“What are you going to do?” Said Sarah, placing the vodka in front of Lou, as she sipped her own.
Lou smiled and drank. “ I’ve got a blackjack heart.”
“So how will you play this?” Pushed Sarah.
“It’s an acting job. And the better I play the role, the more he believes me, the more money I make.”
“What about… what do you call him? .. your Boss.”
“My agent or manager. He’s working towards a better future, for both of us.”
“Don’t you think it seems like, Revenge?”
“A bit. But this could be the one, and with a manager I trust.
If I can make Charlie atone.”
“It seems dodgy to me. And I’m no good at lying.”
“It’s called acting Sarah.” Smiled Lou.
“How will you deal with Charlie? From the descriptions he could be vicious and maybe vindictive.”
“I can deal with Charlie. The key is making him believe in us and me. Then I can make him show me his hand, and knowing that, my hand can be better.”
“So what’s the ground like now?”
“I’m holding all the cards.” Lou smiled, till she saw Charlie at the bar, observing them both.
Quickly she raised her smile again. “Charlie!” Stepping over to him.
“How long have you been standing there?” She whispered, while hugging him.
“A few minutes.” He acknowledged by lifting his half full glass of beer.
“Why didn’t you joined us, as soon as you got here?”
“I was going to but I liked watching the conspiring and plotting you were playing.”
“That was just girls gossiping. Come and join us, and see there is no conspiracy.”
Lou said, playing her wild card, caressing Charlie’s hand and leading him over to the seats.
(c) Rob McClellan
“If looks could kill.”
Jess hissed the words over her cocktail, her head inclining to a figure on the settee. Nora followed her line of sight, and was instantly struck by a pair of scorching familiar eyes. Miriam. She turned away quickly, heat flushing across her cheeks. Nora had known she’d be here of course, but still…
“Who is she?” Jess said, noticing her reaction.
“Oh, that’s Miriam Hall. She’s, well she was, Rupert’s finance.” Nora said, fiddling with the cherry in her glass. Jess raised a black eyebrow.
“Ah, so that’s the bitch.”
“Jess!” Nora took her arm and dragged the girl into a corner of the drawing room, as far away from Miriam and the other guests as possible.
“But I thought you said she was making your life hell.” Jess protested, “Nice people don’t do that! Bitches do.”
“Well, not exactly. A mild sort of hell.” Nora said, “Look it’s understandable…”
“Is it?” Jess said, flinging her arm out and splashing her drink on Nora’s dress. “Alright, it has been known, when the eldest brother has died, for the younger one to take the newly bereaved finance as a wife. Fine. But usually when that happens, it’s because the younger brother likes said woman. It’s not a rule! Edward chose you. He married you. And there’s nothing she can do about it.”
“I suppose.” Nora nodded. She stirred her drink idly and took a sip. It smelt of almonds. That was odd.
Five minutes later Nora lay struggling to breathe on the carpet, Jess screaming for a doctor, whilst Miriam watched with her grey killer eyes.
(c) Katherine Sankey
Unobtrusive yet elegant in beige, Lucy stood in the gallery staring at the painting. It was abstract in a way that she thought she understood, but would never know for sure.
Two men stood in front of her, gazing at the same artwork. The taller one spoke in a confident drawl.
‘Yah, it’s by Ella Carter. Raw emotion in every brushstroke. Some people said she was only at the college because of her famous mother. Not true. The girl had real talent. Tragic that she died so young in that awful accident.’
A slight pause followed.
‘But maybe just as well she’s not on the scene any more. At least I’m still with my wife, if you get what I mean.’
Then came the other male voice, quieter and with a tinge of West Country in it,
‘Sebastian, are you telling me...?’
‘Well, yeah. All that raw emotion – just like in her art. It was electric. But we both knew what we were doing. It was all under control, you know.’
‘Honestly, no. I don’t know. I thought your students were off limits now, after Eloise nearly left you over the last one.’
