Elizabeth Sophia Masen has everything a woman of her time could want; A loving husband, a son she adores and a easy lifestyle in Chicago. Yet the Fall of 1918 threatens what she holds most dear: Her son Edward The Last few days of Edwards life through the eyes of his mother. "Sequel" to 1918 Now UP! For More of Elizabeth and a vampire Edward turn into "Returning to Chicago" ASAP!
3. 26th September 1918
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3340 Review this Chapter
I looked at the last sentence I had typed one last time, the question still lingering on my mind. What am I to say to my son? I sighed, not knowing what to do as I picked up the paper and through it into the heating oven in the corner, the words burning so Edward would never snoop and see what I had written.
The house was silent, the only sounds I could here where the crackles from the fire and the songs of the blue birds outside. It was in the daytime that I felt most lonely. I knew I should probably call on Edna next door and see how she was dealing with Quincy’s enlistment. I walked out of the room and started to head to my bedroom to change into my day clothes when the doorbell suddenly rang.
I jumped possibly a result of the events last evening.
“Sherrie,” I called out for our handgirl. “Sherrie!” It occurred to me that Sherrie had not yet arrived for today, which was quiet odd. She usually caught the 5 ‘o’clock trolley from the South side of Chicago and then arrived at the house no later than 6.
She stood about five foot five with beautiful cascading red locks, icy blue eyes and a fair complexion. She was Edward’s age, but having grown up in an orphanage after her parents died shortly after emigrating from Ireland of cholera had made Sherrie grow up quiet fast. I though of her some times as the Anna Sophia that I had lost all those years ago. She smiled as much as she had, in the 4 years she had worked for us helping with the housework and keeping me company during the long hours of absence I was alone throughout the day, including joining me as I called on Edna as I planed to this morning.
Another reason that I was so jumpy, as someone continued to knock on the door. Lonesomeness. And the fear of not having my friend there with me when I opened the door to what could be another military personnel with another, more urgent summon for Edward. I looked into the mirror that hangs above my vase of flowers. I looked somewhat decent for a call nine in the morning.
I pulled my night coat on, covering my pale blue nightdress as I walked down the stairs into the cold front entry. I was suprised that someone was even calling, the drapes where not even open; I made my way, slyly moving my fingers to see who was calling. Standing in the cool morning air, a thin coat covering her shaking body and a small suitcase in hand stood Sherrie. Waiting ever so patiently for me to open the door.
I leapt to open the door, overjoyed it wasn’t an order for Edward’s departure. “Sherrie!” I smiled, truly glad to see my companion, hugging her friendly as I opened the door and she walked in.
“S-Sorry I’m late Mrs. Masen,” she replies sleepily. I drew the curtains allowing light to fill the room, switching on the electricity.
“Oh it’s fine Sherrie dear, come, I’ll fix you something for breakfast,” I smiled as I led the way to the kitchen. She walked slowly behind me, but I was oblivious until she sat down at the table exhausted.
“Sherrie dear, did you not get enough sleep?” I asked looking at her for the first time. She looked paler then usual, dark circles under her eyes from lack of sleep, she continued to shake slightly from the cold, but all the same, our Sherrie looked ghastly, and probably felt that way too.
“The younger children at the orphanage have been sickly lately. Last night a few of them where up to all hours throwing up and sweating. Mother Wince asked if I and a few of the other girls would help her take care of them and w-we did, but I didn’t get to bed till 3 this morning. Then I woke up at six missing the trolley, I’m so sorry Mrs. Masen, it was most unprofessional,” she said yawning in the end.
“Oh Sherrie, It’s quiet alright,” I said pouring her a cup of tea, “Here this will help you,” I said “Milk or sugar?” I asked, the usual question knowing the answer. “Both please,” she asked slightly smiling. “Mrs. Masen, Mother Wince is closing the orphanage until the sickness ends and I know this is very unprofessional but could I stay with you and your family until it passes? That way I can still work for you.”
