Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Mañana, Mañana by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the next story from my collection Flights of Fancy… a cheating husband and a dash to a remote beach… what could to wrong… or right?

Mañana, Mañana by Sally Cronin

The hot sun burnt her already tanned legs and she moved them slightly into the shade of the large umbrella overhead. She felt a small trickle of perspiration slide between her breasts and decided that it was not really that uncomfortable a sensation. In fact, it felt rather sensuous.

She looked out across the summer-bleached grass in front of the small villa and waited, her lower lip caught gently between her teeth. Any minute now, any minute now. Yes, there he was. She released her lip with a sharp intake of breath as he walked out of the water and onto the small patch of white sand at the bottom of the garden. He flicked his head and his long, wet black hair erupted into shining droplets of water in the hot air.

He was breath taking. From his arrogant, hawkish face down to his perfectly proportioned feet, he oozed masculinity. His work in the garden had honed his shoulder and chest muscles into sleek male hardness and her hands waved vaguely in the air in remembrance. His waist was small and his hips flared slightly before plunging into long muscular legs.

As he walked back up the beach towards her, she shook her head in disbelief. Just two months ago she had been sobbing her heart out in the kitchen of her luxury house in Chelmsford. Her husband of twenty years had announced, completely out of the blue, that he had just found someone else. To be honest it turned out he had not just found her, but had been enjoying her dubious company for the last five years.

If it had not been for Marjorie Hamilton, and her puncture, she would never have found out about it and would still be living in blissful ignorance. Well, perhaps blissful was a bit strong a word to use for the rather listless state of their marriage, but then again, she really had not had anything to compare it to. Until now!

Anyway, back to Marjorie and her puncture. After a trip to the supermarket, and with a laden boot of shopping, one of the rear tyres on her brand new car had suddenly deflated, right in the middle of the high street. Marjorie had got out and having discovered the cause of the sudden tilt to the right began to prepare her “little girl, I’m helpless look” that had worked so well for her in the past. Glancing around, in hopes of finding an available and suitably impressed gentleman, she spied Gregory Davenport at a table in the window of an Indian restaurant. This in itself was not a shocking revelation but the fact that his hand was gently cupping a chin that was definitely not his wife’s, was.

Marjorie was wearing an oiled rain hat and pulling this lower over her forehead she approached obliquely along the wall of the restaurant. Gregory had his back to her and she had a very good view of his companion. Shockingly, she recognised the chin that was being rapturously held by Gregory’s hand. It was Melanie Blake, her own next-door neighbour, a divorcee and supposed best friend to Gregory’s wife Elizabeth.

Marjorie had backed up the high street towards her car where she found a policeman about to write a ticket. In the ensuing pleading, begging and eventual satisfactory tyre change by the rather handsome young officer, Marjorie almost forgot the wonderfully juicy revelation she had been privy to. Almost, but not quite. By dinnertime that night the secret was out and Elizabeth Davenport had received several commiserating telephone calls.

Hence the tears in the kitchen. Gregory was gone, presumably to obtain sympathy from his paramour, now that he had been forcibly ejected from the marital home. Elizabeth had thrown the appallingly dreadful dinner service, that his mother had given them for a wedding present, at his head when he had proposed that he have his cake and eat it. She now contemplated the shattered crockery and thought it rather nicely summed up her marriage.

There were some compensations. Her children were both very well adjusted and intelligent girls, at university in their first and second years. They rather flummoxed her by not being surprised at the news, and Elizabeth was mortified to think that they had known about their father’s affair and had kept it to themselves. In fact, it appeared that they were not the only ones with prior knowledge, as more and more people rang to commiserate with her and to glean any further gossip that might have slipped through the normal channels.

Something else began to rankle and that was the realisation that up to now, she, Elisabeth, had participated rather vigorously in this community news machine that was now focused on her, and she did not like it one bit.

She had been the perfect wife, looked after the children and Gregory, always making sure that their needs came first. She had not looked at another man since she had become engaged. Well, perhaps that was an exaggeration. She had looked, but she had certainly not touched. This was her reward and a lonely old age beckoned. She was forty-five years old and on the scrap heap. Well, he was going to have to pay, and first thing in the morning she would be contacting her solicitor.

