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


Here is another of the stories from my first story collection.. Flights of Fancy.. This time the story of a woman and a dog who come together on a harsh Welsh mountain.

51l5B4hcBuL._UY250_Trust by Sally Cronin

The house was quiet. The men had left a few minutes ago and already she felt alone. The ticking of the grandfather clock in the hall intruded into the silence. Time was passing slowly and each minute felt like an hour.

Claire stared out of the kitchen window at the gathering gloom. It would soon be dark, and she would be unable to see the mountain rising above the house, harsh but fiercely beautiful. It was this mountain that had attracted them last spring, the lower slopes covered in lush grass dotted with the cotton wool white of the ewes and their lambs. The craggy rocks of the mountaintop jutted up into a cloudless, blue sky, like sentries protecting the house beneath them. The building nestled into the hillside. A run-down farm that needed a great deal of work, but it had taken their breath away. The pleasure of the surroundings and the potential of this house, made them smile at each other in shared delight.

Tom’s first novel had been a runaway best seller. At last they could afford to move from their cramped, damp London flat and come back to these Welsh mountains where Tom had been born. He knew that he could write here, creating stories inspired by this stark splendour, and he felt Claire would come to love living here too, as much as he would.

Once they had put an offer in on the property, they contacted a local builder. He spent hours with them in the house, discussing the renovations, planning the schedule, so they could move in as soon as possible. They had returned to London, full of excitement and anticipation for what their wonderful future was about to reveal.

Claire turned from the kitchen window and wandered through the now-completed house. They had kept rigidly to the plans. Used the colour schemes that had caused such argument and honoured the compromises they had reached; often after a bottle of rich, red wine. They spent hours moving furniture around; until it sat in just the perfect place. Painted patches on the walls; until they found just the perfect colour.

Tom’s study and the design he chose, was his alone. He had revelled in the planning of where to place his desk for the best light, the muted colour scheme, the lighting and the placement of all the new bookshelves. He would sit for hours in their noisy, cluttered flat, staring out of the tiny window onto the street, and Claire knew that he was hundreds of miles away, looking at a mountain, through his study window.

She now stood in that study and surveyed the completed picture. The bookcases lining the walls, the solid old desk and its comfortable, leather chair. The pictures of the sea hung around the room, favourite scenes from early childhood trips to the Welsh coast with his family. The colour he had chosen for the walls was warm, clean buttermilk. Dark blue curtains at the large window and upholstery on the sofa at the far end of the room complimented the rich, stained wood flooring. It was exactly as he had planned it, down to the last detail. Tom had simple tastes and this was reflected in the room.

Claire had to be content with planning the rest of the house to fit her more flamboyant tastes. How he had loved working in his study for the last two months, preparing his latest novel for publication. How she, in turn, had loved knowing that he was in that room, a touch or gentle call away. Despite their shared anticipation of the completed project, they had not thought they could be this delighted with their new home.

She picked up the blue crystal paperweight she had given him last Christmas. As she felt the cold heaviness in her hand, the tears started to fall, unchecked down her cheeks. Tom would never be in this room again. He would never read those books that lined the walls, and never walk the mountain slopes again he loved so much. All it had taken was one mistake on a wet road. He had been late and in a hurry to get home. Had known she was waiting for him to take her out for their anniversary dinner. One mistake, one hour late, one tentative knock on the front door. She had opened it full of anticipation, to find a pair of young and concerned policemen standing quietly on her doorstep. Now she sat in Tom’s chair, crying softly and alone.

The dog lay behind the broken, stone wall on the slope above the house. Nose resting on front paws, he watched the open back door, waiting. Every evening for the last week, the woman had put down a bowl of food for him and returned inside. She knew that the stray neglected collie would come no further than the wall, and would not come at all if she stayed, waiting for him. He sniffed the air, trying to catch the scents which normally came from the house. Tonight there was no warm smell of cooking, no gentle tap of heels on the stone floor of the kitchen.

The light began to fade; he was hungry and had become used to this welcome food each evening. He had ceased to scavenge from dustbins in the local town, much more interested in the woman’s food. But now he was puzzled. He had grown accustomed to her gentle voice calling to him, a voice that stirred memories of another time, another woman. Memories of a warm fireplace with food and companionship as gentle fingers ruffled his shiny coat. As the dark closed around him, he at last stood and moved from behind the wall.

No lights shone in the house, but the open door and the food he knew to be inside, beckoned him. Nervously, he approached the building. He was used to people who lived in houses. He had been kicked and shouted at more than once in the early days of his lonely existence, before he learned fear and distrust. But, with an instinct buried deep inside his matted chest, he knew this house was different, perhaps it was the similarity to his old home, or the gentle presence of the woman inside.

There was still no sign of the woman as the dog entered the kitchen. He stood, nose in the air, seeking for his familiar bowl of food. Then he heard a soft sound coming from deeper in the dark house. Something in the sound drew him across the stone floor and out into the hallway. Ears pricked, he turned towards the noise and padded down the passage. He peered through an open doorway, alert to any danger, poised for flight. The woman sat by the window holding a stone-like object in her hands.  He tensed, remembering past pain. She stared into the night, making soft sobbing noises, noises he had remembered his mistress making when she was sad, needing him, needing to place a soft arm around his neck and hold him close. He moved towards the woman and stood for a moment as if making a decision.

