Thursday, 7 June 2012

Parva's Heather

Parva's Heather

It had taken months to set up and finally the day had arrived. The 3rd June 2012, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the residence of Windsor Crescent were having a very special party. It was only just 8am and already Mrs Sweetum was rousing all her helpers. She had been the head of the organising committee and nothing would have got done without her. Then again nothing got done in Kingston Parva without her. She had been in charge of the committee to improve street lighting, got the gritters to come off the main road into a very small village during the worst of the snow and ensured the local park had the best of everything. As is usual with this type of woman she had been a head mistress and upon retirement had decided to continue her good works for the village. It had been her friendship with the Chief Constable, from her time as a magistrate, which had ensured that the road closure request for Windsor Crescent had been approved with no questions. The fact this road was a crescent that housed only 15 houses meant it would have been approved anyway but she like things to move slightly faster than normal.

By 8.30am Mr Peters and Mr Jones were up ladders attaching bunting across the street and their respective wives were buttering bread. Mrs Aylesbury, head of the WI was about to set off to collect the home made cakes kindly baked last night and donated by the other members. The street party was for any resident of Kingston Parva to attend, of which there were only 100 but the residents of Windsor Crescent were the main workers. Through the alleyway at the back of the crescent was the school playing field and the teachers and some of the other mums and dads were setting up stalls for the afternoons entertainment. There was to be an old fashioned sports day to tie the celebration in with the London Olympics. The eggs were currently being boiled for the egg and spoon race and Mr Caruthers, school groundskeeper, was marking out the running track and getting the sacks and bean bags ready for some of the other races.

Mrs Sweetum was determined this was going to be the most perfect Jubilee celebrations ever. The lord mayor was coming and little Daisy Jones and her best friend Yvonne Peters were lined up to give the lady mayoress a beautiful bunch of posies grown in the school's garden.

Just then as Mrs Sweetum was checking her clip board Mr Caruthers came running through the alleyway with a look of horror on his face.

'Mrs Sweetum. Mrs Sweetum.' He panted.

If it hadn't have been for the fact he was bright red and panting for breath Mrs Sweetum would have thought this was one of his usual panic for no reason episodes.

'What's wrong?'

'It's the garden! All the flowers are dead.'

'What do you mean they're dead?'

'Exactly that. They have all just withered and died.'

'Mrs Jones.' Mrs Sweetum called to a rather erect and efficient looking woman. 'Can you take over here please whilst I go and check this out with Mr Caruthers?'

'Of course. Leave it with me.'

Mrs Sweetum sped off with Mr Caruthers following in her wake. When they arrived at the small plot of land behind the school building it was exactly as Mr Caruthers had said. The flowers were all dead. They looked as if they had been there for months without anyone caring about them. Yesterday there had been the most beautiful display of colour all tenderly looked after by the children. The first action of the day was to select who had grown the best flowers which would then have been picked and presented to the Lady Mayoress.

'But what's happened Caruthers? Is it those kids from over at Ashbury? You know what vandals they can be.'

'I know what you mean but these flowers have just died. As far as I can tell there hasn't been any jiggery pokery going on.'

'Well at least the garden is round the back of the school so no one will see it. I will go and see if any of the Dads have got some flowers they are will to let us dig up.' Mrs Sweetum as ever calmly assessed the situation and decided on the best course of action.

'Okay. Well I best get back to the sports hut and finish getting the kit ready for the Parva Olympics.' Mr Caruthers headed off to the shed that he quaintly called the sports hut looking very confused.

Mrs Sweetum had just finished surveying the wasteland that had previously been the school garden when she heard the most extraordinary noise coming from the sports hut. The wailing of a wounded dog wouldn't have been far off a description. She raced over followed by Mr Peters who having finished the bunting had been heading over to see where he was needed next. As they neared the shed Caruthers came out white as a sheet.

'What is it Caruthers?' Mrs Sweetum rushed over worried he was having some kind of breakdown.

'See for yourself.' He wailed pointing towards the shed.

As Mrs Sweetum and Mr Peters carefully entered the shed they discovered all the bean bags had been ripped apart and the little white beans strewn all over the shed.