Elizabeth stretched like a cat in the warm sun as she continued to follow the progress of the Adonis up the beach. There was a small wooden gate that separated the sand from the lawn of her villa. He opened it and suddenly noticed her looking in his direction. The dazzle from his white-toothed smile nearly scorched her already overheated skin.

Following her rather emotional but productive meeting with her solicitor, Elizabeth had rung her cousin Susan. Susan had been through the same life-changing situation two years ago and had been lucky enough to retain a rather basic but lovely holiday villa in the south of Spain. It was on an undeveloped part of the coastline, near a small fishing village with a couple of restaurants and a small grocery shop. There were no golf courses in the area, no tourist attractions and it was a perfect hideaway to retreat to, especially as Gregory would no doubt be desperate to speak to her when he received the first broadside from the lawyers.

It was bit laborious to get to the village but once there, Elizabeth unpacked and took to her bed. The sun-bed! Two months later and here she was, still bedridden, but it was hardly due to grief and desperation.

What her cousin had failed to tell her was that the house came with a sitting tenant. In exchange for gardening and keeping an eye on the villa in its owner’s absence, a young musician called Ramon was ensconced in the spare bedroom.

He had been out on the evening that Elizabeth arrived and so they did not collide until the next morning when they both attempted to shower at the same time. Ramon was only clothed in a very small towel and Elizabeth was just wearing a smile. Fleeing to her bedroom she only had time to hear a wonderfully rich laugh coming from the bathroom before locking her door and throwing herself on the bed and under the covers.

Two days later and they had progressed to verbal intimacy. This had not been easy as Ramon’s English was broken and Elizabeth insisted on speaking her half-remembered school French to him, as that was the only foreign language she had ever tried to learn.

That an understanding was reached was largely due to the chemistry that sprang up between them. Elizabeth felt that she was in a permanent state of shock, with stomach churning, weak-kneed anticipation every time she was near him. He, for some reason, found her fascinating and they would sit closer and closer together as they tried to communicate.

Finally, on the third day, the inevitable happened and for the first time in her life, Elizabeth Davenport visited foreign delights that she never knew existed. If she thought her husband’s affair had been a revelation it was knocked into insignificance by far more explosive forces. Life in England, the divorce and any thoughts of the future were dismissed as she threw herself wholeheartedly into this new and wonderful adventure.

As Ramon approached her across the brown grass, Elizabeth smiled at him and extended her hand towards him. She could see drops of seawater clinging to his oiled brown skin and she knew that it would take several hours to dry him thoroughly.

Elizabeth woke with a start and heard her daughter coming up behind her.

“Mum you’ve let your tea get cold again”. Jane was a good girl and Elizabeth was staying with her while she recovered from a replacement hip operation. Seventy-five years old and they had said that she would have a new lease of life, the new hip good for at least fifteen years. That was a bit optimistic but it she lived to ninety she would not have any complaints.

“Don’t worry darling, I was getting a bit hot and bothered out here in the conservatory and I think a glass of that lovely chilled Cava would be much nicer”.

As Jane went off to the kitchen, Elizabeth closed her eyes briefly to see if she could recapture that wonderful and breath-taking interlude all those years ago. It was gone but she knew that it would come back to her. She was returning to Spain soon, having made an excellent recovery. Back to the villa that she had bought from Susan with some of the proceeds from her divorce.

Of course thirty years on, apartments and hotels surrounded it, but it was still a little oasis with access to the now public beach. It had been lovingly renovated over the years and the garden was absolutely wonderful. Ramon adored growing her flowers and bringing them to her when he came home from the hotel he managed in Marbella. They had never married, but the fifteen years age difference between them had not made the slightest dent in their passion or love for each other.

