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Again

By Lily Marie Banford

Mystery / Adventure

Blurb

This short story is a take off from "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs. It has a twist of events and is taken place during the invasion of WWII. Rather than being a perspective from the characters in the novel, I have made up my own and put them in the recurring time loop without any knowledge of it happening

Chapter 1

I opened my eyes and sat up.

“It felt so real though!” I looked over to my sister who was dolling herself up in the mirror.

“Well either way, it’s over alright? Now will you please pass me that god forsaken comb?”

Cathleen tilted her head making one of her golden curls float off her shoulder. It immediately took away the harshness off her grimace and replaced it with a girly smile. I placed a blue, half toothed comb in her open white palm and moved back into the wide open arm back chair I had been thinking in all morning. I was explaining a strange dream I had about scrambling through an open field without any reason. I remember seeing my shadow contrasted by what seemed to be fireworks behind me on the bushels of perennials. A flash of light, showing me the way as i ran, unguided. I started to daydream about the questionable scenario again and didn’t realize the voice of my sister chiming in the background of my own mental voice. She made a sharp “Ha”.

Crossing her arms and tipping up her chin she discloses,

“I just realized that we’re never going to leave this place so I might as well never attempt to brush my hair again. Maybe then I will fit in with the people on this bloody island.”

“Cathleen!” I laughed. “If Aunt Priscilla heard you say such bold words like that she would send you to a day of dire drudgery for the rest of the day! Then you’d miss your epoch with Layton.” I flashed a wink and spun around to the direction of our kitten, Purdeina. She was tucked up on an ottoman near the garnet coals from last night’s fire. I picked up our copper cat, whom i was lucky enough to bring with me, sat where she had laid and placed her on my lap. The embers were so warm that Purdeina’s hair felt like hot silk between my fingers. My back started to progressively get heated beneath the bisque cotton dress I had been given. I’m to wear it around the village so my dresses from home would not get defiled while walking around the dirt roads I was not used to.

We were sent to this island in Cairnholm, Wales because of the war that ghastly man has developed. Our mother is very protective and is unsettled by the thought of guns, as she very well should be. She arranged for us to stay with our Aunt and Uncle until our hometown in Cambridge calmed down.

People from Cairnholm tend to adore the fact that we’re twins rather than get to know us on a personal level. They’re also not used to our higher quality of living either. Sure we have standards that may come off as arrogant but can you blame us for being taken off guard over the fact that this shabby island town doesn’t even have sidewalks? I still have the urge to hop right back onto the ferry and head home to my regular life but life wasn’t normal there either.

I looked around our room to see two beds of vintage floral sheets. A round mirror was hung over an armoire of scuffed dark wood, standing large beside the cozy chair I had claimed as my own. I then realized Cathleen had been looking at me for quite some time now, mouth open, paused in awe.

“Where do you go Bryne?” she questions. “You always disappear in your head.”

I didn’t have an answer for her which she soon realized and headed out into the hallway. I jumped off the ottoman to follow her and forgot about the sleeping cat that had just agreed to finally get comfy on my lap. I flung her to the edge of the carpet causing her to freeze still; back arched, tail fluffed and her claws clenched into the worn rug.

I apologize to her as I hustle out of the room after my sister, our dresses fluttering alongside the banister to the stairs. I rushed past her, bumping her hip on the way. She takes this as a challenge and starts speeding down the stairs. She reaches the last set of steps and bounds to the main floor, skipping all three and landing with a thud.

“Bryne Alison!” My aunt dramatically yells, shaken by her obvious startle.

“I’m up here!” Correcting her whilst looking down at them from the last platform above. The bannister I’m grasping finishes my sentence with a creak as I jolt up straighter, knowing Aunt Priscilla will comment on my slouch anyways.

“Well then Cathleen Marie, you are being a disturbance and acting in a way no lady should at your age. Please calm yourself as I will not tolerate living with a niece who acts like a jester.” She pulls out her pocket watch. “Where are you two off to?”

“We’re going to meet Layton and Glory to go to the sea side.”

