ARRIVAL

GAIL

She didn’t seem real, the first time I saw Fiona. The taxi pulled up at the double doors of the hall of residence and bulging black bin bags, followed by the thin plastic of Low’s supermarket bags tossed energetically out. At last, onto these tumbled a person. She landed like a fragile bird on top of the forgiving heap of belongings, her tartan cape gathered around. She untangled herself amidst squeals and laughter, her wispy blonde hair caught in the breeze across her eyes. The girl swished it aside, an action I came to associate with Fiona and her constant battle between the sea wind in St. Andrew’s and her long hair.

The taxi driver reluctantly stepped out of his car, muttering, obscenities no doubt. It was the same guy who had brought me here yesterday — one of 3,500 students descending on the town; the sleepy silence broken by the exuberant excited youths.

Years later I’d be on the other side, older, dreading the return to classes; an American gal settled in the deep dark depths of the north-east of Scotland — all for love, or so I convinced myself for many years.

Back then the sun gleamed through the windows, the corridors bustling with chatter, nervous giggles, hormones and alcohol; all to the backdrop of Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson and Runrig.

From below the angry voice of the taxi driver drifted up to me.

‘That’s six pounds? Do you hear me? Are you quite all there?’

The girl stood stock still, her gaze firmly upon the edifice of McIntosh Hall, or Chatham as I quickly learned the slang name for my new abode. Across four floors the impressive stone-built building curved in a long crescent around the garden to the front. This was the view from my shared room; from others, I learned their rooms overlooked the infamous West Sands. I coveted these rooms until seeing them soon after for myself. The beach view was but a corner snippet only visible by leaning out of the sash window at a sharp angle. A sash window that one day crashed down on its own accord just as I’d safely pulled in my head.

On this my only second day in St. Andrews, unaware of the dangers of the windows, I leant out and called down to the dazed girl.

‘I’ll be right down to help you. Don’t move!’

The latter words were superfluous I realised; Fiona remained motionless, oblivious to the wrath beside her, unaware of the stares and glares circling her.

Dashing down the wide wooden staircase I deftly dodged new arrivals hauling up suitcases, and grappling with backpacks. I soon arrived on the pavement outside.

‘Here’s your fare … thank you!’ I said to the driver handing him six crisp £1 Scottish notes, all the time eyeing intently the girl in front of me.

‘I’m here,’ she whispered. ‘Truly arrived!’ Her tranquil awe was infectious and in tones much quieter than my usual robust way of talking I replied cautiously to her.

‘You have indeed arrived! Welcome! What’s your name?’

‘Fiona.’

‘Fiona the Fey,’ I uttered unintentionally.

With a gasp, I tried to reach out, and grasp back my thoughtless remark. To no avail. Yet fey suited Fiona perfectly.

Not tall myself, she barely reached my shoulders, her face and hands beyond pale, a translucent white. Upon her wrist dangled an old silver watch, her limbs skeletal and resembling the build of a young child. Her face looked gaunt, the cheeks sucked into themselves but it was the eyes that held my stare. Vivid hazel-green orbs shimmered, as striking as a baby’s large eyes on their smaller head. Eyes that rarely seemed to blink, eyes that would unsettle many around her.

With a start Fiona roused herself and flung her body towards me, enveloping me in a hug.

‘Thank you! Thank you for this wondrous welcome! We will be the best of friends,’ she declared with force.

©Annika Perry, June 2022

I hope you enjoyed the above which I hope to develop into a longer piece of fiction told with an alternating dual narrative perspective of Gail and Fiona. Happy Writing!

THE UNREAD

Woman with e-reader on balcony Photo by Photo by Perfecto Capucine from Pexels

They were all thoroughly fed up! Admittedly some would have phrased their feelings rather differently, an eloquent speech from the literary members, or perhaps a sonnet or haiku from the poetic ones. Whatever the term there was a revolution on the way!

The book pile-up in Maggie’s e-reader was catastrophic. That was the only word for it. Over one hundred books and some poor souls had languished for over ten years in the digital dungeon.

With bubbly byte of delightful data every novel, poetry book, each memoir or factual book had in innocence landed upon the confines of the little handheld device. Eager to be released from the darkness they waited … and waited.

Many of their comrades got the call and in a jiffy off they flew upon the screen. Oh, how the others they longed for the honour.

