Hello all. In today’s blog I want to turn my attention to Barbara Rushwood from my novel ‘Retribution.’ As you might recall from my character study of Lucy O’Neill, Barbara is a classmate at Lucy’s school who becomes her good friend. However, it takes a while for this friendship to get off the ground. They are at severe loggerheads to begin with, when Lucy is enrolled at Trinity Primary. But when Lucy leaps to Barbara’s defence in their art class when she is being berated by their teacher a mutual respect and liking is formed between them. This soon grows into a strong friendship. It is of the type to lift Lucy’s spirits when she most needs it. This occurs on two levels. First, she is generally a shy sort and finds it difficult to make friends, so being on good terms with such a popular girl as Barbara open new doors for her. Not only does she have Barbara as a friend but most of the girls in her class are also drawn to her by virtue of becoming close to Barbara. The other point to consider is of the supernatural order. Fate has placed poor Lucy in a fragile position and she needs all of the strength and support she can muster. She receives that help from some ghostly friends, which include the children who have died before her. But it is important to her that she also has the inestimable assistance of her fellow living children such as Barbara and her other classmates along with her brother David.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs about ‘Retribution,’ Barbara had picked up the wrong signals about Lucy when she started attending Trinity Primary. She thought Lucy was stuck up, a girl who felt she was superior to the other girls at school. Lucy comes from a city background and the action in ‘Retribution’ takes place in a rural setting. So when Lucy refuses to ‘muck in’ with the other girls at Trinity’s and stands seemingly aloof from them Barbara takes this as a sign that she thinks she is better than them. Lucy, meanwhile, had thought Barbara and the others didn’t want to become friends with her because they didn’t like her. She thought they were repulsed by her and her looks. She is a pudgy sort of girl who has to wear glasses which she hates. She thinks she sticks out like a sore thumb. This feeling was made worse when she first started attending the school by the fact that Barbara is a pretty girl with flowing blonde hair. She seems to be the complete antithesis of Lucy which only serves to bring on extra alienation from Lucy’s perspective.
However, when the two girls get their heads together they realise the whole thing has been a great misunderstanding. Pretty soon their friendship grows into something special for both girls. Lucy soon invites Barbara and her other school friends to her home where they play in the nearby woods. This is also where Lucy first came across the child ghosts, the children who had previously been murdered by the evil Victoria Marchbank in her ghostly guise. When they are climbing trees, one of Lucy’s classmates falls from a tree and Lucy is able to save her before a serious injury accrues. The girl tells Lucy and the others that she had felt a hand on her back when she had been on the tree and this had caused her to fall. It had felt to her likes someone had pushed her. No other girl was near her at the time and besides what so-called friend would want to push another girl off a tree? That didn’t make sense. It is then that Lucy comes clean and tells her friends of the supernatural storyline which has recently been played out in the surroundings to her new home.
From here events escalate. There are more and more signs of Victoria’s mounting menace which Lucy faithfully reports to her good friend Barbara. This is a sign of the strength in their friendship. Lucy feels she can confide in Barbara in this way without her being mocked and told she is making up stories. No, Barbara proves herself to be trustworthy and provides much sympathy and assurance to Lucy when she most needs it.
Later on in the storyline Lucy accepts an invitation to visit Barbara’s house. There is no special occasion for the party Barbara throws. She just wants Lucy to know her friends are thinking of her during her time of trial. She believes it will do Lucy a lot of good to be around her friends at a time like this. She wants to take her friend’s mind off her troubles and a fun party seems to be a good way of going about this. However, during the party a weird experience comes over both girls. They are in Barbara’s bedroom and Lucy has drawn a picture. It involves Victoria Marchbank and the picture is so vividly drawn it suddenly takes on a life of its own. This unnerves both girls and they wonder what it can mean. It also shows Barbara what a precarious position her friend finds herself in. Of course, she had an indication of this from all that Lucy had previously told her, but when the drawing starts sending them both a message she is given much pause for thought.
From this moment on, Barbara does everything she can to be a shoulder to cry on for her good friend. She is aware of the support Lucy receives from the child ghosts and Doctor Mathewson (who has played such an important role in everything that has occurred since Victoria Marchbank lost her two young children to the effects of the deadly plague). But she knows they only appear in their own good time. From what Lucy tells her they just materialise in front of her when she least expects them. This is quite different to the support Barbara can offer up. She is there for her every day at school as well as sharing visits in their two homes. If it is possible she wants to be there when Lucy’s impending child sacrifice ceremony takes place. She wants to do everything in her power to save Lucy from the appalling fate which is staring her full in the face. Surely, she thinks, if she can be by her side at this time, alongside Lucy’s brother, the child ghosts and Doctor Mathewson, Lucy can come out the other side and bring a halt to Victoria’s reign of terror. And then there is the small matter of some surprise new arrivals on the scene which Doctor Mathewson had previously pointed to without giving their true identities. Barbara is full of hope that Lucy will see out her crisis and live so that their friendship can grow further. They will then be able to exchange shared experiences of facing up to evil and will delight in the fact that they have sent it back from whence it came.