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A few of my forum friends might recognise themselves in these stories. I hope they don't object. The stories they feature in are written with affection

A Man of Pride

He sat on the battered, tattered chair rolling a cigarette. The paraffin heater hissed at the black retriever at his feet. Outside the open door the autumn's remnants had been ravaged by frost with the straggling decaying runners beans forlornly crossing his plot.

As he looked out of the hut at his allotment he thought is this what life is about? An uneven fight against all the odds. Perhaps his life mirrored his allotment's season. Sown with hope, the early growing days followed by the fruitful time only to be succeeded by decay.

It wasn't always thus he thought I was happy once. I was even happily married once but the hard years had turned his wife into a dish of soured, vinegary fruit until the point came when she left. Shortly after her departure he had moved to the two bedroomed back to back so decrepit and run down it was barely habitable but it was a roof and that was all he had wanted and it was cheap, a blessing in his circumstances. Their son seemed to be ashamed to know him and he wondered was it four or five years since he had seen him? His bitterness had started soon after his son's birth, first he had been made redundant from the shipyard, then his wife saying she would no longer allow him to invade her body.

He hadn't known it then but he would never work again. He who had served for years in the defence of his country before marrying and doing his time in the shipyard for an ungrateful, uncaring country. The dog sensing his melancholy got up and placed his muzzle in his lap. With a glint in his eye and his brush stiff iron grey hair raised up he said but I have plenty to be thankful for the sanctuary of my small patch of earth, the wild moors for my walks and pleasure and you dog, my one true faithful friend.

And he said I have my pride, pride in my honesty, pride in belief, pride in my toil but I no longer have pride in my country. A pox on all politicians and mealy mouthed self seeking councillors he uttered as he extinguished the paraffin heater's flame, collected the meagre sack of vegetables and locking the door he strode away proudly followed by his black retriever

Laura Lucy Lee

Laura Lucy Lee sat on the bench gazing out over the still crystal waters of the lake.

She looked up at the moon in a star filled cloudless sky and then down at the other moon in the lake that lay before her as if it was worshipping at the feet of her beauty. Around her mouth twitched a Mona Lisa smile as she awaited her mysterious admirer. Be at the lake tonight had been the cryptic message from the half remembered voice. In the distance an owl hooted and was answered by the bark of a dog fox.
Suddenly she heard footsteps on the path behind her and the rustle of autumn leaves. "No don't turn round", said the half remembered voice. Again in the distance she heard a bell. She stirred and opened her eyes. She reached down her hand and fondled the kitten stretched out and purring on the magazine she had left on the foot of her bed. Now I shall never know who my mystery man was.

The Charity Shop

Black coat, black hat, woollen finger chilling mittens the old lady shuffled out of the charity shop and peered first one way and then the other down the wind swept road. The November sleet filled wind stung her reddening eyes. "Please don't let her be late not today", she muttered to herself. She put down the bucket she had bought in the pound shop but clung on to her shopping bag with her frosted hands. She stepped back into the shop doorway but it offered scant respite.

She waited for what seemed like an eternity and her lift giving friend still didn't come. A policeman approached her "Come along lady, you can't beg here", he said sternly.
The old lady pulled herself up and replied proudly "How dare you I am not begging, I am waiting for my lift but she is very late".
"Sorry about that but I am not the only one who thought you were begging. Look in your bucket, you?ll be able to get a taxi home with that lot".
The old lady looked at the policeman then looked in the bucket and with tears in her eyes picked up the money and turned round, she shuffled back into the charity shop, thrust the money on the counter and shuffled out just as her lift pulled up.

The Lacemaker

In the rocking chair by the old stone fireplace she sat. The bobbins clicking together as her fingers deftly wove her silks into delicate patterns. Maybe not to the standard of the most skilful ladies of Bruges or the Venetian ladies of the Island of Burano but her work was exquisite.
As the chair gently rocked and the spluttering wood of the fire warmed her she fell into that delightful half awake, half asleep state, her lace forgotten slipping to the floor. She rocked slowly dreaming of what? Her youth, a past lover? It is her secret and will remain so.

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