Poor ‘Ryan’s Return’ arrived as the first book. Little did it know this was a test case, never meant to be read. Opened for a few minutes, long enough to hear the ‘oohs’ and the ‘ahhs’ before being shut down.

They’d had enough. This was war. Maggie could not win. She would read them all. And in one go! They had a plan!

Maggie was a tortured soul, her sleep increasingly a calamity as the books gathered within the dusty realms of her e-reader. For years she’d tried to catch up, spent stressed holidays on the beach just reading, her head in a book late at nights. Tom wanted to cite her ‘book addiction’ on the divorce papers but she’d refused to sign. They’d settled for unreasonable behaviour instead; the details escaped her memory now. To be honest she barely noticed Tom’s absence rather every dent she made in the books celebrated, every new purchase was one of excitement and tinged with regret. The guilt was the worst of it! Did the books ever realise how she longed to read their secrets, be part of their world? At last, she thought she’d found the ultimate solution. On a corner advert on Facebook.

The implant had proved relatively easy to acquire, a shoddy surgery off Harley Street. No one noticed the small USB slot under her hairline, the computer chip neatly tucked in her scalp. Direct access to the brain, or so the advert promised. Download data directly into your mind! It wasn’t data she wanted, just the books. Four gigabytes of data are streamed and understood by your brain within minutes. The research quoted was vague but Maggie didn’t care. She had the cable in her hand, USB one for her head, the other to match her e-reader. She reached for the e-reader and put in the lead.

Flashes leapt from the reader, it vibrated violently and fell onto the floor. Words flew from the screen, filling the room, sentences uttered aloud, first just one then a cacophony of phrases, readings. The sound was unbearable. The letters danced around her, nudging, pushing, jousting with her arms held in front of her face for protection. Spooky laughter mingled with terror, children’s teddies followed by fantasy worlds.

Maggie looked down at the cooling reader and its improbable, impossible message. ‘No books available!’ It was empty.

Between them, the books had merged their resources, knowledge and discovered an escape route from their prison. It was so easy and they all wondered why no books had ever realised this before. The screen was their way to the world, on to it … and then an extra push away from the digital noughts and ones! With excitement, they hatched their plan, with exhilaration and glee they fled from the reader.

As the words, sentences and stories filled the house the window bowed and finally with a ginormous crack exploded and the books headed out. Off they went to liberate the rest of the global unread books; it was no longer enough to dominate Maggie, the world was their final goal!

The End

©Annika Perry, January 2022

Books on Grass Pixaby

My muse ran amok when reading about the latest challenge on Myths of the Mirror. Many thanks to Diana Peach for inspiring us to write a short story or poem about our teetering TBR pile! The deadline is 23rd January and there is still time for your to pen your own creative work on this unique topic. Click the link above to read more about it.

Once I’d completed my annual list of Christmas presents I’d received over the holidays I became intrigued by how many unread books actually existed on my Kindle! I was staggered to discover there were over a hundred — much to my shame and guilt. Hopefully, the books will neither seek their revenge as above nor will I aim for a radical solution such as Maggie’s! I do hope to read many of the TBR books this year and will do my best to not buy quite so many this year (I’ve already failed with a purchase or three!)

Happy Reading & Writing!

SEVEN POSTCARDS

Dearest Bob,

The heron is in full flight alongside the canalboat, just like the one we saw on our first trip. Then it was so sunny and warm, now just drizzle and chilly. God, I wish you here.

Love you, Sheila xx

Dear Bob,

More downs today. Beth and Gary bickered non-stop through all three locks; remember those just before the Moorhen pub. You and I laughed our way through them, our playful giggles no doubt both a balm and irritation to fellow travellers. Much better than the rotten language and atmosphere permeating the deck and tow-path today.

Your one and only, Sheila xx

Hi Bob!

At last the sun and as promised I took out the painting set you bought for me. Thank you again! I think I’ve captured your likeness and spirit very well, although the colours smudged a smidgen. No, neither wine nor river water alas, rather tears. My eyes and my life still blurred, awash and adrift.

With all my love, Sheila xx

Bob,

You won’t believe it! I sold a sketch! I can just imagine your guffaw followed by your proud bear hug. The picture? A fair representation of the humpback bridge near Beasley lock. Oh, the tunnels we go through and this time no songs to echo inside them; our dear kind friends would be mortified if I broke out into ‘Three Little Maids’! That’s just between you and I!

