Sunday, 4 November 2012

Storytelling Sunday Two: The Words The Pictures

Welcome to Storytelling Sunday! It's the first Sunday of the month and that means it's time for our merry band of storytellers to gather round and offer us a tale or two or three..

Everyone is welcome. We like our stories any way we can find them: short, long, small or tall, we'll read them all! And if you would like to join us, all you have to do is create a Storytelling Sunday post, letting your readers know what it's all about then come back over here and link us up. Newcomers are always made to feel at home - everyone meets someone new when they join Storytelling Sunday! So don't hold back, come and join us: you'll find an audience just waiting and ready...

..and I think that's my cue to begin

A Helping Hand

It was a dark and stormy night and Uncle Sam was working late at the shop. He was studying to be a pharmacist, in the days when chemists seemed a little like conjurers with their own remedies at hand; and he was putting in a few hours at what was rumoured to be the oldest shop around. Certainly it looked as if it had been there the day Dickens came to town; and everyone knew that was where, as a little boy, CS Lewis had been dosed with cough medicine. They knew because their Grandmas had been there and watched him splutter. So, you have a picture in your head by now? Bow windows, little leaded panes of glass, a polished wooden counter and a hand painted sign hanging from a curly cast iron bracket.

That sign was creaking in the wind the night Uncle Sam sat on his wooden stool, high up in the attic, practising what he had begun to learn: making pills himself the old, original way. It was round this time of year: November, foggy, pitch black outside, blustery, and the lights flickered as the pile of tablets grew.

Photo from our trip to Blists Hill Victorian Town 2010


It was getting late. He rubbed his eyes, leaned back to stretch his back and as he did, he heard a noise. Someone was coming up the stairs. He hadn't been expecting a visitor - staying late was the student's job - but into the room came an elderly gentleman; maybe his boss's age, maybe a bit older, and he nodded and walked over to see what Uncle Sam was doing. he threw back his head and laughed and he shook the pills out of their moulds and he started again. He showed Uncle Sam a few tricks, never saying much, but what he did seemed to work, and the little piles of medicines grew as the wind howled and the lights dipped. And then, out of the corner of his eye, Uncle Sam caught a shimmering, rippling movement; and, when he turned, he realised that the man had gone. Simply, quietly, without saying a word. It was strange. It was. But students (especially, perhaps, pharmacy students?) sometimes like to accept strange; and, after all, the work was now done. Uncle Sam shrugged his shoulders, slipped on his coat and went home.

He asked around. No one knew who the man was, though it was agreed that his work was exemplary. And that was what led someone to suggest the story of the original owner of the chemist shop. Long gone, now; he had died in a terrible accident, many years ago, on one dark November's night..

I didn't hear this story from Uncle Sam. I heard it from his sister, my Mum. She told it, she let it hang in the air and then she laughed and said "I'll have to be honest. Years later he told us that he had made it up." But then we got to talking and thinking and here's the thing - Uncle Sam is known as a good, honest man. He always has been. Would he have pulled a story like this out of thin air? Or was he testing it out? Did something really happen and he wasn't sure if he wanted to believe it himself? So he tested it out as a story to see what the world would say? Uncle Sam isn't telling, so I'll leave you to decide...

And when you've had a think, please do have a hop around and enjoy some more stories. The audience is an important part of Storytelling Sunday - it doesn't work if you aren't there to listen! So have a read, say hello, we're all ready for you.

Adding a link? You have all week to do it - the linky list won't close until next Sunday. And if you make a layout to go with your story, I'll add it to the Storytelling Sunday Pinterest Board.



37 comments:

Amy said...

Ahh, the mystery of it all! If Uncle Sam is your mother's brother then it sounds as if he could be a good storyteller!

Perfect photo for your story today Sian.

Jimjams said...

A lovely ghost story for a dark & stormy night ... storytelling is in your genes!

Barbara Eads said...

Perfect story for this Halloween week. I totally believe the story. Everyone knows that England, with all of it's dark and foggy nights has the most ghosts roaming around than anywhere else! And, I loved that photo of those old apothecary bottles.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I love a good ghost story!

Kirsty.a said...

I do too, especially one with a personal link

Mary B said...

A mystery never to be solved but a fine story it makes

Missus Wookie said...

