Away From Home?

Sometimes, the dance called life is graceful. Sometimes, you step on a toe or fall flat on your face.

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Mairead Harker
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Away From Home?

Post by Mairead Harker » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:04 am

Saturday, 29 June 2019: London, United Kingdom, Terran Sector, just after breakfast

Maggie was at the piano in the Harker family sitting room. She played while her paternal grandmother, Margaret, turned the pages for her and sang the Beatles ballad, Imagine. The song brought back memories of her youth, some of which she shared with the eldest of her grandchildren.

“You’ve improved since your last visit with us,” Margaret said with a hint of pride in her voice.

“Thanks, Nan!” Maggie grinned from ear to ear. “I do all right, I guess, but I prefer my fiddle.”

“Right, your violin. How is that going?”

“I’m no Lindsey Stirling, but …” An impish twinkle sparkled in her eyes. “I’ll get there.”

Pearl came out of the dining room and set a hand on Maggie’s shoulder. With a wink to Margaret, she said, “Don’t let her fool you, she’s ace at it!”

Maggie rolled her eyes. “I call shenanigans. You’re better at it and can dance while you play! How come you didn’t add the fiddle to your piece for the Gala?”

“Because, sometimes, serious people need some silliness!” Pearl had chosen a comic piece for her performance.

Before the conversation could go any further, Bertie Hall and his mother, Matilda, arrived. “I’ve got the footie tickets! Manchester United is on with Liverpool this afternoon!”

“We’ve got the train tickets, too!” Matilda added.

That news was like a shot heard ‘round the world! Shouting came from other places in the previously quiet home.

“Do we have time to place bets?” the family’s patriarch added his two bob.

“Time to … I already laid out fifty quid!” His eldest son answered.

“Is that all you put down?” Rhiannon teased her husband.

Connie, the only daughter of her generation, egged on her old man with, “I put a fiver on Liverpool!”

“Is Uncle Nigel meeting us there?” Rick joined in on the craziness.

“Connie, you traitor!” boomed out. “JT will meet us up there!”

“I’d rather see Zara Tindall jumping fences on horseback, but I can always get rowdy cheering for the footie!” Catie chimed in.

The boisterous activity nearly rattled the windows out in the old house! Margaret was reminded of the days when all of her children lived under the same roof. The place had been far too quiet without the typical sibling fussing over who swiped whose shoes or had hidden their school books. Grandchildren had a way of making the old voices come to life while adding their own to the memories living in the walls.
"And those who have not swords can still die upon them." - Eowyn, shieldmaiden of Rohan
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Mairead Harker
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Re: Away From Home?

Post by Mairead Harker » Sat Jul 06, 2019 10:19 pm

Thanks to Eregor’s help with travel arrangements, the kids along with Pearl were able to spend time in London as well as take part in the Summer Gala at the Shanachie Theater. Velen had joined the travelers the next day for lunch at the Harker homestead.

That evening the three grandchildren gathered around a card table with their grandparents and Aunt Connie to learn how to play Whist. Rick and Connie had the lion’s share of wins! It wasn’t so much the game that would be remembered in the future, but the stories being shared. Richard Harker told about how he and his wife of many years had met and what they did while courting.

The boys, as the brothers and Bertie were called, along with Rhiannon were doing a pub crawl around Soho. Memories were shared including many laughs over undergarments that displayed the Union Jack! Back in the day, Jack Harrington, one of the bartenders, had been among the twenty somethings dancing on the tables. He gave the boonie boys and their plus one a round on the house.

Pearl and Velen had taken the opportunity to see the longest running play on Earth, Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap. Before the show, they were able to do some shopping and enjoy the food and musical offerings at Foyle’s Jazz Cafe. Pearl had their bookstore purchases sent on to the house.
"And those who have not swords can still die upon them." - Eowyn, shieldmaiden of Rohan
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Re: Away From Home?

Post by Mairead Harker » Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:12 pm

1 July 2019: Marylebone Road near Madame Tussaud’s

“So, Maggie ...” Rhiannon studied her eldest a moment before going on. “Did you learn anything new in this visit?”

“Yes, I did.” She nodded once, her expression had become thoughtful.

“Well?” The pair took a shortcut over to Baker Street to visit the museum at 221B. In this version of London, Sherlock Holmes was a work of fiction.

“I paid closer attention to the Sleeping Beauty. She’s oldest piece in the collection. It must take very skilled clockmakers to keep the mechanism going all this time.”

