Mother or Brothers

The elderly lady walks uneasily on her weak foot, her walking stick buckling under the weight of her senile frame. She moves with leaden steps to the furthest and most discrete corner of the quiet, relatively empty tearoom. The walls are painted with dull red and orange pigments, and the oak doorframe and sideboard stained almost black. About the large dimly lit room there are some scattered groups, other old couples creating a hubbub of idle senile chatter. But Mrs Mounter, with her grim pale face, is alone, at a table set for two.

She reaches out with her weak trembling hands toward the inky black teapot and pours the steaming, semitransparent liquid into two odd matching cups upon the circular table. She is fully clad, from head to toe, in a dull array of colours. Her formal, rust brown coat covers every part of her wrinkled skin, and a red shawl wrapped tightly around her fragile head. She wears a broach upon her breast, white and circular with no special features about it except from the story that it tells. A story that dates back a long way, to the youth of Mrs Mounter.

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Right after the death of her father, and right before the start of the war. The air was still, and the night was clear and bright. The silence was suddenly disturbed by a steadily growing groan that floated across the sky as gently as a butterfly. But it didn’t stay gentle for long, within minutes the piercing slow wave of the air raid siren burst out splitting the night sky and striking fear into the heart of every soul in the neighbourhood. Mrs Mounter was seven at the time, and tears streamed down her face as her family gathered their belongings and fled to the bomb shelter for their lives.

The first explosions came, not very far away it was clear, and they could hear the sound of falling buildings and raging flames. The next bombs dropped were directly overhead. The young Charlotte Mounter shrieked and quivered in fear comforted only by her Mother and Brothers. It was clear that one bomb had landed on or near the house, and the family members waited in silent and fearful anticipation of the destruction that awaited them outside of the protective haven that they were inside. It was bleak, a total change from the still calm night that preceded the events.

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