Pea Soup Year – Christine Collinson

The night the storm blew in, I was already as low as can be. Hunger gnawed at me like a rat on a bone. Pitiful harvests had left us bereft; me, Danny, and the girls. Just like everyone else in the whole damned town.

We ate a simple meal of cockles, but it wasn’t enough. Danny and I barely slept as the wind wailed around us, sleety rain battering against the shutters. Through tired eyes, I watched him get up again and again to stoke the guttering fire.

At dawn our neighbour appeared, suddenly, at our door. Rubbing his hands against the cold, he breathlessly told of a ship wrecked in the night. A great cargo vessel, tipped on to the shore.

The passing of the storm had left us with an unsettling calm. Danny went out to join the rescuers, wrapped up against the cold. I sat beside the fire and pictured the ship lying askew, its once majestic sails in tatters. I prayed there were survivors. As I huddled the girls to me, we sang softly together.

Hours passed before Danny returned. As I opened the door, full of questions, I stopped to watch him rolling a small barrel up the path; a sight I’d never seen.

He rolled it inside, then upended it. The barrel rested before us, unadorned. I looked at Danny, but he merely raised an eyebrow. When he prised it open and stood, beaming, I could only stare at dozens of the greenest pea pods I’d ever set eyes upon.

For a long moment, I didn’t speak. “We’ll be eating pea soup for weeks!”

“Nah, Gwen, love; we’ll be eating it well in to next year.”

“If somebody had told me that peas would be our salvation, I’d never ‘ave believed ‘em.” I picked up a pod and squeezed it between my fingers. Then, from somewhere deep down, the laughter began.

 

 

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CHRISTINE COLLINSON writes (mainly historical) short fiction. Her work has appeared in Firefly, Prima and Writers’ Forum magazines, in Ad Hoc Fiction’s eBook and on Paragraph Planet. Find her on Twitter @collinson26.

 

Image: John Thomas Serres [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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