Elizabeth smiled to herself. Soon she would be lying on her sunbed on the patio watching Ramon come out of the sea and across the sand towards her. Her breath caught in anticipation.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

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Guest Blogger: Linda Bethea


I love tales from Linda Bethea especially about her mother Kathleen and Robert Goldstein has a terrific guest post from 2015 which is and excerpt from Kathleen’s memoirs of the depression years. Well worth heading over to read.

Art by Rob Goldstein

My first guest blog was a 2015 post by Linda Bethea of Nutstrok.

Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life thought it
deserved a re-post, so here it is.

The original post begins below this drawing by Linda’s Mother, Kathleen Swain.

A hand colored drawing of a mother holding a little boy on her lap as he points to a bird in flight. The Forever Mom by Kathleen Swain

My first test subject guest blogger is Linda Bethea from
Nutstok.

When I read her blog I feel like I’m visiting with a friend.

Linda’s style is graceful and she writes with empathy and love.

“Forever Mom” is a drawing by Linda’s Mother, Kathleen
Swain..

Linda wrote: I am so delighted my dear friend Robert Goldstein asked me to do a guest post for him. He was gracious enough to allow me to share a portion of Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression, my current work in progress.

Thanks so much Robert.


The Gentlest of Men

“Good…

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Getting To Know You with author Lucinda E. Clarke


It is my pleasure to welcome author Lucinda E. Clarke this morning for the Getting to Know You interview.  Born in Dublin but officially a citizen of the world, Lucinda has been a professonal writer for over twenty years and had also run her own production company in Africa.

Let’s find out a little more about Lucinda before finding out the questions she has responded to.

Lucinda E Clarke [not her real name] was born in Dublin, but has lived in 8 other countries to date. She wanted to write but was railroaded into teaching. She had a habit of “falling” into other careers, announcing on radio, then scriptwriting for radio and television. She has been a professional writer since 1986 winning over 20 awards for her work, including mayoral speeches, company profiles, drama documentaries, educational programmes for radio and television, adverts, news inserts, court videos, National Geographic, cookery programmes, to name but a few!

She lectured in scriptwriting, had her own column in various publications, and written for national magazines. She was commissioned for two educational books by Heinemann and Macmillan, and book reports for UNESCO and UNICEF.

She graduated into running her own video production company in South Africa.
“Walking Over Eggshells” is her first self-published book, an autobiography which describes her adventurous life, trying to escape the emotional abuse she suffered from early childhood.

She published her second book a novel, “Amie an African Adventure” in July 2014, already a #1 bestseller in genre on Amazon.co.uk.

Lucinda’s third book ‘Truth, Lies and Propaganda’, was published on Amazon on November 30th 2014. It is the first in a series of two books and ‘More Truth, Lies and Propaganda’ is due out in 2015. They follow the author’s journey from the classroom to radio announcing, on to television and finally to setting up her own video production company. The books are packed with anecdotes of the often hilarious things that happened while out shooting a wide variety of subjects, taking the reader behind the scenes in the media and highlighting South Africa and its people.

The second book in the Amie series Amie and the Child of Africa was released in October 2015. Amie: Stolen Future in November 2016 and Cut for Life in September 2017.

I will share more about Lucinda’s books later in the post but first.. let’s find out more about the questions that she has selected today.

Welcome Lucinda and can you describe one most embarrassing moment of your life?

The first one I can think of, though heavens there are many, was the day we were out shooting in a township area outside Durban. There were four of us, a cameraman, production secretary, sound guy and me directing it all (otherwise known as bossing people around). I was always wary when we were in areas unaccompanied by a local member of the community, but we just needed a few scenes to complete a programme.

To my horror, we had only just set up and the shots rang out, very close and coming from all directions. I’ve always prided myself on my survival instincts and threw myself flat on the ground yelling to the others to do the same. It was several seconds before I realized that they were all staring at me and giggling very loudly indeed. Slowly I stood up, covered in gravel, mud, sticks and dried leaves. It was the beginning of Divali – time to light the fireworks. I never lived that down.

Tell us about your craziest experience.

Country: Libya – town: Benghazi – location: local radio station – date 1st September 1978.

