It has always been an interest of mine to consider the nuances involved in my encounters with others, those that are nourishing and even those that are more distasteful for some reason. In recent years, my interest has broadened to include encounters with animals, nature, books, movies and now, online conversations with people who I treasure yet may never meet.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

EVEN THEN ~ A Short Story by Lorraine Smith

My post today is a short story, a first one written by a British friend, Lorraine Smith. Lorraine is a working Mum, and lives in Surrey (UK) with her husband and their baby daughter. If you enjoy blogs that offer breaths of fresh air, Lorraine's posts on 'Gin and Cornflakes' is one that I highly recommend. The link is provided after her story.

Even Lorraine's bio has the flair of fresh air:

"My heart belongs in the Cotswolds where I grew up, and hope to return one day. I'm a qualified lawyer and reflexologist, and have recently completed a wine course (purely for the education and NOT the tasting, of course...?). I started writing in December last year, and haven't yet stopped. I blog about being a Mum - how fab it is, but also how hard it is sometimes. I haven't got the time or the energy to want it all - I just want a bit of everything!"

Thank you, Lorraine, for allowing me to post your beautiful short story on Treasured Encounters. 'Even then...' is powerful and continues to touch me  deeply, in a more sweet than bitter way.


Even then…
I remember the first time I saw him - Jack. The garden at my Nan’s house. The horse chestnut tree. I had a couple of conkers and was sticking dress pins into them to make furniture for the finger dolls my Nan had knitted me. He had climbed over the fence from next door to see what new treasures he could find. He rolled his eyes at my craft. Sparkling eyes, full of life. Mischievous; playful. Conkers were for baking in the oven to harden, and then hung on string for playground games. Not for dolls’ houses. He stuffed a few into his pocket, taking a doll too for good measure, and with a wink scampered off. I knew he’d be back... Even then.
He was only a lad when he went off to fight. Sixteen. Full of schoolboy optimism. But he returned hardened by the horrors he had witnessed on the killing fields of France. A pawn in the playground games of fat majors with maps spread out on tables, plotting where young boys would lose their youth. His eyes were flat. Dull; serious. Medals earned were tossed in the fire. But memories are not so easily extinguished. They became the ashes that smothered his spirit and cast a dark cloud over his life. I thought my Jack might return though... Even then.
We were married, and life was hard but we had each other. And our two children – a girl and a boy to replace us both when we went on. Time passed, and the flashbacks became less frequent. But, as he aged, he lost the will to fight the thoughts that blighted his days. And then his winter years brought with them the coldest of all diseases: Dementia. I tried desperately to hold on to him, battling his demise. But Dementia is a determined enemy and, slowly, he slipped further away - sliding into an ignorance of life post playground. He became a child again. e beTimeHis illness erasing the scars of time; protecting him from his past. And I knew he wouldn’t be back... Even then.

But I came to accept our new reality. I played by the rules of Dementia’s game. I cared for him; mothered him; loved him. Dementia had won, but I would not be defeated. The memories I chose to cherish were those under the horse chestnut tree at my Nan’s. I found comfort in recounting those stories to our children, and to their children. Grandad. Dad. Jack. War hero and conker champion…. I treasured those thoughts, for it was when he was a child that I had first met him. And it was how I knew him when he died. In the pocket of the dressing gown he was wearing the day he left us, I found one of my knitted dolls. And so I knew he had never forgotten... Even then.

Lorraine's blog, Gin & Cornflakes - Mummy talk for the rest of us, can be visited here.

Connect with her as @gin_cornflakes on Twitter here.

Visit her Facebook page here.



  1. Currently re-reading "The First Casualty" so really emphasized with this short story:)


    1. "The First Casualty" - clue me in? Guess I could look it up :-)

    2. Ah - got it...Philip Knightley. Gave me tingles - of the fascinating bittersweet kind, reading the synopsis. To be read...

  2. That was a beautiful story. Really sweet, brought tears to my eyes.

  3. Heartfelt 'thank you' for visiting ~ you,too, have a way with words.