I am delighted to share with you, my flash fiction story of 500 words which this week was short listed on the TV3 Bord Gáis Energy Bookclub Christmas short story competition. To see the story you can either follow the link below and also read the winner and the other stories that were short listed, or read it here below.
THE REVEALING GIFT
Ethel had survived another year, another Christmas dinner. How long more could she get away without having to reveal it? They were always asking questions. The praise and the compliments were lovely but she did feel a little embarrassed. Ethel, shook her head, it was silly to think she wouldn’t be found out. Yet she had done it again! How many years was it now?
Sharing the Season of Goodwill with her children and their families was thrilling but tiring. Tonight in her own home she sat by the window, alone again after the hustle of the festive season. Her family had now returned to their own corners, scattered by the winds of this world. But she knew that next year the request would once more be raised.
She thought of her Tommy, and looked up into the inky night sky, dotted with sparkling stars.
“A frosty one tonight, Mo,” she said to the black sleek bundle of fur on her lap.
Mo purred contentedly.
The stars twinkled. Ethel recalled her mother saying they were little portholes and our loved ones in Heaven peeped out of them to watch over us. Winking down at us they were. She loved her mother’s stories, always creating a world of wonder for Ethel and her siblings. She said a soft prayer for her mother. Ethel believed she was watching over her, she missed her and her husband, Tommy.
Her Tommy too would be looking down on her and laughing at this silly worry she carried each Christmas. It was silly, she knew that, but what would her children think? Say? Ethel liked being the best mother ever in their eyes. Would that change?
Tommy was the first to discover her secret. Teasing her, he threatened to tell the kids each time she would scold him for sneaking a quick puff out in the garden shed.
“Memories, oh the memories,” she whispered to the silent room.
Moving over to the fireside, she dropped Mo onto the sofa. The cat stretched at the disturbance and scowled at Ethel. She poured and sipped a mellow sherry, a gift from next door; Ethel needed to sort her dilemma once and for all. Therefore the clock ticked, the fire died down and she had finished her drink when she thought of it. Simple, so simple!
“C’mon Mo, it’s time for bed.”
Placing three envelopes out on the kitchen table the following morning, Ethel set to work. The same letter to each of her children, the secret they all longed to know. It would be her Christmas gift to each of them next year.
Sealing each envelope, she tucked them away in a drawer, to be opened next Christmas when they returned to their homes. How disappointing it would be, when they read the recipe for her stuffing, – two cups of breadcrumbs and two packets of readymade stuffing from the supermarket, any brand will do!
Ethel chuckled, already looking forward to the next festive dinner.