‘Oh, that was nothing to..’
The shorter man turned briefly away from his companion towards Lucy. She watched as recognition and horror crept across his face.
He tapped the other man’s arm urgently. ‘Sebastian!’
A jerk of the shorter man’s head in her direction and the taller one turned to face her, his features revealing nothing but arrogance and entitlement.
Lucy held out her hand to shake his. He didn’t respond.
‘Good afternoon. Lucy Carter. Ella’s famous mother.’
‘I know damn well who you are.‘
He bent towards Lucy.
‘How long have you been standing there?’
‘Long enough. You and I need to talk. ‘
(c) Maisie Bishop
Dom had told Clare he’d meet her outside the bistro at half seven.
Clare, who hadn’t been a date in nearly three years, had dolled herself up for the occasion. New dress, red lippy, even a small heel. She’d met Dom on a dating website. She’d tried the apps but worked out pretty quickly your average Tinder user wasn’t looking for a pear shaped receptionist rapidly approaching her 40’s. It was one of those websites where you had to pay, and they’d find you your “perfect” match. Dom was 93% compatible, though obviously they had different opinions on the importance of timekeeping.
Clare’s stiff shoes were beginning to rub away at her heels as she shifted from foot to foot. Should she call him? Send him a text? She plucked for something simple, with a slight hint of underlying passive aggression.
“I am here, see you soon :)”
Ten minutes passed, no reply, and no sign of Dom. This is what you get for putting yourself out there, she thought. As it got to eight she started planning her evening, she remembered she had a bottle of Barefoot Pinot in the fridge, and began to plan where she'd get her portion of cheesy chips to accompany it on the way home.
“Sorry I’m late.”
Clare looked up at Dom, a sweaty, bald headed man in his early 40’s. At least he wasn’t lying about his height, she thought to herself.
“How long have you been standing there?”
“Half an hour. I was beginning to think you weren’t going to show.”
“I’m sorry...I got you these.”
Dom thrust a limp and uninspiring bunch of garage bought flowers under Clare’s nose. Maybe cheap wine and cheesy chips wouldn’t have been so bad after all...
(c) Caitlin M Kearns
Jerome Hartley was the same shoe size as his wife, Veronica. That’s where it started. Veronica, or Ronnie, as Jerome fondly called her, was a masculine size eight. Beryl. Veronica’s mother pointed out that men weren’t attracted to women with big feet. Imagine Grace Kelly with big clods of feet like that? You can’t, because it’s too ridiculous, Beryl would say.
Jerome didn’t seem to mind, in fact, he revelled in Ronnie’s generous foot size and the stunning shoes she found in spite of her oafish plates of meat, another of Beryl’s sayings. What Veronica didn’t know was that Jerome was fond of a twinkly something, or a sparkly bit or other. Ronnie, put on that chiffon number and pair it with those bejewelled heels, the red ones. Ooh nice, he’d say.
Don’t mind if I do, Jerome said as he slipped on the silver, Shirleys as he liked to call a particular pair. After Mistress Bassey of the booming voice, of course. They bring out my eyes, thought Jerome as he caught sight of himself in the freestanding, full length mirror
But wait, Jerome thought, where are those exquisite, feather-adorned vixen shoes? Made especially, like the others, for the larger footed lady. Plus sized shoes, for a lady a step ahead of the rest. Jerome put on his favourite shoes, admiring them, and his shapely ankles, when it occurred to him, that it would be an injustice not to team these ravishing beauties with an ensemble of equal glamour. The blue, sequinned dress.
Jerome was mesmerised by the gorgeous creature who stared back at him in the mirror. So delighted to meet you. Women have so much fun, he exclaimed loudly.
Ronnie’s cough, loud and deliberate, alerted Jerome.
“How long have you been standing there?”
