Across The Street

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


A short story inspired by the Imaginarium Picture Prompt 34

Submitted: November 23, 2017

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Submitted: November 23, 2017

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Across The Street.

Millicent and Albert were almost house-bound. It was only on the odd occasion that one of their family would call and take them for a visit. And, of course there were the hospital appointments, plenty of those now that they both were almost ninety.

Every day, Sue, their care worker would call. She’d help with the housework, do the couple’s shopping and even prepare some of their meals. The biggest help she provided though was to break up the monotony. Over the years they found that they had less and less to say to each other, and the television that they used to use to fill up the silences had got so silly and vulgar these days.

Sue was a god-send, they both thought. She would talk to them both and whenever there was a dispute she would somehow manage to stay neutral. The problem was, both for Millicent and Albert, that Sue never came round on a Sunday. The day just seemed to drag on and on, no matter how late they managed to get up; and there was nothing much for them to do for the most part than to sit and look out of the window.

Many of the neighbours had changed over the years, some so recently that neither had ever spoken to them. But there were others who had been in residence for a long time. These were the ones that provided the most speculation, the most gossip. But their gossip was harmless as they did not speak of it to anyone else, it was just a form of entertainment to them.

One Sunday morning, Millicent managed to stay in her bed until 10am. Arthur, when he heard her about, got up too. The curtains were opened and they both sat down to enjoy their first cup of tea of the day.

I wonder who that belongs to?” Millicent said, pointing to a child’s bike, left leaning against the railings of the small park opposite.

One of the new ones, no doubt. Gone to play in the park, I shouldn’t wonder.” Arthur did not seem to be especially interested. He was more concerned by how his window box was flowering.

They munched away in silence and it wasn’t until the washing up had been done and put away that Millicent noticed the bike was still there.

Look, Arthur. That bike is still in the very same spot.”

Her husband made his way slowly to stand at her side. “Looks like it, doesn’t it.”

Do you think she’s alright? The girl it belongs to?” Millicent looked up and down the road, anxious to spot any potential owner.

How do you know it belongs to a girl? It might be some lad left it there.”

Look at the bike, Arthur. It’s not for a little child, is it! Lads that age wouldn’t be taking round their teddies, would they. No, it belongs to a girl. I’m sure.”

Arthur turned the television on but in spite of the bigger choice of channels there was nothing that he wanted to watch. Millicent stayed looking out of the window, clearly deep in thought.

It’s been left there a long time, Arthur. You don’t think there could have been one of those abductions, do you?”

What, here? No! Quit your fretting and find something to do.”

The problem was though, that once Millicent had mentioned the possibility of there being some sort of problem, neither of them could forget it. Both she and her husband found themselves being drawn to check out of the window all afternoon, to see if the bike with its teddy was still standing there.

The sun started to go down and the light began to fade. It had to be getting colder out going by the condensation that was forming on the windows. Both Arthur and Millicent stood side by side, looking at the bicycle.

I think you should call the police, Arthur. It’s been sitting there for at least six hours.”

Arthur was not very keen on the idea but his wife was making some sense. There was all sorts of crimes being committed everywhere these days. He made his way slowly towards the telephone and started to dial.

Just as he dialled the second 9 a door slammed a few houses down. A girl of about eight ran to the bike, picked up and hugged the teddy before placing it back in the basket, and pedalled off down the road.

Never mind, Albert.” Millicent called. “She’s gone now.”

You and your worrying. You could have made me look a right fool.” Albert stopped his finger from dialling that last 9 just in time.

Millicent pulled the curtains closed and shut out the cold and the growing darkness. Not long now before she could go to her bed, another Sunday got through. And tomorrow at least they would have something to tell Sue.


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