Chuckles were heard from a couple of yobs. “Tourists.” Mother and daughter let that remark slide as they looked over the merchandise in the gift shop. The comments continued as asked if the stock included any signed copies or first editions of Doyle’s works. “Probably doesn’t know Holmes from Watson, do ya, girlie?” Maggie looked up at the ceiling as she tried to keep her from having a rare rise of temper. The clerk gave the teen an understanding smile before giving the louts a look that could have curdled milk. “I’ll bet your mum sells her wares on the corners.” That was the proverbial straw.

“Mairead,” Rhiannon said in quiet, but warning tone.

“Sorry?” She eyed the young men. “What was it you said about my mother?”

Neither of the yobs had missed that she said Sorry and not pardon or excuse me. One of them, dropped his foot a bit farther into his mouth. “Mairead, ain’t that Irish name? Which part you come from, girlie?”

The other fellow showed a bit more sense than his mate. “Percy, let it be.”

“Cat get your tongue …”

The clerk was about to intervene as Maggie shook her head. “No, a cat didn’t get my tongue. Yes, Mairead is an Irish name. You can babble on about how bloody ignorant you think I am until the ravens fly from the Tower for all I care, but my tolerance ended the instant you insulted my mother.”

“What’re you going to do, little girl?”

“Me? Oh, I’m not going to do anything.” She grinned and gestured out the window to a pair of bobbies. “But, those coppers will.” Her newly acquired first edition was paid for and carefully tucked into her shopping bag.

“Percy, I told you to let it go, you git! Last thing we need is the law on our backs!”

“Sometimes, you have to know when to castle and when to en passant.” She winked at her mother.

Rhiannon laughed as they head up Baker St. toward Regent’s Park.
"And those who have not swords can still die upon them." - Eowyn, shieldmaiden of Rohan
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Re: Away From Home?

Post by Mairead Harker » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:03 am

London’s Zoo was in Regent’s Park; zoos were a perennial favorite for mother and daughter. Rhi and Dennis had promised to spend one day of their trip with each of the children. Today was Catie’s time for shopping and a salon visit with her Aunt Connie. Rick was having a walkabout with his Dad.

“My first visit here was when I was,” Rhiannon mused aloud, “three, I think. I have memories of your Aunt Nikki telling me about making friends with a tiger.”

“The keepers must have thought she was bonkers!” Maggie gave her mother a sidelong glance. Some things weren’t spoken about openly in this place.

“On the contrary. Some keepers understand that young children try to play Dr. Doolittle because they can.”

“Is that one of those kids see things adults can’t things?” Maggie tipped her head.

“Exactly, Maggie. Children are more receptive to Otherworldly beings because they don’t usually have haven’t it hammered into them that certain things don’t exist until they are much older.”

“That just stinks!” Maggie grumbled.

“I agree. That’s why you, Catie, and Rick have been encouraged to let your imagination take flight. Not all the time, there is a need for serious things like maths and history.” One sapphire eye winked.

Sensing something was amiss, Maggie glanced over her shoulder. Someone with a phone appeared to be following them. The teen leaned toward her mother and murmured, “S & C security at six o’clock.”

She slid an arm around her daughter’s shoulders. “ Definitely not Gran’s doing. Should we ditch him?”

An impish grin tugged at Maggie’s lips. “Does Aja like fireworks?”

“That’s the spirit!”

An hour later, they spotted the same man. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this. Rhi dialed a local exchange that connected through S & C’s secure network. S & C was Struan and Company, Rhi was calling their London office.

“No, Mrs. Harker, we don’t have a presently have security detail assigned to your family.” Polly Smythe had been working for the shipping company for some time. These days, she was the senior logistics executive for the UK division. Not so long ago, she was an eager Oxford University student in need of part time employment. “I can check to see if a private detail was arranged.”

“No, thank you, Polly. If anyone knows what’s on the ground, you do.” Thoughts rushed through Rhiannon’s head. “I’ll give my mother a ring, just in case.”

“Righto! If there’s anything else I can do, let me know” Polly signed off.

The phone rang and a cheerful, “Hello, sweetheart,” came from the other end.

“Mother, do you have anyone keeping an eye on us?”

“No, but I am glad you called.”

“What’s going on?”

“Message was just placed on the cork. Hope is challenging Maggie.”

“History repeats.” Rhi chuckled. “Happens almost every vacation.”

“The official date recorded is 2 July.”

She handed the phone to Maggie, this was her show.

“You have a picture of it, Gran?” As the message appeared on screen, Maggie lowered one brow. “The irony is filled with ore and rust.”

“Maggie?” Momentary confusion in her voice, Colleen suddenly chuckled. “Right, got it.”

“Send a response, please, Gran, let her know that I’m aware and will be answering soon.” She looked to her mother. “We need somewhere private to talk.”

