It’s “Friday Fact or Fiction”, where I write a little something for the weekend for you to read, be it fact or, um, fiction. This week, it’s part two of a short story I have written, called The Woman Who Walked To School…
The woman who walked to school (Part Two)
At the end of the soup lunch, Margaret was exhausted. She’d served and cleaned, and all with one eye on Thomas, who, in his two-year-old wisdom, had decided that the Church was his new racetrack. To her surprise, no one helped. At not one time did any of the Friends, including the Vicar, offer to assist Margaret with the serving or keep an eye on Thomas for her. By the end, her forehead was damp, her hair wild and her stomach rumbling. ‘Oh,’ the women said, smiling as they rose to leave, opening the Church doors, the July sunshine flooding in, ‘that turned out so well, so easy. We must do it again. We raised £75.’ ‘Yes,’ they all agreed, pleased. ‘What a success, let’s do this again.’ Margaret could by now only manage a weak smile and a nod, but, as she popped Thomas on the potty before she began the washing up, she watched the women bustle out and realised she had a choice. She realised that she didn’t have to do this anymore.
From that day, Margaret tried to make herself feel a little better. Like an amnesia sufferer experiencing flashbacks, from time to time she would recall snippets of her former self. She would remember how she used pay regular visits to the hairdresser, how she’d have long, candlelit baths, how her diary would be well thumbed and overused, how she’d meet her husband for drinks in a bar after work just because it was fun.
Wiping Weetabix from her sleeve, the following Monday Margaret began her usual journey to school. This week it was ‘Walk to School Week’, and she was always mildly intrigued to see the usual 4x4s and sharp tailoring replaced with weather-ready wellies and battered brollies. Margaret watched as these glamazons marched their offspring to school with their heads held high and their make up in place. If the day was sunny, out would come their floaty maxi dresses, Birkenstocks and cashmere cardigans, all the time with Margaret watching them, pulling at her t-shirt wishing she has hidden at home.
So, it was during this week, when Margaret was scuttling to and from school, that Thomas happened to step on the hem of the dress of one of the glamorous mothers.
‘Oh, my, I’m so, so sorry. Thomas! Here, let me,’ Margaret said to the woman, reaching to wipe the dress.
‘Please, no. Thank you,’ replied the mother. Margaret stepped back. ‘I’m Helen, by the way,’ the mother said, holding out her hand. Margaret squinted in the sun and propped her hand on her brow.
‘I’m sorry,’ Helen said, ‘I didn’t ask your name.’
‘Margaret,’ said Margaret, thinking how the woman’s voice was all chocolate soufflé. Hers, she thought, was more of an upside down cake.
The two shook hands. ‘Well, nice to meet you,’ said Helen who began to walk away, then, hesitating turned back. ‘Look, Margaret, we’re having a summer party at our place in a fortnight. 16th July. Just a few drinks, barbeque, that type of thing. It’s eight until late. You should come.’
Margaret smiled; she suddenly felt light-headed.
‘Um, I think I have something with my address’, said Helen, rummaging through her bag. ‘Ah.’ She pulled out a card and handed it to Margaret. ‘This is us. Address is on there. Please do come, your other half, too. Would be simply lovely to get to know you, have a chat.’
Margaret gazed at the card with its gold lettering. ‘Oh, um, yes,’ she said, looking up. ‘Yes, I’d…well, I’d love to, thank you.’ Thomas pulled at Helen’s dress. Margaret took his hand.
Helen smiled. ‘Isn’t he a poppet? Well, nice to meet you.’
Margaret grasped Thomas’ fist. ‘Yes,’ she smiled, ‘nice to meet you, too.’
Copyright © Nikki Owen 2012
Thanks for reading! Part 3 of The Woman Who Walked To School will be posted next Friday. Have a lovely weekend.
**Look out for my “Media Monday” post on, um, Monday. A short, sharp snippet on the latest writing news…**