Who We Are

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A story of heartbreak and the healing that happens after — of love, of hope, of the possibility of more. Who We Are delves into the complexities of identity and who we are as human beings as we follow main character Margot as she escapes her dark past, running away to a small town in the rolling hills of the UK in search for who she is and who she wants to be. Camberwick, a tight knit community reeling from a great tragedy, welcomes her with open arms as they too learn to heal together. What they find with each other’s help is not what anyone expected — but only together will they be able to heal from the hurt and look to the future.

Helen Granger
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Camberwick was considered a hidden gem to all who were lucky enough to stumble upon it. Home to some of the most stunning rolling hills outside of London and only a few kilometers west of the sea, its greenery and exquisite natural beauty made most that traveled through never want to leave.

It was a place that gave one the feeling of being in another century - the cobblestone streets from ages before, filled with historic English architecture. Endless green vines climbed the walls of every shop on main street, giving an enchanted feel to the local grocery store, flower shop, and post office, among other things. The chaos of the modern world seemed to skip over Camberwick and instead give way to a new sense of enjoyment in all of the small things in life. It was truly the perfect place for one to escape.

Not only was the town a gift in itself, but the people that resided here, too, were ones that could hardly be forgotten. In one way or another, everyone was connected - through their jobs, the school, their friends. They prided themselves in their strength of a community - for in a town as small as this, all one had was each other. Everyone knew everything about each other, and they liked it that way. They were some of the most amiable people on the planet, always going out of their way to make things better for another. In that sense, Camberwick was as lively as ever to the outsiders who occasionally traveled through, and made one feel as if they were part of something bigger; as if the town had accepted them and were sharing the experience of the beauty that was the land around them. That was simply who they were.

Those who had grown up here would always remain convinced that there was a special sort of allure to living in Camberick that kept them here through generations - because hardly anyone could ever fathom leaving to the world beyond the place they had always known and cherished.

The extraordinary landscape, inviting pubs, and warm beds were a welcome surprise to those making the long drive through the English countryside. Constantly forgotten on maps, it was considered London’s best kept secret. The essence of Camberwick was entrancing in that way.

Or, it used to be.

Generally there were very few occasions that warranted heartbreak in a town as small as Camberwick. The sheer likelihood of something horrid happening to someone was low and hadn’t occurred for so long that it was considered unfathomable. Camberwick was a place that seemed to be protected by the endless rolling hills and ocean waves it was surrounded by. Yet, with all unfathomable things, they are all eventually doomed to occur.

And so, in a thunderstorm that only raged that fiercely in the darkest of nights, Camberwick experienced its greatest tragedy.

Amelia Brown - daughter of the beloved inn owner, high school valedictorian, star track athlete, among other things - was the town’s sweetheart. Born to a war widow in a dark time of grief, the town adopted her, picking up where her mother couldn’t. The local grocer, an old musician, taught her how to play the violin. The coffee shop owner gave her her first job to help her mother back home, and gave her her love of plants which would then transform the inn’s gardens. The teachers at the old schoolhouse would stay late to teach her more advanced material, and would push her to face her fears and try out for the extracurriculars.

Through volunteering at the old folks’ home, working odds and ends for everyone around town, and taking care of the younger school children, she was the town’s unspoken favorite. There were many bright kids that grew up in Camberwick, but Amelia was Camberwick’s pride and joy.

Her mother, in return, taught Amelia all she knew about the vast world of baking to give back the love that they had received. It became tradition for Amelia to bike through the cobblestone streets to deliver various goods to the lovely townspeople in forever thanks to each part they played in who she was becoming.

But in a single instant, the light of Camberick was extinguished. In the midst of one of Camberwick’s darkest thunderstorms, Amelia Brown’s life was suddenly taken in an accident too horrific to be forgiven.

It was this that broke the bubble that seemed to keep Camberwick safe from all the disaster that occurred outside of their world. Camberwick wasn’t as wonderful, or beautiful. Everyone, in some way or another, was impacted. The magic of the forgotten small town on the coast evaporated as quickly as the supposed accident had happened. After Amelia’s death, nothing was quite the same.

