Tag Archives: story

1943. A train to catch

I was scurrying to the train station to catch my usual morning transport. I was running late because I had spilt coffee on my trousers (thank goodness it had cooled) and had to get changed. In my haste I forgot to take my phone out of the wet trouser pocket, so I didn’t know by how much I was running late.

The clock on the town tower was renowned for its unreliability. Going by what it said I had five minutes to get to the station to get on the train to take me to work. I work as a bank manager, and today the big boss is coming for an important meeting. VERY important, he had said on the phone.

Only four minutes to go. I thought I’d start to run; actually trot along, as I didn’t want to be all sweaty during the VERY important meeting.

Two minutes to go. I simply cannot afford to miss that train. What the heck! I’ll have to run, sweaty or not! I can explain to the boss why I’m perspiring so profusely. And…

Made it! Phew! That was close! I got a seat too. No sooner had I sat than the doors closed and the train began to noiselessly slide away from the station.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a voice over the intercom. “Welcome to the non-stop day trip to the capital city. Refreshments are available throughout the trip in the cafeteria carriage.”

I was on the wrong train. It was going the wrong way and it would take all day to get there.

1940. How a little lake could hold such joy

There’s a little lake at the back of my property. It’s surrounded by trees. Sometimes I think I must be the only person who knows the lake exists. I’ve never seen anyone there, and it doesn’t appear to be on any map I’ve seen. Mind you, it’s not a big lake.

That lake gives me a lot of pleasure. In fact I have a green plastic chair I leave down there and often I’ll sit for a quiet, reflective time. Sometimes there are a few wild ducks swimming about. Twice now I’ve seen a couple of blue herons fossicking in the shallows. But it’s the stillness of the lake that fills me with the greatest joy.

I’ve had this property for about forty years; about thirty of those I suppose I’ve been going to the lake on a regular basis. Goodness! Thirty years since my wife died! I didn’t go to the lake hardly at all before that.

I still can’t believe how placid and calming that little lake is these days. Contrast that with the tumultuous clamour my wife made when I threw her in with concrete blocks tied to her knees. She was flaying about like an octopus caught in a net. Such a hullabaloo! Such a racket!

Yes indeed. I never knew before then how a little lake could hold such joy.

1939. To die alphabetically

Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund’s doctor had given him bad news. He had not been feeling well and was not at all surprised when the doctor announced (in a kindly and tender manner) that what Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund had was terminal.

“Oh well,” shrugged Jerome, “we all eventually get our marching orders I suppose.”

He went home and within a week had become obsessed with the death notices in the morning paper. Here was a list of those who had died – usually the day before. Jerome began to work out each morning where his name would go alphabetically if he had indeed passed away on the preceding day.

Amor
Austin
Baird
Burgin
Cain

If he had died his name would appear between Baird and Burgin.

Ackerley
Alexander
Batwell
Blayney
Blight

If he had died his name would appear between Alexander and Batwell.

And there, on the third day, BARBARICH-ASKELUND! There it was in print! In black and white! What a mystery!

Anderson
Atherfold
Aycock
BARBARICH-ASKELUND
Butt

“As far as I know,” said Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund, “we are the only ones in the country with this family name. It’s a complete bafflement. I’m in a state of stupefaction.”

After two weeks, Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund’s friend, Gloria Wiggins said, “Look Myrtle-Bianca, you have to admit that he’s been dead for two weeks now. You can’t go on pretending it didn’t happen. “

“Oh Gloria!” sobbed Myrtle-Bianca Barbarich-Askelund, “to die is one thing. To appear in print between Aycock and Butt is shocking. Jerome will never forgive me.”

1937. Ayleen bakes a cake for Rodney

Ayleen decided to bake a cake. I mean, what else was there to do on a cold rainy day? Besides, her boyfriend, Rodney, was coming to dinner. There was nothing different or special about that but Ayleen thought that to finish with a delectable dessert might sweeten the reality that she was going to announce: as far as Ayleen was concerned the relationship was over.

Ayleen had good reason for it. They had never fallen in love; it was a relationship of convenience. It was “someone to take out”, especially if a group of friends went out partying. But now, Ayleen thought that having a relationship of convenience was a hindrance to finding the right person. Who is going to invite her out if she is already attached? This business with Rodney has to end to make room for whoever was around the corner.

The cake baking went satisfactorily. It was a blueberry yogurt cake. She’d used the recipe quite often. It looked nice enough. A slice of the cake with a dollop of ice cream would be an adequate introduction to her announcement.

