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WolfSinger Publications

Don't Write What You Know;

Write What You Care About -- Passionately!

The Moleskin Cap
- M.R. Williamson

Helen  is trying to get over the recent loss of her mother. Seeing the  struggle, her father sends her to live with her grandparents.

Now among the forests her mother loved, Helen connects with her mother's  hobby, photography. With her mother's first camera, an old Nikon, she  snaps a shadowy figure in the early-morning shade of a fir tree.

The resulting friendship not only pulls her from the destructive  depression she was sinking into, but leads Helen into a world of magic  and adventure and gives her a new purpose in life and a new reason to  live.


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Part One

The Moleskin Cap

Helen  Durkin sat quietly on the back porch of her grandparent’s home in  Wendover Woods of Mid-Southern England. Twisting her long, blonde hair  around her right index finger, she watched the forests around their old  home. The majority of her eighteen years had been spent in London with  her parent’s. But after her mother died of cancer two years ago, the  woods and its wild things around the little cottage had become a calming  balm to her soul no medicine could ever match.

“Don’t  wander off now.” Her grandmother looked from the partially open kitchen  window. “I just put the rolls in and when they brown we’ll have  supper.”

“Yes, Grandma.”

Helen’s smile widened as she looked through the open window at her grandmother’s expression. It was one of those don’t get into anything looks.

Narbie  Tucker had always been there for Helen, especially during the last two  years. Now, the forests of Waltham and her mother’s parents were all she  ever thought of—that is except her mother’s SLR Nikon camera. She  always had it with her. Now, with the scent of fresh-cut hay in the air,  she closed her eyes and leaned back in the old rocker. As she was about  to doze off, the sharp chatter of a bird broke the silence.

Goshawk? Strange to see one in this part of the wood.

She  eased her hand to the camera sitting on the little table next to her  chair. Raising it up, she focused the zoom in on a high, jiggling limb  at the lower edge of the back yard. Spotting the brown and white bandit  was no problem. His bright flashing, grey banded tail was like a beacon  in the shadows. One snap and she had him.

Haven’t seen one of you in a while. But what are you fussing at?

Lowering the zoom to just beneath the hawk, she used it to search through the goldenrods and thistles.

“There you are,” she said softly, noting the flash of dark brown fur in the scrub.

With  at least forty yards between them, she knew this shot wasn’t going to  be as easy as the little weasel-like bandit. Giving up on the distance,  she crept from the east side of the porch.

Let’s see how shy you are.

Slipping  from the yard and into the woods, she brought the camera up again and  checked the goldenrods. They were still moving back and forth, but she  still couldn’t see the creature.

I’ll flank him.

With  the chatter of the finches and the still fussing goshawk in the  background, she hoped her target would be none the wiser to her  presence. A warm, September breeze wisped about her face as she crept to  a weak stone’s throw from the goldenrods. But now, there was nothing to  be seen on the ground. Even the hawk had grown silent.


She  knelt next to a little spruce and watched patiently. After about ten  minutes or so, she had just about given up when someone from behind her  spoke.

“Human girls are easy.”

The voice was soft a quiet. Whoever it was sounded as old as her Grandfather Martin.

Helen spun around so fast she all but dropped the camera. “Who are you?” she blurted out.


Helen slowly stood, but the extra height did nothing to help her put a face to the voice.

“Hello,” she said timidly again. “I heard you…I know I did.”

Still, there came no reply.

“Helen,” called Narbie from the back porch. “Helen!” The cry louder this time.

“That certainly wasn’t who I heard,” grumbled Helen.

She  carefully backed out of the goldenrods and into the lower edge of the  back yard. As she did, something moved not far in front of her and it  wasn’t a shadow.

“No-it’s-not,” she said, letting her chin drop slightly.

There,  in the shadows next to a spruce sapling, stood a little silhouette all  of three feet tall. It tipped its floppy cap, turned, and then walked  toward the darker shadows just passed the spruce. Helen stood there as  still as a stump, completely ignorant of the Nikon in her left hand.  Then, finally she raised the camera, focused the zoom, and then snapped  the shutter as fast as she could work the thumb crank. With her target  finally gone, she lowered the camera, backed up a bit, and then trotted  toward the cabin.

“I wish you wouldn’t ignore me, Helen,” complained Narbie.

Helen turned to see her holding the back door open with a disgruntled look.

“Martin’s  already at the table and laughing at your antics. What has captivated  your attention now?” Her grandmother waited patiently for an answer as  she dried her hands on her apron and straightened the snood holding the  little salt and pepper colored bun on the back of her head.

“Grandmother…” Helen hesitated, wondering what to say to keep from sounding foolish.

“Yes, dear,” prompted Narbie as she held the door open.

Helen  slowed just inside the doorway, stepped into the kitchen, and then  looked at Narbie. “Grandfather knows just about everything that breathes  or grows in these woods, doesn’t he?” she finally asked.

“Yes, dear. He’s been a botanist and a naturalist for as long as I’ve known him. Just what did you find this time?”

“I think this thing found me,” Helen all but whispered. “Does Grandfather still use his dark room?”

“From time to time,” replied her grandfather as they stepped into the kitchen.

Martin  resembled Mr. McGoo, complete with the required squint, but that and  his wire-rimmed glasses didn’t fool the people who lived in and around  Waltham Forest. Even though his hair was thin as corn silk and he walked  with a bit of a wobble, he was still considered one of their sharpest  minds.

Helen turned to her grandfather, “I’ve got a picture of something, grandfather and…and…it spoke to me just before I took it.”

Martin’s  eyebrows raised as he looked at her over his glasses. “Spoke to you did  it?” he echoed with a bit of a chuckle. “What did it say?”

“I’d rather not say.” Helen lowered her head.

“Helen,”  Narbie explained with a slight smile, “these old woods will work their  magic on a young mind like yours just like alcohol on an old fool.”

Martin rolled his eyes and then looked back at the still warm rolls in the basket on the dinner table.

“Maybe so.” Helen held up the Nikon. “But this young mind has pictures.”

“After supper,” said Narbie. “Those pork chops and chips are best when they’re hot.”

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