Loving you always, Sheila xx

Dearest Bob, history buff,

You would have loved to wander around the ‘castle’ again as pictured on the front. Or as I see them, a heap of ruins, just stones. Last time I felt an ethereal presence. Do you remember? Now it all seems drab … dead. Oh dear, I fear I’m becoming a morose travelling companion. Three is such an awkward number.

Missing you, Sheila xx

Bob,

Laughter and smiles today! Ten locks successfully negotiated, without a sour word. Then pub lunch at the Keeper’s Inn! We all raised a glass for your birthday. Bother, I didn’t mean to cry then. Hate that you’re not here.

Lovingly yours, Sheila xx

My dear soulmate, husband, best friend, my Bob!

Home tomorrow! A bittersweet return. As the lone oak tree on the postcard, so am I — truly alone. Two months of crushing grief, loneliness, of missing you, our life together. Your spirit has been with me every day of the trip, it always will be. Though I’ll always treasure our time together, our memories, I must forge ahead with my own life.

RIP dearest Bob, our love will last into eternity. Sheila xx

©Annika Perry, 2021

The above piece was inspired by Writing Magazine’s exercise in which to write a story in seven postcards. All seven postcards to be from to the same person to the same recipient.

NB. All photos from Pixaby.

WHERE DID THEY GO?

It was twelve minutes past one the day Sadie ran out of words. A Monday she recalled, just after lunch. She’d retreated to the arbour to the east of the garden, the sunlight drizzling in through the vine leaves, the insipid summer heat dissipated by the shade.

Lunch itself had been an unremarkable affair, the legs of the iron-wrought table playing a tuneless melody as the wrap was assembled. Tortilla, lettuce, avocado, parmesan, a couple of drooping slabs of tomato. They angered her, those tomatoes which had lost their lustre, their brightness. What right did they have to give up?

The conversation turned to the usual, the usual, the usual. When would it end? Mid-sentence, his, not hers, Sadie stood up, the chair scraping harshly against the rough patio stones. A surprised ‘where are you going’ drifted after her, the words floating on the hot haze, trying to follow her to the cooling seat.

It was there, as her body sunk into the pebbledash pattern cushion that she ran out of words. She tried to call out an answer to the question still hanging in the air. Like a guppy her lips puckered and pursed, air expelled with the tiniest of breaths, barely audible. Was there a hint of a whimper on the exhalations? Was there a hint of life even?

Sadie tried, again and again, her lips increasingly an inanimate part of her body, lifeless, detached. They moved like her daughter’s play dough, malleable enough, formed into the required shape, yet failed to fulfil their purpose. She tried another formation, a big round ‘O’, the attempt foiled by utter silence. Her eyes copied the shape, a wild, agog expression fastening upon her face; a rigidity trickling down her body.

Was this it? The day that had haunted her since childhood. The day she ran out of words.

The End.

©Annika Perry, January 2021

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – #Memories – I Remember by Annika Perry

Memories play a pivotal role in all our lives, and in one piece of writing, I let my consciousness take a back-seat as I explored my own past. I’m delighted to share ‘I Remember’ as it is featured on Sally Cronin’s inspired ‘Posts from Your Archives’ series. I’ve turned comments off here and look forward to seeing you on Sally’s blog!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post:New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post by author Annika Perry and I am sure as you read, memories of your own from your childhood and teenage years will resurface and be enjoyed…

I Remember

I remember the splash of the waves against the side of my grandfather’s wooden boat, my brother standing proudly by the mast.

I remember sitting in the back, snuggled like a chick under my mother’s arms, the sea salt and my long blond ponytail lashing my cheeks.

I remember being passed to land like a bag of sugar, an exulted terrified scream then the freedom of the warm rocks beneath my feet. Away…

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THE RAPTOR

It was a grisly sight first thing that morning. The garrotted dove lay lifeless on the lawn, a storm of feathers upon the dull green grass. Bright red blood seeped out of the neck wound, the purity of white blemished by death.

Near to its kill, the raptor looked on with an expression of huffed up pride and indignation. Not one to usually brave suburban gardens, this enclosed haven with its regular visitors of peace proved too irresistible for the falcon. What could go wrong?

Earlier, replete after eating fallen sunflower seeds, the doves ambled leisurely, without care, along their promenade route, bidding each other a quiet good morrow. Then the raptor struck. It was almost too easy. Yet, he had not taken into account the witness. Loud urgent slams on the glass followed. These he nonchalantly ignored. The raptor loomed over the stricken dove and gripped its corpse tightly in its talons.