“I know just the place!” After a ride in an old style cab, they arrived at a majestic and well kept Queen Anne house. Rhiannon still had a set of keys for the place and could easily have settled in for this vacation. However, Margaret and Richard had extended the invitation to stay with them. Rhi had no desire to refuse as she enjoyed their company. She called Dennis and Margaret to inform them where she would be and that Maggie was with her. Margaret assured her that Catie and Rick would be fine. It would give her an opportunity for some time with her own eldest child.
"And those who have not swords can still die upon them." - Eowyn, shieldmaiden of Rohan
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Mairead Harker
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Re: Away From Home?

Post by Mairead Harker » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:14 am

Over the next few days, notices had been posted on Maggie’s behalf on the corks in Rhydin including a response to Gloria Blaze. Mother and daughter used the old house for strategy sessions. Rhiannon Harker looked over the copies of the notices. “Nicely written.” She tapped her fingers on the copy of the one to Gloria. “I see you handled this one much differently than you have the ones to Hope. Want to explain?”

“Because Gloria Blaze issued her intent to challenge without treating me like I was not worthy of holding a title that I earned. She wasn’t rude or snide or anything else. She explained, much like I did to Gren, why she was challenging for Old Temple. Whether or not she approves of people my age dueling, she treated that, as Rachael likes to call it, custodianship with the dignity it should be.”

“That, my daughter, is because Gloria is a part of time gone by. Frankly, I’m glad to see her and others like her coming back to the rings. They are people that understand what it’s like to cross weapons in the rings with everything they’ve got, but still are able to be friends with the people they just faced in the ring.” Sapphire eyes looked over the teenager.

“So, what you are saying is that by responding to Hope in kind, it reflects poorly on me and the title?” She paused a moment to consider her words. “I tried not to let my Irish get the better of me.” Maggie read over what she had written.

“But you allowed her to goad you.” Rhi lifted her mug of hot tea and sipped it. “What annoyed you most about her comments?”

Maggie began to count off on her fingers. “Terms of endearment without knowing if it was ok with me. Whether she meant to be or not, she comes off as condescending. Then there’s that bollocks about a play date!” Maggie shuddered with frustration. “It annoyed me and I knee jerked. What adult asks a teenager to go on a play date? Even my own grandparents don’t ask me that!”

Rhiannon didn’t comment on Maggie’s choice of words. She could have picked up and used worse than that after so much time in a sporting arena. “Keep going.”

“I just can’t wait to see someone blaming Hope’s children for something she did.” Maggie’s hands went up in the air. “If she had issued the challenge to me, fine, but she was issuing it to Aunt Rhi by proxy.”

A disembodied voice was heard. “That, Rhiannon, is the true crux of the matter.”

Maggie grumbled. “Zaff, quit sneaking up like that!”

Zapphira was an ancient spirit that manifested in some of Colleen’s singly born female children and their descendants. The ethereal woman was a reminder of a girl child that had been lost before she had been allowed to breathe. And, so, she had passed from Rhiannon to Maggie the moment the daughter had drawn her first breath. “You wish not to be blamed for the actions of others, Margaritis Elisabet.” The shape of a woman dressed in a pale blue peplos had begun to take form. Her hair was wound into a long braided style of the ancient Greeks. It was dressed with strands of pearls as befitted one of Poseidon’s divine lineage, a granddaughter.

She looked between her mother and Zapphira. “Did you just middle name me in Greek?” Rhi hid her amused expression behind her mug. She knew all too well what it was like to verbally spar with her ancient and ghostly sister. Maggie gave her mother a you’re not helping expression.

A challenging smile appeared on the spirit’s face. “Of course. Would you have preferred Latin or some other that I have picked up over the years?”

“Very funny,” Maggie retorted.

“Tell me your reasoning, young one.” The words had been delivered calmly.

Maggie pursed her lips as she consider wording that wouldn’t confuse the ancient in the room. “Some part of me wanted her to understand how frustrated I was with how she was treating me.”

The braid shook slightly as Zapphira’s head nodded. “It is not always possible to get others to understand what dwells in your heart and soul.” She looked every bit the picture of serenity as she continued. “Your anger does not change them. It only changes you.”

“What you’re saying is that amends need to be made because of my reactions and not because of how someone else treats me?”

"Yes.” As she began to fade away, she said, “Those who know the letters see double.”

A smile flickered on Rhiannon’s lips. “You cannot control what others do, Maggie, but you can control how you react to them.” The smile became a grin. “Let karma sort them out and leave the shade throwing to your grandmother. She’s had centuries of practice.”
"And those who have not swords can still die upon them." - Eowyn, shieldmaiden of Rohan
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