Posted by: writingwitch2013 | April 12, 2013

A special delivery

image          from the book Lost and Sold & other short stories.

The postman, a large round harassed looking man dressed in thick jumper, luminous red jacket two sizes too big,  and sweating so profusely that streams of  water droplets trickled down his face from his forehead and temple and dripped off his chin and nose, knocked at the door.
I had watched him from my spot at the breakfast bar as he had tried to cram a package in the letter box, and giving up when it wouldn’t go through, then proceeded to try and yank it out again. The result was a torn padded envelope.
When I opened the door to him he was  carrying a bag on his shoulder the size of a small house,and was rummaging through it muttering.
“Thanks .” I said , holding out my hand for the package.
  He waved it around in my general direction with his left hand whilst still rummaging in his bag with his right.
  “Muh.” He said to the ground.
  “Pardon?” I asked.
  “The’s muh.” He said.
 I gave up trying to catch hold of the waving package and waited to see what or how much ‘muh’ there was.
He grunted and let the bag slide slowly from his shoulder. I half expected him to say ‘fee fi fo  fum’ as he bent right down to disembowel the contents of the small house. He slung the original package to the ground, neatly taking off the top of two daffodils that had struggled through the last few weeks of snow and freezing spring conditions to tentively  peep out in full golden glory yesterday afternoon.
I scooped them up lovingly and rested them gently on the palm of my hand. Their yellow/ gold heads, so dainty, looked up at me and they had only  a short length of stalk each. I could put them in an egg cup of water on the window sill, their struggles wouldn’t be in vain, they could still cheer me from inside the house.
 As I stood looking at these little miracles of nature in the palm of my hand the postman let out a triumphant grunt, something akin to a chicken laying an ostrich egg, and slapped, with some force, a bundle of letters and a larger package on my outstretched palm, flattening the daffs.
 “Thurh.” He grunted, a bit of spit landed on the door frame next to me and as he spun his large frame around with an ” ‘amoff !” a droplet of sweat dripped of his nose and landed on my cheek.
 I wiped the sweat drop off my face with the back of my sleeve and watched him lumber up the drive, before I closed the door and took the post through to  the kitchen. I slung my cardigan on the wash pile, not wanting to carry his sweat on my arm all day. Then I wet a paper kitchen towel and scrubbed at my cheek before attempting to pull the daffodil petals back into some sort of shape. I found an egg cup and filled it with water, the daffs drooped dejectedly over the sides. I had my doubts about their ability to add some cheer to the inside of the house.
 I sat down to investigate my packages.
 I looked at the torn package on the table then at the much larger package and two A4 sized letters that had in large red letters across the front; Photographs, Do Not Bend. Why did the postie try cramming the smallest package through the letter box when the rest of the post for my address was much larger? How did he think he would get the rest of the post through? Why didn’t he just knock in the first place.
  The postmark of one of the A4 envelopes was South Wales. The other was Sheffield. I pushed the Sheffield envelope to one side, I knew that would contain a picture I had ordered off a printmaker. I tore open the South Wales envelope. It was a large photo of my aunt and her next door neighbour taken outside the neighbours front door about… How long ago? Must be twenty five years old at least. I tried to remember when I took the picture.
 I had been working in Cardiff and needed somewhere to stay. Being part time and on low pay I had asked my uncle if he knew of anywhere cheap and cheerful in the area. He had suggested I stay with them. I had a great week, definitely cheap and extremely cheerful. I had never enjoyed a business trip so much. Their next door neighbour was a colourful character and her cats, all six of them joined us on picnics, jaunts in the forest and strolls along the coast. She kept them on leads when we were out but in her house they ruled the roost. In the photograph, taken on my last day, she was cradling one cat, whilst two sat on her shoulders and one of her cats swung from the bottom of my aunty’s skirt. It made an odd picture and I laughed.
 It was the second time that week that I’d seen the picture. My aunty had written to me by email. It was a pleasant surprise but unfortunately along with a link to the picture, she had written in her native tongue and my welsh language skills were sketchy. With the help of google translate and the dregs of my memory I deciphered her letter.
 Her neighbour had gone in a home, she had left my aunt a cat and my aunt was looking for a loving home for it.  My aunty thought of me because I had met the neighbour about twenty years ago. She asked if I would like it. She said it had no tail probably a Manx cat.
 Being a sucker for a sad story I agreed. ‘how will I get it off you?’ I wrote back. I lived in Yorkshire and didn’t have plans for travelling so far south.
I didn’t hear anymore, until this envelope arrived. I looked in the envelope to see if she had sent a note to say they were travelling up to visit their daughter and would drop it in. There was a note, but all it said was, ‘thought you might like this photo, as it is where the cat came from.’
 I made a mental note to send her an email and turned to the largest package. It felt bulky but flattish, it wasn’t heavy, but neither was it light. It was like playing a game of ‘what am I’. I shook it, no sound. Eventually, I opened it from the end with the least Sellotape, and tipped the contents onto the table.
 What I found inside was totally unexpected.
 I sat down and tried to decipher the note. The welsh and the scrawling loopy handwriting made it difficult. All the time I was trying to make sense of the note the cats eyes were staring at me, his expression one of horror or shock. His back was arched  and his stiff legs were stretched out as if to resist his fate.
 I concentrated on the note. As I recognised each word I jotted it down to help me string the sentence together.
 I looked at the resulting translation in front of me, then at the photograph with the cats on and then at the cat in front of me.
 Yes that was definitely the cat.
 I re-read the note.
   ‘I hope you like the cat, and I am so glad he/she has found a loving home after spending over twenty years in a drawer, poor thing!’
 I opened my iPad and emailed my aunty.
‘ He/she  is lovely! Thank you. Fancy, after all these years, remembering that I had admired her door knocker.’
 Copyright@ fae fielding /awen Thornber 2013

Lost and sold & other short stories . is a collection of short stories and flash fiction to be available on kindle in the autumn
image
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Responses

  1. Haha, great that, loved it. Sounds like our postman must have relocated – I haven’t seen him for ages!


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