Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mavis’s Cosy Christmas Cottage by Jonathan Hunter

Mavis made the most out of Christmas despite being alone. Sipping Camomile tea Mavis smiled as she read the lovely comments of old friends in her Christmas cards from years gone by. Falling asleep on the sofa Mavis dreamed that she was young again and dating handsome men. Since her husband Len tragically died three years ago at Christmas there had been no one in her life.

She could have napped all afternoon, but Mavis remembered she needed a few more snacks for Christmas day. Whilst buttoning up her old duffle coat she spotted Bruce the pigeon on her lawn, named after her hero Bruce Forsyth. Throwing him some leftover bread she chuckled “You need fattening up my Brucie”.

Mavis headed up the street to the nearby Lidl, putting her unwanted pennies into the Salvation Army collection tin. Grabbing her favourite treats such as pork pies, cheeses, pickles, crisps, sprouts and a Christmas cake Mavis overloaded her basket and unfortunately dropped it. Sprouts rolled uncontrollably across the aisle and the cake was crushed. A wailing Mavis was comforted by a young assistant. Generously she replaced everything for Mavis and even let her keep the half empty bag of sprouts for free.

Back at her cottage Mavis listened to Handel’s Messiah as she worked her way through a bottle of Vodka. Being alone meant no one else cared what she did. Opening up an old Edwardian chest of drawers she pulled out a 19th century pocket pistol owned by her husband Len. Stroking the gem she closed her eyes recalling memories of the two of them together. Tears trickled down her cheeks.

Glancing out at the setting sun Mavis spotted Bruce again. “I knew I could count on you to be here for me” she grinned. Aiming the pistol Bruce was hit by her first shot. Placing Bruce on a roasting tray Mavis boasted “that is at least twenty quid I have saved for charity thanks to you Bruce”. Glancing down the hall Mavis spotted a Christmas card lying on the mat in a bright red envelope. Mavis joked to herself “maybe the man of my dreams is coming after all”.

A rather hastily written message was scribbled inside the card which read,

“Merry Christmas Eileen, sorry I haven’t seen you in ages. I have tried ringing you a few times but have never caught you. I happen to be passing by on Boxing Day so will call in. Can’t wait” Love James.

Why was she getting a card for Eileen? Mavis had a restless night tossing and turning. Memories of the tragic Christmas Eve from three years ago flooded back to her. Len’s jokes irritated her insanely, but shooting him was never intentional. She had not expected the pistol to be loaded. By New Year’s Day she was in jail and her family vowed never to see her again. Mavis had expected to see out her last days there, but a year later on Christmas Day the new chief prison officer Max Fudge made a glaring error. He mistook Mavis for the elderly mum of one of the inmates and let her leave. Humiliated Max Fudge never told anyone his error.

Fleeing Mavis remembered a hermit in a nearby village called Eileen. Mavis didn’t want to kill again, but Eileen lived a miserable life anyway she conceded. With the pistol hidden in her Bible case she took out Eileen just in time to watch the Queen's speech. Mavis assumed Eileen’s identity with no one butting an eyelid. A neighbour concluded that Eileen must have finally had a haircut. Wrapping Eileen up tightly in green wrapping paper, Mavis waited until New Year’s Day before standing Eileen up amongst the conifers at a nearby Christmas tree nursery. With Eileen only being 4ft 8 Mavis thought,

“By the time these trees are tall enough for chopping down I will be long dead anyway”.

A ranger saw Mavis pulling a strange green shape along and got into an argument with his assistant saying “I told you not to spike my drink at the New Year’s Party last night”.

All had remained quiet for the two years since. Mavis had kept herself to herself to be just like Eileen. She had missed the company of others, but by creating fake online dating profiles she had some company.

Boxing Day dawned on Mavis quicker than she had hoped. Hearing a car door slam just as she was attempting to eat some porridge, Mavis pondered what to do next. Looking through the peephole she saw this James standing close by. In his mid-thirties with neatly combed back hair and glasses Mavis thought he looked every bit a banker. Opening the door with great gusto straight at him she knocked his glasses right off his face. Sliding down the front of his suit jacket they hit the floor and smashed into many pieces.

“Sorry darling I didn’t know you were so close” Mavis exclaimed, putting on her croakiest voice. “I have got a terrible cold and can barely speak. Do take a seat in my lounge whilst I sort myself out”.

After reassuring James that the nearby petrol station was still open and sold reading glasses Mavis pretended to catch up with him. She told James her year was the same as ever. James then talked at length about his children before he was text by his wife Jenny and had to dash off. Sighing with relief Mavis knew she was safe.

Over Twixmas Mavis watched every soap opera possible to recover and got a few more freebies at the CO-OP because of some unfortunate accidents. For New Year Mavis adopted a tabby cat from the animal rescue. With Eileen still a registered member there she ordered her favourite cat by delivery not having to worry about the costs. On January 3rd another card landed on her mat from James which read,

“It was great to catch up with you Eileen. I hope that your cold is better. I really enjoyed my visit and will pop in again this week with Jenny and my five kids. I am taking a break from my plumbing”.

Dropping the letter Mavis looked blankly ahead and murmured “Why didn’t I just shoot him the first time”.


© Jonathan Hunter

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