Rodney was the fourth guy she’d baked a blueberry yogurt cake for in the last six weeks. When on earth would the right guy come along?

1931. A story with an illuminating moral

Milton was a perfectionist. It was basically why he never finished anything; unfinished poems, unfinished paintings, unfinished model aeroplanes, unfinished garden… He even had a cake gone mouldy in a cake tin awaiting the final layer of frosting.

It’s not that he wasn’t talented. In fact, most things he touched turned to gold. “You have the Midas Touch,” said his Carla who lived down the road. “Everything you touch turns to gold. If only you would declare something finished.”

Of course, most of the things Milton began he did in fact finish. It’s just that he was never completely satisfied with the finished product. A pruned hedge would always have a leaf out of place; a landscape scene could always be signed on the left-hand side instead of the right; a finger for four seconds longer on the pottery lathe could transform a pot; two minutes more in the oven could turn his oatmeal cookies into culinary masterpieces. He was forever fiddling.

He knew he had a problem. That is when Carla from down the road stepped prominently into his life. Carla finished everything, but she finished everything in the sloppiest manner and then would quickly move on to another interest. Her artistic standards were as appalling as Milton’s were finicky.

It was most unfortunate that they fell in love. They moved in together. Their house was an utter mess; an unbelievable chaos. Both blamed the other. They each planned a murder with guns. Carla pointed the gun at Milton and pulled the trigger. Her manner was sloppy. The bullet missed and made a hole in the print of John Constable’s Flatford Mill hanging crooked on the wall. Milton was more precise. He pointed the gun but simply could not finish the job.

They both agreed – what the heck! They compromised. These days they manage to help each other out.

1929. One never knows

When Elaine and Charlie announced their marriage engagement everyone knew instinctively that it was a relationship concocted in heaven. They were perfect for each other. Both were mean. Both were snarky. Both could be malicious. In no time they’d knock the rough corners off one another. It wasn’t so much cruelty of action; it was cruelty of tongue. Both could make ground meat out of a tough steak simply by verbal lashing.

The engagement period seemed to go well. There were no volcanic eruptions – much to everyone’s disappointment. Then the wedding day arrived and they had chosen a simple wedding in a little country church, with just a few friends and family members. They returned from an extensive honeymoon even more convivial than when they left. The pundits’ disappointment continued.

Next came a baby, and another, and a third. This was getting ridiculous. The relationship wasn’t meant to last. Pre-nuptial common sense demanded a marriage breakdown.

And then one day Elaine lost her job as a school secretary. Apparently she had expressed an opinion that favoured the wrong political party. That was when the waspish habits of bygone years leaped back into gear. Both Charlie and Elaine stood in front of the principal’s desk.

They hadn’t lost the touch. No indeed!

That was years ago. They’re grandparents now. Many of their acquaintance’s marriages have disintegrated. One never knows.

1927. Bon voyage

Dear Gentle Reader

Here’s your chance to make the world a better place. You are so kind-hearted – I know you are; I know that you desire the sweetest outcomes for people in strife. That is why, in today’s story, when something unfortunate threatens the main character, something will occur that turns everything to good. It is your kindness that dictates this, So-Kindly-a-Reader.

Irene had had a bad week. Her dog had taken ill and she had to pay the astronomical veterinarian’s fees; on the way home her motorcar ran out of gas, and she had to walk for what seemed like miles with the sick dog to get help; her mail delivery service informed her that her mail box was at the wrong height; her kitchen sink seemed to be leaking into the cupboard below; her… Need one, Kindly Reader, go on and on? Why not get to the point and have something nice happen? And indeed we shall!

After having taken the dog to the veterinarian, Irene popped into the supermarket on the way home to get some white vinegar, because she had run out, and while there she bought a ticket in the lottery.

Miracle of miracles! Two days later Irene discovered that she had won millions and millions of dollars. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Kindly Reader for making such wonderful things happen!

Irene did what she could only dream about. She booked a ticket to sail in luxury to America and back! Who would have thought she would ever afford such a thing? Thank you! Thank you!

Her first few days on the Titanic were fantastic.

1922. Walking the city walls

(Hi – I’m still having a break from answering comments. A bit otherwise engaged! More in a day or two).

Timothy was exceedingly rich. He hadn’t simply become rich by inheriting riches from his father, although that was a good half of it. He had become doubly rich through hard work. He was a businessman of unbridled talent and success. Hence his riches.

