Tag Archives: fiction

1980. Warm teapot

Alannah hated tea. Well, “hated” might be a bit strong. She didn’t like tea. She never drank tea. She always drank coffee.

The first thing that husband Eugene did when he came home from work was to make a pot of tea. It was a little strange, he thought, that the teapot was already mildly warm. He never said anything, but he wondered why. A few days later the teapot was again warm.

“Have there being visitors?” asked Eugene.

“No,” said Alannah. “Why?”

“Nothing. Just wondered,” said Eugene. He didn’t want to give away why he was suspicious. If Alannah was “having someone around” he didn’t want to remove the evidence of a warm but emptied teapot once every several days.

After several weeks Eugene had had enough. “Look,” he said, “I know you have a visitor come every couple of days because you make tea. What’s going on? Who is it?”

“It’s no one,” said Alannah.

“Then why’s the teapot warm?” asked Eugene. “You don’t like tea.”

“I’m trying to grow to like tea,” said Alannah. It was clearly a lie. From then on the teapot was never warm. Alannah would rinse it with cold water.

Eugene’s birthday came. Alannah produced a special lemon tree growing in half a wine barrel. Eugene had drooled over it in the plant shop.

“At last!” exclaimed Alannah. “The truth can come out. They said to water it with cold tea.”

1979. The passing of a spouse

Barbara closed Rodrigo’s eyes. It was always a bit scary when someone died with their eyes wide open. One lid kept opening slightly. She had read where the imprints of Ancient Roman coins were found on mummified bodies, and so she got two twenty cent coins and placed one on each eyelid to keep them shut.

For two days Barbara had sat next to her dying husband’s bed. Her kindly neighbour, Lynn, helped quite often during that time to give Barbara little breaks. Lynn hoped that when the time came for her to care for her own husband, if such a need occurred, then she would be as caring and gently calm as Barbara. And now the wait was over. Rodrigo had died. Peacefully.

How the two day watch had brought back memories for Barbara. She had met Rodrigo at the beach. He was from Bolivia. It was love at first sight! He was so handsome! So kind! Such fun! They had got married in the blink of an eye. They honey-mooned on an island resort. He wasn’t overly rich, but life was comfortable and secure. So many, many memories of their ten year marriage.

Such happiness rarely lasts; at least not often. Rodrigo was the third husband Barbara had poisoned.

1978. Bedtime story

A change of tone… This is a fairy story to read to children at bedtime.

Once upon a time a man had three wives. The three wives were very jealous of one another. The first wife caught the second wife and put her through the mincer to make ground meat. She fed the ground meat to the third wife who died having the most terrible convulsions caused by the horrible meat.

The first wife was now the only wife left. When the husband found that she had brutally murdered the other two wives he cut her head off. Out popped a terrible venomous snake from her neck. The snake bit the husband and he died of snake poison.

Now there were four dead people. The snake escaped and has been seen only twice, each time under a bed.

I’ll turn the light out now. Sleep tight.

1977. The way the wind blows

When Ingrid gave Harry a weather vane for his birthday he was more than pleased. He had always wanted one, and this was the perfect one to get. It was a metal cockerel whose beak turned to indicate the direction of the wind. Below the cockerel were four letters pointing to the directions of North, South, East, and West.

The corner of the roof of the garden shed was the ideal place for it. It could be seen both from the kitchen and the living room windows. Generally speaking, one should know what to wear when one ventured outside. Some wind directions were inclined to be cold; others warm.

The problem was Harry didn’t have a compass. He vaguely knew the direction of North. Having the N-pointer indicating that general direction would be good enough. The S-pointer for South was easy; it was opposite to the N-pointer! When it came to East and West Harry didn’t have any idea which was left and which was right. He imagined standing facing the North Pole with the N-pointer. He knew the capital city was on his right so the E-pointer went that way. The rest was simple; the W-pointer was opposite the East!

