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Nanny Bluebell

“There’s a sad message within todays tale. Please if your phone rings and you’re driving – don’t answer it. The consequences are too horrifying to bare thinking about.
You’ll meet musician Alison Carey from my lost Workhouse Mysteries Series today. This is her story – I hope you like it.”

I wrote this poem in answer to the following prompts:
FOWC with Fandango Retreat
Pensitivity’s three things challenge – Modern – Sing – Surrounded

Nanny Bluebell

Something magical was about to change my life. This morning my family and I buried my dear grandmother Arabella. I have the fondest memories of sitting by the oak tree in her garden, She’d sing her heart out while playing her guitar for me. She had quite a career on stage performing her country and western songs. Her nurturing gave me a love for music. While I could play the guitar, the violin was my preferred instrument. In the last few years, I’d been lucky enough to form a band with my friends Cassidy and India. We’re the Luthier’s Ladies and lucky enough to perform on the Workhouse Restaurant stage most weekends. Those performances were about to change forever.

After the funeral I retreated to my bedroom; lost in the grief of losing my special grandmother. An hour passed until the family began leaving downstairs. I remained where I was hugging her photograph. Then somebody knocked on the door.

“Hey, Sweetheart. It’s your mum. Can I come in?”

“Sure.” I dried my eyes as she came in. Mum and I share the same shiny russet hair. She’d done hers with a bluebell hairclip today in homage to her mother who was known as Lady Bluebell on stage.

“You okay?” she asked perching on the bed beside me. She was holding a book with gold-edged pages.   

I managed a nod.

“I wanted to give you this earlier but I needed to make sure family was gone first. This was your grandmother Arabella’s music book. She made me bring it home just before she died. It was her express instructions I give it to you,” mum held the book out to me.

My hands shook as I accepted it with a watery smile. “I remember — Nan always performed songs from this book. Thank you for letting me have it, mum.”

“Your nan was right. You’re the last beautiful musician in our family. This belongs to you.” Mum smiled and hugged me. “I’ll leave you to read alone for a while.”

“Thanks, mum.” I kissed her on the cheek before she rose and left. Focussing on the book I noticed the spine had one of those tasselled bookmarks woven in. It was marking a page. I carefully leafed my way towards it finding fond memories on every page.

The marked page read ‘Alison’s Song’ my grandmother had written a song just for me. The sense of loss had never been stronger than just then. My tears peppered the page as I began to sing the lyrics. My emotions pouring from me as music.

  Even my sadness couldn’t stop me from realising the notes were an octave too low. Nan had written the song to be played on a violin, not her guitar.

Bounding off the bed, I took up my traditional shiny-spruce practice violin. I perform with the modern silver see-through electric violin. The regular one was fine for this though.

With nan’s book on my music stand, I began to play. Almost at once, I realised the music was flawed. Some notes were not playable. I felt a surge of electrical excitement waltzing through me. Nan had said, ‘The secret to a good song is hidden within its notes.’ She’d said it often. Knowing she could write music for any instrument; I knew the bad notes were intentional and she was alluding to this the whole time.

I became captivated and feverish in my desire to discover her secret. Taking my notebook and pen I began to wheedle out the unplayable notes. Above each was a hidden letter. When they came together, they read; ‘Alison, you were the greatest joy in my life. Sharing my music with you brought me great pleasure. Now in passing, I leave my music to you. Go to our tree and play your heart out, cherub.’

Crying and smiling at the same time, I dropped everything, pulled on my trainers and ran from my bedroom. In my haste, I almost knocked my dad down the stairs.

“Hey take it easy, sweetheart!” he said catching me in his arms and smoothing my hair for a moment; just like he always did when I was sad. “You okay?”

“I’m fine,” I answered. Freeing myself I started downstairs again, “I have to go out for a while. Back soon.”

“Alison, where are —”

I didn’t hear anymore having run straight out the front door. Extracting my bicycle from the garage, I pedalled as fast as I could. Nan lived just two streets away; the journey took just five minutes. She had the most wonderful rose garden at the front of her house. Seeing the red, pink and yellow blooms sent fresh tears spilling down my face. To think this might be my last time visiting Nan’s house tore my heart. I missed her so much.

