Charlie!! The high-pitched voice rang loud above the children’s laughter. Miss Sutton is at the end of her tether. In 30 years of teaching, she’s never had a pupil quite like Charlie – even moving him next to her at the front of the class made no difference. His eyes never left the lone oak that stood outside the classroom window.

Searching for answers in the school library, she discovers that there was once a forest of oaks where the school now stands. They were cut down to build the warships that fought in the Battle of Trafalgar. Intrigued, she travels to the Royal Navy Museum. There in the records was the story of two children press ganged into the Navy.

Puzzled, standing by the oak, she asks what is it that you see, Charlie?

I see two children through the smoke! Cannons spewing flames, blood curdling screams, dreadful, terrible screams, Miss! The children are slipping in the blood as they heave bodies from the splintered beams, the men at the cannons doubled over, exhausted, retching, coughing blood, the ship’s ablaze…. it’s beginning to fade, Miss. Look there, Miss! Can you see them, under the large branch, it’s the children!

Charlie, the school records show that their Mother was dying, so she blessed them by tattooing each with Angel Wings so they would never be separated. She made plans for them to live in the country with her sister, safe from the press gangs who believed it was lucky to have twins aboard a fighting ship. However she died suddenly, leaving them alone, destitute and easy prey.

They found their charred bodies lying side by side, holding each other’s hand, the Angel Wings were the only part of their bodies not burnt or covered in blood – their Mother’s wish had been granted, they were together to the end.

But why the oak, Miss?

The Royal Navy left one oak standing, Charlie, as a memorial and tribute to their bravery.

It also marked the end of the press gang.

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Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
1 year ago

Although my heart bleeds for the twins, and their mother who tried so hard to ensure a better future for them, thanks to the Royal Navy, Charlie and his teacher these three true angels will live on. I imagine the teacher organising a special plaque commemorating the family to be placed under the oak tree and Charlie unveiling it 🙂 A sad but lovely story, Eric. I enjoyed it very much 🙂

Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

Many of my stories develop the same way, Eric. I remember many years ago listening to teachers and some famous writers saying that sometimes stories and characters develop a life of their own and now I understand. Yes, I often ask myself ‘Where did that come from?’ and realise stories have turned out quite differently to what I first thought they would. It feels like magic and I love it, too 🙂

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
Reply to  Sandra James
1 year ago

A lot of my stories are like that. I certainly never sit down and plan. When I do revisit characters I don’t sit and think of how to make the prompt fit them, they just come along and whisper in my ear. ‘Liberation’ was one of my stories that took off in a completely different direction. I’d intended to write about Eos, but then she was shouldered aside by Prometheus, and it ended up being his story instead.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

After having read your story and comments, I agree with you and Sandra that the creative process is strange indeed. When you first start out, you never know what’s going to happen. I can imagine that you were as surprised as we were about where this dramatic story would go. It’s very captivating and an interesting story. However, it would make it easier for the reader if you marked quotations in your story.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 year ago

Your writing is so descriptive and vivid Eric that I found myself right there in the midst of that terrible battle. I’m inclined to think that only a child such as Charlie could see the battle and the children through his own eyes. I love how history can be brought to life in a story and you did this brilliantly. Loved it!

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

I always look forward to your stories Eric, they are up there with the best. And your feedback always makes me smile, I love your sense of humour! And I still remember the feedback you gave me for my very first story, it really gave me a lift. Stay cool!

Danielle Burke
Danielle Burke(@danielle-burke)
1 year ago

I love the supernatural element of the story, Eric. The story itself really did seem to take on a life of its own! I thought at the beginning it might be about an unruly student, but wow! This really surprised me!

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

It was a sad story but the twisting process was amazing. I didn’t expect that the ending will surprise me.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

Thank you, Eric. What do you mean by my win  ?  ? I wasn’t informed about that?

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

Thank you so much, Eric. I saw my win just now.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

I don’t know how to use it to shop, Eric.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

ha ha ha. Okay I will not purchase sweets, I will purchase diaper for my baby  ? 

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

This story is so moving Eric. I love ghost stories / hauntings / supernatural element, so particularly enjoyed this story. Such a sad ending for the twins. Children are particularly perceptive and will often see things that adults cannot. Jonathon Stroud wrote a very good book series for children 12 and over called ‘Lockwood & Co.’ It was the children who were the ones responsible for hunting and putting the dangerous spirits to rest because, once they reached adulthood, they couldn’t see them anymore. Your story just reminded me of that. Nicely done.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

You might enjoy the story I just published on Amazon. It’s a 3800 word extension of my ‘The Perfect Job’ story that I entered in the 100 word ‘different’ competition. It’s called ‘Migglesworth Malevolence’. One of my others, ‘The Book’ is sort of a ghost story too. I’ve made all my short stories available on KU as well as to buy.

Brigitta Hegyi
Brigitta Hegyi(@brigitta-hegyi)
1 year ago

I enjoyed your story, although it makes me really sad. You did a great job!

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