Creative Writing

The Bone China Ghost

A Sentimental ghost story taking place in the potteries at Stoke. Written for the Words of Clay Story Cafe at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, 8th November 2014.
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    The Bone China Ghost  Andrew Roberts  Roger had shut out all the sounds of the outside world as he stepped through the front door. The brown parcel on the step threw him off-guard as he almost tripped over it. There’s something about receiving an anonymous package. He took it inside and tore it open to discover an ornate tea set. He examined them. The saucers were adorned with a blue rim while the cups appeared translucent when held under the light. It gave off the appearance of a master craftsmanship far greater than what he was accustomed to. A delivery note lay inside the parcel. The logo was for Hemlock China. The details were handwritten, while the note didn’t look word -processed. The date was smudged, making it illegible. “This could be worth a fortune.” He pondered aloud . Opening his laptop, he Googled for auctioneers. As he browsed, he saw a link to an article about the Hemlock collection. The article talked about the company’s fo unding in the 19 th  century, the takeover by his great-grandfather George McCall in the 1920s, and the subsequent bankruptcy. Reading it brought back memories of his own grandfather, lamenting the opportunity robbed of him by his father’s mismanagement.  Looking at the pottery he had received, he noticed it was identical to that shown in the photograph in the article. He stared at the parcel. Sighing, he closed the laptop and moved the crockery. As he picked up the box, he glimpsed a small piece of paper fluttering down from beneath it. Unfolding it, he saw an unnerving message. “Bring it back.”  That night, t he notice penetrated Roger’s dreams as he slept.   “Bring it back.”  He heard it being repeated in his head, recognising the voice as that of his grandfather. The following morning, Roger examined the note again. Looking back at the tea set, he fished out the delivery note and read the address. He grabbed his car keys and went to the door.  It was late morning when Roger pulled up outside the derelict factory. The tea set lay on the seat next to him. The streets were completely deserted. Nobody worked on that estate, and no commuters used the side roads. With the parcel tucked under his arm, he tugged at the gates to find them unlocked. Shrugging, he walked through, expecting to find the place occupied by squatters or addicts. There was nothing in sight, not even any memorabilia to suggest anybody had visited the factory since its closure. Stepping through the courtyard, he jumped as the gates slammed shut behind him. Ahead of him lay an old style bottle oven. He gingerly stepped inside; trying to perceive what was there. A lone figure, clad in overalls from another time, was opening the oven to pull out a fresh batch of clay. He reeled back, as if reacting to a burst of heat, yet Roger could feel no change in temperature. In fact, he felt a chill running down his spine. “Is that a new batch?” He asked.   “Well, I received this by mistake.” R oger said as he gave him the wares, confused by what he saw. “Ah, it must be a recalled batch. I’ll see to it.”   “I thought this place had been closed down. My late granddad used to work here. ”   “Don’t be so wet, lad.” The worker remarked,   “ Hemlock China is the finest pottery in Stoke. I doubt that it would be going out of business any time soon.”   “Who’s running it at the moment?” Roger asked, trying to ascertain where or even when the man came from. “Doesn’t the name clue you in? The Hemlock family’s been running  it since the Victorian times. Although they are dealing with a buyout offer from George McCall. ”   “He was my great - granddad.” Roger pointed out, “He bought this place in the twenties.”   “What a load of rubbish.  He knows as much about pottery as I do about aeroplanes . His son would make a good potter though.”    Roge r couldn’t bring himself to say what would eventually happen. He held his head in his hands and took a deep breath. “I’m sure he’ll do you proud.”  He breathed, leaving the room. “Hold on a moment.” The worker said, “Are you saying that Hemlock doesn’t survive?”   “No. It doesn’t. It was run into the ground before my granddad got the chance to take over.”  The worker stared silently, slowly fading away. Roger could see the fires in the kiln die down. He stood alone in the room. Walking back to his car, Roger could hear the worker’s voice.   “ W as it worth it?”  


Jul 23, 2017
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