Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 29th December to 4th January 2020 –


Welcome to the first round up of 2020 with a posts that you might have missed during the week.

It was a quiet Christmas and New Year for us and we enjoyed taking it easy and watching favourite movies and series again. Including the Millennium Trilogy featuring the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the first three books… in Swedish with sub-titles. Brilliant.

From January 13th we will be treated to the first of the new series by D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies on another of her areas of expertise… relationships. She is going to introduce the column and then she will begin the series in March on her return from her winter sunshine in Mexico. I am really looking forward to her insight and I am sure you will enjoy too.

 

Carol Taylor will also be changing her column from the 15th of January. There is one more cooking from scratch to prevent deficiency this coming week with Phosphorous as the nutrient in question… and then Carol will be featuring her A – Z of food every two weeks. She is going to be getting her cookbook and novel ready to be published this year (no pressure then Carol ♥) I think you will find you will be expanding your shopping list by the end of the year to include new and healthy foods to enjoy.

Silvia Todesco will also be continuing her column on Italian Cookery throughout the year and we will be starting the new series this coming Thursday with an essential ingredient to many pasta dishes and synonymous with Italian cookery… homemade pesto sauce.  Then a new dish every month for you to try and enjoy.

William Price King is of course going to be providing the music for the blog again this year with his extensive background in jazz, classical and contemporary music, we have been privileged to enjoy a masterclass every two weeks. I have always loved music and have discovered so many more artists to listen to and a better understanding of the different styles across the decades. William is back this coming Tuesday with the legendary Count Basie.

Time to catch up on the posts from the week.

My New Year’s Eve Post with special thanks to the contributors to the blog this year.

Happy New Year

A new series of Posts from Your Archives featuring two of your favourite posts from 2019.. full details in the post.

New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

I continue with the stories from What’s in a Name during the week.

Celia – Crisis of Faith

Clive – The Debt

David – In Remembrance

Diana – Full of Grace

Elaine – A Shining Light

Time for the first Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills of the year and this week we are offered the chance to write about a hutch… either as a piece of furniture or an animal hutch.

The Rabbit Hutch

The final posts in this year’s Christmas book fair with more of my recommended reads for 2019.  Here are just a handful that I recommend..you can find the rest in the post.

More Recommended books by Sally

Author update.

Marcia Meara, Karen Ingalls, Lorinda J. Taylor

Robbie Cheadle, C.S. Boyack, Eloise de Sousa

Mary Adler, Jane Sturgeon, Sally Cronin

Charli Mills, John W. Howell, James J. Cudney

Over the last year I gave up sugar in most forms including alcohol and am now three stone lighter and considerably fitter. This post is how I achieved that.

My year without sugar and the results

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope to see you again next week…Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – The Rabbit Hutch by Sally Cronin


Time for the first Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills of the year and this week we are offered the chance to write about a hutch… either as a piece of furniture or an animal hutch.

Image Tumbledrose.com

The Rabbit Hutch by Sally Cronin

Her kids wanted new things for their children and Milly decided to have a garage sale for toys she had hoarded. Neighbors came and went, but one little boy stood in front of the rabbit hutch all morning. She had put 20 dollars on the ticket as they were expensive to buy new. He clasped a dollar bill in his hand. “My dad says I can have a rabbit when I can buy the hutch”. A tear rolled down his cheek. He raced down the street waving the sold ticket in his hand and she smiled at his joy.

©Sally Cronin 2020

If you would like to participate in this week’s challenge here is the link: January 2nd 2020 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

My latest release contains a section of flash fiction as well as verse and speculative short stories..

Amazon £3.50:Amazon UK

And $4.53: Amazon US

Thank you for dropping in today and as always your feedback is very welcome..Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – Elaine – A Shining Light by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

 Elaine – A Shining Light

Elaine lay under the warmth of the duvet and her hand crept across the mattress to touch her husband’s hand. Not enough to wake him but just a gentle touch to remind her of his presence. Jack’s even breathing and gentle snore was comforting and Elaine smiled to herself, savouring the delicious secret that she was desperate to reveal.

She had been saving up the news until today as a gift for Jack’s birthday. They had been married for two years and she knew that his greatest wish was for them to have a baby. His large family had already provided his parents with six grandchildren, and whilst he might not talk about his desire for a family; he wanted to hold their child in his arms almost as much as she did. She had remembered the look on his face when she had thought that she might be pregnant but it had turned out to be a false alarm. This is why she had waited until she was absolutely sure; today would be the perfect time to reveal the secret.

Jack stirred beside her she turned her face in anticipation of his usual morning kiss on her brow and lips.

‘Good morning my darling,’ he gently stroked some stray hairs out of her eyes. ‘How are you today?

Elaine smiled at him lovingly and touched the tip of his beautiful nose. ‘Happy birthday my darling,’ and she leant over to kiss his mouth.

Over breakfast they discussed the final details of the birthday party that afternoon. Jack’s family lived too far away to attend, but he had asked one of their neighbours from down the street to join them. Jessica was always in and out and would pop in for coffee most mornings when Jack was at work. Sometimes she would also bring her children in at the weekend and they had a wonderful time playing scrabble and cards.

Elaine had butterflies in her stomach as the urge to blurt out her special secret became too much to bear. It had to be the right moment, when Jack was cutting his birthday cake that Jessica had kindly made for him. She was a much better baker that she was and it looked amazing. Jack had been in the navy when they met, and on top of the white and blue cake, a figure in a sailor’s uniform posed with an anchor. Elaine bet the inside of the cake would be delicious and would taste all the better when she announced her news.

After a quick sandwich for lunch and whilst Jack tidied the living room ready for the party, Elaine popped upstairs quietly to their bedroom and sat at the dressing table. She smiled to herself as she viewed her reflection in the mirror. There was no doubt about it; her skin had a definite glow. Artfully she brushed her blonde hair into a smooth bob and applied her makeup carefully. Not too much, but just enough to enhance her youthful beauty. Laid out on the bed were three outfits and Elaine was having problems deciding which to wear. Jack would always laugh about her preparations for an evening out. He knew she would try on all the options a couple of times before making her final choice.