How fine it looked from the kitchen window. Ingrid would never be bored by the weather, and nor would he. There! The cockerel turned and was pointing south. So it was a southerly wind! Or should that be northerly? Did the cockerel’s beak in fact point to the direction in which the wind was coming or the direction in which the wind was going? The weather vane had come with no instructions. As for the nomenclature of wind – does a Nor-Wester mean that is the direction the wind is coming from or going to? Then some visiting know-all suggested that the East and West indicators were the wrong way around.

Anyway, it looks lovely from the house. It is an ornamentation; a visual enhancer. It’s been there for seven years now. It’s just that no one knows the way the wind blows.

1976. First class

It was the first class that Owen had ever taught as a qualified teacher. He had spent a few years getting a university degree and passing the required training at Teachers’ College. He had no trouble finding employment. He would teach English to High School students.

Discipline was the catch cry. Discipline! Let the students get away with murder and they’ll be murdering the teacher for the rest of the teacher’s career. Be stern – at least for the first week or two. Owen was well prepared. He was nervous, but having thoroughly prepared lessons lessens the unpredictability of the classroom. He would walk into the classroom and announce work! Work! Work! Work! Let the students know from the beginning that he meant business.

Owen strode into the room carry a class set of “King Lear”. After introducing himself, he would hand each student a copy of “King Lear” and say “Turn to page 24”.

The teacher’s desk was on a small rostrum. Owen tripped on the rostrum step, fell, and threw the pile of twenty-two books into the air. The students roared with laughter. Owen himself laughed! After all his preparation and that happened!

The students saw him laugh. Yes! He was a jolly good fellow. He enjoyed his first class. He never had any problem ever with class discipline. Teachers who can laugh rarely do.

1975. Beach pebbles

There weren’t that many wave-worn pebbles on the beach. The beach was mainly sand. But there were enough pebbles for Otis to walk the beach and fill his not-so-big cotton bag.

The not-so-big cotton bag was also, in fact, not-so-small. Once it had been filled with pebbles (each between one and two inches big) the bag was considerably heavy. He should have started at the far end of the beach and worked his way back towards the carpark. But now he had to lumber the heavy bag all the way along the beach to reach his car.

“Never mind,” he thought. “I’ll make my way back slowly, without overdoing it, punctuated by many rests!”

Some of the pebbles were rather beautiful, especially when wet. The variation in colour was amazing. Some were clearly marble, worn down and polished. Others were simply grey rock, but they were important because they provided a contrast to the lovelier stones. Not everything ordinary is out of place. In fact, without the ordinary pebbles the multi-coloured pebbles would possibly look gaudy.

By now, Otis must have carried the bag for about half of the return walk. He stopped to rest.

The tide was coming in, and the bag carrying was made more difficult because he had to walk higher up on the beach in the dry and loose sand. Walking and carrying was definitely more challenging. But he had all the time in the world!

It was when Otis was only a stone’s throw from the carpark that the not-so-big, not-so-small cotton bag tore asunder. All his collected pebbles fell out into the sand. He had no other container to put them in.

“Blow it!” he thought. “I shall have to collect the pebbles next time, and next time I shall start at the far end of the beach.”

1974. Fallen off the edge

That bull outside our window has mooed ceaselessly all night and now it is horse.

Hoarse, son, not horse.

Same thing.

No it’s not. It’s spelled differently.

I’m saying it, not spelling it.

Typical youth of today. You can’t read. You talk talk talk. Or failing that, you text everything and spelling doesn’t matter.

Aha! Aha! Aha! I’ve been proved right!

How so?

That bull just had a baby and it’s a foal. So there!

There’s only A difference between foAl and fool. And bulls can’t have babies.

I give up. You’re just an anti-transgender racist. Totally illogical. And you are homophobic and use plastic. Xenophobic ageist! Come back when you can think straight about gay people and the legalization of maruwanja marjuieguiba maruawana canabas pot.

At least I’m not hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobic.

1971. Oh sugar!

Pamela was a sound sleeper. She lived alone. She locked the house thoroughly each night before she went to bed. The neighbours were a bit strange – especially the wife. She was a bit of a recluse. Pamela had met her just the once. Word had it that she had been in and out of psychiatric care centres throughout her life.