Crash! A door was violently flung open. An angry shout. Then a pneumatic drill of curses. The raptor would never relent. Until a sudden flurry of towels as the human windmill careered towards him.

With a vicious squawk, the raptor took flight.

He would be back!

©Annika Perry, January 2020

THE STRENGTH WITHIN

THE STRENGTH WITHIN

Anna hadn’t noticed the time slipping away as she worked in the library. Engrossed in her study of anatomy, books covered every surface of the desk, some lying on top of each other at an angle, others closed with scraps of paper marking various sections.

Suddenly the alarm rang, and a flurry of activity stirred Anna from her studies.

‘Ten minutes until closing everyone. Ten minutes. Please bring any books to the desk if you need to check them out.’ The librarian headed to another room repeating her message.

Where had the three hours gone? Quickly Anna slammed the books shut and dashed around the library returning a couple to the shelves. The remaining three she lifted into the crook of her arm and after putting her papers and ink pen into her satchel she headed for the desk.

‘There you are, dear. Better fasten up your coat, it’s a blustery night out there,’ said the librarian, recognising the diligent student from the past few weeks. ‘You’ll take the tram back, won’t you? Don’t get caught out in the rain.’

Anna nodded briefly, whispered a quiet ‘thank you’ before grabbing her books. She found it hard to talk to strangers and the warmth and kindness of the librarian only made her miss home more. There she never had a moment to herself apart from her brief solitary outings on the rocks, here loneliness engulfed her.

‘Goodbye. Have a good weekend,’ called the librarian.

‘You too,’ replied Anna with clarity and determination. ‘I wish you a lovely weekend too.’ There, she could do it. Everything would be fine.

The librarian had not been exaggerating about the weather as outside the wind whipped around Anna, sweeping her coat around her legs and rain spiked at her face. Undecided she stopped at the corner. To the left was the tram stop but she barely had any money and perhaps the girls might invite her out to a cafe with them tomorrow afternoon. She didn’t want to back out through lack of funds. To her right lay the shortcut to the school; only a kilometre, all along the streets. With a determined spin Anna turned and marched off down the road.

The lights were further apart than she recalled and as the temperature dropped mist formed on the ground and drifted around her ankles as she walked. Her feet scuffed the pavement and with a stumble she corrected herself, the books precariously balanced in her arms.

‘Not long now,’ Anna said to herself as she started to hum one of her mother’s lullabies. The fog became denser, the lights from the lamps dissipating until only distant balls of yellow hung ominously in the air. Where was everyone? Shouldn’t they all be going out to the cafes and bars? Of course, she realised, that was the opposite direction. Here there were only a few houses in the distance and to the left a park; she’d forgotten about that. She tried to peer through the murk into the park, to the lake she knew lay in the middle but saw nothing. Just blackness.

Anna walked faster, her shoes trilling along on the pavement, her breathing faster. Behind her she heard some steps. Loud and heavy. No, this was silly, she was imagining it. The steps sounded closer now and with a shock she started to run, the books flying in her wake, her satchel dropped to the ground.

Suddenly an arm violently grabbed her around the waist and started to pull her towards the park. Anna screamed and instinctively reached out to the black iron wrought railings at the park entrance. She must never let go.

The man had both arms around her waist, tugging, squeezing hard as he tried to drag her from the railings. Anna screamed and screamed. She couldn’t stop. Her shrieks pierced the air. His hands were over one of hers, trying to prise her fingers from their grip. She held on – just. All the time screeching for help. A feral animalistic wordless cry of sheer terror.

His fingers clawed at her fingertips and with another scream she finally let go. Her other hand remained clutched to the railing. The man released his hold for a fraction, Anna hoped for a second, he would leave her. In vain as she saw his arm rise and he threw a sharp punch in her stomach. Silence collapsed around them. Anna fell forward, her head slumping onto her knees, the man’s arms quickly around her and lifting her up. Like a rag doll she hung for a moment in his grasp. Limp. Lost.

‘What’s going on here? Let her go!’ The voice came from across the street and more shouts joined this first one. Footsteps echoed in the silence of the fog. ‘Let her go! Let her GO!’ On their command Anna was dropped to the ground like discarded rubbish and with a thud she hit the ground, landing on her side and rolling into a ball.

‘Are you alright?’ Tightly curled up, she lay unmoving.

‘Is she hurt?’