This kept her busy for the next half hour and eventually she headed downstairs in her favourite cream dress with pearls at her neck and in the lobes of her ears. Jack took her hands and stepped back for a better look.

‘You look stunningly beautiful sweetheart,’ he gently straightened the string of pearls around her neck; they had been his wedding present to her.

Elaine almost gave the secret away at that point but held the temptation in check. Her plan was perfect and she must wait a little longer until it was time for him to blow out his birthday candles.

Jack left her sat in the lounge, surrounded by plates of neatly cut sandwiches and a pile of festive napkins. In the corner on a cabinet sat the cake surrounded by the birthday cards that had arrived over the last two or three days.

Just then the doorbell rang and it startled Elaine as the sound intruded into her secret daydreams. She pushed herself out of the chair and headed for the hall. Jack was coming down the stairs and held out his hand to her.

‘Don’t worry love I’ll get it,’ and he opened the door to find their three guests on the doorstep.

In they came, bearing brightly coloured bags of gifts and contributions to the birthday tea.

There was much hugging and chatter as overcoats were dispensed with and they all headed into the living room. Jack and Jessica took the food she had brought into the kitchen and put the kettle on. Sophie and Ben, who were in their early teens, entertained Elaine with tales of their antics at school during the week.

The food disappeared rapidly and two pots of tea later it was time to cut the cake. This was Elaine’s moment and she stood up to join Jack at the cabinet as he prepared to slice into the blue and white icing.

‘Darling, I have a very special birthday present for you,’ she held out the envelope that clearly contained rather bulky contents. Jack smiled at her eager face and proceeded to open the envelope carefully. He drew out the birthday card that had a huge heart on the front and carefully opened it to reveal the surprise. In his hand were a pair of knitted baby booties decorated with white satin ribbon.

Tears formed in the corners of his eyes as he pulled Elaine to him. ‘Thank you darling for the best birthday present I have ever received.’ Over her shoulder he smiled at their guests and they nodded and smiled in return.

Jessica’s children helped clear away the plates and carried them into the kitchen whilst their mother sat on the sofa holding Elaine’s hand. ‘That is wonderful news and I am so happy for the both of you.’ she smiled gently at the woman at her side. ‘We can talk about it on Monday when I pop in for coffee and we’ll get the baby knitting patterns out to look at.’

An hour later and Jessica kissed Elaine on the forehead and gently stroked her cheek. She headed off to the hall and gathered up the coats and handed them out to Sophie and Ben.

When she reached the front door, she turned once more and gave Jack a warm hug and whispered in his ear. ‘It was a wonderful birthday tea Dad and I will come in as usual on Monday when you go out to do the shopping.’

Jack went back into the lounge and stood for a moment looking at his wife, sitting calmly watching the flames flickering in the fireplace. The outfit that Elaine had finally chosen was her wedding dress, and she looked as radiant today as she had forty years ago. He sat beside her and gently moved some stray silver hairs from her forehead and took her face in his hands. He looked into her sparkling blue eyes that no longer recognised her daughter or grandchildren.

The most precious birthday present he had received today, was that his beautiful Elaine still knew him, and that even in the darkness, her light continued to shine brightly.

©Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – Diana Full of Grace by Sally Cronin


Today’s story Diana is also translated into Spanish and is included in the anthology ¡Que entre la luz! in aid of victims of domestic violence. Olga Nunez Miret translated the story and is a member of Ediciones Proust who published the anthology.

¡Que entre la luz!

Available on an Amazon near you: internationally

Diana- Full of Grace

Diana Grace was an only child of two older parents who had been delightfully surprised when they discovered that after fifteen years of marriage; a baby was on the way. Her father was a professor of music and her mother a psychiatrist and Diana had grown up in a household filled with love and laughter.

Not wanting their daughter to be the stereotypical only child, her parents had made sure that she understood that achievements and money only came through hard work. Diana had started with a paper round and moved on to work in the local bakery as a counter assistant through school and then university. Despite her parents being well off, they insisted that she contribute a part of her weekly take home pay towards her upkeep and it was with great pride that she handed over those few pounds per week.

Being a bright and outgoing child opened doors for Diana and after completing her degree in English Literature; she was offered the job as assistant manager of a large bookshop in Oxford. This meant a move away from her parents into a shared house with three other young women all beginning their careers away from home.

The next two years passed quickly with Diana enjoying her job and also a hectic social life with the group of close friends that grew around her. She managed to get home to see her parents at least one weekend a month, and they watched as she blossomed into a vibrant and beautiful young woman.

One day Diana looked up from the counter, where she was checking in a batch of new books, to find herself staring up into the face of a very good-looking man. Tall with dark hair that fell naturally across a broad forehead, down to full and smiling lips, to a dimple and a very masculine chin.

She realised that she had been staring and gathered herself quickly.

‘Good morning, how may I help you?’ Diana placed her hands on the counter in front of her in what she hoped was a professional manner.

‘Hi, I’m looking for a copy of Great Expectations for my nephew’s birthday; do you have a recent edition in stock?’ As if aware of her discomfort the man tilted his head to one side and looked her directly in the eye.

There followed a romance that would be termed whirlwind, with Diana swept along in the passion and certainty that she had only read about in books. Within six weeks she had taken him home to meet her parents and three months later they were married in the church a short walk from her parents’ house. She became Mrs. Simon Forester and she repeated her new name several times a day in an effort to remind herself of her good fortune.

Simon was a merchant banker and worked in London. He already had a flat in the Docklands and after the wedding Diana moved in with her many boxes of books, music and the wedding gifts. Ecstatically happy, despite leaving her close friends behind, she went job hunting and found a book shop in Holborn who was in need of a manager.

The whirlwind did not stop as the social life that Simon’s work provided was fast and addictive. She adored her handsome husband and secretly enjoyed the looks that other women would cast in their direction when they walked into a room. The only slight niggle that Diana had, was that her parents never seemed to warm to Simon. When they visited for a weekend or special occasion there was a tension that worried her.

It was just after their third anniversary that a crack appeared in their marriage. Diana had thought that their celebration dinner was the most appropriate time to tell Simon that they were having a baby and that she was two months pregnant.