Jumping from my bike, I propped it by the side of the house and followed the hawthorn hedge into the back garden. The lawns were unkempt, showing how long she’d been gone already. They’d always been pristine before. “I’m here, Nan,” I said while passing the beds of flowers to reach the orchard. Twelve trees, apple, pear and plum grew around the ancient oak tree. Before it’s great gnarled trunk and beneath its magnificent canopy was an old white bench. It was here Nan used to perform her songs for me on those blissful summer’s days.

Warm energy surrounded my body. Nan was here, I could feel her hugging me.

Go on — you know what to do, cherub.’

Her voice echoed in my mind and I smiled. “I do, thank you, nan!” I whispered. Walking around the oak I came to the hollow, age had worn the trunk away allowing me to step right inside. This was my little den as I grew up. Now, I looked up and there on our secret shelves beside my Liccy Doll was nan’s black guitar case. My hands trembled as I took it down. Returning to the bench, I sat down and unzipped the case revealing a letter to me.

 ‘Dear Alison, you have the brightest career in music coming your way. Whenever you take to the stage, I will be looking down upon you from heaven. My guitar is yours. Play your heart out, sweet, cherub.’

Beneath the letter was Nan’s uniquely designed acoustic guitar of polished olive wood. The fret guard was black and adorned with deep blue and silver bluebell blooms. “Thank you, Nan. I’ll treasure this and always play in your honour.”

I didn’t know when I get the chance to perform with Nan’s guitar. The Luthiers Ladies only played violins, of course. The chance came quicker than I expected. Cassidy fell from her horse on the morning of one of our performances. She couldn’t play, and India refused to perform without her. This was it, I could honour our engagement and perform for my Nan.

So, there I was stood in front of the microphone on stage alone for the first time. I’d put on a cream, lacy denim dress and cowboy boots just like nan wore when she performed — then the nerves hit.

I was surrounded by diners and staff members all watching and wondering what I was going to do. My lips ran dry as my heart thumped an anxious drum solo. ‘Retreat and hide!’ I thought as I approached the microphone and took a deep breath. “Good evening ladies and gentleman, my name is Alison Carey. I’m a violinist with my bandmates Cassidy and India – the Luthiers Ladies. We were due to play tonight. However, Cassidy had an accident this morning. She’ll be fine in a few days but was unable to perform this evening. Not wishing to let the Workhouse down, I’ve come to play alone. I wish to perform in a way very dear to my heart.” I held up Nan’s guitar. “This was my darling grandmother Arabella’s guitar. She was known as Lady Bluebell on stage. This guitar was presented to her at a country music show many years ago. Sadly, she was killed by a man who drove his car into her while on his mobile phone …” My voice quavered as I fought back tears and composed myself. “After Arabella’s death, I found a message in her music book and discovered she’d left her guitar to me. In her honour, I put my violin down and began practising with the guitar. Now, I finally believe I’m ready to make my grandmother proud. I’m going to start with a piece I wrote called ‘Nanny Bluebell’ then we’ll move on to some more well-known songs. I hope you like It.”

The audience rewarded me with a soft round of applause.

I took a breath and engaged my music player. The restaurant was filled with the sound of banjos and fiddles as I came in with relaxed yet moody strums of my grandmother’s guitar. She was there watching me with a smile on her face. I could feel her as I remembered her singing with that Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn inspired twang to her voice. I took a deep began to sing knowing my performances would never be the same again:

“Nanny Bluebell, you’ve gone to heav’n,
yet your music fills the air.
Your families a listenin’
we all shed a tear.
Your guitars a playin’
it’s your country music we’re singin’
Nanny Bluebell, this one’s for you.”

The End

Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerShort Stories. and Short Stories 2 tabs.

Have a great day!


8 thoughts on “Nanny Bluebell

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  1. My iPhone has a “Do not disturb while driving setting,” where text messages are silenced and don’t appear onscreen and phone calls are allowed only when your iPhone is connected to the car’s Bluetooth system or a hands-free accessory.

    Liked by 1 person

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