Now the date is very important as it’s the anniversary of the day Colonel Ghadaffi liberated his country and this particular year was the date he decided to come down and inspect the navy moored in the harbour (one gun boat 16 foot long).

There was a loud explosion. An attempt on his life? (There had already been over 60 so far but the Americans and the British had protected him). All I know is that when I arrived for my shift, at the radio station I was met at the barrier by a plethora of soldiers waving guns with fixed bayonets. They stuck to me like glue, in the news room, in the studio, the sharpened blade pricking my neck all the time I was on air, even to the loo (I promise you I needed it). It was terrifying, especially as I doubt they spoke English and I didn’t know what would set them off. They even held a gun on the controller who’d turned white. Never have 4 hours passed so slowly and I staggered out a shadow of my former self.

Have you got a secret talent nobody knows about?

I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t, or if I have, I’ve yet to discover it and I’m getting a bit old for one to pop up suddenly at this late stage. Honestly, I’m hopeless at most things. I hate housework, I’m hopeless with fashion – many of my friends look great in a bin bag, I look as if I am wearing a rubbish sack. Once upon a time I played the violin (badly), sung (only if the backing group was very loud) and I still count on my fingers, which refused to work together when I attempted to learn to play the piano. Nope, not a single shred of talent to be found anywhere.

What does it take to make you angry?

I don’t get angry very easily, one of my mottos is ‘Live and Let Live.’ I enjoy a good debate and will agree to disagree. However, I get cross when people have too many children they expect other people to support, cut down trees and disregard the environment. I also get angry with the treatment women suffer as second-class citizens and possessions, in the west we have it the best and that’s still not great. I also get cross when people moan and groan and try to get money for everything that goes wrong.

I’d like to drag them into a squatter camp in Africa and show them what real poverty is. And finally, when people refuse to take responsibility for their own actions – too many rights, no responsibilities.

What is something you look forward to when you retire?

I admit to not being ready to retire when we arrived in Spain although I was the right age. I was so excited, I could lounge around over breakfast, read books all day, wander along the beachfront and so on. That lasted all of 6 months and I was bored to tears. We moved and that occupied me for a while, then I threw myself into local activities, started learning Spanish, taught myself power point and gave lectures but all that didn’t keep me busy enough. So, I went back to writing and then the marketing and … need I say any more? Retirement is now a 24/7 work station at the dining room table in our little rabbit hutch and planning overseas trips we’re not sure we can afford. Believe me, retirement is exhausting.

I think most of us who are officially ‘retired’ would agree with that final statement!  My thanks to Lucinda for sharing some of her thoughts and experiences with us and now time to share the fruits of her retirement!

Amie: Cut for Life is Lucinda’s latest book in the series.

They told Amie it was a simple look, listen and report back mission, but from the beginning everything went wrong. She is stalked across borders, the aid workers act suspiciously, she’s assaulted, and abandoned in a rural African hut miles from anywhere. What has happened to her partner Simon and can she trust the charismatic Frenchman who befriends her? The discovery of an ancient tribal tradition and a group of young children to rescue, test her skills to the limit. For the first time, she is prepared to kill to protect the innocent caught up in an international sex trade with an extra horrifying twist.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I must say that I’m a huge fan of Amie the spy who doesn’t think she’s any good at it. This time Amie is faced with a terrible dilemma when she spies her parents in a shopping mall in Johannesburg. Should she compromise her position by letting them know she’s still very much alive? Of course she convinces herself that she must. However that decision has implications for future events.

Her next mission is to be apparently, a simple one. She is to join a group of aid workers on a fact finding mission. They are to visit various settlements and report to the British Government back on a number of issues. Very soon she makes a terrible discovery. Young girls are being sent to Africa to undergo FGM. But what else is happening to them?

