Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Tuesday evening short story

Mr Henderson's Office

Upon reading the note handed to her by Brian's PA, Helena Gahan immediately felt a sense of impending dread; not for herself but for the happy little girl she'd had the pleasure of teaching for the past 10 months.

But it wasn't just a sense of empathy that was now forcing tears to her eyes - which she fought back with a grim determination to remain both professional and supportive - it was her own memories of that wet Sunday evening in the hospice many years before she had decided to embarked on a career in primary education.

"Elizabeth dear", he said as calmly as she possibly could, "would you come with me to the Head's office please?"

"I'm just finishing this drawing of the French flag, Miss Gahan", Elizabeth protested as she dipped her thick paint brush into a pot of gloopy red paint.

Helena placed one hand on the Elizabeth's head, gently stroking her long brown pony-tailed hair, with the other she carefully took hold of the brush that Elizabeth held, placing it into the cleaning bowl.

"That can wait until later, I need you to come with me now to Mr Henderson's office, your Mother is waiting for you"

"But it's not home time yet is it Miss?"

"No Elizabeth", replied Helena as she helped the sparkly eyed eight-year-old to pack her little red rucksack which was emblazend with a bright yellow star on the front, "I think your Mummy needs to see you about something important".

Before long they were walking together down the long corridor which stretched the whole length of Hemsea C of E Primary School, from the Juniors where Helena taught through to year 11, and Mr Alderson's class in which Elizabeth's older brother Daniel was a pupil.

Elizabeth skipped along, excited at the prospect of seeing her mother again so early in the afternoon. She had tried to find out from Miss Gahan why it was her Mother was here before normal home time.

Must be a surprise, she had decided.

Having held it together so far, Helena took a deep breath before enter Brian's office.

Mr Henderson, a heavy set man in his late forties sat at his desk, and was speaking in a low comforting tone to the person opposite to him who sat with their back to the door.

Helena coughed pointedly to interrupt the conversation and it was at this moment that Elizabeth felt that something was terribly wrong.

It was indeed her mother sitting at Mr Hendersons desk, but not her Mother as she normally was. No, right now her mother Jenny had dark rings around her eyes, which were themselves watery. Jenny immediately jumped to her feet and took hold of Elizabeth to give her a sufforcating hug.

Elizabeth pushed away in an attempt to quiz her Mother about what was going on.

"We're still waiting for Daniel", her Mother replied.

"I'm feeling scared Mummy, what's happening?" Elizabeth pleaded.

Brian interjected that it would be a good few more minutes before Mr Douglas would be along with Daniel, whom had been in a PE lesson on the playing field when his presence in the office had been requested.

"Okay," replied Jenny, as she lifted Elizabeth up and sat her in the chair in which moments before she herself had been seated.

She knelt down in front of Elizabeth so that she could be at the exact same head height, she smiled in a way which indicated anything but happiness to Elizabeth and started.

"It's about your Daddy, Lizzie."

"What about Daddy?"

Elizabeth caught a glance of Miss Gahan put her hand up to her face to cover her eyes before her Mother continued.

"I'm so very sorry Lizzie, but your Daddy died a little while ago."

Elizabeth was confused, "But Daddy's at work?"

"Yes Lizzie, he was, and that was where he died".


3 comments:

suburban wonder said...

Well, that's certainly the feel-good story of the week.

Brutal! Poor Lizzie.

Rainypete said...

Unfortunately ths isn't all that uncommon a story.

Ship Creak said...

Errr... Not a happy story to read before bedtime.

But then one shouldn't read Angry Chimp before bedtime, anyway, so I guess it's my own stupid fault.