'Who would do such a thing?' Mr Peters asked in disbelief.

'The same people who killed all the flowers in the garden.'

'What? The flowers have all been killed! This is vandalism. We need to call the police.'

Just then Mrs Sweetum turned and noticed that some of the beans had got stuck to the shed window.

'No I don't think we need the police. Not today. Can you take Mr Caruthers for a nice cup of tea and I will get this sorted out''

The beans made a message.

6/6/77 HW

Now I understand.' Muttered Mrs Sweetum under her breath and she lowered herself onto Mr Caruthers' chair and thought back to the last Jubilee celebrations she had organised.

It had been the morning of the 6th June 1976 and Mrs Sweetum had been Miss Allsop and the lead carer at the village nursery. The village hall had been decked out and the tables laid out with union jack table cloths and paper plates and cups so the local children could enjoy the day. The mayor of the time was to visit with his wife and the flower girls were Heather Walters and her best friend Mary Smith. By 3pm all the children had arrived in their fancy dress and everything was ready. At 3.30 the children were starting to get restless and Miss Allsop finally got notification that the mayor was running late and would be at least another 30 minutes. It was decided that the children could at least have their sandwiches and that the desert could wait until after the mayor's visit. The local mums had handed out the sandwiches and the noise had been muted to a dull roar when suddenly a scream rang out through the room. Miss Allsop turned just in time to see Heather grab Mary's hair and pour cherryade down the front of her beautiful white flower girl outfit.

'Heather Walters get to my office now,' bellowed Miss Allsop.

'It's not my fault, she started it,' Heather wailed through the tears.

'I don't care what she did that is no way to behave. I will deal with you later but I can guarantee you will not be meeting the mayor. Now get to my office.'

As Miss Allsop pointed Heather rushed out of the hall. Just as Miss Allsop and Mrs Smith were trying to console Mary they heard a screech of tyres and everyone rushed outside. There in the middle of the road was the mayor's car with Heather lying in front of it. The paramedics were amazingly fast at getting to the scene but Heather never regained consciousness.

That had been 35 years ago and what was happening today was obviously related. Mrs Sweetum guessed she was supposed to believe this was all being done by the ghost of Heather Walters but she didn't believe in such things and she knew a far more corporeal hand was involved here. But who? And why?

Suddenly she jumped out of the chair and raced over to the school. The dresses for the presentation were in the teachers' lounge and everyone was outside getting ready for the celebrations. She burst into the room just as Mrs Peters was opening a bottle of cherryade.

'Wait!' yelled Mrs Sweetum.

'Oh no youre not going to scare me with your shouting this time,' growled Mrs Peters.

'But I don't understand why are you doing this?'

'You killed Heather because all you care about is your precious Jubilee celebrations.'

'But Mary,' Mrs Sweetum hoped using her first name would calm the situation, like it does in the movies. 'I didn't kill her. Don't think I don't wish that I hadn't shouted, but Heather ran out into the road. The gate should have been locked and the mayor's driver should have been paying more attention. All these things together led to Heather's death.

'If I hadn't of pulled her hair in the first place, you wouldn't have shouted and none of this would have happened.' Mary Peters said as the tears started to flow down her cheeks.

'Oh my god, your Mary Smith.' Mrs Sweetum suddenly realised.

'Yes. Nothing was ever the same again after Heather died and my life has never seemed complete. I have been searching for something ever since.'

'Your Yvonne is going to give the posy to the lady mayoress today. Surely that is something to be proud of?'

'But I am so worried that something will happen to Yvonne.'

'Come now, the road is closed this time nothing can happen. I would like to show you something.'

Mrs Sweetum walked Mrs Peters over to where the Lord Mayor was to be received and on the wall was a small area about twelve inches by twelve inches covered by two very small curtains.

Mrs Sweetum pulled back the curtains.

"Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. In remembrance of Heather Walters. 6/6/77"

'See I have never forgotten Heather and today is a day for families to come together and remember.'

'Thank you so much.' Mrs Peters smiled through her tears. 'I am so sorry for all the trouble I have caused.'

'Nothing that can't be fixed. Let's go and finish the decorations and enjoy our day.'

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