I’ve been wanting to write something other than my ramblings on my blog since last summer when an idea for a book came to me as I was looking at a stone wall of all things whilst on holiday in Cornwall. I had the plot and characters but had no idea how to put those ideas down on paper.
I haven’t written a story since I was in junior school. My stories back then were full of fairies, princesses and happily ever afters.
A whole novel is a bit of a tall order if you have absolutely no experience of writing so whilst my book will have to remain an idea for the time being, I thought I’d give writing a short story a shot.
And here it is. I’m no writer so please forgive any painfully obvious mistakes and flaws. It’s a bit schmalzy and cliched but that’s my style of writing. The main thing is I enjoyed writing it and that’s what’s most important.
If you are wondering about the odd title it’s because it’s something I remember being said by a Patrick character in a dream I had recently.
I’d value any feedback. Meanwhile, I won’t be giving up the day job just yet!
My Rabbit Died!
“Bugger, bugger, shit, shit. Don’t do this to me!”
With hindsight, she should have said no when the girls suggested an after work glass of wine last night that was definitely only going to be one and was definitely going to be a quickie. Except it didn’t pan out that way. One turned into two, that then turned into shots and well, she can’t really remember much after that except that at some point she lost her glasses and probably her dignity. There was a hazy recollection of singing Tragedy whilst standing on a chair before being coaxed down none too gently by a burly security type bloke. She should definitely have said no and gone home to prepare for today. Today was the day that was triple circled in pink highlighter pen on her calendar and potentially the most important day of her career.
Today was the day of the big interview and here she was with the mother of all hangovers.
If she had said no she would have heard the alarm go off. If she had said no she wouldn’t have a mallet bashing maliciously away at every inch of the inside of her head or a stomach that was tossing and churning and in need of a shed load of Alka Selzer. If she had said no she wouldn’t be here within minutes of missing her train, shoeless, unable to see beyond the end of her nose and trying and failing to read the code that would enable her to collect her pre-booked ticket from the machine.
When she finally woke and was able to drag herself out of her stupor from under her duvet and having to squint at her alarm clock after discovering her glasses weren’t in their usual spot on her bedside table, she was horrified to discover that she had exactly an hour to get ready and make a mad dash by minicab to the station to catch the 8.55 train to Bristol. There was no time to faff around searching for a sensible interview outfit, tame her unruly mane of curly copper coloured hair or carefully apply make-up. She pulled on the nearest thing to hand, a seemingly sensible black tailored dress and without considering the consequences, shoved her feet into a pair of ludicrously high, cab to bar, purple patent shoes. Grabbing her bag she pulled shut the door to her flat and hobbled down the stairs to where the minicab was waiting patiently for her.
Judging by the stream of choice language coming from the oddly dressed shoeless girl standing in front of Patrick at the self-service ticket machine it was obvious that she was in a bit of a palaver. The piece of paper she was holding was inches away from her nose and she seemed to be having great difficulty trying to read what was presumably the collection reference number. He couldn’t help but feel just a little amused as she repeatedly entered the wrong digits. The stabbing at the numbers on the screen became more frantic and the air was turning decidedly blue. Realising he was on the verge of bursting out laughing Patrick covered his mouth with his hand in an attempt to muffle any chuckles that were in danger of escaping. As much as he would have loved to wait and see if she finally succeeded, Patrick was aware of the mumblings of impatient travellers behind him and that he was in danger of missing his train. Not that he was in any particular hurry, the joy of flexi time was definitely a perk of his job at Lloyds but the thought of having to sit for half an hour in the soul-less waiting room at Swindon train station didn’t exactly fill him with excitement. It was time to be chivalrous and help the poor short-sighted girl.
She felt the pin pricks of tears that were threatening to spill over as her frustration increased at each time she entered the wrong code. Without her glasses she could barely see beyond the end of her nose and the letters and numbers on the paper were a little more than a blur. If she missed this train she would be late for the interview and she could wave good bye to any chances of getting this job that she really, really wanted and would be just perfect for her.
“Excuse me, I might be barking up the wrong tree here and you can tell me to mind my own business but you look like you’re struggling a bit there. Would you like a bit of help?
She swung around to where the voice was coming from behind her. The voice belonged to a tall young man wearing a pale pink Oxford shirt and navy chinos. What she could make out was that he had a mop of blond curly hair, what she couldn’t see was although there was a note of concern in his voice, his steely blue eyes were crinkled somewhat as though he was finding something rather amusing.
“I’ve lost my glasses and I can’t see a thing, and I have to make this train, I need to get to Bristol and if don’t I’ll kick myself for like forever and never touch another drop like ever again….and yes please I’d really, really appreciate your help”
The words tumbled out in a torrent as she handed over the piece of paper to him. In no time at all she heard the gentle clunk as the tickets fell behind the Perspex flap. She dropped her shoes to the floor to retrieve them.
