Monday, October 26, 2009


 When she looked up and saw the stranger, her smile froze on her face. He was looking at the diary on her lap.
(The picture is the property of Elizabeth Harper)

It was the twenty-eighth of June when Daphne had decided to fly to England to visit her dad's youngest  sister, Mary Martin, actually it was Mary Winston now since her marriage to James Winston.  James was from England. He had a farm at St. Annes in the Lancashire region of England.  Mary chose to move to St. Annes, even though it would be an adjustment for someone moving from Birmingham, Alabama to England.  Her aunt saw it as an adventure, a way to learn another culture.  She told Daphne that she always wanted to live in England.  Their gardens were beautiful and coming from a city, she looked forward to a small town.  She envisioned being able to walk without restriction along well cared for foot paths and the center of the town was called a green with shops that she could walk to.  

Mary Martin had been a surprise to her parents, Daphne's grandparents.  Her grandmother was forty-five and her grandfather in his fifties.  Dane Martin, Daphne's dad had been the youngest of three children until Mary's birth.  He was fifteen when she was born. Even though her siblings and parents spoiled her, she had a pleasant and giving personality.  Daphne's loved being around her.  She was a "free spirit" who traveled her own road.  She was a petite blonde always trying to find ways to tame her long tresses of hair.  She was unselfish, always helping the underdog.  Therefore it came as no surprise when Mary invited Daphne to visit then to recoup from her bout with pneumonia.

Daphne was the opposite of her aunt.  She was tall, with a curvaceous figure.  Her hair was dark brown, almost black.  She did have a nice smile, though her feet would never be classified as petite.  Overall, she was an attractive woman.  While her Aunt Mary was vivacious, Daphne was somber, though she liked to socialize.  Which was a necessity with her parents circle of friends.  Her dad was the senior partner of the prestigious Atlanta law firm Martin, Harper and Feldman. 

It had been a tiring trip, but Daphne knew that the minute she stepped off the plane she had made the right decision in coming. When she came out of the air terminal, she saw her aunt waving at her as she waited by a battered old black truck. Yelling, "Daphne, over here"!

As the door slammed and Mary started the old truck, Daphne signed and leaned back, "Oh I am so glad to be here. "

Mary turned and looked at her, "I'm glad you're here too.  I love James and the farm, but I have missed my family.  The occasional letter gives me some news, but I know I'm missing a lot of the day to day activity.  How's your dad holding up since your mom died?"

During the two years since Mary had married and left for St. Annes, her mother had been diagnosed with cancer.  The good thing, if any good could come from cancer, had been that it was a fast moving cancer.  Within six months of being diagnosed, her mother had died.  It would be a year in October.  At first she didn't think her dad would survive the devastating loss of his wife.  The three months after her death he sat around staring off into space.  He lost interest in the law firm, his friends and himself.  Finally her dad's friend and their family doctor, Kyle Satterfield, came and talked with him.  She didn't know what had transpired, but it turned her father around.  At first, he started going out with friends and having a few people over for drinks.  Eventually, he began to go into work.  Taking care of her mom and dad led to her exhaustion.  She contracted a bad case of bronchitis, which developed into pneumonia.

The first two weeks, Daphne, at Mary's insistence, rested.  She had a teak lounger that was surrounded by one of the most beautiful gardens she had ever seen.  There were spicy scented tea roses, pink blooming Bergamot, rose pink mallow, pink, red and white Geraniums, Pinks and Asters. If the sun became unbearable, she pulled the lounger into a shade and lay there with a cashmere blanket casually thrown across her.  She dozed or read. When she packed for the trip, she had just thrown in her backpack without checking what it held.  When she unpacked she found an unfamiliar book. At first glance she thought it was her mother's diary.  Apparently, her father had packed it for her thinking she would enjoy reading her mother's thoughts.  Several days passed before she actually felt up to reading the diary.

At first she was confused by what was inside.  She had expected a journal of her mother's day to day activities, such as recipes or a list of what she needed to do on a particular day.  Instead she found initials, maybe of people's names, on certain days, with a number listed underneath the initials, though there wasn't a dollar sign in front of the number, she assumed it was a dollar amount.  The more she studied the diary, she began to suspect she knew who the initials represented, which was even more confusing.

The second Sunday she was there, Daphne brought up the subject of the diary at dinner.  "Mary, did my mom ever mention her diary to you?"

"That's odd," she said.  "About a week before she died, I received a letter from her.  In it, she talked about some of the firms clients, particularly those of Jeremiah Feldman.  She said she thought he was creating false clients.  He then would pay out money to cover expenses supposedly used for these clients."

"Why didn't she tell my dad"?

"I don't know.  She died before I could ask that question and then I haven't thought of the letter until tonight ."

Two days later, Daphne's quiet retreat turned into a nightmare.  It started with a phone call from her dad.  He wanted to know if she had seen her mom's diary.  That it was important he find it as mom had listed a particular place to purchase a favorite wine that Jeremiah loved.  It was a brand that was difficult to find. She assured him that she had the book and on her return she would bring it with her.  He insisted that she mail the it back to him as soon as possible.  She asked if maybe he could give her a date, she would look and see if she could find what he needed.  He became agitated and told her not to bother, just mail the it back as soon as possible.  Daphne hung up worried that either he was involved or that the firm would be hurt by whatever Jeremiah was doing.

Daphne decided not to do what her dad asked.  She wanted to study the diary more and to make personal notes of what she thought might be pertinent information.  Four days after she had talked with her dad, they planned a sightseeing trip to Magnum's Island.  The island was the home of Magnum's castle, a thousand year old castle, reported to be harboring ghosts.  The event they were going to was the annual barbecue that raised money towards the castles maintenance.  The idea of a modern barbecue at a thousand year old castle was too tantalizing. She had to see for herself if they used modern day grills or if they piled trees in the courtyard with chickens and pigs on spits. 

As they rode the ferry to the island, Daphne sat alone on the deck.  Mary had gone inside to buy them both a drink.  She gazed down at the water, wondering what to do.  She tried to think of whom she trusted enough to give it to, at least until she talked with her dad.  When she looked up and saw the stranger, her smile froze on her face. He was looking at the diary on her lap. Quickly she stood up and threw the diary into the water.

"Oh no", Daphne", wailed Mary. "The diary is lost.  It's probably sank down to the bottom".

Daphne looked at the stranger, "Yes, it's gone."

There was a bump as the ferry docked.  The stranger turned, and without a backward glance, walked away. 


Part Two will be continued next week....

 Tell Me A Story Tuesdays project is sponsored by Elizabeth Harper of Gifts of The Journey.  This story is attached to the TMAST twelfth week assignment.  The images are copyright of Elizabeth Harper and the words are copyright of Judy Harper. Gaelikaa's story can be found here. 


gaelikaa said...

Great. But what was in the diary? And why lose it now? Who is that stranger? So many questions? Is there a part two?

Agnes said...

Oh wow, great writing Judy.
What was in the diary?

Mighty M said...

So curious about the diary!

The Redhead Riter said...

What day do you post? How long will I be in agony waiting for more? LOL ♥

Anonymous said...

I'm like everyone else...curious to know what's in the diary.

It made me wonder if the reason her dad was so insistent that she send it back right away might have been because he was being threatened and was afraid for her safety too.