(c) Liz Breen
In the mid ‘90s I was employed with a global courier company, and it was my first job. Within the accounts department was one lady, Sylvia, perhaps a little older than I, and quite senior in her role. Sylvia was the one who provided the approval for our salaries to be paid out each month, and with that kind of clout, no one messed with her.
She loved to dress up in bright colours; it wasn’t uncommon to see Sylvia prance in each morning in high heels, garish outfits and lipstick plastered across her wide, ample mouth.
The building that I worked in was rather old – normally summers are moderate in Bangalore, South India, but here, with frequent power shut-downs and terrible back-up generators for the ACs, we suffered in the heat.
One evening I was working late with another colleague and the power had shut off. All the light that we had was from our computer screens and a small emergency lamp nearby. So, I stood up, went to the window and pulled up the blinds for a little of the outside light and air to penetrate in.
I turned and my heart almost stopped beating. Sylvia suddenly appeared out of the darkness, jingling across the floor in a saffron coloured dress, silver dangling and clinking earrings and ridiculously thick, orange lipstick.
“Hi” she crooned and smiled; her white teeth contrasted with the bright orange lips and I collapsed into a chair. “Working late you two? Just need some stuff.”
She rummaged around her table, found what she wanted and took off. From the neighbouring desk my colleague popped his head up from behind his screen and piped:
“If looks could kill.”
“They nearly did,” I replied, still stunned and trying to catch my breath. “They very nearly did!”
(c) Cindy Pereria
I was dressed as the Pope and standing in the sunshine at the intersection of Flatbush and Snyder. It was so hot that the asphalt bubbled.
The cars crawled, with their windows dropped, too parched to go faster, and on the street, a chef sat on a plastic chair, head slumped between his legs, sweat pooling.
The walk sign was white hot and the crossing tutted at me to cross. I couldn’t hear it because underneath my Papal tiara I wore my headphones. A ridiculous flourish to my costume.
The robes were now anything but pure. Around the collar and cuffs, they were soiled where my sweat had leached. This was just one of the outfits they supplied at the start of the contract. A banana suit, unbranded superhero and knight in man-made fibres.
It was easy work. As long as I had music, I just kept moving, along Flatbush, and kept my sign up high. I kept moving and Dave’s Costume Shop kept pushing the money to my account.
A man leant out of a car and shouted. I took off the headphones.
“What you doing?”
“What you doing with that sign?”
He looked unsure as he drove off and when he reappeared on foot.
“I own it, Dave’s.”
“How long have you been standing there?”
“Since 9.30. Honest.”
“No, I didn’t… Look, the shop closed two years ago. Dave, my dad, he died. I guess no one said.”
I took off my hat.
“Are we still paying you?”
“Someone is. Every week.”
He stood for a moment then he said he would keep paying me to advertise a shop that died. I saw him, maybe every other week, driving slowly past, smiling at the sign in my hand.
(c) Stephen Lisle
The rider in the blue jacket stared critically at Micky Ryan’s bike. This was an ’84 Yamaha RD350, twin engine motorbike, painted black with the livery stickers of white twin bands across her aerodynamic tank. She was a good bike, the best of her time; but now was the age of the super bikes, those four-stroke wonders that clipped from zero to 100 in just eight seconds flat and roared smoothly, like lions…gagged and muzzled. Indeed, the old, cult RD350 was nothing comparable to the power and speed of the new engines that had become the dream of almost every man.
Four bikes were parked by the roadside, all ready to start their 2000-mile journey to the Himalayas, from the sunny south of India to the far flung, snow-capped mountains of the north. One was a BMW650 and one an Enfield500. The other two were RD350s, Micky Ryan’s and his friend Cap’s; and Cap was a veteran of many rides.
The rider of the BMW shook his head at Micky, clicked his engine to a stupendous start and commented tonelessly:
“She’ll never make it.”
“You might as well give up the idea now,” the Enfield rider added.
Two weeks later and high up in the mountains, the BMW’s rear wheel lost its alignment. They called a tow truck so he could head back to the nearest town. The Enfield almost made it to Leh Town and then its engine ceased.