He had placed his glass of red wine down on the white tablecloth very carefully and turned his cold gaze towards her excited and radiant face.

‘How did you let that happen?’ he spat at her as she sat open-mouthed at his reaction.

Flinging his napkin down on the table he called the waiter over and demanded the bill. Taking her arm far too firmly in his clenched hand, he virtually frog marched Diana from the restaurant and out to their parked car.

A frosty silence descended on their marriage with Simon working long hours and declining to discuss the baby in any form. Eventually in desperation Diana cornered him after he had returned in the early hours of the morning, clearly drunk, and asked him what he wanted her to do.

After a moment’s silence he turned to her and for a moment she saw a flash of a smile but not one of charm.

Diana lay in the bed and the pain radiated up from her leg through her body to join with the pounding headache. She could hear sobbing and her hand lying limply by her side was being gripped tightly. As her eyelids fluttered open she felt warm breath travel up her arm across her neck and then close to her ear.

‘If you say one word, I will make sure that I finish the job next time,’ she shuddered with the menace dripping from his voice.

‘You became dizzy and fell down the stairwell outside the flat, do you understand me you stupid piece of garbage.’

Terrified Diana tried to pull her arm out of his grip and then heard another voice from the end of the bed.

‘Time to let your wife rest Mr. Forester, and you look as though you need to head off and get some sleep yourself.’ The brisk tones of the nurse indicated that this was not a request and Simon stood up and patted Diana’s arm.

‘Alright darling, I’ll see you in the morning,’ he turned to the nurse and flashed his most charming of smiles. ‘Look after them for me please sister; they mean the world to me.’ With that he brushed past the nurse and left the ward.

Despite the pain, Diana’s first thought was for her baby and weakly she reached out to the nurse. ‘Please is my baby okay, I have to know, is it safe.’

The nurse moved down the bed and laid a gentle hand on Diana’s shoulder.

‘You have a lot of bruises and a concussion but luckily you fell onto your side. Your stomach is bruised, but the baby is fine and strong, so try not to worry.’ As she continued to carry out various checks, the nurse looked down at Diana’s bruised face.

‘You know that if you need help in any way that there are people who we can call,’ she paused. ‘That was a very nasty fall that you had and it would not be good for you or the baby if that happened again.’

She placed the lead with the call button into Diana’s hand, and satisfied that she had done all she could for the time being, she walked down the ward to talk to the doctor.

The pain medication was beginning to take effect and although drowsy, Diana knew that this was a time for clear thought and action. It was not just herself that needed protection, but her unborn child. She had never experienced true anger before in her life but she now realised that this pressure in her chest and her head was not just a result of Simon pushing her down the steps outside their flat.

It was a deep seated and instinctive need to protect the life of her unborn child.

The next morning, having been called in the night by the ward sister, Diana’s parents sat by her bedside holding her hands and talking quietly to each other. The door at the end of the ward was flung open and Simon strode down the marble floor bearing a bunch of red roses and smiling at the nurses in passing. He looked ahead and saw Diana’s father and mother and the smile froze in place.

As he came closer, he noticed another man slightly hidden by the curtains who walked to the end of Diana’s bed. Simon glanced at his wife as she lay propped up against her pillow and was met with a coldness and determination he had never seen before in his previously compliant wife.

He heard footsteps approaching firmly from behind him and the roses fell to the floor as his arms were wrenched behind his back.

Struggling against his captors he turned to face the stern-faced man in front of him.

‘Simon Forester, I am arresting you…………

© Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – David – In Remembrance by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

David – In  Remembrance

David stood beside his comrades as they waited in the village square for the parade to begin. Despite their advancing years, the men stood as tall as possible, often with the aid of a stick. Two of their number were in wheelchairs, and had been guided across the cobble stones by their fellow old soldiers.

It was a typical chilly November morning with dark skies and clouds laden with imminent rain. Whilst inappropriate perhaps for this solemn occasion, the men standing huddled against the cold wind; wished for a few rays of sunshine. Their overcoats were shiny with age, but their shoes were burnished to a brilliance, thanks to the loving attention the night before. A reminder of a time, when the action of rubbing in polish and then shining the boots for the sergeant’s approval, was used for reflection. A time to remember all the nights many years ago, when comrades would sit on camp beds talking quietly as they prepared their kit for inspection and parades.

Beribboned pins, holding silver and bronze medals, lay proudly against the material on their chests and nobody really noticed the frayed cuffs that peeked out from the sleeves of the worn coats. Their pride was clear to see by all who passed; many of whom smiled in recognition or tipped a hat. They were the old soldiers and heroes of the village and despite their dwindling numbers were respected and honoured. Not just today, but every time they were met in the shops and lanes of this small community that had given up so many of its young men to war.

David did not feel the cold and felt content to be part of the camaraderie and fellowship of being amongst those he had served with. He caught little snippets of conversation as he stood, head bowed waiting for the order to form into the parade.

‘My Elsie has had another grandson… Who would have thought it…? I’m a great granddad….’

‘That new doctor looks like he’s just left school… Told me that I had something called heemaroids… Used to call them bloody piles in my day…’

‘I’m sorry that Jack didn’t make it this year… Miss the old codger… We will have to find a replacement for the cribbage night…’

David smiled as he listened to his friends talking about their lives and raised his head as he heard the sound of the local brass band strike up.

He had been part of this ceremony for the last fifty years since the squire had erected the memorial in the centre of the village. Lord Roberts was a good man and had been devastated by the loss of his own son in the last few weeks of the war. Out of respect and loyalty to those other families in the village and surrounding area who had lost fathers, husbands and sons, he had paid for the monument himself.

That first November as the group of survivors had stood in the rain to commemorate the loss of their brothers and friends, many had still relied on crutches, and as today, one or two had been in wheelchairs. It was a far cry from the day that they had stood in this same square waiting for the horse drawn carriages to take them off to basic training.

The call had come, and from the surrounding farms and isolated cottages, men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-eight, who were not exempt because of occupation, health or marital status, walked proudly into the recruitment centre in the village hall. David was just nineteen when war was declared and was swept along by the patriotic message and fervour that swept the nation. There was talk down the pub of places outside of their small community that might be visited.

