Some very many miles away the wind was whistling violently across a sea filled with turmoil. Somewhat reflecting the soul f one particular passenger on the ferry sat sullenly with dark expressions. A beautiful girl whose face seemed to, in its own mystery, reflect the deep grey sky that dragged the wind through the sea. Coursing waves had encouraged a sickly shade of green nausea.
The girl had sat unable to drag her eyes from the turbulent landscape. In her sweating palms she gripped a letter, once again she read the scrawl of writing, now almost known to her by memory. Her saving distraction, an invite to visit relatives she had not long discovered, ready to embark on the new journey for the beginning of the summer.
The girl had no reason to believe in luck, she had prayed to herself that there was more than what met the eye. She had put her family through a search engine, she could barely believe she was related to this inspiring family. She had always believed she was less than ordinary, always so lacking; yet somehow she never could fit in among her peers. Her way of thinking did nothing in conforming to regular convention. Ever the oddball, after all how could she believe the world to be reflecting the turmoil within out on the sea she was sailing.
Her eyes flicked back to the envelope, “Miss E M Darling”. She didn’t feel like a Darling, not by any measure; they were great, inspiring, creative, and so it seemed sheer genius. Not once had she dared to believe herself a fraction as wonderful.
The light was dimming as the boat settled at the dock. Stepping from the ferry, with her luggage in tow she was greeted by a man with wild greying hair and a beaming smile he introduced himself as her great uncle, Stuart Darling. His deep brown eyes flickered over her luggage as she noticed a second man bringing a car to stop by the side of them as the man jumped out with an excited grin and introduced himself as her grandfather, Matthew Darling.
She insisted on loading her luggage into the car herself as they drove no more than five minutes down the road to a pub. Its old chintzy style seemed so traditional and exquisite as she walked up the staircase as they stopped for a drink.
They sat and discussed the minor tales of the journey, finally reaching the topics of interest for her company; her parents, her upbringing and her education. Falling completely fascinated by the nuances of the American upbringing. Yet she found herself with no way to claim a talent. She told them that she had no real natural skill. The men looked into their near empty glasses for a moment, taking a measured sip before they dared respond. Not for a single second did they believe that she could be untalented. After all, she had the family way of thinking.
For the first time in a long while she allowed herself to truly relax; she was able to breathe freely and talk openly.
However cold the Orkney air was, it felt like each breath was filling her with love and peace, to calm the turbulent tension that flooded her soul. Somehow the wind that blew through her hair was awakening her body and mind. Somehow Elizabeth felt reborn.
While Elizabeth slept quietly in the strange new bed, a few doors down the hotel hallway sat a girl. Alone in the darkness staring at the clock watching the minutes drag past. As time passed her eyes grew heavy in the early hours of the morning.
As the sun rose behind the unlined curtains and began to stream into the room the alarm clock started buzzing in the ears of the girl as she turned it off dragging herself from her bed. Walking past the mirror, not looking at the reflection mimicking her.
The wind whistled and howled at the windows as she dressed and went to breakfast, today was her day of freedom for the first time since she arrived, she was free until dinner were her uncles insisted on a large family meal.
So until dinner she could embrace being a free agent, and this free agent was hungry. Breakfast was the number one mission. AS she stepped out of her room, the creaking door made her wince. She walked down the hall to the dining room. Within minutes the owner of the hotel was bombarding her with questions as she drank her tea.
Today she was stealing away to the beach near the museums that she had been dragged to yesterday. After all, today she could spend as much time on the icy beach as she desired. Just as she left the dining room to grab her bag for the day she bumped into a troubled looking young lady. She apologised and ran double speed to her bedroom. She packed her purse and taking an extra blanket. She looked at her note, “Hey Summer, your cousin is landing today, so tomorrow is a nice family dinner, have a great day, see you then, love Grandad S x.”