Micky watched as it was loaded onto a tow and taken away. He rolled a smoke, lit up and passed it to Cap.
“Khardungla Pass?” he asked.
Cap nodded and smiled. “Khardungla it is.”
And the two men continued their journey through Ladakh, their old, cult bikes proudly conquering that 18380th foot on the highest motorable road in the world.
(c) Cindy Pereira
She sat like a statue at the corner table in the staff canteen. Everyone knew her. No one wanted to sit with her. Everyone went to her to resolve their computer problems. Everyone was intimidated by her strange looks, her pale, almost metallic, eyes and her hair, a white Mohican. Her face betrayed no emotion as she gazed out at the crowded tables. A pair of girls entered and an almost imperceptible smile flittered across her face. They loaded their trays, looked around for a space and seeing one made their way to the table in the corner unfazed by the odd-looking occupant.
Soon they were chatting to Aletta, and she responded. The girls were new and still excluded from the usual cliques. Little did they know by befriending Aletta they risked permanent exclusion. But then, even without that, there was only a slim chance of being accepted. They, unlike their colleagues, came from underprivileged backgrounds. They had completed their studies courtesy of bursaries and to top it all they were black. This was their first day with the company, and they had only met each other in the foyer.
Aletta became more animated than anyone had ever seen when not behind her computer screen.
That first day became a pattern. They sat together. Aletta loved the slow transformation as their wardrobe improved with their regular paycheques. Their confidence soared as their abilities reflected in their output.
The end of the year saw them pick up several awards. The day after they made their way, as usual, to sit with their friend Aletta. “Why has everyone gone silent?” Asked Maya.
“Look around you,” said Aletta. “If looks could kill.”
They chimed together, “We’d be dead! But seriously Aletta why?”
“Because you’re different and I’m your friend.”
(c) Felicity Edwards
"She'll never make it.’ Ruth looked at her husband pityingly. She hated to disillusion him, but there was no way their teenage daughter was going to produce the promised romantic meal for her parents’ Valentine’s Day treat.
‘No, give her a chance,’ Andy was hopeful. ‘You don’t trust her enough. She’ll do it.’
Ruth was dubious. Hannah had made promises before – yes, she’d put her clothes in the washing machine; yes, she’d switch on the dishwasher after she’d finished with her plate. Little things, but they added up to an unreliable girl.
Hannah had been adamant she wanted to give her parents a meal. Andy speculated about what she might cook, while Ruth mentally considered what she could rustle up quickly in case the magnificent gesture did not materialise on the plate.
The evening arrived. Ruth and Andy sat in the living room and toasted each other with a glass of wine. Hannah was nowhere to be seen, and just when they were thinking they would have to find something to eat themselves, she burst into the room with a carrier bag.
‘Ta-dah,’ she cried. ‘Dinner’s ready, courtesy of the Waitrose Dine-In range. And I’ve got a pizza for myself. I’ll eat mine in the kitchen so you two can smooch in the dining room. Come on then, we just have to heat it up!’
Ruth rolled her eyes at Andy. Their entrepreneurial daughter had delivered - in her own special way.
(c) Elaine Peters
All this excitement, hysteria! For what? An old, faded “Has been”. There had to be a couple of hundred Grannies sporting sequin hats and scarves, singing and chanting waiting outside the theatre. Ridiculous!
When her Editor had asked her to run an interest piece on this “gig”, she had had to skuttle away and “Google” him to find out who he was!
“Wow! How exciting! Imagine him coming here!” she had exclaimed, all the while thinking “What on earth is all the fuss about?”
This Glam Rock Star of the 70’s had reputedly had quite a reputation with the ladies, renowned for his troupe of loyal Groupies, but had retreated into obscurity and bankruptcy for decades. Then, with the trend for Groups of the past to re-form and tour, he had jumped on the Bandwagon so to speak.