“Thanks whoever you are. I owe you one!” And with that she dashed towards the ticket barrier leaving behind her purple shoes.
Patrick felt faintly ridiculous walking through the carriages of the 8.55 to Bristol carrying a pair of stiletto shoes. When he set out for work that morning he had no idea he would end up acting as Prince Charming searching for a short sighted Cinderella on an Intercity 125 wearing a black dress with sheer net panels that left nothing to the imagination and panda eyes from smudged mascara that had not been removed from the night before. He finally found her struggling to make out whatever was on her phone in the quiet carriage.
“I think you might be missing something”
It took a second for her to recognise the stranger talking to her and comprehend why he was holding her shoes.
She smiled and her face lit up. He thought she was beautiful.
“Now I owe you twice over. Thank you. You might not believe me, but I don’t as a rule make it a habit to forget that I’m not wearing shoes. It’s my own bloody fault. Who in their right mind goes out and gets hammered the night before a big interview? I promise you I’m not as ditsy as you must think I am. I am actually a pretty sensible person!”
“Do you mind if I sit down” he asked indicating the empty seat next to her.
“No, not at all. It would seem a bit churlish to say no, especially as you’ve been my knight in shining armour twice in one morning, but please don’t expect too much in the way of small talk. I’m trying to focus on what I should say later. God I’m so nervous. Don’t you just hate interviews?”
“Hate them. I try to avoid them as much as possible. Do you mind me asking what the interview is for?”
“A bereavement counsellor”
He raised an eyebrow.
“Why are you looking at me like that? What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing, nothing at all. It’s just that….”
“Go on, It’s just that what?”
“Ignore me. It’s really none of my business”
“You’ve said it now, so you have to tell me”
“Ok, and I apologise in advance if you think I’m being rude, but I’m wondering if the look is not quite appropriate for an interview. Only saying”
“You’re right, you are being bloody rude. What’s wrong with what I’m wearing? The shoes are probably a mistake but this dress….”
At which point she looked down for the first time since getting dressed and discovered that what she had thought she had put on was a smart tailored dress was indeed not. Sheer panels down both sides of the dress and across her chest revealed glimpses of red knickers and plenty most of her matching bra.
“Do you have a mirror?”
She searched frantically for the make-up mirror she always carried in her bag and looked in horror at her reflection when she found it.
“I look like a goth or a panda” she moaned, slumping back in her seat. By making the train she had begun to feel optimistic about the day ahead, but now she felt that there was no point in getting off at Bristol and she may as well just call it a day.
They sat in silence as the train headed west. He looked ahead feeling her pain. She looked out of the window not really noticing the country side rolling by.
“What sort of things do they ask at bereavement counselling interviews?” he eventually asked as they pulled out of Chippenham station.
“Does it really matter? I’m not going for the interview. What’s the point; they’ll take one look at me and send me packing.” She sounded utterly dejected. After a pause she said “You have to take part in role playing”
“Say I was the bereaved, how would you help me?”
“Where are you heading with all this exactly?”
“Say I told you that my rabbit died”
Was this man for real!
“Seriously, your rabbit?”
She stared at the man in disbelief and despite not being quite in focus, she noticed the glimmer of mirth in his eyes. His rather beautiful steely blue eyes.
The statement was so ludicrous that she couldn’t help but see the funny side of it. She began to laugh and playfully slapped him on the arm that prompted him to laugh too. They laughed together until the man in the seat behind them reminded them that they were in the quiet carriage and kindly be aware that others didn’t appreciate the noise they were making.
“Can I suggest something?” He asked cautiously after their laughter had subsided.
“Go on, you may as well”
“Go to the interview. Be truthful and explain what has happened, but best leave out the getting hammered bit. Convince them that you are the best person for the job. Be yourself and show them what you are made of. Please don’t waste this opportunity.”
“But look at me”
“So, you can see a bit of underwear, so what, and you can easily sort out the panda eyes. Please go”
The train was slowing down as they were arriving at Temple Meads. She looked at him taking in what he was saying. He was being deadly serious. What did she have to lose? She would kick herself if she didn’t go.
“Can I ask something of you?”
“Sure, go for it”
“Can I have your number? I’d like to tell you how I handled any dead rabbit scenarios”
“Definitely. I’d be gutted if I spent the rest of my life never knowing”
He tapped his number into the phone and together they got off the train. The station was packed and in the throng he soon lost sight of her. As he passed through the barrier he realised something was in his hand.
He looked down.
A pair of purple shoes.