Welcome to the two hundred and eighty-sixth in this series that is ‘5pm Fiction’.
Late April 2011 I discovered StoryADay.org and the project that is to write 31 stories in 31 days. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog, knows how passionate I am about short stories so my clichéd eyes lit up at this new marvel. And just a few days later there I was, breathing life into new characters. This went on to become (with some editing of course) my 31-story collection eBook Story A Day May 2011. I have since published (as eBooks) the 2012 and 2013 collections, detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories/story-a-day-may.
I was nearing completion of the 2012 project when I decided that I didn’t want to stop at the end of May so 5PM Fiction was born. I put a load of prompts on the 5PM Fiction page and today’s was to write a story from the following sentence start: Thomas Wickham III looked up from…. Here is my 470-worder.
Yellowed Greenway Times
Thomas Wickham III looked up from his newspaper, from page seven of the tatty and yellowed Greenway Times, to be exact. Through the dim gaslight, he watched their maid, Lily, pour the liquid into his wife’s bowl, the delicate outline of Lily’s fingers clutching the handle of the fine porcelain jug.
Lily was easily distracted, so Thomas remained silent until she had finished. He watched her from across the large mahogany table. In his mind, she had already dispensed his coffee and served his toast, on which the butter had already melted. He fancied that she bring him a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice, but as she held her chin low but her eyes towards him, he shook his head. Not that he felt hungry. He had not felt such a desire for many weeks. Not for sustenance.
He stole a smile as he imagined Lily blushing, despite her face being so pale. Instead she curtseyed, bobbing a mere inch or two before backing away to stand against the once-ornate papered wall, to await the end of the meal or for further instruction.
Thomas stared at his wife who had been engrossed with The Devon Lady’s puzzle section for quite some minutes, also ignoring the food laid out before her. “Phyllis.”
“Yes, dear,” she replied, without looking up.
Thomas knew that magazine meant more to her than he did, but then the share price of Westmacott Holdings meant more to him. “It says here…” He sighed. “It says here,” he repeated, “that the rain will continue for several more days yet, that we may even suffer flooding. Flooding! Who ever heard of it?”
“It is good then,” Phyllis replied, carefully writing with the pencil she held awkwardly in her frail fingers, “that we never venture outside.”
At that moment, Thomas wanted nothing more than to cross the threshold of the 1805 house that had once been the pride of the tree-lined avenue, but was now dilapidated beyond anyone’s caring.
To an outsider, they were playing a bizarre game where liquids and foods were invisible, the same papers were perused hundreds of times over, but their game had become a ritual, from which there seemed no escape.
They had few visitors, so it was a surprise to all of them when the doorbell rang later that day.
“It’s nearly November,” Thomas said. “Who would call upon us on such a dark and torrid evening?”
Phyllis placed her pencil on to the tablecloth and pushed away the magazine, looking towards the front of the house. “I do not know, my love. We must attend together. It is a rare occurrence indeed.”
As the three of them gathered in the large marble-floored hallway, Thomas Wickham III wasn’t the only one to scream as Lily opened the door to the young trick or treaters.
This story was a homage to a well-known British writer. Do you know who?
Photograph above courtesy of morguefile.com.
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