The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…
Without a trace of guilt, Noreen Townsend thought it perfectly acceptable to slam the door in the young man’s face. What would an 85-year-old need with a set of encyclopaedias? She knew enough about the world to know she didn’t want to learn any more. She’d never visit the endangered tribes in the remote forests of Outer Mongolia, she’d never need to learn how to make a car that could go 300 miles an hour or know how many breeds of stickleback fish there were. She was a people person, not facts and figures.
To Noreen, her husband Ernest was the skilful one, able to concentrate on his work whilst holding the longest of conversations. He’d been a walking encyclopaedia since they’d first met in the canteen of the electronics factory, until one day, not long after the salesman’s visit, Ernest had paused mid-sentence and stared at Noreen who’d waited patiently for him to continue, unsure as to why he’d stopped.
“A funny thing happened to me this morning,” Ernest had said.
“You’ve told me already, Ernest,” Noreen had wanted to reply but let him tell his tale.
Over the next few months she’d had more repeats, more unfinished sentences until one day he said nothing at all. He’d stare out the window and nod at each truck or car going past. He ate normally, looked after himself, but it was as if he’d run out of things to say.
“Tell me something new,” Noreen had said, tired of the silence, but Ernest would just smile as if there was nothing to tell, which there wasn’t as he didn’t go anywhere, just stare out the window at the trucks.
Then one day one of the trucks stopped. The doorbell rang and Ernest looked round, though said nothing.
Noreen went to the door, led the delivery driver into the lounge where he placed the four cardboard boxes in front of Ernest. Noreen signed with the digital pen, and thanked the man as he left. Returning to the lounge, she peeled off the tape from one of the boxes and took out one of the items. Opening the ‘Hubbard’s Encyclopaedia D-F’ she found the entry for electronics and felt a tear trickle down her cheek as Ernest read out the text.