Gerald

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes the spirits we encounter can be gentle and kind. They can comfort the grieving and give hope to those left behind. Although I clicked on this as a horror story it's more of a supernatural tale. No murder or mayhem in this tale, just sweet memories of tea and cake.....

Submitted: May 27, 2019

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Submitted: May 27, 2019

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Gerald

 

Maureen pulled back the curtains and opened the window wide. Her mothers flat had

been closed up for two weeks and the heat was stifling. A heatwave had been scorching overhead

for a month now and the weather showed no sign of breaking. The last time she had been here she

had found her mother, pale and still. A stroke had afflicted her and the catastrophic damage it had

caused could not be undone. Four days later she had passed away and apart from a brief visit to

pick up the case containing her mothers paperwork this was the first time she had been back. Her

daughter arrived with her ten year old granddaughter. Three generations of women stood in the

sitting room where the fourth generation used to live. Today was the day to start clearing her

possessions from the flat.

“Deborah, why did you bring Freya?” Maureen asked “She's going to find it very

boring.”

“She'll be fine. We won't be long will we?” Deborah replied.

“Your gran lived here for fifteen years. I expect she has accumulated loads of

clutter. It isn't going to be a five minute job.”

“Well I'll go and start in the bedroom then. Have we got any bin liners?”

Maureen directed her to the kitchen cupboards so she could search for them

herself. She knew that Deborah would be on the look out for vintage clothes and any jewellery

that might be in the bedroom drawers. The woman had an avaricious streak that she had inherited

from her father. She had been overindulged by him as a child and it had turned her into a greedy

adult. The little girl, Freya, was the opposite. She was a sweet child with a generous nature and

Maureen loved her dearly.

She could hear the sound of cupboards opening and drawers sliding to and fro.

“Mum, where's Gran's jewellery boxes?”

Maureen sighed. She knew that would be the first thing Deborah would try to

find. When she explained that the solicitor who was going to be executor of the will had them all

in his safe, she heard Deborah swear and slam the drawer shut. Then she heard a squeal and Freya

laughing. The little girl came running through from the bedroom.

“Look Nana, great Gran had a little doggy in her cupboard!”

The child held it out for her to see. It was no dog. It was a fox fur. It was Gerald.

Gerald had been part of her own childhood. The silky feel of the fox pelt had fascinated her. The

beady glass eyes, similar to those on a teddy bear , were endearing and had a quizzical expression.

Gerald always seemed to be asking something when he looked at you. He probably wanted to know

how he had ended up as a fashion accessory. Deborah was now in hot pursuit of her child telling her

the fur probably had fleas or moth and she should put it down at once. Maureen told her not to be

ridiculous. The poor fox had been dead for decades and probably held no sustenance for any kind of

insect to feed on.

“Freya, give me the fox and I will look after him. You can see him at my house

when you come to visit.”

The little girl handed it over and turned back to find her mother. Deborah had a

scowl on her face that showed her displeasure. Finding no valuables and nothing in the wardrobe

she considered chic and worthy of taking she looked at her watch and declared it was time to get

going. She had to get home and put some lunch together. She would be back tomorrow, or maybe

the next day. Maureen said goodbye knowing that Deborah would never return to the flat again.

She wondered how she had managed to raise such a deeply unpleasant daughter and sighed. She

found herself sinking into a chair with the fox fur on her lap idly stroking it and finding the feel of

it comforting. Gazing out of the second floor window at the endless blue of the summer sky and the

tops of the trees she began to understand why her mother had been so keen to take this flat. The

family had all tried to persuade her to be on the ground floor. It was a new sheltered housing

complex and Mother could have had her pick of the building. She insisted on being up here. After

 

all, there was a lift and a nice west facing balcony. From here she could watch the sun set and have

a view over the park. Maureen now understood how pleasant it was to look out on a fine day.

She soon started to feel sleepy. The days since her mother had gone had been

busy and stressful. The myriad of things to organise and do were never ending. The banks, the

utility companies, the council tax office, the undertaker, the registry office...the list was endless. On

top of dealing with her own feelings it had been exhausting. She hadn't been sleeping well and now

in the quiet with everything done and completed she felt her eyes closing.