Our intrepid heroine also discovers that some of her fellow aid workers are not all they appear to be. She has to rescue some of these children and lead them to safety putting herself in mortal danger. I love the way the character of Amie has developed and become someone we really care about. She’s totally believable as she questions herself and makes mistakes. Amy is tested to the limit but eventually succeeds with her mission.
It’s a fast paced thriller and the tension never lets up from start to finish. As well as that there are some wonderful descriptive passages which help readers visualise certain areas of Africa. Just superb writing! The author tackles the subject of FGM and child trafficking and opens reader’s eyes to these horrific practices that are sadly all top prevalent even today. I can only pray that eventually this mutilation of young women and girls will be stopped. It’s to the author’s credit that she chose to highlight this abhorrent practice. I can’t wait to see what Amy gets up to next.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amie-LIFE-Lucinda-E-Clarke-ebook/dp/B07545M9DB

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amie-CUT-LIFE-Lucinda-Clarke-ebook/dp/B07545M9DB

Other books by Lucinda E. Clarke

Read the reviews and buy all the books: https://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

Read more reviews and follow Lucinda on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7996778.Lucinda_E_Clarke

Connect to Lucinda via her website and social media.

Bloghttp://lucindaeclarke.wordpress.com
Web pagehttp://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/LucindaEClarke
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

Can’t be bloggered


Jessica Norrie’s weekly update and this week she is sharing news on the WIP and reminding us to take time to smell the roses…..

Words and Fictions

It’s not much of a post this week. I seem to have exhausted the topics of being unable to write (three weeks ago) and unable to read (last week) and so this week I have nothing to say. That’s never strictly true, but for one of the posts I want to write I have a book and a half still to read, and for the other I have first to go to Hay Festival and report back. This isn’t a planned blog – in the revolting phrase used by some writers I’m a “pantser” – I just write about whatever occurs to me a few days before I’ve decided a post is due. Sometimes it comes easily; at others I can’t help feeling I’m exhausting your patience and mine, gentle readers. It’s not as if anyone’s commissioned me to blog.

I’m toying with reducing my posts…

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Smorgasbord Poetry – #Haiku – Sun bows in respect #Tofino Photography


Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography has some incredible wild life and landscape images and is kind enough to allow some to be used. Romeo the eagle is on the hunt..

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

My thanks again to Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography for allowing me to use one of his amazing images for my haiku.

©Image Tofino Photography.

About Wayne and Tofino Photography.

Tofino Photography captures the life in the small west coast village of Tofino, British Columbia, Canada through wildlife, landscape and seascape photos.
– I am interested in the surrounding local flora/fauna and try to get out in my boat as often as I can. I started my photography after taking a one year course in my home town in 1973. I use my Darkroom to do my own films and prints and shoot digitally as well.
I like to stay in the background and let my pictures speak for me. They do a much better job !

If you do not already follow Tofino Photography then head over and be amazed.

This is just the directory for the Tofino Eagles……

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Curtains by Sally Cronin


Another short story from my collection Flights of Fancy. An old woman relives her memories and reflects on the changing patterns and colours of her bedroom curtains.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to another story from my collection Flights of Fancy… and this week an elderly woman reflects on her life and the different coloured curtains that have decorated her bedroom.

Curtains by Sally Cronin

The curtains at the small window fluttered in the slight afternoon breeze. The doctor has told me to rest, so here I am, tucked up under the pink eiderdown, a cup of tea cooling on the bedside cabinet.

I am not ill; I have just been overdoing it a bit lately. There has been a great deal of excitement in the family, my great grandson has just got married, and I was not going to miss out on something like that. After all, I had my reputation to uphold, as the fashion doyenne of the family. Much had been made of my emerald green suit with extravagant, black, straw hat. I had heard their comments…

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Smorgasbord Poetry – #Haiku – Sun bows in respect #Tofino Photography


My thanks again to Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography for allowing me to use one of his amazing images for my haiku.

 

©Image Tofino Photography.

About Wayne and Tofino Photography.

Tofino Photography captures the life in the small west coast village of Tofino, British Columbia, Canada through wildlife, landscape and seascape photos.
– I am interested in the surrounding local flora/fauna and try to get out in my boat as often as I can. I started my photography after taking a one year course in my home town in 1973. I use my Darkroom to do my own films and prints and shoot digitally as well.
I like to stay in the background and let my pictures speak for me. They do a much better job !

