Ch43: Stolen Thirty years later
By lisa h
Thirty years later
Ewan pulled the boat up to the island. He’d picked a fantastic day. The sun was out, the birds were lively in the sky, the sea lions causing chaos on the south end of the island as usual, and the puffins, well who didn’t love puffins? He’d traipse out to the north end of the island and see them once he’d had a chat with the builders.
“How’s it going, chaps?”
Pete and Robbie were at the pier, getting ready to push wheelbarrows full of slate tiles up to the cottage.
“You’re lucky the damage isn’t worse. Your old dad took good care of the cottage.”
“He loved coming out here, it was his secret retreat.” Ian stared up at the hill, past the ruins and to the building site beyond. The place needed a complete overhaul, despite what Robbie said. “Is Bill up there?”
“Ai, he’s lifting the floorboards in the bedroom and checking for rot.”
“Thanks,” Ewan said, leaving the men to loading their barrows as he made his way up the rough path.
Rabbits played around, dancing amongst the flowers and grasses, not minding him as he walked past. He’d bet they’d be tamed easily, seemed halfway domesticated already.
“Knock, knock,” Ewan said as walked in. “Bill?”
Ewan walked through the main living area and into the bedroom. Billie was on his knees, half the floorboards up as he ripped out rotten wood.
“You’ve had an awful lot of water ingress here, most of the wood’s knackered.”
“We were expecting that.” Ewan stared up at the ceiling where large water stains blossomed in what was once white paint work. “You got the roof covered up now?”
“Ai, it’ll hold until we get the new tiles up. Be good as new.” Bill sat up and reached for something to his right. “Check this out, Ewan, I unearthed something just a little bit curious.” He handed over a notebook in a plastic Ziploc bag. “Found it under the boards over there in the corner.”
“Huh, you had a look yet?”
Bill scratched at his stubble and let out a laugh. “I wouldne dare. It’s probably a diary of your old dad’s exploits.”
Ewan walked back into the main room, out the front door and into the sunshine. He rubbed at a dark smudge on the plastic thinking for a moment that it looked like old blood. Don’t be silly, he thought and carefully, he unsealed the bag and pulled out the notebook. There was a flower design on the cover, he couldn’t see his dad ever owning a notebook like that. Indeed, as Bill said, very curious.
Almost every page was full, only a few empty pages remained at the back. He turned to the first page.
Why did you leave me?
Don’t you know how stupid you were?
You should have stayed with me. Then you’d still be here.
I’m so angry with you. I play the scene out, the day you left me over and over again.
I wish I’d held you down, stopped you from going. I should have done something.
Instead I lay there, watching you reason with a crazy person, and look what it got you.
The anger well has yet to run dry. I love you. I hate you. I want you. I miss you. I wish I’d never met you. Just when I think there are no more tears to cry, I’m flooding again. How could you leave me like that?
The words had been written with lots of anger, the paper almost torn from the pressure of the pen.
The next entry gives a date: May 17th, 2013. Ewan scanned the page.
They smile and shake hands with Chris when they meet him. He was dressed in his work clothes, that blue Tesco’s uniform, as he’d only just come off shift. He’s training to be a butcher and loving it. He has plans to work his way up the company. We’ve been together for nearly three months and I already know that I love him. Chris nips off to the loo and changes into jeans and a button down plaid shirt that shows off his fit build.
Seemed like it was the diary of a young woman, maybe even a teenager. Ewan flipped through the pages looking for a clue as to who she was. He caught sight of an entry marked as June 6th: Day 6, still alone and imprisoned on this island.
“What?” His legs went jelly-like under him, and he staggered back against the cottage wall. What the hell? “Bill,” Ewan called over his shoulder. “Where did you find this?”
Noises came from inside as tools dropped.
“I found it in the corner, under a loose floorboard.” Billie appeared in the doorway.
“Did my dad take anyone else here that you know of?”
He shook his head. “Not that I know of, why?”
“And only he came?”
“Ai, I think so. What’s this all about?”
Ewan tried to dismiss him with the wave of a hand.
“You’re looking very pale, Ewan, is everything okay?”
“This is really odd. I need to read more, I think I’m just misunderstanding.”
The older man shrugged and went back in the building. “Suit yourself. You know where I am.”
