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(A short story of 2087 words)

The Swan

Historical Fiction Literary

by Lillian Aldus

A young woman tries to escape her stifling and superstitious community.

Emily hadn’t wanted to come to the memorial service, but Ma Kearney had insisted. It wasn’t easy to refuse, after all William had been her only son. ‘Six daughters before my lad was born but I never really knew what it was to be a mother until I held him in my arms.’ This had always been her introduction to any discussion about William Henry Kearney. There was certainly no great love lost between Ma and her daughters. Emily’s sisters-in-law were respectful enough toward their mother, and one or other of them could always be counted on to do their familial duty in times of need, but the relationships between mother and daughters were cold, they acted at best like polite acquaintances. William Henry senior had died soon after William was born and if Ma ever missed him, she kept it to herself.

Courting Will had been a long process. Molly Kearney had a reputation for scaring off any prospective brides she found unsuitable, which was any girl her son had showed an interest in before he met Emily. Rumour had it that more than one poor girl had been chased out of the house by Ma brandishing a broom, and occasionally using it with some force, for simply talking too much, or smiling at or laughing along with him. Even girls who were friends of her daughters were not tolerated often within Ma’s walls. She maintained that there were enough people in the family that any other company was not needed...

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