He lived in a beautiful house with a spacious garden, and although he employed a professional gardener to come in once a week, he enjoyed gardening himself and did a great deal of it when time allowed.

He was also interested in breeding tropical fish, and hence he had a good number of significantly large aquariums in tasteful places around his house. Of course when we say “house” we mean it was more than a house; it was a mansion; a manor; a regal grange.

When Timothy hit forty he thought, “Why am I working so hard? I have all this money, so how much more do I need? I have many interests. Why don’t I pursue them? After all there’s enough money to live more than comfortably for the rest of my life and longer.”

So that’s what he did.

He abandoned work and took to travel! He went to Africa, Europe, Asia. He photographed so many things of history, so many scenes. When he needed a break he would come home and unwind in the garden. In the evenings he would view with pleasure the places he had been. Then it was back into travel!

It was while he was in Verona in Italy. He was walking the city walls, and was high up and passing the Basilica of St. Zeno. He stopped. He thought of something. He burst into tears.

It was all a waste of time; it was all meaningless, because he had no one to tell his adventures to. There was no one to share things with.

1920. The fulfilment of a dream

Willoughby was getting on in life. He was in his seventy-fourth year. He had led an interesting enough life; fairly bland, but with the occasion moment of excitement. He dreamt of having his life over and doing things better the second time around.

He would like to take an old building – such as a barn or a rundown church or even a small factory – and turn it into a lovely home. He’d seen people doing that on television. Of course he would need plenty of money because he would work on his renovation and building preservation every day; all day if he had half a chance.

And when the house was finished he would start on the garden. Perhaps a small lake. Certainly at least a fish pond. And he would keep chickens, not for eggs but for an interest. If he bred rare varieties of fowl he could enter competitions with his perfect poultry at various fairs.

Naturally there would be an extensive orchard. Not only would it supply fresh fruit in season, but he could make and freeze fruit pies for the cold winter months, as well as canning fruit and creating tasty pickles and chutneys. In fact, in his renovated dwelling he had a special room for storing all these preserves.

There would be ambient lighting in the garden, and a large patio for barbeques. And a triple garage – one for his regular car, one for his pick-up truck (how else could he gather firewood off his ten acre woodland?), and a third garage for his classic 1930’s car. There was a workshop as well; quite large, where he could potter away with wood. With a lathe he could turn wooden bowls. Oh! and a potter’s wheel and kiln!

God heard Willoughby’s earnest desire. He was granted a second life; a reincarnation. He was rich. He had everything he ever dreamed of. He hated it.

1919. A gated community

(Hi everyone – I’m possibly going to have a few days off, not from posting but from commenting – as one has to on WP now and again just to keep normal!)

Romualda had lived for a good two months in her new house in the fairly exclusive gated community of Cloudsome Heights. Thus far she hadn’t met a single neighbour. Then suddenly, without knowing who she was, Romualda met Yvette. Romualda was in the supermarket selecting a bunch of Ecuadorian bananas. If there’s the slightest touch of black on a single banana the bunch doesn’t last as long, so it pays to check thoroughly before squandering money on a bunch that would quickly go off. After all, she lived alone. It’s not as if a whole family was into helping to devour them. A touch of black would ruin the whole bunch. And then…

“You must be Romualda,” said Yvette who had just grabbed a bag of pears next to the bananas.

“Yes,” said Romualda, “but I must be honest. I’m not sure if we’ve met. How do you do?”

“You’ve recently moved into our gated community,” said Yvette not introducing herself. “There are quite a few people who are not happy about it.”

“Unhappy about what?” asked Romualda.

“About you moving into Cloudsome Heights, as I just said.”

“I wasn’t aware I wasn’t welcome,” said Romualda. “Is it because I live alone?”

“Goodness me, no,” said Yvette. “We’re not like that at Cloudsome Heights! It’s because…”

“Because what?” asked Romualda, by now slightly rattled.

Suddenly a rather buxom woman pushed her shopping trolley into Romualda.

“Oh I’m so sorry,” said the buxom woman to Romualda. “But you’re blocking access to the bananas.”

“I’m sorry,” said Romualda moving away toward the vegetable section.

“Well?” asked the buxom lady to Yvette. “Did you tell her she’s not welcome in Cloudsome Heights?”

“No. But I’m pretty sure she now knows that a touch of black on a banana will ruin the whole bunch.”