It may have been because of this that Pamela was nervously suspicious. She had suspected for quite some time that strange things happened in the night. She was always meticulous about things, and sometimes she noticed that some household items had been moved ever so slightly, or even that she ran out of tea bags faster than she should. In fact she counted the tea bags. She used two tea bags a day. The seventy-eight tea bags in the box should last for thirty-nine days. She marked the date on her wall calendar.

Ashley, the neighbour, was a bit strange, but not as strange as his wife. He would come over once a week to Pamela’s for a cup of coffee. Pamela had never warmed to him. But a neighbour is a neighbour and it was after all only about thirty minutes in her week that his visits lasted. His wife never came with him.

Now the doctor had told Pamela to go easy on the sugar, so she filled the sugar bowl (in case visitors came and took sugar) and put the sugar bowl high in the cupboard. That was the last time she used it. It was a lot easier to give up sugar than she had expected.

When Ashley came over next she filled the conversation with the usual small talk. She had given up sugar. Did he still want sugar in his coffee? Perhaps he would prefer a cup of tea?

“Oh,” said Ashley, “I think you’re out of tea bags.”

1970. Gadget man

Morton was a fiddler in the gadgetry sense. He could fix anything. He could make anything. He could invent anything. Somethings were useful; some were not. The silliest thing he made was probably “A box of birds”. A little white box with a button sat on the coffee table. Next to the button was a little sign that said “Press me”. Guests would press the button and recordings of birds emanating from all over the room suddenly began to play. Loudly. If the guest had been left alone in the room while Morton was out making coffee for the guest, the pressing of the button could prove to be a hilarious humiliation!

Morton more often than not was the one who was out making the coffee because his wife, Catalina, was useless. She never lifted a finger to help. In fact Morton was often left alone to entertain visitors. Enough is enough! Morton decided to construct the perfect murder!

He took an old cell phone, removed its innards, and replaced the inside with a poisonous dart. There was nothing to show that it wasn’t a phone. The next time he was out shopping with Catalina he spied a tourist near the village green and asked if they would be so kind to take a photograph with his phone. Of course, the tourist was most obliging. “Just that woman over there. I don’t want to get caught photographing her, because I’m a spy and she’s some sort of foreign government agent. Just point the phone at her and press the button.”

“A spy! Which button do I press?” asked the tourist.

“That one there,” said Morton, leaning over the phone and pointing.

Morton is a gadget man no more.

1969. Nesting season

Squaggle Quack was a duck. More particularly, he was a drake. And what a fine drake he was! Mrs. Quack was known as Mrs. Quack, although her closest friends called her Seaxburh. She was named after Queen Seaxburh, an ancient Queen of Wessex. Her maiden name was Hrafnkelsdóttir. Very few know that.

The time had come for Squaggle and Seaxburh to start a family. The first priority was to choose a site for the nest. What a shamozzles! They couldn’t agree. Squaggle wanted the nest in the long grass on the side of a road.

“It’s dangerous,” said Seaxburh. “And there’s absolutely no view. What about on the side of that hill where I can enjoy the view of the valley as I sit on the eggs for four weeks?”

The discussion raged for several days. In the end, Squaggle won. A nest was made on the side of the road, with no view, and open to the elements.

“I think we should have eleven eggs,” suggested Squaggle.

“But I had my heart set on nine eggs,” said Seaxburh. In the end, Squaggle won. Eleven eggs were laid.

Seaxburh began the marathon of sitting on eleven eggs in a cold nest next to the road. It was the most boring thing she had ever done in her life. So uninteresting! So testing! And the rain! You’ve no idea!

In the meantime, Squaggle had flown off at the beginning of the sitting session and never bothered to come back. He’d done his part.

When the eleven ducklings hatched, Seaxburh told them that their family name was Seaxburhsdóttir or Seaxburhssen. Good on you, Seaxburh!