With the background in place, she now had to write about the local interest angle; so, here she was, in the cold and drizzle looking for suitable interviewees standing waiting to go in.
The grey- haired woman with walking aids, glitter make up, sparkly pink hat and scarf drew her eye.
“Hi, I’m Lucy, and I’m doing a piece for the ‘Weekly Herald’, OK to have a brief chat?” The woman nodded excitedly, eyes gleaming and a huge smile spread across her face.
“Great! Well……” Lucy paused, wondering where to start, “How long have you been standing there?”
“Ooooooh, bout three hours so far innit Sylv?” the woman giggled, nudging her friend.
“But……Why?” Lucy muttered .
“Well Lovey…. He was such a dish back in the day, and we all had our dreams didn’t we Sylv? Now, we just wanna relive that feeling… of having dreams….Nostalgia innit?”
Lucy nodded politely, thinking “sad woman…. Hope I don’t end up like that.”
(c) Hilary Taylor
The noise in the stadium was deafening, the anticipation palpable. The crowd was excited to watch this clash of olympian dimensions—two of the fastest in history running the 3000 meters. The announcer sat, watching the crowd settle as the competitors moved to the starting blocks as he quietly gave the running statistics of each runner.
Then, there was an audible intake of breath from the watchers. The dark-haired girl was running barefoot! Her blond opponent waited in the next lane. The starting gun went off. They started and quickly, the fleet-footed pair streaked out in front. The others like lumbering tortoises trailed behind. Halfway they were still neck and neck, the crowd jumping up and down almost hysterically while yelling encouragement. Then disaster struck. They collided going around the corner, the spikes of one went onto the top of the other girl’s barefoot. She bent over in pain, blood appeared. There was an audible groan from the onlookers. The pack were catching up as the commentator said, “She’ll never make it.”
That was enough. She would prove them wrong. She clenched her jaw, took a deep breath and took off again, each second gaining on her shod opponent. While the crowd was yelling in excitement, the shod competitor smiled, unaware her nemesis was gaining. The barefooted girl flew past her and hit the finishing line first before sinking onto the track, sobbing in pain and exhaustion. Her heart swelled she had done it, she had won! Someone else would have to do the lap of honour on her behalf she knew she could not move.
There was pandemonium in the stadium, the commentator so excited he forgot he was on air yelled. “Bloody hell, she was down and out, but she has won the race!”
(c) Felicity Edwards
He sat in his favourite saggy armchair. “Did you speak to that chap who stood watching?” Suddenly his eyebrows shot up. His hand came to his lip as he said, “If that’s the way to teach cooking. I’m a bloody good chef.” As he spoke, he pointed to me.
Used to his idiosyncrasies, I continued. “Yes, the way he boiled the eggs was a new one on me.”
By then, his long, lean frame had shot out of the old chair and tiptoed to the door which he flung open with a flourish to reveal a boy leaning into the door. “How long have you been standing there?”
As he fought to stay upright after the sudden loss of support from the door, he answered, “I’ve only just arrived, Sir.”
“Liar, you’ve been eavesdropping. Who do you work for?”
His dirty little face reddened, and his eyes screwed up. “I don’t work for no one. A gentleman asked me to deliver a message to you.”
Holding his hand out, he said, “Oh, did he now. So where’s this message?”
The boy snivelled. “He don’t write. He told me to say come to sixteen Gower Street at three o’clock to see something interesting. Oh, and he said I had to tell you to come alone.”
“Oh, did he now.” As an arm grabbed the scruffy urchin by the ear and twisted it. “What did this gentleman, who can’t write, look like?”
“Ouch, mister, you’re hurting me.”
“Oh really, I’m going to hurt you some more, so come clean. Who was this ‘gentleman’?”
