Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the ninety-ninth piece in this series. This week’s is a 450-worder by Jane Risdon. This story will be podcasted in episode 32 (with three other stories) on Sunday 6th October.
Haunted by the neat sloping writing on the blue Basildon Bond paper which lay accusingly on her writing desk, the old woman sat locked inside her thoughts. She couldn’t bear to pick the letter up to read it again, but there was no need really. The contents were not unexpected after-all. She’d been waiting nearly forty years for something like this to happen. And now it had.
Every knock at the door, every strange hand’s address on an envelope had filled her with such fear the like of which she could never share. She had never told. The only reason she had an answering machine on her phone was so that she could screen her calls. Just in case. Now, there on the desk along with all her bills and other correspondence, the letter laid, the words terrorising her silently across the darkening room.
She didn’t ask herself how or why. She knew the answers and had known this moment would come eventually, either in the form of a visit, a phone call or a letter. Forty birthdays had come and gone and with each passing one she had agitated in case this time it would be the one; the day when she would have to face her past.
Long ago she had put away the photo, the little sepia image now faded with age and fingering. There was nothing she could have done even if she had wanted to, and she wasn’t even sure any longer if she had ever wanted to do anything. At first it was not a matter of choice but necessity, but there had come a time, many years later when she supposed she could have, possibly should have, tried.
Soon it would be over. Of course she could ignore the letter but that might force a visit, in person, without warning. She could pretend it had never arrived and feign ignorance if anyone queried its receipt. Her stricken mind tried to battle with her emotions. Part of her needed this to happen, craved it and dreaded it, fought against it and longed for it.
Her tired faded eyes moved across the room to stare at the blue ghost beckoning her. A date and a time had been suggested and if she didn’t respond the writer would understand, after all it must be an awful shock after so many years, but hoped that she would consent to a meeting, without strings of course.
Without strings, the old woman mused. There were always strings, and there would always be strings. She sighed heavily, tears brimming as she stood and made her way over to the letter. She picked it up, reached for the telephone and dialled.
I asked Jane what prompted this piece and she said…
For thirty odd years I’ve been researching and writing our family history. I’ve made lots of contacts, discovering long lost and distant relations along the way.
Out of the blue some years ago one of them – a distant cousin by marriage – emailed me asking if a person who’d contacted him had any links to our family. They did not, but the story he told me was fascinating and involved two women having babies at the same time in a mother and baby home. They each became Godmother to the other’s child and then went their separate ways.
A letter arrived many years later from one of these children, asking if there was anyone in his family tree who might be her mother. She’d been adopted and since the surname of her birth mother was similar to a distant relative of ours, her request was forwarded to me to check my records too. Sadly there wasn’t anyone matching her mother’s details.
The letter had an enclosure, another letter destined for this girl’s mother, which she had asked be forwarded in the event she could be found. I started to wonder what it must be like to receive such a letter, decades afterwards, from someone kept secret from everyone else for so long. What would that do to a family or someone alone? Would they ever meet? What would that meeting be like? So I wrote The Letter. I hope you enjoy it.
Thank you, Jane, for sharing your writing with us again.
For the last thirty years Jane Risdon has worked in the International Music Industry as an Artiste Manager, Producer and Music Publisher with her husband who was a professional musician when they met in their teens.
Together they have discovered, mentored and guided the careers of Singers, Bands, Songwriters and Producers all over Europe, the USA and SE Asia as well as the UK, resulting in Chart hits, TV and Movie Soundtracks and numerous other successes, including launching the very first Industry Showcases at the London Hippodrome in the mid 1980’s.
She has lived and worked in Singapore, Taiwan, Germany, USA, as well as Europe and England – working with English, American, European and Chinese artists in all genres of music and in various languages including Mandarin and Cantonese.
Jane has been writing since childhood and has had articles published in the Music Press. Her main genre is Crime writing; mysteries and thrillers – usually with a twist in the tale. At the moment she is writing a crime story, ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’, which features an ex-MI5 Officer and her new life in a rural Oxfordshire Village. This novel should be completed sometime in 2013.
In addition to this novel she has a series of stories which she describes as Character Based Gentle Humour, called ‘God’s Waiting Room,’ which she hopes will be completed by 2014.
Jane is also co-writing a novel with an award-winning author of over 28 books. It is a change of direction for Jane and as of February 2013 she has completed her parts of the book. Her co-author is completing her parts and then it is off to the agent, possibly mid 2013.
With numerous Short Stories and several Flash Fiction pieces under her belt she is a prolific writer who is yet to publish a book in her own right. However, she has had several short stories published for Charity during the last year including her story, ‘The Look,’ in ‘I am Woman Anthology Volume 1,’ in aid of Breakthrough, Women for Women and Women’s Aid and two stories, ‘The Debt Collector’ and ‘The Ghost in the Privy,’ published in the anthology, ‘Telling Tales,’ in aid of The Norfolk Hospice.
Jane also has written a chapter for a new book project, which features several authors all writing a chapter each, without any idea of what the other has written. She found this great fun and looks forward to reading the finished book. This project is on-going and until all writers have contributed it is unsure when it will be ready for release.
In addition to everything else going on in 2013, she is also writing a Short Story for inclusion in yet another anthology later in 2013. This will be a crime/mystery anthology in aid of a Charity, yet to be disclosed.
Jane has a blog which is gaining a large following and she writes about things that interest her, her love of photography – always photos to look at – and also anything else which takes her fancy. Many of these articles have humorous content. She is often invited by other authors to be the Guest Blogger on their Blogs.
If you’d like to submit your 6-word or 500-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here, or up to 2,000 words for critique on my Online Short Story Writing Group (links below).
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.