Thank you for joining me and exploring more on the tales of sweet Vera’s Life. Let’s dig in and see what we uncover today. If you need a refresher or you’re joining us for the first time click the link to read Chapter One. I hope you’re enjoy this creepy story in this spooky season!Skelly🖤
Let’s start at the beginning. Northumberland, England where everything changed for sweet Vera.
The Gray family lived in a small cottage-style home in the low mountains of Northumberland, England. Wallace Turnball was a coal miner and worked long hours. Many days and nights his wife and daughter didn’t see him at all. When her father would stagger home, he was covered in black soot and grim. He was more than exhausted and seemed overly frustrated by the smallest things. The women would try to stay out of his way, understanding he was just depleted from his time in the mines. But after a hot dinner and some rest, he was in a better mood and all was well.
Alice, Vera’s mother was a baker. Many people in town relied on Alice to make all their bread, biscuits, cakes, and pies. Many of Alice’s treats would be made with potatoes instead of flour. Other times she used one or the other, sometimes both! She was a very talented baker indeed. Alice would fill orders, and sell her baked goods at the market in town once a week and made a good profit doing this. She was a very well-liked lady in the town and had a cheery and friendly personality. Her sweet and lovely disposition hid the harsh, deep lines around her face and the white streaked hair that peeked through the bold black bun that she wore on her head every day. It would be easy to see Alice as an old witch by the looks of her but it was her charm that softened her and made the people in town trust and love her so much.
Vera was close to her mother, she baked with her most days, before and after school. To help the family make money Vera would hurry to her mother’s side right away after school and help prepare to sell and deliver baked goodies until it was time to go home to do chores, and make dinner. All seemed well in Vera’s home and she was happy and loved. It was no different than almost anyone else she knew. She didn’t think things were easy but didn’t know any different either.
Until one day Vera’s father came home early from the coal mines, the sun just bearly hung at the mountaintops. Her father was never home before sundown, he seemed distraught, even fearful. He shot a pressing look over to Alice and told her they needed to talk privately, now!
Vera’s parents retreated to their bedroom and shut the door behind them. But being it was such a small cottage with thin walls, Vera could hear that something bad had happened in the mines. Her father’s voice was rough and would shake with panic. She knew her father could be frustrated at times but was always a strong, collected man. Vera had never heard her father’s voice rattle with such alarm.
Vera could hear her mother’s reply, quieting her father, telling him it would be alright, easing his hysteria. It seemed as if her mother was the voice of reason and calm, which in Vera’s experience, she had never known her mother to take charge of her father this way before. Vera could hear that indeed someone had died at the coal mines and that it was time to act now. She had no clue what all this meant, to “act now” but she knew it was bad and urgent.
Vera stayed busy in the kitchen not to give away that she heard a thing but it was hard not to notice the tears and worry in her mother’s eyes when she emerged from the bedroom. The presence of her mother was so different from what she had overheard. Her mother now seemed again to be the delicate caretaker that Vera knew her to be, not the one in charge of things she had seemed to be behind the closed door. Alice quickly moved into the kitchen and then quickly out, grabbing a few items and wrapping them in her apron. She patted Vera on the shoulder and gave her a glance but didn’t smile.
Vera’s father stayed in the bathroom for a long while cleaning himself up. To Vera, it seemed like her father was in there for hours. Then abruptly the bathroom door swung open, her father charged out of the bathroom and quickly went outside, never looking in Vera’s direction at all. Alice didn’t say a word to Vera and she followed right behind her husband.
Vera was in shock that her parents hadn’t said a word to her. Where were they going? What had happened? This was strange and scared her. She had cleaned up the kitchen and sat waiting on the living room floor, with no word from her parents. The moon was now high in the night sky and only shadows accompanied her. Vera lit a candle and sat alone in silence for a long time with all kinds of thoughts running through her mind. What could possibly be going on?
Although Vera didn’t at the time know what had happened or how this would shape her life forever, she knew life would never be the same. The things they had kept in secret for so long would soon be a secret Vera now kept as well.