‘Blimey, a chance to see the other side of the hill lads…’ and ‘Do you think those French girls are as friendly as they say?’

The thought of glory and adventure had been foremost in their young minds. It certainly did not hurt that the girls in the village became very attentive when they arrived back for leave after basic training in their uniforms. The day that they had formed up into a parade to march to the square and climb aboard the transports was frozen in time. Mothers weeping as they clung to their sons and fathers slapping them on the back and proudly straightening their caps. Couples embracing for one last kiss and whispered words of love.

It had been very different when David returned to the village a year later. Although now only twenty he felt that he had aged a lifetime. As he stepped down from the train in the nearby town, carefully favouring his injured right arm and struggling with his kitbag, it was without glory. The sight of his parents waiting from him in the evening sunlight had reduced him to tears, and as the horse and cart made its way to the farm; his mother had held him tightly as he sobbed against her best coat.

Over those first few days of calm and peace; David had spent hours alone walking the fields and hills desperately trying to find any meaning behind the senseless carnage and sacrifice he had experienced. He knew that once his injury was fully healed he would have to return and the thought of this kept him awake at night in his room in the rafters of the farmhouse.

Then one day, as the sun shone as he helped his father harvest the wheat, he saw his mother heading towards them swinging a laden lunch basket. Beside her with golden hair that gleamed in the sunlight was a tall and very beautiful young woman.

‘Here you go pet,’ his mother handed off the basket to David. ‘You remember Cathy from the Black’s farm don’t you?’

David looked into bright blue eyes and was then drawn down to the perfectly formed red lips that smiled at him.

Six weeks later they were married in the village church, and had walked out into the sunshine to a guard of honour of fellow soldiers, home on leave or who had been injured. The reception in the hall in the square had been packed with well-wishers and David and Cathy had danced and celebrated until midnight. Then they had slipped away unnoticed to their room above the pub.

Every year since the memorial was erected, David had marched with his comrades, and then stood with them as wreaths were laid around the base. And each year his breath would catch in his chest and his heart would skip a beat as he watched his Cathy carry a wreath and lay it amongst the rest. That first year she had also held the hand of a little girl, his daughter who unlike all others somberly dressed, was wearing a beautiful handmade coat of blue. His favourite colour.

He had watched Cathy and his daughter every year since then, as they would both walk proudly to the memorial and lay their tribute. But this year his daughter walked with another by her side, and there was no sign of his darling wife. He slipped through the ranks of his comrades until he was standing in the front row. He could hear his daughter saying something to the tall young man by her side.

‘You lay the wreath David; your grandmother wanted you to do it for her this year.’

The lad reverently laid it down amongst the others and he stood back by his mother’s side.

Together they turned and walked solemnly back towards the waiting villagers where they were greeted with hugs and the boy was patted on the back.

A tear rolled down David’s face with sorrow at the loss of his beautiful Cathy. As he stood bereft at the front of his silent comrades at attention, but with their heads bowed, the clouds parted and rays of sunshine spread across the square. As they did so, his eyes were drawn to a young woman with golden hair and blue eyes who walked over the cobbles to stand by his side. She slipped her cool hand into his and he smiled down at her with joy.

Unseen by all those who had gathered to remember him and all the others who had not returned; they slipped away hand in hand. The long wait for them both was over.

©Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Clive – The Debt by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Clive – The Debt

The boy stirred in his cot and waved his chubby fist in the air. The mid-afternoon sun was barred from his room by the rattan blinds at the window. The slowly moving blades of the fan above his cot sent a welcome and cooling breeze across his hot skin. The rest of the house was quiet, except for the gentle snoring of his amah as she dozed fitfully on the pallet on the other side of the room.

The boy was called Clive and was the fourth child and first son of a naval officer and his wife who were stationed here in Trincomalee. He was three years old and his curly blonde hair now lay slick against his scalp as he recovered from the fever. It had been a worrying few days with the doctor calling in every few hours to check on his condition. The household, including his three older sisters and his parents, were exhausted having had little sleep for the last few nights.

Measles in this climate could be very dangerous for a child Clive’s age and he had been restricted to his cot in the darkened room to prevent the risk of blindness. Thankfully his fever had now broken, and the family having enjoyed their Sunday curry lunch, had retired to their bedrooms to sleep the afternoon away beneath their ceiling fans.

Clive had been woken every hour or so to sip his favourite fruit juice and water from his beaker and the doctor was now happy he was past his crisis. But, the child was now hungry and the lingering smell of the chicken curry that the family had consumed at lunchtime drifted into the room.

Relieved that her charge was out of danger but extremely tired, his devoted amah had failed to latch the side of Clive’s cot securely. Seeing that there was a means of escape; he lifted his body up into a sitting position and swung his bare legs over the side of the mattress. It was easy enough to slide down onto the stone floor with its fibre matting where he held onto the side of the cot for a few minutes; his legs wobbling beneath him. But he was a strong little boy who spent hours on his tricycle and swam most days and this was evident in his recovery from this recent illness. Of course his growing hunger was a great motivator.

Carefully he moved across the matting intent on seeing if his friend the family cook had a special plate of his favourite mild curry and banana. He moved into the hall but was disappointed that the door to the kitchen was firmly closed and the handle was out of reach of his eager fingers.

The door to the long veranda however was much easier to open and Clive pushed his way through into the stifling heat and the raucous sound of the monkeys in the trees in the garden. He loved the little macaques and often sat on the veranda in the cooler mornings and watched them play fight over the ripened fruit. He drifted across the wooden floor and down the two steps onto the dusty path. He was now in uncharted territory.

There were many dangers for humans in these luscious surroundings. Clive was accompanied everywhere by his amah or his sisters when out of sight of his protective mother. Several times he had been scooped up and rushed indoors accompanied by shrieks and calls for the houseboy to bring a stick.

Cobras were common; as were the larger less playful monkeys that could be as big as dog. The first lesson that Clive had received after he had taken his first steps, was not to touch anything with fur, as rabies ravaged both the wild creatures and domesticated dogs.

