I’ve been having a few problems with this self publishing business. While I don’t believe computers are worked by the magic fairies who live in the back of the hard drive and live on the biscuit crumbs they find stuck in the key board, I am inclined to push the wrong buttons, panic, push even wronger (yes, I know that isn’t a word, but I like it) buttons and then spend the rest of the day sobbing into said key board, possibly providing salty goodness to the fairies I don’t believe in.
It is all being sorted, but the anthology will be down until 23rd of this month, BUT I will get you “The Tattooed Tribes” on time (6th March) as promised, provided I don’t have another button moment.
As I am now forbidden to press anything without supervision, it should all go smoothly.
In the meantime, here’s a short story for your Wednesday. I call these short pieces “coffee time stories” because they should fill the time it takes to drink a coffee, no more.
This one is about a couple of my great aunts. Jean emigrated to Canada back in the 1920’s, but the family never lost touch and this is about one of the times she came home to England. The very last time.
The Last One Left
They were playing “do you remember” and I listened, rapt, as they recalled lives and names that were little more than twigs on the family tree of my knowledge.
Even the passing of many years could not keep the whisper of South London from Jean’s Canadian accent, an echo from their childhood which still rang clear and true in May’s voice.
Here at the end of the twentieth century I sat in the airport and listened to stories from its beginning; and to others from the nineteenth century told to them and now told to me, while overhead the great jets that had not even been thought of when they were born, thundered the news of their arrivals and departures.
They sat side by side, one arm around the other’s waist as they had in those sepia pictures I had of them as children. They were the last two of my great grandmother’s long brood to arrive and now they were the last remaining. As I watched them it seemed as if years fell away and, for a moment in time, two very old ladies faded away and were replaced by two little girls in identical white dresses.
The demands of the announcer brought the stories too an end and I helped Jean to the wheel chair.
“Damn thing,” she snarled.
“You’ll drop your scotch if you try and walk,” I warned.
Her eyes sparkled as she cuddled the bottle.
The moment had come at last and they took each other’s hands. Cheeks with skin transparent with age touched. They whispered something to each other; then kissed. The tears were mine.
May and I watched until the plane was no more than a point in the sky.
“We’ve made a promise to each other,” she said.
“Next time in Canada?” I suggested.
“No” she replied calmly. “To never see or speak or have news of each other ever again”
“Why!” I demanded, appalled.
A tear rolled down her wrinkled cheek.
“Because that way neither of us will ever know we were the last one left.”
© Bev Allen 2017