Vera heard her father yell her name in the distance! Vera was startled and disoriented at first. She leaped up from the hard wooden floors she had been waiting on for hours for her parent’s return. Without thought, Vera ran threw the heavy door and into the darkness. She didn’t see her parents anywhere. Vera yelled back… “FATHER!” She couldn’t see anything in the darkness as the hills and trees, blocked most of the moonlight.
“VERA!” Wallace yelled again. “Come to the barn. Come, NOW!” Her father directed her.
Now, the barn that Gray’s family owned wasn’t much of a barn at all. It was small and brown, with only 2 tiny stalls and a worn-out metal roof. They used the little barn for the few goats they had, for milking, and for some of Alice’s baking supplies.
Vera knew to never go in the barn because it was very old and at one time had a very deep, dark cellar. Vera’s parents would tell her scary stories about the floorboards breaking and her possibly falling through. That there were snakes, rats, and spiders down there and they would never be able to get her out. Only her parents knew just where to step so as not to meet their demise at the bottom of the cold, dark cellar. Vera could only go in the barn to help carry and retrieve supplies or feed the goats with her Mother. Otherwise, she wasn’t to go to the barn at all! Vera never would venture this far away from her house due to her fear of wild cats and snakes. It was strange that her parents would be over there in the dark and calling out to her now, but this whole night had been strange.
Vera continued to call out to her father as she tried to make her way in the darkness to the old barn. Every step was made carefully, as the only light she had was from the moonlight, cast down through the canopy of the trees, which morphed into grotesque shapes and shadows all around her, which played with her imagination. Vera had never been more terrified.
Then she finally hear a familiar sound… it was the goats. They were wandering free! She could hear the bells they wore around their necks and the sound of bleating and pawing. They weren’t far from her. Why would her parents let the goats out at night when a wild cat or fox could eat them?
Not to mention the bats! Massive amounts of bats flew around poor Vera at his point, swooping down at her head, adding to her torment. Vera keeps her head covered with her apron, as one after another would fly down and claw at her. She didn’t know how much more she could take!
Vera began to run wildly. She didn’t know which direction she was running, fear had taken over. The screeching of the bats, the bells of her goat, the haunting shadows, the wind blowing through the decrepit branches. The flapping and clawing of bats on Vera’s arms had felt her bloody, as she wrapped her arm around her head for protection! It was all too much take! Sweet, small Vera tumbled over old roots protruding from the forest floor but somehow she managed to get back to her feet and keep running until there she was.
Alice, Vera’s mother came out from the shadow of a large tree covered in dirt and grabbed Vera’s arm suddenly. She paid no attention to the fact that Vera was terrified, covered in dirt, bloody, and in tears, something she would have given much attention to before. “Over here, girl!” Her mother demanded, tugging on Vera’s already badly injured arm. This took Vera by surprise. Her mother had never been so stern and uncaring with her before.
Alice pulled Vera through the darkness, over to her father who had multiple bags stacked up by the barn door. There in front of the barn was a small clearing, where the moonlight illuminated several cloth bags that lay clumped up and folded over each other. Although Vera had no idea what was in the bags, she knew the metallic smell was blood. That pungent jarring scent was so heavy, Vera could almost taste that metal scent hanging in the air. You don’t live on a farm and work in a marketplace without knowing the smell of blood, but this was different. This was death on a level she didn’t want to believe.
On this day that changed sweet Vera’s life, she was only 9 years old. She was reminded over and over of that fact. That she was a child and told to do what she needed to do. Vera was too scared to do anything else. This night would change everything forever and Sweet Vera would be sweet no more.
Chapter 3 Next week. To be continued…
Finally, her father spoke. He walked over to Vera and put his face close to hers, eye to eye, he spoke soft and gentle to her and said, “Not all people are good, Vera. Some people are bad. Some people are good and do bad things. Then there are good people whom bad things happen to. Bad is always bad except when you make right it, Vera. When God intervenes”