With the fearlessness of a three year old, he toddled down the dry dusty path until he reached a line of ants that were busy carrying leaves several times the size of their bodies across the dry earth. Fascinated Clive sat down on the ground and followed their progress with one little plump finger.

Eyes were watching him from various vantage points in the overgrown garden. The small macaques ceased their play fights and spotted that the door to the house had been left ajar. This was as good as an invitation and a dozen of the petty thieves scampered down their favourite tree and darted along the edge of the dry lawn and through the bushes beneath the veranda. In seconds they were through the open door looking for food and mischief.

In the branches of a tall evergreen, a large male langur watched his smaller cousins disappear and waited to see if they would emerge with anything worth stealing from them. He had more sense than to risk the wrath of a house boy armed with a broom. Then something else caught his eye in the bushes to the side of the lawn. He stared for several moments trying to find the cause of his disquiet. His attention was then drawn to the chortling of the child as he played in the dry dust with the ants.

Something was wrong and the langur’s instincts caused him to move cautiously to the end of the branch that stretched out over the lawn. There was the movement again and this time he saw the hooded head standing tall surrounded by the red blossoms of the rose bush. Slowly the cobra slithered from its hiding place and moved gracefully across the bleached grass towards the oblivious child.

Clive became bored with watching the ants and his hunger reminded him that the cook might be in the kitchen. If so, then his favourite sweet treats that were slipped to him occasionally behind his mother’s back, might be on offer. Placing his hands firmly in front of him he pushed his bottom into the air and then stood unsteadily for a moment. A movement in the corner of his eye made him turn his head and he found himself just feet away from the swaying hood of the cobra. Without someone to sweep him up into safe arms and rush him inside the house he was minutes away from certain death.

In those precious seconds as the boy and snake stared at each other there was a sudden and violent interruption. The large langur launched himself from the branch of the tree landing a few feet from them. Without a moment’s hesitation the monkey raced across and grabbed the tail end of the cobra. With one sweep of his powerful arm he swung the snake around towards the bushes several feet away and let it go.

For one moment the child and the monkey looked into each other’s eyes and Clive raised his hand as if he understood that his saviour meant him no harm.

At that moment shrieks and angry shouts erupted from the open door to the house and the troop of macaques raced out with their trophies of chapatti and trifle filling their hands. Behind them with an agility that belied his age was the irate cook wielding a large kitchen knife. Under cover of the confusion the langur headed rapidly to his tree to resume his watch.

The cook seeing Clive still standing on the path called out for his amah to come quickly and within moments the child was safe in loving arms and being hugged and kissed.

Soon the whole family congregated on the veranda and reviewed the damages to house and the theft of the left overs with a welcome pot of tea. None the wiser about their youngest child’s close encounter with nature, they watched as Clive ate a bowl of home-made ice-cream.

Present Day.

The tall silver haired man drove up and parked at the back of the large manufacturing plant. He got out and opened the back of the van and approached the double steel doors and rang the bell to the side of them. A disjointed voice requested his name and after a moment the buzzer indicated that the door was open.

Inside in the dim cool the man walked up to a reception desk and was taken through to a holding area where six large wooden crates were waiting. Having lifted the lids of the boxes and checked contents, the man signed numerous pieces of paper. Two burly porters helped carry the crates out to the van where they were carefully placed and secured for the journey.

Four hours later the van arrived at a location deep in the countryside and having called ahead, several people stood clustered around the open security gates. Clive sighed with relief and drove through and backed the van close into a large wooden building.

The contents of the van were unloaded and the crates carefully carried inside. The markings were clear in the dim light from the outside lights at the entrance.

Contrux Pharmaceuticals.

Clive and his team gently lifted the sleeping occupants of the boxes out and placed them in individual stalls lined with straw and soft bedding. They would be carefully watched by them in turns for the next few days around the clock. They would be fed and given water as well as checked out by the resident vet. It would take weeks, if not months, to rehabilitate these primates who had been born within a laboratory environment. However, with love and care; one day they would be enjoying their new and natural habitat.

As Clive laid the final animal in its bed of straw the chimpanzee stirred and for a moment he and the man looked into each other’s eyes. A flash of understanding passed between them and slowly the monkey’s eyelids closed as he was laid gently onto a welcoming blanket.

A child and his destiny had now come full circle and his debt would continue to be repaid as long as he lived.

©Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Celia – A Crisis of Faith by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Celia –  A Crisis of Faith

Celia sat on the edge of the wooden chair and looked around the sparse room. The bare white walls were cold and seemed to be closing in on her as if in reprimand for her decision. This room was not the only chilly environment that she had been subjected to for the last months, as news of her defection was whispered amongst those at a senior level.

She had been told to wait here over an hour ago. Her uncertainty about the future was now solidified into an icy premonition that she had made a huge mistake. This had been her life’s work, her mission and her passion. At one time she would have walked across burning coals so strong was her belief, that the life she had chosen was perfect for her. For almost all of the last twenty years she had been an exemplary example of devotion to her vocation.

She had been named after her grandmother’s much loved older sister. Great aunt Celia had entered this very order at fourteen years old and had died sixty years later as the Mother Superior of the convent. The younger members of the family had never been privileged to meet her. However, her grandmother spent many hours with Celia, talking about how proud the family had been of the devoutness of this legendary figure. Even as a child Celia had felt the weight of obligation and the need to honour the previous owner of her name.

Once in her teens and slightly at odds with the changing world around her; it became apparent to the devout Celia that she was destined to follow in the footsteps of her great aunt. At age eighteen she had entered the convent and had never stepped outside of its high stone walls since that day.

Through the years as a novitiate and then following her final vows, she had embraced the life completely. The order rose each day at 5.00 am and spent the day in prayer and working within the convent and its gardens. When Celia retired each night to her small and austere room, she would remember her family in her prayers, even as their faces began to fade.

She couldn’t identify the moment with any certainty, when doubts about her life resulted in sleepless nights, and loss of concentration during prayers. She found herself experiencing flashbacks to a time when her days seemed filled with laughter and light. Though frivolous, she also remembered teenage years and dancing with her sister to the latest hit record, as a brightly coloured skirt whirled around her knees.

