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WIN TODAY'S FEATURED BOOK: Bruar's Rest by Jess Smith
She was part of my upbringing; the Gypsy woman; a silent figure, clad in jet-black, forlorn, abandoned.
“What’s wrong with the old woman?” I asked my mother who closed her fingers tightly around my hand and answered, “Her husband never came back after the war.”
Gypsies move from common to seashore, from woodland to moors. The bearer of grievous tidings searching for the recipient with no address returned the telegram to a desk drawer and there it lay, gathering dust.
I outgrew my childish fragility and wore another coat; a teenage garment with pocket thoughts, love buttons and soul stitching. It was then she crept into my mind.
I searched fruitlessly until a shopkeeper in a dilapidated curio shop said, “In an old people’s home,” then added, “north west coast, she’ll be long gone though.”
Perched on granite rock, jutting precariously into the Atlantic Ocean, ‘Paradise House’ dominated the skyline. She was still alive. A stiff- lipped matron instructed, “Upstairs Room 7, last door on right.”
I pulled a small stool beneath my legs and sat next to her bed. My presence startled her. “Have you seen my man? Is he home?”
With outstretched hand she felt for a dirty pink hairbrush and began brushing strands of silver hair. I touched her bony shoulder and deep inside I saw a vivacious young woman. I heard her crying in her sleep, I saw her hold an invisible lover and groan as she made love to a ghost.
It was raining; a mist had enveloped my car. I turned to stare for a few minutes up to room 7’s tiny window and promised. “With my pen I shall bring him home!”
‘BRUAR’S REST’ is my gift to the Gypsy woman. I’d love to take you on her perilous journey.
Author's Note: For centuries Scottish gypsies were known as tinkers or tinsmiths. It refers to a time when they were skilled in the art of blacksmithing or forging tin and made their living this way. They lived in tents, caves, moorlands and mountains were secretive and seldom mixed with the settled population. My lineage is rooted to this culture, which is the whole subject of my books. To learn more about me and what drives my pen, visit www.jesssmith.co.uk