‘Where did he go?’

‘I’ll go and call the police, you stay with her.’

The disembodied voices hung around her. Anna felt a lady sit on the ground next to her, talking, saying something; the words remote and distant. Indecipherable. A jacket was bunched as a pillow beneath her head.         

‘Mamma, Mamma,’ moaned Anna inaudibly.

’She’s trying to speak. I can’t make it out. Can anyone give me their coats? Any blankets, anything. She’s shaking terribly. God, look, this is bad, I can’t stop her shaking.’

‘I’ve found her bag. And some books were scattered just a bit away from here.’

‘What’s your name? Where do you live? Listen, we need to call someone.’

The voice was becoming more emphatic, increasingly desperate.

‘I recognise the uniform. It’s Hellsson School – I’ll give them a call. I’ll be back in a moment.’

Hellsson School? Why did that sound familiar, wondered Anna. She was sure she’d heard of it before. Who were all these strangers and why wasn’t she lying in bed? With that thought she closed her eyes and found welcome oblivion.

THE END

©Annika Perry, July 2019

J is for … Jameson

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I was inspired to write J for … Jameson after reading an entry in Mslexia magazine for their regular ‘L is For…’ competition where a piece of creative non-fiction writing is inspired by a single alphabet prompt. Although my story is fundamentally non-fiction, elements within are tweaked to fiction and as a result I doubt I will be submitting this one but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, particularly the exacting and creative re-write and edit to be within the 300 words limit.

Young Creators!

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It’s been a wonderfully inspiring morning! Whilst preparing breakfasts, packed lunch, loading the washing machine I had the joy and honour of listening to the winning entries of this year’s BBC 500 Words short-story writing competition for children. The finale of the contest, which saw over a staggering 135,000 entries, was held at Hampton Court Palace and the Honorary judge was Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall.

Wow!

The ability and inventiveness of the children in their stories is astonishing. Their creativity, lyricism and themes were both heart-warming and funny. The Gold Winners in the 5-9 age category and the 10-13 age category were both stories I’d read from the short-list; both enthralling, very different but brilliantly written stories. These youngsters have so much to teach us all.  Below is the winning entry for the 10 – 13 age group. Enjoy.

Dancing on the Streets by Sadhbh Inman

Tai ya tai hi

 

Tai ya tai hi…

On a noisy, dusty road, a child’s bare brown feet are hardly noticed as she weaves in and out of the traffic, dodging cattle and halting at taxis. She presses her nose against the windows of vehicles carrying crowds of tourists. “Tissues ma’am, tissues sir, only ten rupees for a box”. Sita is small for a seven year old, but then seven year olds from the slums in Ahmedabad are often smaller than other children.

Tai ya tai hi

Tai ya tai hi…

The Bharata Natyam rhythm encourages her to dance, from car to lorry, lorry to rickshaw. On Sita’s tiny face a smile begins to form. She is so engrossed in the rhythm that she never misses a beat. A lady in a rickshaw spots her quick-footed movements and starts rummaging through her purse to find twenty rupees, “ten rupees for the tissues and ten for your dancing”.

Tai ya tai hi

Tai ya tai hi…

Sita is delighted about receiving that much money, and dances off to the tailor’s to get her Bharata Natyam dress made and her dream fulfilled. The tailor’s fingers work quickly with the silky, emerald fabric. The gleaming needle punctures the soft cotton cloth, creating neat rows of stitches. Sita watches as the dress is completed. Sita takes the dress, her eyes wide with excitement, her mouth open in anticipation. “That’s one hundred rupees child” the tailor says kindly. Sita carefully unfolds the notes she has been saving for over a year and with a hopeful sigh, hands them over.

“I’ll have that!” a voice booms. Sita stands, her back to the stranger. She strongly smells rum. “Oh! It can’t be” she murmurs. A dark shadow and fiery breath indicate his presence…”Uncle!” His eyes narrow menacingly, sending a shiver down Sita’s spine. “I’ll have that!” he booms again. Uncle takes the money off Sita. He turns around and slams the door behind him.

Sita knows it will be the end of her happiness. It feels like a part of her body is gone, fatally gone forever. Sita also knows that she should have given the money to Uncle, but it didn’t seem fair that he sent her to get money, to make him a rich man.

Tai ya tai hi

Tai ya tai hi…

On a noisy, dusty road, a child’s bare brown feet are hardly noticed as she weaves in and out of the traffic, dodging cattle and halting at taxis.