Unlike before, Camberwick slowly faded, stuck in the midst of rolling hills and on the edge of the sea, hours away from the next town. The inn stayed empty, the pubs and the coffee shops serving the few locals that dropped by - and most of all, the dark cloud that crossed the once warm and best kept secret of the London countryside settled above it. How could one, after all, really heal the unfairness of death?

They had been forced to deal with the unimaginable, and now, in the midst of healing, they couldn’t quite make it back to the before.


The woman shut her eyes again as another vibration pulsed in her pocket from her phone.

“This is as far as I can take you tonight,” The taxi driver announced to the woman in the back of his cab who, despite the stormy weather, was dressed in a fashionable top coat and heels. “These thunderstorms in the countryside are not something to trifle with.”

The rain continued to beat against the windows, making it almost impossible to see, as Margot bit her lip as she peered outside. Her long, golden hair had become mussed from the hours she had spent in the back of a car.

“How far are we from the nearest airport?” She asked abruptly, searching through her bags for her rain tote that she had luckily remembered to pack in the ten minutes she had decided to get on a plane and come here. Wherever this was.

The driver sighed, looking at the map that was on his screen. “At least a day’s worth of driving. I know the area - there’s an inn somewhere around here, but that’s as far as I’ll make it. Besides that, your bill is quite high.”

“I don’t mind.” Margot responded. At least a day’s worth of driving, she thought to herself.

Good. The farther, the better.

The driver slowly pulled up in front of what looked more like a castle than an inn. The rain blurred any real detail she could make out, but the pure size was enough to make her gape up at its monstrosity.

“This is Camberwick’s local inn. You didn’t get to see much in the dark, but it’s a real beauty. Shame about what happened to the poor girl, but… definitely a great place to stay, if you can make the drive out…”

“Here,” Margot interrupted, handing him a wad of cash, her eyes still gazing out the window, distracted by the stunning English architecture. She pushed the door open, ignoring the pouring rain that greeted her, and pulled out her giant suitcase and briefcase that were her only traveling companions. She had packed hastily and overwhelmingly - almost as if she had no expectation to return.

“Thank you,” She said to the bewildered driver, holding out her change. “You can keep it.”

Margot then turned her back to once again look at the remarkable estate before her. The occasional streaks of lightning lit up the archaic inn with cracks of thunder echoing across the rolling hills behind her. Taking a moment to herself, she inhaled the crisp air one could only find in the countryside, closing her eyes in a moment of peace. She had to be thousands of miles from home by now, and only then could she feel like she could breathe.

Picking up her suitcase, she heaved it towards the grand front door, the taxi driver long gone in haste to escape his relentless passenger. Margot was sure she looked like a complete disaster, complete with her hair sopping wet, but there was hardly anything to do at that moment.

After a short knock, an older woman pulled open the towering front door.


The older woman’s face shifted from curiosity to shock at the thin, blonde woman that was standing in front of her despite the storm. It was clear she hadn’t been expecting anyone - downed in a pink bathrobe and her hair in a scarf, she seemed ready for bed. It had been months since the last traveler, and the woman had not expected any more.

“Oh, come in, come in,” she said upon her gazing at the stranger’s appearance, allowing her into the warmth and hospitality. “You must be freezing.”

Margot smiled gratefully at the stranger. “Oh, I never mind a bit of rain. I quite enjoy thunderstorms, really.” She pulled her bags through the entryway and took in the inside of the castle as she shrugged out of her thick coat.

The older woman looked pained as she took Margot’s coat from her. “Thunderstorms have never been a favorite of mine here.” She said quietly, turning towards a cabinet in the main hallway entrance. “Are you here to stay the night?”

Margot paused as she took in the grandeur of the castle-like inn. There was nothing like the beauty of English architecture - from the arching windows, the walls covered in paintings, to the grandest staircase she had ever laid eyes on. A chandelier lit up the room despite the darkness outdoors with candles placed along the various hallways exiting the hall. A roaring fireplace could be heard in between the cracks of thunder from the room adjoining the entryway.

Margot refocused and nodded at the older woman in front of her. “If you have a room available?” Margot stepped forward and attempted to fix her disheveled hair. “I’m not quite sure how long I’ll be in town.”

She shivered. I can’t go back.