By now, the lad bent over, trying not to cry. “I don’t know his name. I’ve never seen him before. He gave me sixpence to tell you where to go,”
(c) Felicity Edwards
This was a new site to Stephen and one that took its responsibilities seriously. He had completed all the on-line training and knew about the Safeguarding Adults Policy, hand hygiene, Risk Assessments, GDPR, being a Fire Marshal as well as how to recognise anaphylactic shock, so he had all the requisites the NHS deemed necessary to be a carpark marshal volunteer at a Vaccination Centre.
Being the repository of the sum of all human knowledge, he could wear a hi-vis jacket and point his arm to vacant bays with some authority. However, having never been inside the Vaccination Centre he didn’t have a clue what went on in there. That did not deter him from answering the questions the public asked him. What is the point in all those online certificates if at the first question he says;” I don’t know”? Stephen had a dentist with halitosis and he wasn’t going to be like him. So, he made up credible answers like: “they put it on a sugar-cube if you are scared of needles” or “of course it’s painful, you are being pierced with a big needle”.
Word must have got back to the volunteer coordinator who posted Stephen on ever more remote parts of the site which was vast, and to justify her decision she reinforced his importance by overstating the crucial strategic positioning of his skills to this particularly difficult and complex area of the car park and the unilateral decision making to appoint Stephen that task as though he was the only one who would fully comprehend its intricacies.
Needless to say, Stephen saw no-one all day. It was -2 degrees and he got no break from doing nothing. The caretaker on locking up the site found him and asked: “How long have you been standing there?”
(c) Steve Goodlad
“Jesus, that’s brutal,” Mark winces as the screen shows the contestants battling their way to the finish line.
“It isn’t supposed to be easy,” Dr. Lindon replies, jotting notes and sparing a glance at the screen.
“Who’ve you got pegged to win it?” Mark asks.
Dr. Lindon sets his pen down and removes his glasses, “Anyone’s game really. There’s a good mix of strength, agility, and cleverness out there.”
“What about this one?” Mark points to a female dodging a cactus and leaping across a dry creek bed.
“She’ll never make it.”
“Why do you say that? She looks like she’s doing pretty well. I’d say she’s on track to take it.”
Dr. Lindon presses a series of keys on the computer pad and the video feed flips to a blacklight filter. “That is why. She took an unfortunate route.”
On the screen, the woman is running toward a crevice that will take her up a short mesa placing her just shy of the finish line. In the darkness of the crevice unseen to the woman but perfectly visible on screen are thousands of waiting bodies— tiny and deadly.
“What are those?” Mark asks.
“Brown bark scorpions. One of two deadly species. As I said, she’ll never make it.”
(c) Katrina Hayes
Had this clever woman at my stall yesterday.
‘Good Morning, my man,’ she says, in the way of a Roman emperor. She’s got a voice like an oboe, low and fruity.
‘I’m researching the importance of markets as social spaces in towns and cities.’
‘Come again?’ I replies.
‘Annual footfall levels in markets have reduced from six to five and a half million in two decades.’
‘Football levels? That’ll be because Millwall are so bleedin' useless these days.’
‘Footfall levels. The number of individuals that attend markets.’
‘I put it down to people not knowing the metric.’
‘Conversely, the number of farmers’ markets has increased by 250%.’
‘Posh folk who buy there wouldn’t know if it was sirloin steak or the inside of a cow’s backside they were buying. Stall down the road’ll sell you a plate of jellied eels for two quid – better than rump steak, in my view.’
‘We intend to examine different socio-demographic and economic contexts in local population profiles.’
‘Yeah, we do a lot of that down Brick Lane.’
‘We’re looking at both covered and uncovered markets.’
‘Well, my stall is uncovered when it’s dry, and I’ve got this bit of tarpaulin to drape over it when it’s wet.’
‘For a market to function well as a social space, there is a need to attract visitors.’
‘Look around my stall, lady. Bin bags and liners, sweeping brushes, tupper boxes, loo paper. Every community needs loo paper.’
‘But the unexpected?’