“Very well, come back for dinner at six and don’t do anything unorthodox. Bryne Alison fix your slouch!”

“Yes Aunt Priscilla!” We responded in harmony as we dashed out the back door leading us to our favourite place; the courtyard. The instant you step outside, you’re hit with that robust scent of wet earth after a damp and muggy rain. It was getting sunnier as we followed the path down rows of numerous water beaded flowers. There were assortments from all types of lilies to every colour of tulip. We called it our secret garden; a little unknown place only we truly enjoyed. It was shielded by the buildings surrounding it: our aunt’s house, the inn and our uncles tavern across from where we stay.

We entered the back of the tavern and a thick gust of smoky air brushed over us, replacing the fresh scent of the garden out of our noses. Small leaded windows shone squares of light that hit a row of beautiful dark bottles behind the bar. The dust filled sunshine was warm on our skin as we walked through the low-ceiling room. The tables look like they had just been brought in from the town’s Carpenter as there was not one scratch in their fine polished wood. There was an old dog we had named Bruno sleeping by the fireplace that seemed to be continuously lit from dusk till dawn. The bar had only a few men inside including our Uncle who was coming down from a narrow staircase. He was the bartender and a well known man in town.

“Afternoon Ladies” He greeted gleefully.

“Uncle Cadogan, do you think you could get me a drink?” Cathleen put her prettiest smile on and twiddled her fingers.

“Sure dear! I got a new dark brandy I’ve been meaning to give a taste.”

He pulled out short glass shooters and opened a black bottle causing a deep sounding pop to strike her to realization.

“No, I meant a glass of water!” Laughed Cathleen.

“I hope you aren’t accustomed to serving young ladies.” I added smirking with crossed arms.

He chuckled heartily as if he were a redheaded santa. “I’m just pullin’ yer legs.” he winked and got her a cup of tap water.

As he put her cup down on the bar, a new noise had came from outside. The tavern went silent as the purring got louder and louder. Without a second to think, my curiosity dragged me towards the door with the other men who had gotten up to find the cause of the sound. We stepped just outside the door frame to see most of the village searching the sky with austere faces. The crowd got larger as the sound got louder. High in the sky was an embodiment of Nazi aircraft’s aligned in single file. I was scared stiff. My anxiety had risen to maximum level as I took hold of my sister’s’ hand. I couldn’t take my eyes of the petrifying array of machinery.

Everyone watched until they looked like a flock of birds in the distance. When they were no longer in sight the island once again became silent. People started to slowly withdraw from the streets with chatter as they went back to their day.

“Bryne!”

I turn to see my new friend Glory scurrying just a step ahead of her brother Layton.

“Did you see that?” Glory shifted a large basket from one arm to the other. Her dark black hair, messily flying everywhere accented her light blue jumper covered in ruffles.

“I don’t know what to think.” Cathleen uttered, wide eyed.

“Were starting to get used to it.” Layton expressed. He tugged one of Cathleen’s long curls as he walked by her. She jokingly attempted to pull back at his short dark hair but obviously lost her grip. She linked onto one of his arms and ran ahead of Glory and I.

“Speak for yourself!” Glory continued. “I can barely stop my knees from shakin’ when they hurdle over us like that.” She tightened her hair into a ponytail and shuffled the basket again.

“So they’ve done this before?”

Layton hears me between Cathleen’s giggles. He slows down to our pace and over his shoulder whispers “It’s happened around five times now. At first we we’re fleein’ to the basements but after a while we realized they only fly by to go to other places. We ain’t a target. We ain’t even have any Jews...”

Glory’s voice chimed over her brothers “Can’t we start talkin’ about somethin else? Like why we’re not at the beach already?”

“Yes, let’s go.” Cathleen agreed.

We picked up the pace and walked past the quiet harbour. The rocky shoreline fused with brown sand was almost floury underneath our shoes. The whole afternoon we bathed in the sun and cooled off in the perfect waves. The ones that give you goose bumps immediately after they hit your warm skin. In Glory’s basket, we shared fresh berries she had picked right from the fields here in Cairnholm. She also had cucumber sandwiches which Layton wasn’t very pleased about because their father owned the town’s butchers shop.