“Of course Sherrie dear,” I smiled as she sipped her tea, “But you will be of no use today, you look like a zombie. I’ll take up your bag and as soon as you are done with your tea and muffin, they’re on the counter still, I want you to go up to the guest room and sleep.”
“But Mrs. Masen—“
“No excuses Sherrie. I can entertain myself for one day believe it or not,” I lied to myself, as I lifted the light suitcase and exited the room. “Thank you Mrs. Masen,” Sherrie sighed as I left, a smile crossing my face. **************
Our home was quiet large when it came to rooms. Mr. Masen’s parents had purchased the house for us shortly after our marriage, and had it in good size, most because Mrs. Masen Senior had desired grandchildren in large quantities.
The house was full of many rooms: A master bedroom, a study for Mr. Masen and a Suite for me where I would usually be found listening to the tunes of my Edward. In addition, there were 4 extra bedrooms. One had been a nursery for my children which was now Edward’s study, a library that had come with the house, a guest room and Edward’s Room.
I walked to the end of the hallway and opened the door, opening the lilac drapes, and cracking the window to let air into the room. Setting the suitcase on the ivory chair in the corner, I pulled out a fresh water basin filling it with some water from the water closet and set it on a doily upon the night table. Opening the modest wardrobe, I pulled out one of the old white night gowns my mother had made me.
I walked to the door and looked at the room, hoping that Sherrie would be able to find some rest before she too would succumb to whatever illness had befallen the orphanage she had served throughout the night.
Sherrie was walking down the hall, looking as tired as ever. She entered the doorframe and looked back to where I stood. “Mrs. Masen, this is really too kind of you, I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to repay you,” she gasped here eyes wide and her voice sincerely tired. I looked at her with my motherly eyes.
“Just get better and that will be payment enough,” I smiled. “If you need anything at all Sherrie, I’ll be in my room trying to play the piano like Edward, will it disturb you?”
“No Mrs. Masen, if anything it will help,” she replied wearily as I closed the door and headed to my suite. Upon seeing the piano and typewriter my memory was jogged back to my son and his unknown future, and my heart dropped once again.
“Have you told your Mother yet, Edward?” Quincy Whicker asked as we walked down the streets of Chicago, back to our neighborhood following another tedious day of school.
“I don’t know Quince, have you?” I responded look at my friend walking by my side. It was an abnormally warm day for this time of year, the sun beating down upon us as we walked down the city sidewalks in our School Uniforms, Suits of course which held in the abnormal heat more then would have been favored.
“I’ll take that as a no,” I responded to my friend. I had known Quincy since I was young, I knew his ‘No’ silence from his ‘Yes’ silence all too well. . . Mother says that I’m quiet ‘Pensive’ and ‘Observant’ around people, which is probably true. I like to think of it as a gift, if you know what one is thinking, you have a better chance to use some form of rhetoric in your favor. Not that I manipulate people, but it is nice to have some little advantage in the conversation.
“Well I figured you haven’t told your mother yet either,” Quincy snapped back as we walked. Quincy was known for his temper and it looked to me as though it was beginning to warm up in this heat and heated conversation...
“Technically, I haven’t enlisted yet,” I replied smoothly, watching his face grow purple in the sunlight.
“Oh no you don’t Edward Masen! What did we decide?” He started to cough horribly, then regaining composure enough to simply stare me down. I probably should stop antagonizing him, I thought watching him get angry.
“We decided to see the world after graduating. You decided to do it while fighting a war,” I pointed out, as we turned the corner. I had always wanted to see the world, my family had made one or two trips to Europe but on both occasions I was young and it then seemed rather boring. The idea of going with my best friend since childhood seemed like a wonderful idea, but I didn’t exactly plan on seeing France from a foxhole.
“Are you having second thoughts Ed?” Quincy asked his face rather white, “I’m not going to go off if I don’t have my buddy there with me.”