She had tried to put these forbidden thoughts aside, but she no longer felt peaceful or joyous, as she dressed in her habit each morning in the cold dark of winter. She certainly no longer had the lightness of heart of the early years here in the convent. Like cracks in the dry earth these doubts had grown and spread through her being; until she could no longer be silent.

What she did feel was a huge sense of guilt. The thought of the shame that she was bringing on the name of her great aunt, who obviously had been far more steadfast in her devotion, consumed her. Her spiritual family here in the order would also be confused and hurt by her betrayal. She could only imagine how much her parents would be disappointed, and she dreaded the thought of facing them.

Across the room on a narrow iron bed, stacked in a neat pile, were the garments that she had worn daily for the last twenty years. As she looked at the folded robes and undergarments, she reflected on how little there was to show for all her time in the convent. She felt very strange in her new clothes that had been sourced from a store cupboard in the depths of the old building. Just for a moment she missed the all-encompassing safety of her former attire. She raised a hand to her short hair that felt coarse to her touch. It had been so long since it had been uncovered in public and its blunt cut and greying red hairs make her feel even more self-conscious.

The door opened and the Mother Superior stood in the doorway. She stepped back and beckoned Celia towards her, and watched as she bent to pick up the old brown suitcase by her side, that held another set of equally dated clothes.

‘Come along now,’ she ordered crisply. ‘Everyone is in chapel and you need to leave immediately.’

Celia brushed past the nun’s voluminous black habit and the firmly clasped hands across her ample middle. There was no softness to be found there or comfort. Celia faltered for a moment and saw a slight shift in the older woman’s stern features.

Closing her eyes she steadied herself against the door jam and then put one foot in front of the other. She clasped the handle of the suitcase tightly; in need of its rough texture against her palm to strengthen her resolve. In her other hand she gripped the white envelope which contained her official papers and a few notes to pay for her travel.

In silence the two women proceeded down the dark corridor and into the hall of the convent. One of the other senior sisters stood by the large oak front door and seeing them approach, opened it to the front garden. Celia paused for a moment on the doorstep and turned for one last look behind her. Her biggest regret was not being able to tell her fellow sisters about her decision, or to say goodbye. She loved them all dearly and tears filled her eyes as she contemplated the future without their warmth and support.

The two nuns stiffened postures softened for a moment; as they remembered times when their own faith had perhaps wavered momentarily. However, the rules were clear and gently the Mother Superior placed her hand on the small of Celia’s back, and pushed her clear of the door. She then stepped back into the hall and there was a resounding click as the way back was firmly barred.

The sun was shining and for a moment Celia turned her face to the blue sky and warmth. She had been Sister Monica Grace for so long that even thinking about her given name confused her. Hands trembling as the fear continued its grip; she tried to move a foot down onto the first of the concrete steps leading to the garden. It was a long walk to the gate that separated the world from this enclosed order, and she saw another sister waiting patiently to unlock and open it for her departure.

Gingerly she took her first step and then another and she managed to navigate the path to the walls behind which lay the outside world. Silently the nun used the long metal key and pulled back half of the tall wooden gate. Celia was too ashamed to look her in the eyes and slipped through the opening and onto the busy pavement.

Shockingly she was suddenly in a world that was noisy and filled with vehicles that looked alien. Pedestrians hurried along the narrow pathway and seemed oblivious to her standing in the middle of them. Especially those who were talking to themselves with some form of device held up to their ears.

Then she noticed a car parked at the kerb and a man waving his hand to urge her forward. She saw that the vehicle had the word taxi in big letters on the side and shakily moved towards this life saver in the chaos. The driver took her suitcase from her and opened the back door. He smiled reassuringly and informed her that his cab had been booked to take her to the train station. Closing the back door firmly he took his place behind the wheel. As the car pulled away from the side of the road Celia took one last look at the high stone walls of her home for so many years.

00000

The driver navigated through the heavy traffic whilst his passenger gazed around her in bewildered confusion. So many cars and people and a blur of colour as shops and restaurants flashed by the windows.

Within minutes however they arrived at the station and she was shocked to see Margaret waiting for her on the kerb. How was this possible? She had not taken advantage of the offer to make a phone call to her family, in her certainty that they would not be accepting of her decision. The driver came around to her side of the taxi and held the door open with the battered suitcase in his hand. As her sister rushed forward, Celia grasped the top of the window and pulled herself out onto the pavement. Without any hesitation her sister leant forward and throwing strong arms around her shaking body, held Celia tightly.

The two women stood back after a few moments, and holding hands, looked at each other in wonderment. Celia reached out a palm and laid it on her sister’s soft cheek. It was like looking at a mirror image; but one that was brighter and lighter than her own. Soft curly red hair with just a few strands of grey shone in the sunlight and the green eyes with traces of tears sparkled back at her.

‘How did you know where I would be?’ she stroked her sister’s arm.

‘Mother Superior called me a week ago and told me that you were not going to call us,’ Margaret paused. ‘How could you think that we would not want you to come home Cel.’

Celia subconsciously moved her fingers through her hair and Margaret laughed and
hugged her close.

‘First stop the hairdresser sis when we get home.’ she stood back and looked at Celia’s old fashioned tweed suit. ‘And we need to get you a new wardrobe.’

She gently released her sister’s fingers from her hand and picked up the suitcase lying abandoned at their feet.

‘I have missed you so much Cel. Only once a year for twenty years is torture.’ With that she placed her arm around her waist and they moved off into the station.

000000

The train flashed through the countryside at terrifying speed but as the two sisters sat side by side the ice cold fear in Celia’s chest began to thaw.

She let her twin rattle on brightly about her house, her husband Robbie, the two boys Andrew and Patrick who Celia had never met. Margaret had also brought a large envelope of photographs of all the family, including her parents, surrounded by grandchildren and pets in their back garden. Celia touched her sister gently on the arm to pause the exuberant flow of words.

‘Do they understand Mags?’ she bit her lower lip.

‘They love you Cel and have your old room ready and waiting,’ Margaret leant over to kiss Celia’s cheek. ‘They have missed you so much and whilst they respected your decision to enter into the convent, they never really forgave grandmother for encouraging you.’