After our lunch, Cathleen and Layton went to sit closer to the edge of the beach to have more privacy for their petty couple conversations leaving me and Glory building sandcastles on our own.

“It’s so nice having another girl to talk to ya know? Layton doesn’t find my telling’s very interestin’ anymore.”

She shuffled sand around in her hands, making it pour between her fingers.

“There’s no other kids on the island?” I had never thought about it before for I just assumed that there was at least more than a measly brother and sister.

“Well, there are. But we don’t really talk to em.”

“Why not?”

“..They’re odd.”

“You’re saying they’re so bad that you can’t even give them a chance?”

“Oh but we’ve tried! They’re the ones who are criticizin’ us. Plus our father says we should just leave them alone”

She picked up a stick and started making a hole in the sand.

“How many are there?” I asked.

“I dunno, Father told me it was an orphanage for children of the war but whenever i see them, they don’t look sad at all. It’s a mix of boys and girls and they’re taken in by this one lady.”

I paused to imagine the scene I had just been described.

“Does the “woman” ever come to town?

“Nope, she has a cart drive food up to em’ sometimes. Maybe twice a month? They say her house is big and that the parents of the children must be really wealthy because there’s no way she could be payin’ for em all.

I needed to see these children.

“Take me there tomorrow.”

Glory curiously gazed at me.

“Sorry to ask but why would you want to go up there?”

“Glory please. You’ve made it sound so... avant garde.”

“So what?” She sighed knewing i wouldnt stop asking.

“Fine, i’ll take ya. We can meet up in the alley beside your house around this time. The darker it is, the better it is for sneakin’ about.

“Yeah sun set.” I laughed. “So no one will see us in the dark.. Wait! Sun set?” I realized how late we were going to be for dinner and was up in an instant. I left Glory and started running to Cathleen.

“Were Late!”

She sat up and looked around as I gallivanted past her, stumbling to get my dress on over my bathing suit. Just as she started to chase after me she stopped, ran back and threw herself onto Layton, giving him a big kiss. Before she even had time to get back up, we heard it.

That purring.

We traced the skies and there they were. That horrid strand of black misfortune. The planes started to head towards us far over the on looking horizon. They soared past the not so far distance and we finally saw the unimaginable come to life. A bomb exploded sending a ghastly crush to our ears. We all screamed, frozen in horror. The sound of another goes off so far in the distance we could not see where it had came from. The clouds of smoke grew larger as more were released one by one. Large gushes of force hit us as if thunder started punching the earth. We could see the village aglow and started to severely panic. Glory screamed and started running down the beach away from what we had all just witnessed.Her choice to flee was what kept us from standing there in awestruck and without hesitation we joined her sprinting.

We aimed for the dunes to the flat section of field not far off. Glory knows the fields so we trusted she would have somewhere for us to hide. We made it to the dry mounds of dirt lined with berry bushes. Everything happened so fast. I felt a tight pain start to spread through out my chest but I didn’t stop to breathe. I didn’t look back as I ran past Layton holding on to Cathleen who was sprinting as hard as she could to keep up with him.

I pictured Aunt Priscilla and Uncle Cadogan, our mother, the children in the house. My eyes started to ball large tears as I sprinted through nothing but my thoughts. It had gotten so dark that all I could see my shadow on the dry bushes from the exploding bombs behind us. My feet started to hurt from the crunchy long grass beneath my nonstop running. The explosions started to get louder and closer from what I could still hear, but i wasnt listening. I didn’t realize I had passed Glory until I heard screams again. As I turned my head, everything went white. A sharp high pitched ringing hit my ears and then nothing. Complete silence.

I opened my eyes and sat up.

“It felt so real though!” I looked over to my sister who was dolling herself up in the mirror.

“Well either way, it’s over alright? Now will you please pass me that god forsaken comb?”

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