Love the bottles - there used to be one of those pharmacies where I grew up in the States. Amazing the magical making of the pills.

As for the story - nicely told and very atmospheric. Storytelling definitely runs in the family.

debs14 said...

It doesn't matter if it is fact or fiction, it's a brilliant story!

Alison said...

Another corker Sian!! Storytelling definately runs in the family
Alison xx

scrappyjacky said...

A perfect story for November,Sian....and I guess we'll never know the truth of it!!!!

furrypig said...

ooh I love a mystery another great story! I just have to decide what story I am telling today and get it posted!

Irene said...

Maybe Uncle Sam was too embarrassed to say he believed it had happened. Anything is possible... A great story, told most atmospherically by a wonderful teller of tales. Gorgeous photograph too.

Jennie Hart said...

The older I get the more inclined I am to believe anything. If Uncle Sam is a pragmatist then I have to agree with you, he may well have had an exceedingly odd experience that needed to be told as a story.

You tell it very well too. I have enjoyed it with my sunday morning coffee :)

S said...

Terrific tale, true or not. And that photo added to the atmosphere that you set up so beautifully in your story - how could we not believe there's something to it.

JO SOWERBY said...

Ooh I love a good ghost story. One night when I was working as a student nurse we got told some awfully scarey ones about nurses dying in elevators and nurses having their sleeves pulled when they fell asleep. Creepy,
Jo xxx
PS I think it was true x

Cheri said...

Love the photo! It goes so well with the story.

Jane said...

I like to think it's true!

Ladkyis said...

Fabulous story,so well told. Who cares how true it is I'll just spend the rest of my life remembering it and wondering... dot dot dot

humel said...

Wow, Sian - true or not, it sent a shiver down my spine!

KathiJo said...

It's a bit like when I talked to my daughter about Father Christmas and she said, 'I don't care, I will believe what I want to believe' .. X

Fiona@staring at the sea said...

I love a good mystery/ghost story. A sure sign for me is getting goose bumps and they appeared right about the time you mentioned the accident!

laurie said...

what a fascinating story. you have a way of drawing your listeners in and making us feel like we were right there with your uncle sam that night. stories like this are such entertainment and a break from everyday life.

Lisa-Jane said...

Oooh makes you wonder doesn't it?! I'm such a fact based person, I need evidence etc but yet something about the afterlife intrigues me. Where else would he have learned his new skills?

Mel said...

a true mystery - I like to think he did have a little helper!

Becky said...

A great story and wonderful mystery! I had forgotten it was the first Sunday of the month, have been typing like mad to get my story done, nearly finished!

Karen said...

It's an eerie story. And you tell it so well!

Melissa said...

Oh what a great "dark & stormy night" story - whether it's true or made up! :>)

tidbitsandtreasures2011 said...

A fine story...especially for the dark and stormy nights of November!

Chipper said...

That was an eerie story, it gave me the shivers. I am back and catching up. I have missed being around and will try to get a story together for this month.

Scrappi Sandi said...

A great spooky story made all the better by involving a family member...gives it a good provenance!! I love tales like this & I do think people experience more that they let on for fear of being poo-pooed!! :D

Sandra said...

Now that's a story that I'm glad I'm dipping my toe back into the blogging world for :)

I'm going on the side of its true :)

Hope all is well with you and your family x

Maria Ontiveros said...

Sian,
I've been almost around the whole ring and just realized I'd never posted here! I am a definite believer in ghosts, and I love the way you told your uncle's ghost story.
Perfect for these dark, dark nights.
Rinda

Ifa said...

uh-oh...spooky! I wonder if it was true ? I love the sight of an old fashion pharmacy with weird bottles and such.

Louise said...

oh Sian, you set the scene so beautifully, when i read the first two paragraphs there i was hoping this was chapter one! with plenty more to follow.

True it's got to be :) x

Ginger said...

here's my theory - pharmacy and chemistry, powders and moulds...hmmm perhaps uncle Sam breathed in something and was hallucinating ;)

Well told Sian and spooky too!

Jo said...

Ooh that gave me goosebumps and I'd like to think that it really did happen :)

Gail said...

I'm awfully late but I wanted to make sure I didn't miss one of your stories. You have such a flair for them and you're so descriptive that you almost feel like you are right there in the story. That was a really good one for the day after Halloween.

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