If you do not already follow Tofino Photography then head over and be amazed.

This is just the directory for the Tofino Eagles… there are also bears, seals and othe wildlife, as well as stunning shots of the breathtaking scenery.

https://tofinophotography.wordpress.com/category/tofino-eagles/

Thank you for dropping by today.. your feedback is always welcome. Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Curtains by Sally Cronin


Welcome to another story from my collection Flights of Fancy… and this week an elderly woman reflects on her life and the different coloured curtains that have decorated her bedroom.

Curtains by Sally Cronin

The curtains at the small window fluttered in the slight afternoon breeze. The doctor has told me to rest, so here I am, tucked up under the pink eiderdown, a cup of tea cooling on the bedside cabinet.

I am not ill; I have just been overdoing it a bit lately. There has been a great deal of excitement in the family, my great grandson has just got married, and I was not going to miss out on something like that. After all, I had my reputation to uphold, as the fashion doyenne of the family. Much had been made of my emerald green suit with extravagant, black, straw hat. I had heard their comments ‘Trust Sarah to stand out in a crowd’ and ‘Doesn’t she look marvellous for her age’.

No, I was definitely not going to miss the opportunity to show that there was life in the old girl yet. It was a bit depressing really, as although I am nearly ninety, I still feel like a young girl inside. I often sit and remember the old days when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Those pre-war years were so much fun. The first war had been dreadful, taking away so many young men, that those who were left behind felt the need to live life to the full. It was almost as if we knew that the good times could not last. A premonition, that was to be fulfilled far too soon in our young lives.

I must admit that it is rather cosy, lying here under the cover, letting my mind wander. The curtains dancing at the window in their silly way are quite hypnotic. If I close my eyes, they seem to change colour from pale green to a pretty, flowery pattern, very similar to the first pair that hung at the same windows over sixty-five years ago.

‘Sarah, Sarah.’ I could hear my mother’s voice calling to me up the stairs. ‘Hurry up, your cousin will be arriving at the station soon, stop admiring yourself in the mirror and come down here.’

‘I’m coming mother.’ I called down, and with a quick adjustment to my saucy new, feathered hat, and a quick admiring glance in the mirror, I raced down the stairs in a very unladylike fashion.

My mother stood in the hall, her white apron gleaming in the dim light; sleeves rolled up and flour dusting her arms. I smiled; she always managed to get a white patch of flour on the end of her nose whenever she baked.

‘Sarah, how many times have I told you to act like a lady?’ She paused, mystified as to how she had produced someone as clumsy as me. ‘You are too old to be galloping around like a carthorse, try and behave with a little more decorum please.’

From my vastly superior height, I leant down and planted a kiss on her cheek.
‘Sorry mother, I’m going right now, have we got some of your special cake for tea?’

‘Food, food, food, don’t you ever think of anything else, you will end up fat and no one will want you.’

I laughed and opened the front door, and when I reached the little white gate, I turned and waved at my mother, standing in the cottage doorway. She lifted her hand and smiled, she looked so beautiful that I raced back and gave her a hug.

‘Oh Sarah,’ she laughed, ‘get along with you.’

I ran back down the path and crossed the village square to the small railway station. I arrived just as the train was pulling in, and as I reached the platform, the train doors started to open. Not many people were getting off at our village and I excitedly scanned all the faces as they appeared. Suddenly I saw Peter, my cousin, in his smart new uniform and I ran down the platform and was swept into his arms.

‘Peter, it’s so lovely to see you, and you look so handsome.’ He hugged me tightly and breathlessly I looked over his shoulder and up into a pair of twinkling blue eyes.

‘Do I get one of those too?’ A deep voice with a soft Irish brogue said.

I blushed furiously, and disentangled myself from my cousin’s arms.

‘Sarah, I hope that your mother won’t mind, but I have brought a friend of mine from the camp for tea?’ Peter smiled.

‘This is Patrick, Patrick meet my scatter-brained cousin, Sarah.’