“Quincy—I, I don’t think I could do that to my mother,” I replied quickly, ducking my head slightly to look at the ground. Yes, I was my mother’s little boy; all of my friends knew it. She was quiet all right with the thought of me finishing up at St. Thomas’s and then going off to the University of Illinois, or the University of Cairo. Anywhere that would keep me out of the dangers of the World War that was sweeping us all into it’s path of destruction. I thought it was a responsibility that all the young men held to serve their country but my mother had already lost two children, I knew I was all she had left, and I knew what a telegram telling of my death would do to her.
“And you think I wanted to do this to My Mother?” Quincy asked, a hurt look crossing his freckled face as he began to cough again. Quincy was about as tall as me, only with blonde curls and blue gray eyes, which where now starting to stir up into being a storm. His fan club from St. Ann’s would surly want to strangle me for causing him anger, I was quiet sure.
“Your papers are going to come sooner then later Ed. Jimmy Swan got his draft orders yesterday, leaves in November for France.”
“We really shouldn’t. All of us are still 17,” I pointed out to him. “Well—our orders will be to report to England for training probably. You know, learn basic strategy and all, how to fight off the Huns and build a nice little foxhole.” Quincy started,
“What ever the case, people are getting called up. You can leave if your seventeen on your own will you know, just have to have parental consent.”
“And you really think our Mother’s would consent to that?” I asked with a hint of sarcasm in my voice,
“My father has three sons. My older brothers are going to take over the family business. If I could gain a high ranking in the Military, he wouldn’t have to worry about having to leave me anything to take up. Mother knows this, and she knows he’ll consent to my going so there’s nothing really stopping me,” Quincy pointed out “You on the other hand, I doubt you’ll get the signature.”
“When do you leave?” I asked, looking through the crowed at a mother and son crossing the street at 34th and South Williams. “I have one more form—of parental consent— to mail out and then they’ll issue my dates. I’m almost set on waiting for the draft to come to the house, that way mum will have to agree.”
He rolled his eyes as we reached another corner, then with enthusiasm he jumped up swinging around the light pole turning to me smiling “ And there we’ll be, off seeing the world...”Coughing; he steeped down, as though he was hacking up a lung.
“Just how I planned it too, a week on a crowded Hospital Ship, eating soldier’s rations and seeing all the war torn countryside of France, just how I dreamed,” I smiled crookedly as we walked across the street and entered into the neighborhood. We walked continually in silence, my mind reeling with what I was going to tell my mother. She had made it clear she’d sneak me over the boarder and probably would too, so I had no hope of going to her for a signature. My father, well if he thought it was what I wanted, he may sign, but I was sure he wouldn’t want to give that heartwreching news to mother. My whole life, it had just been Mother, Father and I, yes Sherrie was there to as an unofficial sister, and I grew up at Quincy’s just as much as my own home, but I feared how mom would react to mine and Quincy’s enlistment. Quincy had actually enlisted two days ago and had greatly pressured me to do so as well, but for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to it. Like there was something dark and looming in my future, but it wasn’t the draft my mother feared, it was something worse.
“So are you going to tell her?” Quincy asked as I reached my door.
“We’re going to the Opera tomorrow night,” I sighed, my parent’s where under the misunderstanding I loved the Opera, just because I had enjoyed one show, mother thought I loved the theater of melodies. “I’ll tell them then.”
“Alright then,” Quincy smiled, coughing one final time, this time bending down and supporting himself by holding his knees as he began to cough a storm. “Quince are you alright?” I asked noticing my friend did look a bit off color. “Ah, Its fine, probably what Michael has, I’ll be alright,” he waved as I entered the door.
“Mother,” I called locking the door behind me, “Mother, I’m home.” The house was abnormally silent.
“Mother, Sherrie, where are you?” I called, walking into the back dinning rooms where a letter rested next to a vase of wildflowers.