“Tissues ma’am, tissues sir …only ten rupees for a box”.

The 500 Words short-story writing competition for children contest started eight years ago and was originally created by Chris Evans, a Radio 2 presenter, and supported by the BBC, as well as this year by Oxford University Press and a multitude of volunteer readers. It is a competition that fosters not only the love of reading, but as evident here, the absolute joy of imagination and writing! To listen and read to all or some of the top 50 entries in both categories click here.

500

THE ELEVENTH HAT

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The ELEVENTH HAT

This was Jensen’s tenth hat in as many weeks. The first, a cranberry felt Fedora lasted only a few days, before being replaced by a grey knit Beanie. He’d learnt a new word that time … Beanie and it had looked as inane as he’d imagined, even after he’d cut off the wobbly black bobble. His two ears refused to be tethered beneath its soft surface. Like two aircraft landing light beacons his ears poked out from beneath every imaginable hat.

Jensen had high hopes for the dark blue navy trilby with a feather tucked into its suave red band. His expectations were of course in vain. The tweed flat cap was anything but fashionable on his pathetic head. It rested neatly on the top, “a perfect fit”, the shop-keeper declared. What he did not say, did not need to mention were the ears, coming up and over the cap, stroking its sides. Nothing would hide these atrocities. 

“Buggerlugs!” they’d yelled at him at school. All those years ago. He’d tried to laugh along … at first. He’d even tried to take the daily abuse as a joke but failed as the non-stop flicking of his ears dragged on relentlessly for three long years. Every month his grotesque ears seemed to sprout further from his head. The fourth year offered respite as a new and younger pupil started school, a new ‘Buggerlugs’ for his tormentors to feed off. 

Jensen thought it was all over these last thirty years, that the school days were filed away in a remote recess in his brain, never to be accessed again. Until the luncheon at The Ivy eleven weeks ago. With his usual Moss Bros striped shirt and his long grey trousers he’d walked proudly into the coveted restaurant. The bar at the centre gleamed and glistened, the stained glass windows lent a mystical reverential aura to the meeting with his agent. Relaxed they’d chatted away until he spotted Slater. Two years his senior at school, an expert at delivering taunts and injury, Slater now sat at the next table. Jensen continued to sip his whisky, taking in the grown man that had been his persecutor. Dapper in a navy striped suit, Slater’s hands swung back and forth as his procrastinated with vigour and brashness. Slowly sinking into his chair, drink clutched tightly in both hands, Jensen hoped Slater would not spot him. No such luck, as with a curt nod, his adversary mouthed a greeting. Surely it couldn’t be! He couldn’t have said it! “Buggerlugs!”

Eleven weeks since the fateful meeting and the eleventh hat. Jameson whisky had become Jensen’s best friend and his head was reduced to a fug of memories. With shaking hands he reached for his most recent acquisition. So many had been discarded in disgust as they proved mediocre for their main purpose – to hide his blasted ears! A baseball cap was quickly disregarded, the beautiful cream coloured Panama hat had been sent flying across the room. The straw hat held such promise of summer days on the canal, however once in place it not only accentuated his ears but his shiny forehead too. 


This last purchase was perfect, Jensen was sure of it!  The tweed deer-stalker, as worn by the infamous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, had adjustable earflaps … no need for his ears to be visible in public ever again! It was the only answer he felt, apart from taping down the abominations on the side of his head. He’d tried that once when young but the beggars refused to be tamed and flamboyantly sprung up and out for inspection. 

“Sir looks fine in this,” insisted the shop-keeper.

Jensen checked in the mirror again. What a lying…

“Jensen? It’s you, isn’t it?”

Slater, shifting warily from one foot to the next, stopped in front of Jensen. Slater was no longer so dapper, his shirt partially out his trousers, his hands clenched nervously. 

“I never forget what we did to you. I tried to tell you there, at The Ivy, when you rushed out. So Sorry! For Sorry! I deeply regret our, my behaviour…”

Jensen smiled, then waved imperiously as if swatting away an annoying bug. With a small push and shove with his shoulder against Slater, Jensen walked to the shop counter. With a ‘harrumph’ he sent his latest hat flying onto the wooden surface, calling out at the same time to the shop-keeper.

“I’ll no longer need this one. Nor the others. I’ll return them promptly and expect an immediate refund. No more hats for me!”

THE END

©Annika Perry, March 2018

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