Will Justin Sommerset be able to rescue the two most important people in his life, from the fate Jenny was contemplating for them?
The valley was dark and barren. The naked gray earth sloped towards the sluggishly flowing waters of the canal. Recent rains had made everything soggy and slimy. The narrow path running parallel to the water's edge was uneven, just wide enough to accommodate the pram being pushed by the frail and sad looking young woman.
Jenny Brown, who appeared no older than fourteen, but her birth certificate would add another four years, was often slipping down the muddy slope towards the depths of the canal. Slight of build, pretty and usually happy, Jenny was facing the future as an unmarried mother who had been thrown out of her parents' home, and disowned by her family. Devastation etched the lines on her face.
She knew she wouldn't be able to look after her child. Her friends lacked the recources to help. She was still not well after the birth of the child and her food and finances were almost totally spent.
As Jenny continued wearily, contemplating their future, the two weeks old child in the rikety black pram on high wheels was screaming, as if she could feel the danger she was in.
"Jumping into the canal would be an easy way to end it all," considered the distraught young mother, "but what of the baby? Would my parents look after her?" She was sure they wouldn't. They were adamant right from the start of her pregnancy.
"What about Justin, the baby's father?" The man deserted Jenny two weeks before the baby was to be born.
"No, Justin Sommerset, tall, handsome, well educated, very charming and very spoilt who always did what he liked, was selfish and stubborn." He had already said that he didn't want to involve himself with such a responsibility.
"A wife and family were the last things he wnated right now." It was obvious that he wouldn't take care of the baby.
"So, what to do? Take the baby down into this cold, murky water with me?" The baby, whom she called Anne, wasn't even baptized.
"How could I murder (for it would be just that) this poor lovely, innocent screaming bundle?" Jenny thought as she sat down on a rock, just around the bend in the path, closing her eyes to contemplate the situation and its intricacies.
"What am I to do? Is this the only solution?"
She was totally exhausted. It seemed to the young mother that her life was a continuous battle. She felt as though she hadn't slept for a month and the prospects for the future were far from bright. She felt like she couldn't go on like this any longer.
The baby, tired from so much crying, stopped at last and after a while fell asleep, hiccupping from time to time as if to let the mother know she was still there, asking her to "mommy, please take care of me".
Back in the city, Justin thought about Jenny and the baby who must have been born by now. The last time he spoke with Jenny, or rather quarreled thunderously, was a month ago. If everything went according to schedule, the baby would be two weeks old now.
"How are they both? Is it a boy or girl? Where are they?" he thought. Although he didn't want the responsibilities of a father and husband he was curious to see the baby - his baby. He did love Jenny, but the baby complicated things. He liked to have a good time, being in charge. And of course his parents didn't approve of Jenny or her family who were poor and old fashioned.
Suddenly he found himself driving towards Jenny's flat. It was dusk by the time he arrived at Number 9. The windows of flat 5 were in darkness.
"That's strange," he thought, "where could she be?" as he ran up the path towards the front door. Knocking urgently, but reeceiving no answer, Justing became concerned and suddenly realized that perhaps Jenny had taken his avoidance of her seriously and personally, perhaps she thought he didn't love her after all.
"Where could she be? Oh, my God! The canal, where we used to walk in the summer evenings, when it was lush and green, but now, in late autumn, quite desolate, gray, unfriendly and sinister."
Justin walked briskly back to his car and travelled at break-neck speed. It seemed like hours had elpsed by the time he arrived at the gate leading to the path by the canal. In fact, it had taken a few minutes; only to discover that the gate was already locked for the night.
The brick fence separating the park from the canal was six feet high and it took Justin some minutes to overcome this obstacle. As he cleared the wall, he couldn't see anyone on the path. He ran, fearing the worst, for the footprints and pram wheel imprints in the mud told him that Jeny did indeed come this way. He called loudly and listened, but only the sound of the wind in the trees on the other side of the canal answered him. He called again and again as he ran and slipped in the mud. Still there was no reply.
His face was now streaked with tears of anger, frustration, fear and foreboding. He almost gave up, then remembering there was a slight bend in the path, kept going. Had the sun been shining, he would have been able to see the rocks, but it was quite dark now.
He ran on, his thoughts quite clear, that nobody mattered except Jenny and the baby, and finally rounding the bend, he almost fell seeing Jeny with the baby in her arms standing at the edge of the canal.
He came to an abrupt halt and then, taking the last few steps slowly, with his eyes riveted to the mother and child, at last, caught them in his arms and crushed them to his chest saying:
"Oh, Jenny, I love you, I love you both. I thought I'd lost you. Will you forgive me? Will you marry me, please?"
Tears once again coursed down her cheeks but with a big smile on her fragile face, Jenny replied:
"Yes, yes, my darling!"
She clung to Justin, cradling the baby between them.
Site: Denise Nowakowski p Writer and Poet
Reader Reviews for
"Valley of Despair"
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|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|A most compelling story, Denise. Love and peace to you,
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Reviewed by Barbara Terry
|Yes Denise this is very good, and it does not need to be any longer than it is. Happy endings should stay happy endings. I only wish that when I ran down to the canal in my life, someone like Justin would come and rescue me, and hold me in his strong arms. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to be content to be alone for the rest of my life, as the girl I was supposed to have been at birth. Maybe then I won't hurt anyone else. Thnx for sharing Denise. May the Lord Jesus bless you, and those whom you love, and be with you always, and at your side constantly. With much love in my heart, stubborn to a fault, joy to the world, peace on earth, & ((((((((((MANY WONDERFUL SISTERLY HUGGGGSSSS)))))))))), your little sad den sister, Barbie
"If I have to be this girl in me, Then I may as well be."
|Reviewed by Geraldine Murphy
|Very good. Would have liked it to be longer.|