For some reason, as soon as Patrick took my hand, I started to tremble. I was never usually at a loss for words, but right now, I couldn’t think of one single thing to say. He just kept smiling, holding my hand and looking down at me from his great height.

I came back to the present with a little start. I realised that I was breathless; the memory of our first meeting had exactly the same effect on me now, as it had then. I felt quite light-headed and as I looked at the curtains, they seemed to change colour again to a deep rich blue.

It was my wedding night and I lay in the big bed, staring at the new dark blue curtains, made by my mother in honour of the new status of my childhood bedroom, as bridal chamber. As I lay waiting for Patrick, I tried to calm my nerves by going back over this wonderful, exciting day. My beautiful dress, the simple service in the small village church and the reception at the hall in the square. Wartime had almost been forgotten, as dashing young men in uniform twirled the pretty village girls around the dance floor.

There was no time for a honeymoon, as Patrick had to re-join his unit tomorrow. My mother and father had gone to stay with an aunt and uncle for the night, and now we were alone together. I sensed movement by the bedroom door and I realised that Patrick was standing there watching me. He had removed his shirt and as I looked at his finely muscled, strong body, I shivered.

‘Are you afraid little Sarah?’ he said softly. I nodded; I could feel the trembling of my knees beneath the covers. ‘I love you Sarah, and I want tonight to be very special for you, something for you to look back on when I leave tomorrow.’

I reached up and touched his bare arm. With my other hand, I drew back the covers and without another word, he slipped off the rest of his clothes and lay down beside me. I felt his arms go around me, he kissed my lips softly and then with more urgency. His passion enveloped me and I felt myself responding with sensations running through my body that I had never known existed. Those feelings took over, blocking out my fear. As his hands caressed me, the girl disappeared leaving a woman deeply in love.

In the morning, I lay with my head on his shoulder. The window was open and the curtains moved gently back and forth across the opening. I sighed happily and felt Patrick stir beside me. We made love again, gently, slowly, only too aware that our time together was running out. I tried desperately to put the thought of his leaving out of my mind, but a cold fear of what the future might hold in store for us began to grow inside me.

The next time we lay together in our bed it was winter, and the curtains were drawn to shut out the cold, grim day outside. Patrick had been wounded and had come home from hospital the week before. He had changed so much in the year he had been away, his blue eyes were pain filled and he had lost a great deal of weight. He would lie upstairs in our bed for hours, recovering in body, but something was terribly wrong. He would smile occasionally, and accept everything that my mother and I did for him quietly and gratefully, but as if we were strangers. At night, we would lie in bed, not touching and if I reached out my hand to him, he would gently draw away and turn over silently to face the wall.

I felt devastated, as if I had been wounded too. I didn’t know what to say or do and I finally turned to my mother for help.

‘Be patient Sarah, give him time,’ she said softly. ‘We don’t know what he has been through, apart from being wounded; he must have seen some dreadful things in the last year. Keep loving him and let him know you care.’

This particular morning, I rose quietly, knowing he would only be dozing. I went downstairs and met mother coming out of the kitchen.

‘There’s an official letter for Patrick,’ she looked at me worriedly. ‘I do hope that they don’t want him back yet, he’s just not ready.’

I walked slowly up the stairs and opened the bedroom door. Patrick turned his head towards me and saw the letter in my hand. He held out his own and I gave him the envelope but I could not bear the suspense, and I left the room and stood with my back to the door on the landing. There was a moment of silence and then I heard great, tearing sobs coming from inside the room. I couldn’t bear the strain any longer and I flung open the door and threw myself on the bed beside him. I put my arms around him and held him tightly. The sounds that he made were terrible, I could feel his hot tears on my skin and I cried with him. I caught my breath as I felt his arms take mine and put them by my side and the next thing I knew, I was crushed against him and this time it was his arms that brought comfort.

‘Sarah, darling Sarah,’ he said haltingly. ‘I don’t have to go back; I don’t have to leave you again.’