Celia didn’t take her eyes off the face so like hers as she continued to relate the events of the last twenty years, embellishing the stories in a way that she had almost forgotten. She felt bathed in the warmth of the outpouring as she watched her sister’s lips moving, entranced by the unfamiliar sound of a voice talking rather than praying.

For the last few miles of the journey they sat in silence basking in the sunshine that shone through the carriage window. They held hands as they had so many times as children; a closeness that only twins share. Celia had sat in silence when at prayer thousands of times in the last twenty years, but she finally realised that the missing element had always been this closeness. The simple joy of being with each other. Knowing that there is love and an unbreakable bond between you.

She had no regrets about her life and her chosen path but she also now understood, that when joy has left and cannot be recaptured, you needed to let go and move forward in a new direction.

She also pondered the unexpected kindness shown by Mother Superior in notifying her family. She had been so terrified of taking this step that she had forgotten the compassion that her religious sisters offered to each other as part of any close knit family.

The train entered the station and the two sisters walked arm in arm along the platform until they were swallowed up and smothered by kiss and tear filled embraces from the welcoming committee.

©Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 22nd – 28th December – Christmas Music, Food, Short stories and Recommended Books 2019


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed whilst enjoying your Christmas with family and friends.. a much more important priority than reading blog posts. I hope you had an amazing time and are now looking forward to New Year’s Eve and 2020.

According to some astrologists, 2020 is going to be a fabulous year so buckle up.

In the coming week although there will be more recommended books that I have read and reviewed.. A final post in the Cook from Scratch series on the subject of Phosphorus, and news of Carol Taylor’s upcoming series in 2020.

There will also be changes to Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore.. in the name to start with as it will now become Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore in line with the other series on the blog.

As always the aim is to support your own book marketing strategies, and for new authors who do not have a presence on a blog or any social media, I do have my FREE pdf which now includes setting up Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and also a blog for accessibility and readability. It does not have to be complex and have all the bells and whistles as Keeping it Simple is just as effective. Just email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com for a copy.

There will be some Cafe updates during the week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves and here will also be a new series of Posts from Your Archives and more about that on New Year’s Day.. and more stories from What’s in a Name series every day.

As always my thanks to the regular contributors and this week William Price King and D.G.Kaye have done a wonderful joy in keeping us entertained. Also to those who have submitted festive stories and this week two more from Audrey Driscoll and Eric Lennick.

Now for the posts from this week you might have missed.

William Price King shares more Christmas Music with us…

Today Christ is Born and There is No Rose Behold the Star

The Christmas Day post with a video that should leave you smiling

Merry Christmas and Afternoon Video

I have read and reviewed 26 books in 2019 and wanted to share them with you.. Part two coming up this week with my recommended books from 2018/2017 since they are fabulous books that I hope you will enjoy reading.

My recommended books Part One – 2019

 

And my last review of 2019 Blackthorn by Terry Tyler.

My review for Blackthorn by Terry Tyler

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the stories from A- Z from my collection What’s in a Name.

Alexander Defender of Men

Anne Favour and Grace

Beatrix – Behind the Mask

Brian the Birthright

Audrey Driscoll shares two festive excerpts from her action and adventure novel  Book 4 of the Herbert West Series – Hunting the Phoenix.

Winter Solstice in the House of the Phoenix by Audrey Driscoll

Eric Lennick, the other half of the writing Duo with his wife Joy Lennick shares a short story with a twist…

Jemima’s Christmas Stocking by Eric Lennick

New book on the shelves

Warning Signs, a novel about obsession by Carol Balawyder

Author updates with recent reviews.

#Doglovers Sue Vincent, #Fantasy Vashti Quiroz-Vega,#Novella Jan Sikes

#mystery James J. Cudney, #Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher, #Children’s Annika Perry, #Romance Harmony Kent

#Warromance Marina Osipova, #Poetry Frank Prem, Children’s Pamela S. Wight

#Interview D.G. Kaye and Darlene Foster, #Interview Richard Dee with Emily Moore #Scams by Dan Alatorre and Christoph Fischer.

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a festive poem from Sally.

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you very much for dropping in during the week and today and wishing you Happy New Year.. hope to see you soon. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? Brian – The Birthright by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Brian – The Birthright

The firelight from the hearth flickered across the stampeding beasts on the wall of the cave. The clan leader Brynyar lay on the animal pelts and tried to gather his thoughts through the pain. He was old at over forty winters and his bones ached with arthritis.

The gash in his side from the bison during the final hunt of the summer had not healed well, and despite the wound being packed with herbs by the medicine woman, it hurt like hell.

His time was near and he was afraid. Not for what was to come as that was part of the cycle of life. What really worried him was the future of his clan in the changing world around them. Even in his lifetime, he had witnessed the gradual warming of the sun and the melting of ice caps to the north, and this had resulted in massive migrations of the animals they relied on for their food and so much of their daily needs.

The clan would have to move from their ancestral winter caves here in the fertile valley and move with the herds to find a new home. He knew that he would be unable to travel with them, and although he trusted his eldest son of his hearth, he knew what a huge undertaking it would be.

Brynyar rubbed the back of his hand where a birthmark in the form of an arrow darkened its weathered skin. Each one of his sons carried the same blemish and it was right that they do so. They were the fleetest and most successful of the clans, and had a reputation as the finest hunters in the valley. Athletic and fearless they dared to go where others feared to tread, often resulting in injuries and even death. They were also accomplished craftsmen working with flint and bone to produce their much admired weapons. The women were also experts at foraging for the plants, fruits and seeds, needed to sustain them through these long dark winter months.

If they had to follow the herds north, there would be no guarantee that those plants they were familiar with would be available. Nobody knew what the earth so recently released from its icy prison would yield, or if the new rivers would yet be stocked with fish.

The future was uncertain and Brynyar fell into a fitful and painful sleep as the fire in the hearth died down for the last time in his life.

The small clan led by the eldest son of Brynyar’s hearth, packed up their belongings as soon as spring warmed the air in the valley. There were twenty five men, women and children all carrying heavy fur wrapped loads on their backs. With the women in the centre, the men and boys formed a protective perimeter, and as the days warmed they made slow but steady progress. Food was scarce in the beginning, but once they caught up with the herds, they replenished their stocks and set up their summer camp near a river. They were delighted to find that there were indeed fish in the fast flowing icy water from the north, and that the glacier melt had also nourished the surrounding land with its rich silt.