His tail wagged slightly in a long forgotten attempt at communication, and slowly he inched forward until he was standing at Claire’s side. He gently pushed his long nose under her arm and rested his head on her lap. A hand moved, creeping upwards to gently fondle the soft ears. An arm slipped around his neck and he looked up into her face.

Through her tears, Claire smiled down at the shaggy head. She felt the warmth of his coat spread slowly upward from her hand to the rest of her body. Her grief was there like a sharp pain in her chest, but she was no longer alone. Soon she would feed him and groom his matted coat, but for now this was enough.

©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.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Posts from MY Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – The Shoe Department by Sally Cronin


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over that fifty years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  Over the years I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories. If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next twelve weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. Where this is the case I will of course provide you with the links to their post.

You can find the previous odd jobs here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This post in the series was hosted by my lovely friend and non-fiction author D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies and you can find out about her books at the end of the post.

Odd Jobs and Characters – The Shoe Department – Cheating and Surprises by Sally Cronin

I loved working in the dental surgery, but I felt that I would like to take the medical side of my training further. I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and join the Royal Navy as a nurse in the Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Service. I applied and was accepted for an interview which I attended at Haslar Naval Hospital. It was a bit of an ordeal as it involved a written exam, physical exam and an interview with senior nursing and naval officers. I returned home and waited for the outcome. A letter arrived a week later, to say that I had been accepted, but not for another eighteen months.

This left me in a quandary, and being the age I was, I felt that before I joined up I should see a little more of life. I handed in my notice at the dental surgery, applying to the local department store for a temporary job whilst I decided on my strategy for the next year or so.

I have to point out that I am one of three sisters, with a mother who loved shoes and handbags, and it appeared that she had passed those particular genes onto us. I can remember at a very early age spending many happy hours in the bottom of my mother’s wardrobe, rummaging through her high heeled dancing shoes and trying them out for size. Not very elegant at five years old, but habit forming.

When I was offered a temporary post over Christmas, in the shoe department of Handley’s Department store in Southsea, I was obviously more than excited. Little did I know that I would experience petty theft, a rather revealing encounter and potentially dangerous equipment!

The shoe department was staffed by a manager and a number of assistants, one of which had been there for donkey’s years. She was a spinster lady, who seemed ancient to me at the time, but was probably only in her fifties. She was designated to show me the ropes and duly took me under her wing. One of the bonuses of working in the shoe department was that you received commission on every pair of shoes you sold. You would cut out the front of the shoe box and write your name on it, saving these up until the Thursday and handing them to the manager to be sent up to the accounts department. It didn’t add a fortune to your weekly pay, but a few extra shillings a week was not to be sniffed at.

My mentor told me not to worry the first week, as she would make sure that the box ends were collected and handed to the manager. I kept a record of my sales and was surprised to find that I was missing half my commission on the Friday. I was new and didn’t want to rock the boat, but I obviously looked after my own box ends after that. I later found out that one of the other girls had encountered the same problem when she started. We had a couple more assistants arrive to help over the Christmas rush and we made sure took them under our wings!

Come the sales in January and we were rushed off our feet with high end shoes reduced considerably. I also got staff discount and was in seventh heaven, spending my lunch hours in the stock room trying on everything in my size. One day a very smart middle-aged customer arrived and pointed out several pairs of shoes that she wished to try on. Delighted by my luck in finding a big spender, I set about gathering my wares.

We had short-legged stools with a sloping rubber covered surface on which a foot was guided into shoes with a shoe horn, and if needed a gentle shove. As I helped madam into her first shoe, I looked up to see if she approved, to find her skirt had slid upward to above the knee. She was wearing no knickers, and I have to say that for a moment I had no idea where to look. The customer was completely unconcerned and not wishing to cause embarrassment, I tried to keep my focus on the number of box ends I would be submitting at the end of the week.

This brings me to the piece of equipment that was in my opinion highly unsuitable for use in a department store. Particularly as it was primarily used to identify if a child had sufficient room in their new shoes for their feet to grow. You placed the customer’s feet on a platform underneath the housing of the machine, looking through a viewfinder to see the x-ray. Having worked in a dental surgery with stringent precautions when using an x-ray machine, I was astonished to find one in use in public. I am afraid that after my introduction to this equipment I relied on the safer, tried and tested method of determining fit, by pressing my thumb all around the child’s foot in the new shoe to check for the necessary growing room. These shoe-fitting fluoroscopes were subsequently banned in the mid-1970s in the USA and Europe, and thankfully I only had minimal exposure. There were however grave concerns over the long-term effects on sales personnel who had used the machines over many years.

However, I did enjoy my time in the shoe department and also being in a sales environment. I had made friends amongst the staff (except for one) and asked if I could stay on. They no longer needed me in the shoe department, but I was asked if I would like to be a powder blender and roving consultant in the cosmetic department. My favourite items after shoes… More adventures on the horizon.

©sallycronin 2017

Next week the Cosmetic Department and more surprises

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

My thanks again to Debby for being part of the original tour and here is more about this amazing supporter of Indie authors.

 

Books by D.G. Kaye

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Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies through her bloghttp://www.dgkayewriter.com