The images started to dance around her mind. Her childhood came into the sharp

focus of a dream. She sat in her childhood home watching her mother get ready to go out. She had

never realised what a beautiful and stylish woman her mother had been in her younger days, but

now through this lens, she could see the pinched waist of a 1950s dress and the flare of flowing silk

that cascaded over her hips and down to mid calf length. A big petticoat held the fabric up in the

style of the time. A little pair of shiny stilettos adorned her feet. She threw a short jacket over her

shoulders and turned round. Maureen could see her eight year old self amazed at the transformation

from housewife to a woman who looked like a film star. Her hair had been set earlier that day and

was perfect. The red lipstick accentuated her dazzling smile and a mist of perfume hung in the room

invoking the scent of a summer garden. Mother held out her hand and Maureen reluctantly passed

Gerald over. Her mother reassured her that Gerald was going to have lots of fun at the party and

would probably meet some other furry friends there. She put Maureen to bed and left her mother in

charge. A sudden thought crossed Maureen's mind. She had known five generations of her own

family. The scene changed as they so often do in dreams, and she was here in the flat drinking tea

with her mother. They were looking out of the French windows on a hot sultry day watching the

rain. Lightening cracked across the sky and distant thunder boomed. Mother had always enjoyed a

storm. As a child Maureen had been afraid of them. Mother had reassured her. It was just wind and

clouds getting hot she said. All the energy had to go somewhere. Just look on it as Gods fireworks.

“I worry about you Maureen” her mother said “ You seem to be very alone since the

divorce. Deborah does her own thing and you spend far too much time drinking tea with an old

lady. You need to get out and meet some new people dear. I feel you are stuck and can't move on.”

“I'm ok Mum. Don't worry. I'm just spending some time working out what I want.”

she had explained. Thinking time was a luxury Maureen hadn't had before. Living alone had given

her space to be herself. Drinking tea of an afternoon with Mother was one of the pleasures she had

discovered. They were best friends, something she doubted she would ever have with Deborah.

“How will I get by without you Mum? Who will I shop with? Who will I complain

to about Deborah? Who will want to see all my pictures of Freya? Who will understand me like you

do?”

“In truth, probably nobody. You can still talk to me though. I might not be able to

reply but it doesn't mean I won't hear you. After all, I can hear you now. And look what we have. A

perfect day and tea and biscuits. We always knew it couldn't last forever Maureen. There was

always going to be a last time. We did have a good laugh though and you made a very good cake.

It was a perfect afternoon on the balcony. The sun shone for us and you went home happy. What

more could we have wanted. It's so nice here, and I don't want to leave but I think it's time.”

Maureen watched as her mother cleared the tea tray and took it into the kitchen. She

got up to go and help.

“No Maureen, you stay there and have a sleep. You look so tired. Gerald looks

settled too! You know he can't be disturbed.”

The fox fur, that had been Mother's bit of youthful glamour, until he fell out of

fashion, was still balanced on Maureen's knee. Her Mother took the fox and put it across her

shoulders.

“I used to have a brooch that held him in place. It is just a simple brooch but it has

a very good diamond in it. I have left all the jewellery to you. Sell some of it Maureen and go out

to see the world. Travel while you can. I travelled with your father. We went to the South of France,

to America , to Argentina and so many cities in Europe on his business trips. It was very exciting at

the time. Gerald there is a well travelled boy until tastes changed and he was called ghoulish. If

the little chap could talk he would tell you about champagne receptions and theatre trips. He has

watched the sun set in New York and Santiago. He is the witness to all these things with his little

glass eyes. He was there with me. Look at the old photo albums from the dresser and you will see

how far he went. You will see how far I went too. Make sure you go too Maureen. Make some

memories. Have some stories to tell little Freya. Find your own small adventures.”

She put Gerald back across Maureen's lap and placed her hands on the soft pelt.

She kissed Maureen on the forehead and went into the kitchen to load her little dishwasher that sat

on top of the worktop.

When Maureen woke up she was surprised to see there had been a heavy

shower that had now passed. A vivid sunset glowed out above the park and the trees that were now

cooler and refreshed by the rain rustled in the breeze. Maureen looked at her watch. She had been

asleep for hours, both hands still holding Gerald. She put him down and went through to the

kitchen for a glass of water. She was startled to find the dishwasher had been put on and on

opening the door she saw two cups, two plates and the teapot. A large plate and two small ones also

nestled in the baskets. She remembered her mother saying, there was always going to be a last time.

Today was it. She racked her brains trying to remember putting the dishwasher on but had no

recollection of it or indeed even making the tea in the first place. Confused, she took a glass of

water and went back to the lounge. The sunset glowed in a hundred hues of red and gold. It was

a fine evening, one that Mother would have enjoyed. Perhaps that was why she came back for one

last afternoon tea. Maureen picked up the little fox and hugged it close. She could smell the trace of

of her mothers perfume and felt comforted once again. It was time to leave. She could start again

tomorrow with clearing the flat. Perhaps she would just take the personal effects and get a house

clearance to do the rest. She was sure now that her mother was no longer going to mind. The old

lady was away travelling and would not be back again.

 

 

THE END

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Petula Mitchell . All rights reserved.

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