The door to Cat’s Cafe opened with a tinkle, allowing a gust of cold air to enter the overheated room.
‘Oh no,’ Cat groaned, looking up from her sink of dirty crockery.
Mary Wright headed for her usual table. She was tiny and delicate in appearance, but Cat’s regulars knew better than to sit in Mary’s seat. Her hair was an interesting shade of burgundy, with the odd splodge of grey, where the dye had missed. Recently, Mary’s walking had become a little unsteady, but when Cat had suggested she get a walking stick she had laughed, saying she was fine. Her trendy burnt orange jacket, which clashed with her hair, had been a bargain from Primark. She perched her reading glasses on her nose and studied the menu.
‘I don’t know why she bothers reading the menu, she always has the same thing,’ Cat muttered to herself as she strolled over to serve Mary.
‘What can I get you today Mrs Wright?’
Mary carried on reading.
Cat cleared her throat and repeated herself, loudly.
‘No need to shout, dear,’ Mary said peering at Cat over her reading glasses.
Cat noticed that Mary’s brown kohl eyebrows were a little wonky, the right one pointing up at a jaunty angle.
‘I’ll have a hot chocolate with extra cream and a toasted tea cake,’ Mary said licking her thin scarlet lips. ‘None of that cappuccino nonsense for me.’
‘Coming up,’ said Cat going to prepare Mary’s order.
Five minutes later Cat was back with a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
Cat turned to go when Mary uttered the dreaded words.
‘Perhaps you’d like to join me? I’ve had a letter from Olivia,’ she said patting the empty chair.
Cat inwardly groaned. She was about to refuse, but her conscious got the better of her. Mary was a widow, and her only daughter, Olivia, lived in Australia and hadn’t been home for several years. Cat knew Mary missed her terribly, although she did have Bob. Cat wasn’t sure what Bob did, but knew that Mary adored him.
‘Just five minutes then, before the lunchtime rush begins,’ Cat said sitting down, and arranging her features to feign interest.
Mary liked to talk. She was going deaf, but wouldn’t admit it. This made the conversation a little one sided, but Cat had learned to shout an occasional ”yes,” “no” or “oh really” in the right places. Mary clutched the hot mug of chocolate. Her bony hands were almost translucent, blue veins protruding as if they would burst through the thin papery skin at any moment. Cat looked at Mary’s face. Her cheeks were smeared with pink rouge. Her faded green eyes sparkled with spirit, but her wrinkled, age spotted skin betrayed her years.
‘What will you be doing for Christmas?’ asked Cat, standing up in an attempt to escape.
‘Well, that’s what I’ve just been saying. Olivia is coming for Christmas. I’m not sure how she’ll get on with Bob though; she’s allergic to cats.
The challenge was to write a 300 word story based on a woman who has reached a crisis in her life - her marriage was failing, her husband idolised their daughter, who was an only child. The woman was jealous of her daughter. We were asked to write from the point of view of the wife, the husband or the daughter. I chose to write from the daughter’s point of view and here is my effort.
Abbey stared out of the bedroom window. Her father had just mowed the lawn and the smell of newly cut grass floated up, reminding her of school sports day. She had hated sports, but her Dad had always been there to cheer her on, making up with his enthusiasm for the fact that her mother was absent, working again. Her Dad was her hero. Her mother paid the bills. She crept closer to the window as she caught the sound of raised voices. She heard her mother’s unmistakeable shrill berating her father. Her childhood and adolescence had been peppered with arguments between her parents. It was funny to think she wouldn’t have to listen to them anymore. She closed her eyes as she thought back to yesterday and the slamming match she had had with her mother. Abbey’s relationship with her mother had never been easy. Her parents had married because her mother had been pregnant, she couldn’t remember how or when she had learnt this fact, but it had always been there this knowledge and from this, the sense that she had somehow let her mother down. She looked away from the window at her bed. A battered suitcase sat at an angle on the crumpled cream duvet, clothes spewing out. Hurriedly she tucked the garments inside and fastened the lid. She felt in her pocket for the reassuring edge of her mother’s credit card. Yesterday her mother had told her the truth. Her father was not her real father. And now Abbey would leave.