Not flash fiction this time, but a short story. It’s about 600 words long, so it won’t take long to read! I welcome constructive criticism, so if you have suggestions as to how I could improve it I would be very grateful if you would comment.
The cobbles were wet and slippery.
Susan skirted the edge of the market and paused at the butcher’s stall. She wondered whether she could afford their bargain offer of two rump steaks for £8. She shook her head. No. Too much Christmas shopping still to do and not enough money.
She was completely unprepared for the sudden shove and went flying, arms flailing, scattering packages all around.
“Oh, gosh! I’m terribly sorry. Are you alright?”
He was tall, about thirty, slim and dark-haired.
Susan sat on the cobbles and rubbed her right arm, wincing.
“Can you move it? I mean, is it broken?”
Susan flexed it gingerly, and grimaced.
“Just bruised, I think.” She glared at him and started to pick up her packages, ramming them into her bags. She stood up and tried, unsuccessfully, to carry all the bags with her left hand.
“Do you live close?”
“About a mile.”
He hailed a taxi, talked briefly to the driver, handed over cash.
“Give the driver the address. Once again, I’m really sorry.”
All she wanted now was a cup of tea.
It wasn’t until she was at home waiting for the kettle to boil that she realised her pendant was missing.
Sunday came. Jonathan wasn’t a regular churchgoer, but he woke early, the weather was fine, and it was, after all, nearly Christmas.
The sun brightened the east window and cast patches of light on the stonework above the choir stalls. Jonathan thought of how the light had gleamed from the corn-gold hair of the woman he had so unfortunately barged into on Friday. She had worn it in braids wrapped around her head. The colour was that of a schoolgirl; the style that of an elegant woman; but she was neither.
And he had her pendant, which was a lovely piece. How could he return it? He’d found the taxi that had taken her home, but the driver ‘couldn’t remember’ the address. Jonathan had the unpleasant feeling that the man had thought he was a stalker.
He’d probably never see her again.
He sighed, stood up – and there she was, right arm in a sling, hair covered by a headscarf. Her eyes opened wide. Jonathan suddenly realised how very much he wanted to know her better.
“Oh. You.” she said.
Jonathan looked at the sling.
“I’m so sorry. Was it broken after all?”
“Yes.” She looked hostile.
Jonathan fished in his pocket.
“I found this under the market stall. Is it yours?”
She reached out and grasped it. She pressed it to her cheek.
“I suppose I should say thank you,” she rasped.
“My pleasure,” murmured Jonathan.
He hesitated – and walked away.
Even though it was Sunday, the Christmas market was open. As he left the church, Jonathan could hear the mechanical organ of the carousel. He mooched, hands in pockets, towards it.
What on earth had possessed him last Friday? The raucous music had stirred him, lured him onto the ride, set his feet dancing as he dismounted – and sent him spinning into a young woman with golden hair and grey-blue eyes, knocking her headlong.
And now he knew that the accident had broken her arm. It was hardly surprising that she didn’t want to see him again.
He watched as the brightly painted horses, with their gilded manes, raced in endless, futile pursuit. There was no exhilaration left in the day. The sun had disappeared and a fine drizzle was slowly soaking him.
He felt a tap on his shoulder.
She stood, looking apologetic.
“I’m sorry I snubbed you in the church. You took me by surprise – not that that’s an excuse! I’m Susan, by the way.”
“I’m Jonathan”. He smiled. “Shall we have coffee together?”
Susan smiled back. “I’d like that. Thank you!”