Scouting parties travelled north following the river to find a suitable winter cave, and after two months they came across another clan on the same mission. They combined forces and discovered a series of large caves above the river valley about fifty miles from the summer camp.

With their wind dried meat, rendered fat, constant supply of fresh fish, foraged plants and seeds the two clans settled into their new homes. Over the years more strong and healthy boys with the arrow birthmark were born. As the community grew, from time to time small groups split from the clan and would move on. These bands bearing the mark of the arrow travelled to all parts of the emerging continent; including across stormy seas to Britain and Ireland.

Present Day.

Brian Monaghan looked down at the sleeping child in his arms. His first great-grandchild, and the first to be named Brian in the family for thirty years. He lifted the delicate right hand of the baby and smiled as he saw the familiar arrow birthmark. He and his sons all had this distinctive characteristic. The tales of why they carried this reminder of their ancestry had been passed down through the countless generations by mother to daughter and father to son.

No longer hunters, the clan had dispersed to the four winds and set up homes in villages and cities. However Brian’s ancestors had remained nomadic, travelling through Europe entertaining all that they met with their acrobatic and dangerous performances. With skills honed over many generations, they became the most respected circus family of the present day.

At the end of the summer, the group of families always returned to their winter camp in the southwest of Ireland. Here they would gather their strength, enjoy family life and prepare new and even more daring acts for the next season of performances on the continent.

It was also a time of celebration and new life, and Brian held his great-grandson in both of his hands above his head and turned slowly in the sawdust covered ring.

‘Today we welcome the latest Brian Monaghan to the clan, and this fine strong and sturdy lad will one day take his place amongst you high above the ground.’

The baby’s parents looked on proudly as their son chortled and waved his hands around as if reaching for the trapeze bars in the roof of the tent.

Another generation of the famous Monaghan Circus had made his debut, carrying the mark of his birthright.

©Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Short stories – What’s in a Name? – Beatrix – Behind the Mask by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Beatrix – Behind the Mask

Beatrix De Carlo took her final bow before the audience that filled the theatre to capacity. There had been four curtain calls, as those who had watched her last performance of this critically acclaimed production, showed their appreciation and adoration.

Beatrix remained in character, gently smiling and waving her arm regally at both cast members and audience in turn. Her silver hair shone in the stage lighting and the fake diamonds around her neck sparkled as if to deny their false nature.

Finally, the curtain came down for the last time and members of the cast rushed forward to clasp her hands and utter niceties to her. One after another they politely offered their thanks before heading off to embrace their fellow actors.

Beatrix could hear them making arrangements to meet up for drinks in the pub around the corner.

‘So privileged to have worked with you Miss De Carlo,’ whispered the leading man whose breath smelt of mints. She smiled graciously and disengaged herself from his sweaty hands.

‘You too Gerald and please give my regards to your lovely wife.’ Discouraged, the elderly actor turned and sauntered across the stage intent on joining the younger generation for last orders.

She glided away through the stage crew as they cleared the set, and made her way to her dressing room.

She closed the door behind her and looked at the cluttered space. Two costume changes lay untidily across the sofa and armchair, and instead of the usual welcoming tray of sparkling mineral water and chocolate digestive biscuits, there was a dirty coffee mug containing bitter dregs. She leaned back against the door and closed her eyes wearily. How she missed Mabel.

The theatre management had offered the services of one of their experienced dressers for this last performance, but that would have been unacceptable. Mabel was the only person who knew exactly what Beatrix needed, and had been by her side for the last fifteen years without missing a single performance. She moved towards the dressing table and sat on the worn velour stool and looked at herself in the mirror.

Removing her bouffant silver wig, she placed it carefully on the foam model head beside her. She then began the painstaking task of removing the make-up that had transformed her into a seventy year old dowager queen. Finally she was bare faced and viewed her reflection. Having removed one face she must now apply another.

As she slipped her arms into her leather coat and patted her platinum blonde hair into place there was a knock on the door.

‘Miss De Carlo, it’s Jack Smith, can I come in for a moment?’

Beatrix went across and opened the door for the theatre director and smiled at him.
‘Hello Jack,’ she laid a hand on his arm. ‘I hope you were happy with the final performance this evening?’

He stepped into the dressing room and took in its untidy appearance.

‘Sorry to hear about Mabel,’ he perched on the back of the armchair. ‘Spraining her ankle like that was a great shame, but I’m sure she will be back on her feet again very soon.’

Seeing that Beatrix was ready to leave, Jack escorted her to the stage door where she signed out for the last time. She slipped Tony the porter an envelope and he winked back at her in thanks. Leaving the two men behind she walked into the cold night air and slipped into the back seat of the waiting taxi.

For a moment Jack stood with his hands in his trouser pockets before turning to Tony. ‘She really is an amazing woman isn’t she,’ He paused for a moment and shook his head. ‘It is hard to believe that she has stayed at the top of her game for the last forty years.’ Tony nodded his head in silent agreement as he slipped the envelope into his pocket.

The taxi driver opened the back door of his cab and assisted the elegant middle aged woman onto the slick pavement. She paid the fare and tipped him generously with a gracious smile. She let herself into the luxury mews cottage where she had lived for the last seventeen years. Carefully she closed the door behind her and let out a sigh of relief.

She could see that there was a light still on in the living-room and she popped her head in and viewed the occupant.

Hi mum,’ she smiled at the woman with her foot up on a stool in front of her armchair. ‘Can I get you anything before I get out of this clobber?

‘No Brenda love, clean that muck off your face and get into your PJs,’ she smiled at her daughter mischievously. ‘I want to hear all about the last night, I was so gutted to have missed it.’

Ten minutes later her daughter sat on the sofa with her bare feet up on the coffee table… Her auburn hair in a short bob framed her youthful face and she held the cup of hot chocolate between her clasped fingers.

The two generations of the acting legend known as Beatrix De Carlo then shared the glory of their latest triumphant performance.

©Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020