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To Be Loved

Ciara Brennan

I remember the day I first heard the name Charity Hollows.

It was


, I thought,

how the two parts of her name are almost in conflict


‘Charity’ conjuring up feelings of warmth and kindness, whereas the

name ‘Hollows’ felt eerily empty.

It was on a rather uneventful day, when I was summoned by my

parents to our drawing room, at the front of the house. There,

among the fine assortment of cushiony furniture and various

antiques, I saw a small, young girl. I can still see her large eyes

peering at me now. A swirl of hair nestled on her shoulder, like the

sky at midnight, with the stars still in it. All her features shared this

night-like resemblance – dark and sparkly. Only her skin was pale,

so very pale – though it was hard to get skin much darker than sand

where we lived.

She looked up as I entered the room, as did both my parents, my

mother with her white hands on the girl’s shoulders. My father

approached me, his blue eyes looking into mine. He bent down, to

even himself with my 12-year-old height, and whispered in my ear.

‘This is the girl we were telling you about,’ he murmured, and I

could sense the corners of his mouth unravelling themselves into the

smile I knew so well. ‘Well, now, stop looking like a codfish with your

eyes all open, and go and introduce yourself.’

I swallowed a lump in my throat and nodded, taking several small

steps forward.

‘Hello… so you must be Charity, then?’ I muttered, trying to sound


‘Hollows,’ the girl replied promptly.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘My name,’ and here she took a rather dramatic pause, ‘is Charity


‘Huh.’ I was dumbfounded. ‘And my name is Aubrey. Aubrey


What my father had said before was true, about having told me about

Charity prior to our first meeting.


of my parents had told me

about her, piecing together her backstory through their letter

correspondence with her parents. They told me that they’d been

close with theHollows in the past, when they’d visited England. They

hadn’t been in contact for a long time, but with the war raging on,

Charity’s parents said they felt it their duty to support their country.