"WHISPER" - Faith Telford
“Like I said, I feel real bad you’ve wasted your
“No worries, and folks just call me Len when I’m off duty.”
“It was good of you to call in and check on the situation and all, Len, but you know what children can be like. Sorry she’s put you to the trouble,” Dave said. “ I don’t know what to do. She’s always telling me, 'Mama said this' or 'Mama said that. Mama said I should wear the blue dress today. Mama says she likes my hair in braids best.' I ground her and send her to bed early for lying ‘cause it’s kinda unnervin’ but ‘til today I figured it was a fantasy of hers, childish imaginary friend stuff, that was pretty much harmless.”
“I heard a whisper that Jordyn’s mother up and left not long after y’all moved in?”
“Lori-anne was...well I guess you could say she was kinda on the flighty side. Withdrawn, too. I thought bein’ out here in a small community might help her to settle in and meet some folks, make a friend or two, y’know? Guess I was wrong. Fickle. I got a letter a week or so ago from her promisin' to phone Jordy and me when she got settled somewheres but knowin' Lori-anne that might take some time. I didn't see the point in tellin' Jordyn. Didn't want her to get her hopes up. Anyways, me and Jordy, we’re doin’ just fine on our own, thanks.”
“Except for the tall tales.”
“Yeah, ‘cepting for that.”
“It's all right, we didn’t think too much of it; figured it was just local youngsters pranking us as a dare but when someone phones in a report, even an imaginative kid like Jordyn, well we’ve got to check it out. You understand how it is,” Len said. Dave sighed and looked towards the heavens. “You’re not too far out of my way so I thought I’d stop by on my way home; a courtesy call more than anything. I ordinarily like to do the meet and greet thing when new folk move into the area but I’ve been a bit tied up for the past couple of months. It's been hectic.”
“Yeah, heard all about it. Got quite a clean up on your hands,” nodded Dave.
“We were lucky the tornado veered away from this part of the county,” Len said looking out at the rutted dirt road running beside the isolated property. “Folks south of Crickson’s Rock didn’t get off as lightly. The boys and I have been lending a hand as best we can. Still, it’s no excuse for not dropping by. Jordyn’s a cute kid.”
Dave’s eyebrows furrowed. “You’ve two have met?”
“My wife’s her teacher,” explained Len.
“Ah.” Dave wiped the back of his hand across his forehead. “Small town.”
Len chuckled, his gaze catching a flash of movement on the other side of the rickety picket fence. “Yeah, a little too small sometimes but we’re close-knit enough to rally around when it’s required. Speaking of which, how are you finding it out here? If you need any help just you say the word.”
“Thanks, but we’re doin’ okay. Really.”
“Sure.” Dave was covering up. Len’s cop instincts hadn’t let him down yet. The poor guy looked battle weary and thin, obviously missing his wife and struggling to bring up his daughter alone. “Jordyn’s not around now, I don’t suppose? I wouldn’t mind having a quiet word with her.”
Dave swallowed and brushed away a sticky fly that was annoying him. “She usually jumps off the school bus and runs into the house like a little whirlwind, grabs a bite to eat then heads straight down to the dried creek bed ‘til I call her up for supper. She’s got herself some sort of makeshift fort down there,” he said. “But I guess this afternoon when I was out fixin' the tractor she put in a phone call to you and then took off. But don’t you worry none, I’ll be sure to speak to her this evenin' about makin' nuisance calls and startlin’ folks.”
Len focused on the expanse of dirt that was supposed to be Dave’s crop. If it wasn’t sudden downpours and tornados it was drought and dust. Hard enough to cope with when you’d grown up in farming territory; must be damn near impossible for a city fella who’d recently been abandoned by his partner and left sole carer of his kid. “Don’t go too hard on her, will you? Poor little tike’s just missing her mother. My wife tells me Jordy and her were real close.”
“Really? Her teacher picked that up in only a couple of months at school?”
“Women,” he said, leaving the rest unsaid. When it became clear Dave wasn’t going to add any more to the conversation, Len tipped his hat and said his goodbyes. “Now if ever you’re out and about, Dave, and you feel the need for a chat just call in, y’hear?”
“Thanks, but I don’t get into town much. I got enough work out here to keep me off the streets.”
Dave closed the wire screen door and stepped back inside as the visitor made his way down the splintered wooden steps and out to his pickup.
“Well, well if it isn’t little Jordyn Bamford hiding in the shadows. Howdy there Missy. I thought I spied you checkin’ out my old truck when I was up on the porch with your dad.”
“No, ” she said quietly looking up at him from beneath long lashes. “I’m just sitting here out of the sun talking to Mama.”
He cleared his throat. “Your Mama, is it now?” Len crouched down in the shade of the vehicle to look the little girl in the eye. “Listen, your mama loves you, Jordy, and I know it’s tough without her but she’s gone away for a while and you’re going to have to do the best you can without her.”
“No, she’s here with me all the time, Mr. Williams. She’s the one told me to put in a call to your office.”
“Yeah look, about that, Jord...you can’t go phoning folks up – ‘specially not the police – and making up stories when you’re bored or lonely. Why not catch up with a playmate after school instead then get your dad to pick you up later on? Or have a sleepover once in a while or something? I’m sure Mrs. Williams would be happy to organize it for you through the school with someone if your dad’s too busy.”
The little girl looked away and started to draw in the dirt. “Mama says for you to come out to the old well and bring her up. She says she’s at the bottom where Papa flung her and her leg’s all bent up and she can’t climb out. Aint that right, Mama?” she said, looking at the nothingness beside her.
“Jordyn, this is what I mean, honey. You shouldn’t say things like this. You really gave the poor call centre operator a fright this afternoon. Your mama wouldn’t want you telling fibs to people. She’d want you to be happy.”
“Yessir, that’s right. She wants me to be happy but I want her to be happy, too, and she can’t be while she’s all twisted up and alone in that dark hole the way she is.”
“Okay, tell you what we’ll do, Jordy. How’s about I pop you up on the front seat and you can pretend you’re driving my truck while I take a look around the back and check out the well with my flashlight, hey? Then you’ve got to promise me that’s the end of the tall tales, all right?”
“Yessir. Oh, and Mama says you’ll find daddy’s gun under the floorboards in the kitchen. She says you’re gonna be needin’ that for edivence.”
When Len appeared back at the vehicle he radioed for backup and while he waited for reinforcements to arrive, he kept one eye trained on the porch for Dave and another on Jordyn who couldn’t stop smiling at the empty space beside her on the car seat.
BIO: Faith is relatively new to the writing game but a couple of minor successes with competitions in her local area have given her the bug to keep going. She has always read extensively but is yet to find a genre to settle into so until she does, Faith is trying her hand at a little of everything. She hopes you enjoy this, her first attempt at paranormal.