From THE POCKET MUSE: IDEAS AND INSPIRATION FOR WRITING, by Monica Wood.
Imagine a coat. Imagine the pocket of the coat. Imagine what's in the pocket.
Martha Briggs was always out of bed early in the morning. It seemed in her older years she did not need so much sleep. She wore her old knitted jacket underneath her warm dressing gown. It was a bitter cold Winter and her house was not so warm, the cold winds blowing through every crevice they could find. After her breakfast she washed and dressed. It was early in the morning, but Martha had a job to do and she knew that it should be done as soon as possible.
She put on her old tweed coat. It was a special coat. In her younger days she was a dressmaker, one of the best. Even today she would never think of buying readymade clothes in a shop, but would choose the material, take out her old faithful sewing machine and design and sew her own clothes. He coat was a special construction. It had four large pockets; two placed on the hips, right and left, and two breast pockets, also right and left. She then opened the kitchen cupboard and took a large plastic bag filled with all sorts of seeds which she collected throughout Autumn from her garden. Her display of sunflowers was famous in the street where she lived and their seeds were much treasured, as well as the hazelnuts and the beech nuts. They were all collected and carefully packed in various small bags which she removed from the large plastic bag and arranged in the pockets of her coat. Now she was ready for her morning walk.
She walked along the street and entered a path which leads through the local forest. She was glad for her warm shoes as the snow was laying compact on the ground, mostly frozen from the temperatures which had sunk below freezing.
“Come, come” she said in a soothing quiet voice and scattered the sunflower seeds at the side of the path. There was a rustle from overhead in the trees and the birds came flying. Sparrows, tits, finches, even a red breast, all shapes and sizes and they pounced on the seeds lying on the ground. For a while Martha watched the birds pecking at their trophies. She then walked further on into the forest. She now took some hazelnuts out of one of the pockets and held her hand out. In no time her hands not only contained the nuts, but on each hand were perched at least two squirrels filling their cheeks with the nuts and quickly disappearing in their nests afterwards to replenish the stocks of food. Martha spent at least one hour in the forest every day, distributing the food to the animals. She herself had no family; her husband died after only two years of marriage and she never married again or had any children. After her working days were over, she retired to her small house at the edge of the forest. She soon noticed she was not alone as her garden was always filled with insects and birds as well as perhaps squirrels. It was then she noticed that in the hard winters these creatures had to search for their food, so she started to feed them.
On this winter’s day she distributed the food and started on her way back to the house. She suddenly heard a lot of noise behind her, shouting and loud laughing. She turned and saw a group of young men. They were pushing each other and generally showing a rough behavior.
“Hey lady, been feeding the birds again. What about feeding us?” they shouted. Martha walked on faster, but the boys started running and soon caught up with her. She found herself surrounded by them.”
“Well just look at the lady with the big pockets in the coat, just full up with bird seed. Don’t believe it, she must have her purse somewhere, so where’s the money lady, we don’t have a lot of time to mess around.” And one of the boys pounced on Martha from behind whilst the others started searching through her pockets.
Martha was frightened “I don’t have any money, just bird food.
“Oh dear, the little lady has only bird food – hear that boys, does anyone believe it.” And before Martha could do anything more the boys were upon her searching through her large pockets for money. What they did not know was that they were being watched closely. Suddenly it was too much for Martha, before her eyes everything turned black and she collapsed and fell onto the ground. There was a rushing noise as if the air was being stirred by a large gust of wind. The bird started flying towards the boys and they were soon upon them. The boys wanted to flee, but had no chance. They were pecked by the birds and scratched by the squirrels. Attracted by the noise the forest caretaker and his men who were working near bye came to see what was happening. They saw the young men crouching on the ground, cowering with their heads in their hands for protection. Two of the boys were crying “I can’t see, I can’t see, please help.” The men from the forest called the police and an ambulance.
Later on that day Martha regained her consciousness, although she was feeling quite weak, so the doctors decided to keep her in hospital until they could be sure that everything was back to normal.
The boys were taken into custody by the police and got their just rewards. Two of them were sent to the local eye hospital for treatment and were lucky to have been able to keep their sight after the bird attack.
Martha was also mentioned in the local newspaper. There was strange sight outside the room occupied by Martha at the hospital. The tree opposite the window to Martha’s room was full of ny birds and squirrels. Needless to say when Martha went home the animals also went back to their forest.
United Friends Challenge #110 - Martha fills her pockets