The woman’s eyebrows raised slightly as she nodded. She had many rooms available and to have a traveler for more than one night would be excellent for her business. And though she would never admit it…she was glad she wasn’t spending another night alone. The months spent alone in the once full, great house had taken a toll on her.

She reached over to grab the key to her favorite room, the one overlooking the gardens, for her new and only, guest. “I suppose I should introduce myself then.” She held out her hand. “My name is Poppy Brown. Some like to be formal and call me Lady Brown, as I am the owner of this estate, but you may call me Poppy. Whatever you prefer. The aristocratic days are long behind us.”

Margot graciously shook the hand of the woman in front of her, once again grateful of the idea of the many, many miles that she had put between herself and what was her supposed place of residence. Standing here, she felt more at peace than where she had lived for the past few years. Nowhere in the world had been more suffocating.

“You have a lovely estate here, Poppy. My name is Margot…..”

She hesitated. What if they find me here?

“...Williams. Margot Williams.”

Poppy nodded at her new guest. “Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Williams. Now, if you’ll follow me, you’ll be staying in my favorite room for the night.”

Margot smiled. “Oh, that’s lovely of you, thank you.”

They started up the grand staircase, walking up the second of what seemed to be at least five floors, each more elegant and mysterious than the last. As they climbed, there were paintings and various photos on the walls of what Margot could only presume were people that used to live here.

There was one painting in particular that stood out more than the rest, as it was by far the most beautiful. The painting depicted a young girl in the midst of a field of flowers - the colors more vibrant, the girl painted so beautifully in comparison to all of the other baroque-esque paintings that decorated the wall.

“Oh, what a beautiful painting,” Margot sighed, pausing to admire its beauty. Every second she stood in front of it, she found another thing she loved. It reminded her of who she used to be - so full of life and love for the next awaiting adventure; so effortless yet yearning for more. Where had that woman gone?

Poppy stiffened as she turned back to see the painting that had caught Margot’s eye. Sadness overcame Poppy’s demeanor as she stepped down a stair to admire her own favorite painting, too.

“Ah, yes.” Poppy said quietly. “This is a painting of my daughter, Amelia.”

Margot gazed up at the painting with Poppy at her side. “She is beautiful.”

Poppy turned away. “Wasn’t she?”

She continued up the stairs to the third floor where green and blue hues took over the floor and wallpaper. “What are you doing way out here in Camberwick, Margot Williams?” Poppy said as she turned back to her guest, nonchalantly changing the subject as she waited for Margot to catch up.

Margot sighed as they turned to walk down the long corridor.

If only the answer could be that simple.

“Oh, you know….” Her voice fell silent as she tried to come up with some sort of answer. There wasn’t one, really. Not one she would admit to.

What I’m running away from, more like.

Poppy continued on until the last room on the left. “It’s a beautiful place to not know,” She offered kindly, the uneasiness from before long forgotten. “It’s the only place in the world I’d want to be.”.

She turned to point out their arrival. “This will be your room. I usually wake up around dawn and start breakfast. I will leave a plate out for you if you sleep in late. If you can’t find me, you can always speak to the gardener outside. The gardens are always worth the walk.” Poppy smiled hopefully at Margot, attempting to be welcoming and hospitable after so long without practice.

Margot, so unused to the friendliness, was appreciative of the woman’s kindness. It seemed to have been forever since she had felt herself. And now, just by chance, she had found a place that welcomed her without uncertainty.

She was beyond grateful.

Margot couldn’t help but gasp as she took in the room she would be staying in - the enormous view, elegant furniture, and enchanting feel all took her breath away. One wall was entirely made up of windows, with a beautiful canopy bed that seemed fit for only someone royal. The view overlooked the rolling hills and beautiful gardens that were filled with endless flowers and home-grown fruits and vegetables.

She was speechless. “I….thank you. This looks wonderful.” Margot set her bags down, spinning around slowly to take in it all.

Yes, indeed. This was the right place to put herself back together again.

Poppy smiled. “Welcome to Camberwick.”

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AnnapurnaShastry: Hey Hannah,Am a sucker for Ranch / Farmer romance and their lives in general. Your story is awesome.Please proof read though. Small misses like 'teared' instead of 'tore' and some other ones my niece pointed out and i forgot - just feels like a crystal of salt with a mouth full of honey cake...Al...

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