I have gone to the market with Edna to pick up something’s for dinner. I should be home about an hour after you. Sherrie is resting in the Guest Bedroom, she seems to have fallen ill but don’t worry, you can play your piano if you wish. I’ll see you by 4:30 Love— Mother
I set the letter down next to the flowers, taking off my coat jacket. I headed up the stairs entering the room with the piano and the typewriter. I sat down at the second, examining the new machine as to unlock its mysteries. We had to write one paper on it once for a class at school. I figured I could type one little note that I would burn as soon as the time came.
September 26th 1918I am preparing to tell my mother that I wish to enlist in the United States Armed Forces. I do not wish to tell her this, but it is a line of Duty and honor I wish to accept. I hope Sherrie will remain here for mother And shall continue to stand as a companion for her throughout this time. For mother’s sake, I will return. Alive and in good health. I promise that. Other then that, nothing large is happening in my life. Although I’m sure that I am soon going to be experiencing a cough; my best friend and Sherrie have both Seemed to fall ill. None the matter, there are more important issues at hand in which I will have to face in due time. Winds of change are looking on the horizon and I am
Quiet sure that they will effect us all
I read the note over once, ripping it from the typewriter’s clasp as I made way to the iron stove mother kept in the corner, throwing it in the burning coals as it the corners curled and the words themselves disappeared. I heard a cough come from the guest room, another strangled cough, and one that seemed to be fighting for air. Sherrie. My mind whirled as I walked down the to the room seeing a closed door.
“Sherrie,” I knocked, “Sherrie can I come in?”
The horrible coughing continued. I opened the door, she was sitting up in the bed, pale with faint color in her cheeks, her thin hands covering her mouth as she continued to cough, and cough, and cough. My eyes where wide as I just stood dumbfounded in the bedroom doorframe.
What in the world---what cold is this?
“Water” she said in between coughs, her eyes pleading to me. “What? Water?” I asked gaining movement in my Legs. She nodded yet again, as I walked over to the water pitcher mother had on the nightstand, pouring her a glass. She was still coughing horribly, shaking her whole body. I put the cup to her mouth as her own hands too the glass and she began drinking it with the coughs dying down slowly.
“Are you alright Sherrie?” I asked, as her coughs ended, standing at the foot of her bed like a gentleman. “Do you want me to call Dr. Morris?” I offered in concern.
“I’m...fine Edward,” she sighed, deeply breathing. “I don’t know what’s going on, I must have gotten the sickness from one of the little ones,” she realized, more talking to herself then to me. She thought for a while and then saw me standing, remembering my presence.
“Master Masen, you must get out of here,” she warned pointing me to the door. “You must not fall ill yourself, you mustn’t.”
“Sherrie, is there anything I can do for you?” I asked. If this is what Quincy had, I thought, and then I hope its nothing to horrible. “You can leave for one, don’t want you to fall ill yourself, and Edward—“ she started, “Could you play your piano for a while? It helps.” I smiled and nodded, as she waved me away. Myself walking out the door, shutting it silently heading to the lounge when a knock came from the door below.
What the devil, I thought as I made my way to answer. There stood Quincy, I was sure, a loud coughing giving away its owner before I could see his face. I was right, I smirked to myself as Quincy entered the house.
“Quince—what’s the matter with you?” His face was paler then it was just a few minutes ago.
“They’re closing St. Thomas’—“coughing again interrupted “— for a week.” He said handing me a note he must have taken from a phone call minutes before.
“What?” I was once again taken aback, “Ed I’m going to head back I’m not feeling well,” Quincy said as he motioned to the door. I followed, coming to his side at the front steps so he wouldn’t fall to the ground in his ill state.
“I’m fine Ed,” he tried to shake me off; trying to get free of the support I was offering. “Don’t think I’m going to just watch you fall down, your sick and you need help home, there’s no shame in that.” He gave in as we made it next door to his house.
For the love of all things good in this world, I thought to myself as we stepped up to the front door of Quincy’s house, What is this that everyone is getting???
- Kait Hobbit
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