Summer wasn’t on the islands by choice, her grandfather had commanded her presence. With a push from her mother and over 24 hours travelling on coaches and ferries she arrived. Since then she had barely had a free moment to herself. Summer had come to feel a little claustrophobic. So today on her trip to the breach, a little food and a book she was ready to spend time just by herself.
As Summer got to the place where the road meets the beach she felt a warm pull inside of her as she made her way down the rocky surface to the beach as her trainers half sunk into the soft sand. She chose a clear seaweed and jellyfish free spot of sand to put out the picnic blanket which threatened to blow away with the wind into the sea. Using her bag as a weight she managed to set herself gingerly on the blanket. Pulling the spare around her shoulders she took a few ginger sips of hot tea from her flask as she opened the cover of her book.
Her grandfather had handed her the book on her first day reading his writing scrawled inside the cover, “This book belongs to Miss Summer May Darling. May she find it forever helpful. Love your proud grandfather Stuart Darling.” She smiled as she turned the page to begin her journey.
After an hour or two a few chapters later she looked up to find she was no longer alone on the beach. The girl she had bumped into, quite literally in the hotel was walking a few feet away by the shoreline. She seemed distracted.
Summer put down her book and yelled out a warning to the stranger about the jelly fish. In an instant the stranger had almost leapt from the shoreline halfway. Her trainers slipped back on in an instant.
As the stranger approached, Summer decided out to introduce herself. The stranger smiled and introduced herself “thanks for the warning, I am Elizabeth.” The girls chatted a little until two figures appeared and approached the two girls talking.
“Ah good I see you’ve met your cousin,” Matthew grinned.
After returning to the hotel to change for dinner Summer went up to her room confused. The way that it had been explained was that uncle Matthew was Elizabeth’s grandfather, the daughter of his late son Edward. Summer had explained to Elizabeth on the way up to the rooms that she had taken on her mother’s maiden name.
Summer now had a cousin to get to know, rather a secret cousin it seemed. It was different discussing and explaining things around the older members of the family, and the quiet car journey to the hotel seemed to pass in silence. The beautiful rolling scenery occupying the attention of the passengers.
Sitting down to dinner in the fading light Stuart spoke softly, “the reason the both of you are here, the reason for this dinner was because, as you recall, your uncle Archie died recently and his will was found.” The words lingered wistfully in the silence.
“Archie loved you both very much and thought of you as his own grandchildren, much like our children. Archie has made you the heirs to his estate. The both of you have inherited properties that he has been renting out for a while. They have been in the family for generations of Darlings. But you have also inherited the family pride, Darling Manner.” His words met stunned silence.
“Darling Manner has remained in our family ever since it was built. It is in a quaint little town called Grimeston in New England. But I must make myself clear, you both must live there. At twenty-one, Elizabeth, you must become Summer’s legal guardian as she is after all, only seventeen. This will be a chance for a fresh start for the both of you to get to know one another.” He sighed deeply, “the rented properties will form your living allowance once the paperwork has been completed and submitted. This should be used to do a little work on the house, it is my understanding it needs a bit of a tidy up, and of course you must use this to pay a bulk of the bills. Although, I suspect you may also need to find jobs.”
He took a moment, allowing his words in the stunned silence to mellow before continuing. “We will of course be visiting you every so often, but the two of you have flights booked for tomorrow, so we must be rather timely now so that you can pack once the papers are signed.” The air held the warm smell of the wood burning in the fire.
“Summer, your mother has encouraged this move, she supports it. You will be going to a lovely school; all fees will have been paid for once the paperwork is completed. As I understand it your uniform will be delivered before the term begins.”
The girls had stopped listening and their minds had run wild since the mention of a fresh start, just nodding appropriately. Both were running from their past the moment they left their homes. Why not continue doing so?
Elizabeth and Summer signed the paperwork for almost an hour. Finally done they were handed an envelope with instructions they were told would help them on their arrival. With that both girls were sent to the hotel to pack and to rest.