We talked a great deal that morning. It was not fear for himself, that had caused him to be so distant, only the feeling that if he didn’t touch me, love me, share things with me, it would be easier for me when he left again. He couldn’t bear the thought of leaving me with a child, knowing as he now did, that there was a distinct possibility that he might never return. As we talked all that fear was swept away and when we hesitantly made love, I felt that he had finally come home.

The blue curtains fade away, to be replaced by a bright, cheerful pair. The bedroom had been redecorated and in the corner stood a crib. I lay in bed listening to the gentle snuffling noises, which filled the room, and I had never felt so happy in my life. I heard Patrick coming up the stairs and open the door. I turned and smiled at him.

‘You’re awake then,’ he said softly. ‘Is she awake too?’

I looked at the crib that held our daughter Elizabeth. ‘Not yet, but as soon as she gets hungry, we will all know about it.’

‘Sarah, I have something to say to you.’ I looked at him and saw the bleakness in his eyes.
‘I have to go back.’ He gripped my hand tightly in his. ‘My regiment is going to be returning to France in the next few weeks and I need to go with them. They say that in the next few months we could end this war and they need every trained man they can find.’

I stared at him, hoping that this was all a bad dream.

He gently placed his finger across my lips before I could speak.

‘I have been so happy this last year, now that I have you and the baby everything is complete and I can’t bear the thought of leaving you, but please try to understand.’

The tears poured down my cheeks and I realised that I was back in the present again. The sights and sounds of the past faded away and the gentle knock on the door reminded me that I was not alone. I rubbed my wet face with a tissue.

‘Come in,’ I called, trying to control my quivering voice. My daughter Elizabeth stood in the doorway.

‘It’s four o’clock mum,’ she said. ‘I thought you might like another cup of tea before I go home.’

She looked at me carefully. ‘You still look very tired mum, are you sure you’re feeling alright, would you like me to call the doctor back again?’

‘No darling, I’m fine, just a little tired, that’s all,’ I smiled reassuringly. ‘It was all the excitement of the wedding on Saturday, it’s not every day that you see your great grandson walk up the aisle, and I must have overdone it a bit.’

Elizabeth sat on the edge of the bed and took my hand in hers.

‘Actually, I was having a lovely dream,’ I looked up into her youthful looking face. ‘It’s hard to believe that it is over sixty years since your father was killed. I so wish that you could have known him.’

It is night now and Elizabeth has gone home with the promise of returning first thing in the morning. My companion, Betty has been in with a lovely cup of cocoa and gone to bed, as tired with the last few days’ activities as I was.

The window is open slightly and the curtains drawn back to reveal a clear, starry sky. I feel so tired, but somehow content, my eyelids drop and then I hear his voice as clearly, as if it was yesterday. His soft gentle tones came from the end of my bed. My eyes open suddenly; I am trembling and excited, my heart pounding in my chest.

He is there, in his uniform, looking so handsome and as strong as ever. He is smiling and his arms are outstretched towards me.

‘Sarah, darling, I’ve come to take you home with me; I have been waiting for such a long time.’

I flew into his arms, feeling them close around me. I felt so young, so alive and so safe.

Together we walked towards the window, and the fluttering floral curtains of my youth.
I took a last, long look at our bedroom and in the bed, I saw an old woman. Her eyes were closed and she was lying very still. On her face was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.
©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

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Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

A life on the scales


Sue Vincent writes a post that raises the issue of whether fish are sentient beings and certainly her fish in her aquarium are exhibiting every indication that they are. A thought provoking article. Thanks Sue..

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

My son has a sick fish in his pond over which we are both worrying. The trouble with pond fish is that they have many places to hide if they are unwell, and you only usually see them from above, so unless there is an obvious and visible problem, they can quickly deteriorate.

There is not a great deal left for us to do, as we know that by the time a fish reaches this stage, the end is almost inevitable. If there were a fish vet locally, and if the sensitive golden orfe would survive the trip, and if there were any reasonable hope… a lot of ‘ifs’ for a fish, but he has been with us a number of years and, along with the forty others with whom he shares the pond, he is part of the family. So we do what we can, making sure the water…

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