Pete and Robbie came up the path, both panting as they pushed wheelbarrows overfilled with slate. Ewan ignored them and kept flipping though. Most entries were just the date, some had one or two lines. He read the one for October 4th: Not sure if I am to expect Ian today. My guess is I am now destined to starve. Either way, there are storms coming up from the south, and I don’t think he could get here even if he wanted to.
Jesus, what had his dad done? Kept a woman trapped here? He kept reading.
October 9th: Ian must have been and gone in the early hours. I wake to find the pier has had supplies left on it. I guess I’ll not starve in the next couple of weeks.
October 31st: I reckon I’m about twenty-four weeks pregnant now. Tummy is huge. I’m sure the baby is a boy – I’ve named him Ewan.
A gasp escaped him. “Bloody hell,” he muttered as he flipped to the end of the notebook. She’d not used all the pages, maybe he’d let her go. Was this his mother? Dad said she’d died in childbirth. It was all lies. What was his father, a monster?
Ewan leaned against the wall and started to read the last entry:
I’m not sure if Ian kept the name I gave you, but that’s what you were called from the moment I was certain I was carrying a boy.
I want you to know I never would have let you go. It’s like one of my limbs has been ripped from me, and there’s no relief from the pain. Today Ian came and took you away. After surviving childbirth, alone on this island, that bastard came and stole you away. He stabbed me and left me to die. But before I go I need to tell my story, and do it properly.
My name is Emily Jane Jenkins. I was born on the twenty-second of November, 1992. I was raised in Meols, Wirral and died on Vanir, Shetland.
Some would say I ran away from home. Maybe that’s what it was. I was searching for peace. My boyfriend had been murdered in a botched post office robbery a year earlier. Weeks after he died I lost our unborn baby. A year later and I was suffocating, I couldn’t breathe with my parents watching my every move, and reminders of what I’d lost everywhere I looked.
So I bought a train ticket and went to Scotland. Why Scotland? Because I figured it was the last place anyone would look for me. Turns out I covered my tracks too well.
Once in Scotland I was approached by this charismatic man named Ian. He offered me peace and solitude on his little island. I thought that’s what I needed, and probably a couple of weeks of alone time would have been just the right thing for me, to help me heal. Then I could have gone home, renewed. But once Ian got me on the island, I was trapped. He never intended for me to leave.
No matter how many notes in bottles I chucked into the sea no one ever came to rescue me. I made fires and SOS signs. Nothing I did saved me.
You were born on January thirty-first, 2014. I brought you into the world all on my own. Your life was my greatest accomplishment. After you arrived, I was sure Ian would take us both off the island. But instead he gave me just two precious weeks with you. I nursed you and took care of you. Loved you with all my being. Then Ian stole you from me. I fought hard to keep you, but Ian was too strong and he stabbed me several times in the stomach. I’m going to die, and it’s going to be soon.
I hope that Ian takes care of you properly, raises you with love. Maybe he has a wife, that’s why he felt he couldn’t risk letting me off the island, maybe she is raising you. I hope so.
Please know that my love for you takes up my entire being, and that when I close my eyes I see your beautiful blues eyes staring back. That image of you will be the last thing I see.
With all my love,
Pete came round the side of the cottage holding what looked like half a door. “Look what I found,” he said as he approached Ewan. “It was buried at the back of the wood pile.”
Ewan took it from Pete. The wood was weathered, like it had been in the sea at some point. Words had been etched into the surface, like some kind of memorial or remembrance. He traced the marks with his fingers.
“Mate, you alright?”
Ewan was certain he’d never be the same again, but he managed a faint smile. “I’ll be fine, thanks.”
“What do you reckon it means?” Pete stood beside him as they read the words.
“Ghosts from the past.” He glanced at Pete.
“I think I just found out where I came from.” Ewan crouched down and studied the old door. “I think I’ve just met my mother.”
Pete gave him an odd look, then clapped him on the back. “Whatever you say, mate. I’ve got to get back to work before my dad clocks me one.”
Ewan nodded, not looking up from the door.
Pete went into the cottage and Ewan heard whispering. They probably thought he’d gone insane. They’d be calling for the men with the padded white van next, but he didn’t care. Suddenly his life made a bit more sense.
“Hello, Mum,” he whispered as he read the words on the door again. “Nice to finally meet you.”
February 11th 1992 – April 3rd 2012
You died a hero. I miss you every day.
May 25th 2012
You only took a few breaths, but made an impression to last a lifetime.
Emily Jane Jenkins
November 22nd 1992 – February 14th 2014
I set myself free today.