Not Welcome Here ~ Ann Brixey
"It's like I told you. Well I agree...”
How I wished I could hear the other side of this one sided conversation. She was clad in grubby bib overalls, a wrinkled sleeveless shirt, and scruffy flip-flops. Her greasy, lank hair was sticking to her head. She looked incongruous at the entrance of this upscale store.
"Yes of course I'm pleased," she continued in a monotone. I walked past her and entered into the store’s cool elegance.
I saw two smartly dressed, rather superior shop girls watching her and whispering. She will not be welcome in here. When their snide remarks reached my ears, I felt that they were way out of line. Never judge a book by its cover, my mother's gentle words came back to me.
Ready to make my purchase, I heard an exclamation of horror. "She can't come in here," salesgirl number one screeched. Her companion started rushing towards the door.
Something inside me snapped. There but for the grace of God go I, were my thoughts as I watched the unfolding scene. She only wants to get out of the heat.
Drawing myself up to my full height of five foot two inches, in my snootiest upper-class English accent, I said quite loudly. "Do you know who that is?"
Salesgirl number two stopped in her tracks and waited.
"Why she could buy and sell this store without even blinking." Then conspiratorially lowering my voice, I continued. “She is an eccentric, loves to go around dressed like that. Just doesn’t want people to know who she is"
Frowns changed to smiles of greeting. I completed my purchase quickly, before anyone could ask the dreaded question.
As I left, she smiled, showing a set of perfect, white teeth, and a dignity not seen previously.
Walking back into the steamy South Florida heat, I could not help wondering...
Ann Brixey, born in Wales and now living in Florida with her husband, enjoys playing golf, reading, writing (especially Japanese poetry) and listening to classical music.
Curiosity Killed the Cat ~ Sandra Stoner- Mitchell
Mary picked up the post as she came through the door and put it down on the table.
“I’m home!” she called, taking her coat off, and hanging it in the cupboard. No answer.
“Halloo?” she called again. Still no answer. She looked at her watch and frowned, Jack was late, “And that’s the third time this week!
Walking over to the drinks cabinet, she took out a glass and poured herself a small brandy. Then, kicking off her shoes; Mary picked the post up again and walked into the lounge. She loved this time of day; the sun was just setting, bathing her garden in a soft warm pinkish glow. Sighing, Mary turned away from the window and went over to her armchair. Then sinking into the soft enveloping cushions; she curled up and flicked through the mail.
There was nothing much there, the electric bill, some junk mail that Mary never bothered to open…and a letter to Jack. Mary put her glass down on the coffee table and looked closely at the writing. It was hard to read, the writing was smudged from…rain? She turned the envelope over, no return address. “Why don’t people put their address on the back, I always do,” she thought angrily.
She put the envelope down and picked up her brandy. Taking a sip, she stood up and wandered back to the window. The sun had completely gone now, and the night was drawing in. Mary looked at her watch again. “Where on earth was he?” She looked back at the letter, it seemed to be taunting her, “come and open me, dare you!” Mary was really getting angry now. She went over and picked the letter up again, looked at the writing. “If this isn’t a woman’s writing, I’m a Dutchman!” Another sip of brandy, she looked at her glass, it needed a top-up. “I could pretend I hadn’t noticed it was addressed to him!” She poured a drop more brandy into her glass, took another sip, then put the glass down returning her attention to the letter.
“It could easily be taken for, Mrs, the way it’s smudged. Yes, definitely could be, in fact I really do think it is. Yes, it is to me! Silly woman!” She laughed out loud.
A lot happier now, Mary sat down and opened the letter. The paper was neatly folded into a square; she unfolded it carefully and smoothed it flat on her lap. For a long while she just stared at the writing, her face pale, her smile gone.
The first lines blurred, but she no longer needed to ‘see’ them, the words were etched, permanently into her mind. Without knowing it, Mary reached again for her brandy and put the glass to her lips, then stopped; she looked at the glass of velvety smooth brandy and quickly put it back on the coffee table.
“The last thing I want is a fuddled brain when that…that…oh, when he comes home.” She looked at the letter again.
My Dearest Jack,
How wonderful to know that soon we’ll be together, it’s been a lifetime! I knew you felt the
same I could sense it, just thinking of you conjured up a picture of your very dear and
It’s so strange that neither of us could tell anyone about these feelings, we had to hide them
in case they thought us mad. Now no one can deny us each other. That’s all I wanted to say really,
except I can’t wait to see and touch you, to know you are real.
My love always,
“Anthea!” The name spat from her mouth, “Anthea!” Just the sound of ‘its’ name cut her heart into shreds. She looked at her watch again.
“I bet they are together now. Why? What did I do wrong?” Her thoughts continued to rage, she wanted to cry.
“No way! No way will I let him see me cry! I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction! But, why, Jack, why are you doing this to us?”
Mary stood up and paced the room, the letter screwed into a tight little ball in her hand. She was about to sit down again, when she heard a car pull into the drive. Very quickly she looked into the mirror above the fireplace, tried to smile, failed miserably. She grabbed a magazine from the paper rack under the coffee table and sitting down, pretended to read. She heard the key turn in the lock. She heard a girlish giggle. “He’s brought her home!”
“Mary!” he called her name, he sounded happy! “Happy!”
“Mary…Oh, there you are…” He came halfway through the door, keeping his hand on the door knob. Mary turned round and stood up, ridged, unsmiling, and ready for the fireworks to begin…
“Mary…I want you to meet someone, someone I didn’t know existed until a few days ago. Mary, I’d like you to meet my twin sister…”
Mary stared; her mind went blank… “Twin sister?” She almost fell back onto the armchair. “Twin sister? I didn’t know you had a twin sister.”
Jack laughed, he sounded just like a little boy, excited, awed, just…just happy!
“I didn’t know either until a short while ago. I had these feelings, but that’s all they were,” he laughed. Turning, he pulled, Anthea into the room.
“Hello, Mary,” Anthea smiled, “Jack has been telling me all about you, I can see what he means! You are beautiful!”
Mary realised she was staring, “I am sorry, forgive me, please come and sit down. I think I need you both to tell me everything.”
Jack came over and kissed Mary on her cheek, then went over to the drinks cabinet.
“When we were born,” Jack began, as he poured himself and Anthea a drink, “times were very hard for our parents. There was very little money coming into the house and with two extra mouths to feed, they just couldn’t cope.”
“I always felt different, like, something was missing in my life.” Anthea continued. “It wasn’t until just before my adoptive mother died, that she told me about my adoption, everything, the feelings I’d had, it all fell into place.”
“Then Anthea set about tracing me.” Jack came over and took Mary’s hand. “You could have knocked me down with a feather. I didn’t say anything to you, just in case it wasn’t true.” He turned and gave Anthea an apologetic smile. “It sounded so surreal, I had to check it out myself, that´s why I´ve been a little late coming home this week. I needed proof.”
Now she was able to look at Anthea, she could see the stunning likeness. Their bone structure, the shape of their mouths, even the way one eyebrow raised when they spoke.
“So that was how come you were familiar with his face…”
Jack frowned. “How did you know…?” Mary flattened out the letter and handed it to him.
“I’m so sorry, but I thought…” her voice trailed away.
Suddenly they were all laughing. Mary turned to Anthea, “They say that ‘curiosity killed the cat!’ Well, that’s my lesson for today!”
♦ English writer Sandra Stoner-Mitchell is the author of four books available from amazon.com
♦ This author's generous contributions help make P&S possible.