‘It’s all here, lady. Builders’ buckets, duck tape, sheets for the bottom of bird cages, thermoform dinner plates. You can’t get more unexpected than those.’
‘Thank you,’ she says. ‘You seem to be an imbecile. Where did you say the jellied eel stall was?’
I said to Charlie later:
‘If looks could kill…’
(C) R.T. Hardwick
“That was a lovely service Mum, Myrtle would have loved it.”
Pamela Hetherington bent forward and tenderly kissed Mavis on her tear-stained cheek. Mavis nodded and forced a weak smile. They were standing beside a scrumptiously presented buffet laid out in the local British Legion Club - Myrtle’s favourite haunt. The steward had generously offered the free use of the club’s facilities saying, “That was the least he could do for such a nice lady.”
Mavis tugged at Pamela’s sleeve, “Who’s that over there staring at you?”
“If looks could kill.”
Pamela looked across the room. She whispered, “That’s Betty Johnson, formerly Betty Hardcastle, we were at school together, and a right bitch.”
“She’s coming over.” Pamela’s eyes hardened as Betty approached the pair.
“Hi ya, Pam, Missus Hetherington, nice to see you both again, I’m Betty? We were at school together. Remember?”
Pamela returned a slight nod. Betty’s eyes studied Pamela from head to toe. “That’s a nice outfit you’ve got there. It’s just a shame that you’re wearing it in such sad circumstances,” said Betty, her flat tone was devoid of any real feeling.
Betty took a sip from her wine glass. Pamela frowned as she spotted the deep red stain that Betty’s lipstick had left on the rim.
“I suppose you’ve heard about your Rob…….” Pamela jumped in, “He’s not MY Rob. That was over ages ago.” Betty apologised, “Oh, yeah, sorry, but anyway, he’s down in Brighton and you’ll never guess what, he’s doing a college course, it’s a proper degree and everything. It looks like he’s sorting himself out.”
Pamela shrugged, “So? Why should I care?” Betty tilted her head and offered a faint smile, “I just thought you’d like to know. Oh, must dash my hubby is over there. Byeee.”
Pamela scowled, and flicked a two-fingered gesture at the departing Betty.
(c) Graham Crisp
Mine, Sandra’s, Molly’s …
“Don’t do the laundry, you’ll only mess it up,” he muttered, mimicking his wife. She must think I’m really useless… Oh, and what’s this?
Red lace bordered shimmering black satin. Doubt creased his brow. I don’t recognise this one… is this why Sandra didn’t want me to do the laundry?
“I just can’t believe he did this!”
His father ears pricked up at Molly’s distressed tone. He tiptoed to her partly open bedroom door. She stood facing the quivering oak trees, her adolescent silhouette backlit by the noonday sun.
“And he said he loved me! … He seemed to mean it … I am NOT naïve!”
He hesitated. This sounds like a mother-daughter thing.
“I slept with him and I still got dumped!”
The words slammed into him like a rippling sonic boom. I’ll kill the little maggot.
“Oh, go to hell Jennifer!”
Molly whirled around, hurling her phone on the bed. Glistening eyes caught her dad’s figure in the doorway and she stiffened.
“How long have you been standing there?”
Lie. Lie for all you’re worth.
“Just a second … why?” God, I hope that was convincing.
Molly cocked her head to one side, “Is that my, uh…?”
“Wha-,” he cut himself off. Of course, not my wife’s but my teenage daughter’s. He gingerly attempted to fold the slinky fabric, failed miserably and plopped it on Molly’s desk. He stepped away as if it were a bomb.
“What?” Molly asked.
You’re staring. She knows you heard.
Tell her she’s beautiful and he’s an idiot. Tell her you love her.
“If you like,” he lowered his voice to a deep, rumbling tone, “I could have him murdered.”
A joke? Really?
In the ensuing silence, he was rewarded as a smile crept over Molly’s face.
(c) Rachel Smith