank you. Will you join us this evening for dinner at Windy Shadows? I am sure we have much to discuss." Mrs. Hillofbeans seems almost cheerful.

"I'm afraid I would have to decline. I have a lot of business to attend to." He stands up. "Well, I must return to my compartment." He turns toward Josephine. "Miss Josephine." And then towards Mrs. Hillofbeans. "Mrs. Hillofbeans. Good morning." He steps out and slides the door close after him.

"What is.... What is it that you ask of Albert?" Josephine can hardly think of what it could be.

"Your father has asked me to find April a teacher and so I have. Albert will help April in her magic studies."

"Why?" Josephine knows she has not been a good teacher to April but Albert?

"Do you not remember the disasters you and your sister got into going out to those public institutions? I told Harry it is safer for April to practice magic at Windy Shadows then out there where she might get swept up into the dark arts and where will we be?"

Josephine turns to the windows. She remembers her school days and she was quite happy then.

"My dear, I am sure we do not mean to offend. I thought you rather prefer it this way. Have you not been teaching non-magical children these twenty years? "

"Yes, I have. I suppose Albert will do a better job than I. Will he be living in Windy Shadows?" She does not like the idea of her childhood friend in Windy Shadows, not when he knows all her bad habits.

"Albert will live in Windy Shadows if he wishes." Mrs. Hillofbeans takes a sip of her water. "We will be at Windy Shadows soon. Get some sleep." She closes her eyes and soon is snoring.

Josephine stares out at the brightening sky. After today, things will be different at Windy Shadows. She is not certain she wants to go back.

10 comments:

  1. Intriguing.
    I am enjoying this continuing tale, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Elephant's Child: I hope to finish writing this before December but I might have to post them toward January.

      Thank you for visiting, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. @Christine: Yes, we will all see. I still have not finish writing this.

      Thank you for visiting, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  3. I am just going on holiday for a few days, so I will have to read your long story afterwards! I miss not seeing your lovely art!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Sandra: You can read them anytime. I'll keep posting until the end.

      Thank you for visiting, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  4. Fresh blood for Windy Shadows, intriguing. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Uglemor: Now that you have said that, I'm wondering if I should include this new character in the ending because he was never intended to show up until way, way, later but my brain had other plans which now I think I might need to change it.

      Thank you for visiting, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  5. That's not a good feeling, to have a surprise like that foisted on you! I can feel Josey's surprise and apprehension!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Greg: No one like surprises, well, no one in this story likes surprises.

      Thank you for visiting, have a lovely day.

      Delete

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- Kurt Vonnegut