September entry: Short stories

  1. The Red Sweater

Jenny got on the bus feeling very self-conscious. She had worn black from head-to-toe ever since she left school five years ago. She hadn’t been able to get a job with her poor A-level results and her eating problems had started again. Jenny’s mother had run off to live in Spain with a man she worked with when Jenny was six years old and life had always been so lonely for Jenny and her dad. Now he’d got himself a girlfriend, Lucia, not much older than Jenny. She was a nurse at the clinic where Jenny had to go for her eating problems and had started coming round to their house with cakes and making hot meals for them all. Lucia had given Jenny a red sweater for her birthday last week and today she had asked her to take her little dog Trixie for a walk in the park while she was at work. Lucia was so kind and friendly that Jenny had found herself agreeing and now here she was on the bus and on her way to the park. As they were going out of the door Lucia had tied a red bow on Trixie’s head the same colour as the new sweater. They’d giggled as they looked at themselves in the hall mirror and Lucia had taken their photo. As Jenny moved along the bus she noticed that people were smiling at her. An unfamiliar sensation crept over her as she sat down and placed her handbag on her knee. She felt the warmth of Trixie’s little body and a glow seemed to settle itself in her heart. It was happiness. (270 words)

 

2) Stories from Le Bar Marché- Mme. Rose

(This story is part of a series of stories inspired by a café in France)

Every Wednesday morning at eleven o clock Mme Rose would shuffle through the tables of Le Bar Marché and sit down at Laurent’s section. He knew how she liked her café au lait and always kept her an almond croissant. He made her feel safe. Her instinct told her that she could trust him. She hadn’t always had this gift, of being able to tell if someone was trustworthy… Walking down the aisle on her father’s arm all those years ago she had really believed she was going to live happily ever after. She loved Didier so much, couldn’t bear to be apart from him and wanted to make him happy.

The first time it happened she thought that she had tripped over something and bumped her head. Then she had looked up and seen her husband’s face. Cold hard eyes within a mask of vicious fury. Something broke deep inside her then, an unbearably painful feeling of loss and hopelessness ripped through her very soul. These wounds had never healed she just had learnt to manage them. It took a long time. Instead of trying to make her husband happy all her energy went into not making him angry. One day when the attacks were particularly frequent she had tried to confide in her mother-in-law to seek some help. The beseeching desperate look she got had told her all that she needed to know. She had to break the circle. She had to protect her son, to show him that there was another way of being a man. Her weapons became humour, love and kindness. It was like rowing a boat on a lake knowing that a monster lay beneath and could strike at any time. When her son graduated and left home to live with his girlfriend she felt relief wash over her.
He was safe now. She felt immense sadness too. It wasn’t meant to be like that. For all those years she had thought it was all her fault, only her problem. Now it was talked about a lot , it was all in the open. There was even a Day each year dedicated to it, world wide. Once on a television chat show someone had said that it was always unacceptable, it was never the woman’s fault, a man must never do that. She had cried then, deep body wracking sobs , thirty years of tears in one afternoon.
She pulled out her purse and placed a generous tip on the table for Laurent.    410 words

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