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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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.”
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.