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Impromptu short story (1,500 words category) writing. A sample:

The Angel on my Street

The shrill of the door bell startled Mrs. Ferguson although she had been awake for a while. It went off again, this time insistently.
“I wonder who it is,” she muttered lifting her legs off the bed with effort; and into her slippers. She shuffled to the front door and opened it slightly.
A girl stood on her doorstep. “Good afternoon, ma’am.”The girl greeted hesitantly. “What can I do for you, dearie?” Mrs Ferguson enquired, managing a friendly smile.
“Can I help mow your lawn?”
Mrs Ferguson looked at the overgrown lawn which has not been mowed since she moved into her house over a year ago. She had lived in Nova Scotia most of her life but her daughter, Mimi, insisted that she moved to Victoria because of its mild weather and peaceful environment. A wonderful location for retirees, so Mimi said. In the last six months she has come to believe that out of sight is indeed out of mind. Her friends back home in Halifax and her daughter in New York seem to have forgotten her.
The girl shifted from one leg to the other, drawing Mrs Ferguson’s attention. She smiled at the young plump teenager who appeared acutely unsure of herself. She had a rich shade of brown hair and a clear olive skin tone.
“What’s your name, my dear?”
“Emily, ma’am,” the girl answered shyly.
“I’m Mrs. Ferguson. I’ll be glad to have the lawn mowed. The mower is over there.” She pointed to the south end of the veranda. Emily went to retrieve it. Mrs Ferguson was smiling as she walked back into the house.
About thirty minutes later, she reappeared bearing a tea tray. She had substituted her robe for a turtle neck blouse and corduroy pants. Her snow white hair looked somewhat tousled. She set the tray on the round mahogany table near the front door and sat on one of the four cushioned cane chairs.
The girl approached saying, “I’ll finish mowing tomorrow,” as she wiped her sweating brow.
“Thanks, Emily. I should have done something about it earlier.”
“It’s no big deal.”
“How old are you, dearie?”
“Fourteen.”
“You’re virtually a lady. Come sit and have tea with me.”
“Thanks, ma’am but I’ve got to go.”
“You’re a beautiful girl. Do you live nearby?”
Emily blushed. No one has called her beautiful.
She stammered, “I live with my parents down the street – the apartment block over there.” She pointed to the west direction of the Street.
“Oh, we’re practically neighbours,” said Mrs Ferguson laughing and clapping her hands delightedly.
Emily nodded with a smile.
“Thanks, Emily for coming here today. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
Emily smiled. The smile transformed her face, lighting it up.
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Call me, Mrs Ferguson, honey,” she enthused.
Emily nodded smiling broadly.
“Good bye, Mrs Ferguson.”
“Bless you, my dear.”
The next day, after Emily had finished the mowing, Mrs Ferguson invited her inside. They prepared and snacked on chicken and vegetable sandwich and grape juice.
“My lawn must have seemed scandalous.”
“It wasn’t that bad, Mrs Ferguson.”
“I appreciate your help, young lady.”
“It’s no big deal. I like helping.”
“You’re beautiful inside out.”
Emily blushed and was quiet.
“You are, my dear. Hasn’t anyone told you?”
Emily shook her head sadly.
“You’re beautiful and will grow into a fine woman before we know it.”
Emily got up, beating a fast retreat, “Thanks for the tea and sandwich.”
“Do come again, dearie.”
Emily nodded. “Bye, Mrs Ferguson.”
Since Emily was on summer school break, she was happy to spend time with Mrs Ferguson. Emily’s mum always looked so sad that Emily avoided her company in order not to do anything that would add to her unhappiness.
One summer afternoon, as Mrs. Ferguson was blending an avocado and grape drink, Emily observed her and said, “Mrs. Ferguson, you really enjoy cooking. My mum used to too.” Emily seemed to be coming out of her shell rapidly. She seemed more confident too.
“I was a gourmet cook in my day and I had studied nutrition at Yale.”
“Where’s that?”
“In the United States. My daughter lives in the US with her husband.”
Emily stood up to take a close look at the family pictures hanging over the mantel. After a companionable silence, Mrs Ferguson asked, “Emily, do you have a brother or sister?”
“No. Just me and my mum.”
“You’re blessed to have each other.”
Emily shrugged in a ‘if you say so’ manner.
Mrs. Ferguson’s sharp eyes, as blue as those of a Barbie doll, looked at Emily.
As Emily was leaving, Mrs Ferguson said, “I’d like to come with you; just to say hello to your mum.”
“Sure, Mrs. Ferguson.”
“Glad to meet you, Mrs Ferguson,” Emily’s mum, Janice said, inviting the elderly lady to sit. Emily obviously got her colouring from her mum.
“Call me Margo. I’ve looked forward to meeting you. You’ve got a wonderful daughter.” She looked at Emily who was sitting on a side chair and reading a book.
“Thanks, Margo. Please call me, Janice.”

Emily’s mum had a likeable personality. She had a sincerity about her that was pleasing. But, there was such sadness in her eyes.
Getting up, she said, smiling, “Can I get you tea? Not that I’m knowledgeable about healthy foods, as you are, according to Emily.”
Mrs Ferguson returned her smile, saying, “Tea will be fine.”
As her hostess went to get tea, Mrs Ferguson allowed her eyes the luxury of roaming around the Blake’s living room appreciatively. The apartment looked roomier from inside than outside. The flowered covering of the sofa in the living room blended with the lemon green of the walls. And the orange embroidered soft pillows on the sofa added cheer to the already appealing room. Flower pots and vases containing exotic live plants were strategically placed in a way that they put a stamp on the simple sophistication of the decorator.
“You’ve got great taste, Janice,” said Mrs Ferguson as Emily’s mum entered the room, setting the tea tray on the center table in front of Mrs Ferguson.
“Thanks.”
“Have you done any professional interior décor?”
“Yes but that’s before Emily was born.”
“It’s a waste to hide such a talent as yours.”
“I’m all rusty... It’s been nearly fifteen years.” The sadness in her eyes and voice was palpable. She clasped her hands tightly on her laps. Mrs Ferguson was sure she saw those hands quiver.
“My dear, talents are gifts that don’t expire. You know you can do a lot from home these days.”
A tinge of hope fleetingly appeared in Janice’s eyes and then was gone.
Mrs Ferguson continued, “My daughter works from home and she says it’s great. With the internet you can accomplish a lot.”
Emily’s mom just nodded.
Changing the subject, Mrs Ferguson said, “Thanks for letting Emily come to my house. She’s been a great help and company. A beautiful girl you’ve got there.”
Smiling, Emily’s mum said, “Thanks.”
The next time Mrs Ferguson’s daughter, Mimi, called her; she requested information to help Emily’s mum start a home business. She convinced Mimi to call Janice.
Emily’s school reopened for the fall term. She saw Mrs Ferguson only at weekends. Mrs Ferguson often had tea with Emily’s mum during the week in both their houses.
Things seemed to be falling in place for Janice. Her husband had walked out on her a year ago. Since becoming friends with Mrs Ferguson, the depression that had engulfed her was dissipating fast. And Emily has become so cheerful that she now sang around the house and engaged her mum in light-hearted banter.
With Mimi’s help, Janice worked out how to start her online decoration business. Then one late afternoon that fall, Emily’s dad showed up at the house. Emily was still at school.
As he entered the house, Janice regretted leaving the door unlocked because she was expecting Margo.
He stood against the front door watching her insolently. His eyes looked unfocused and he was utterly disheveled.
Her heart raced. She remembered that look. “What do you want?” She asked in as calm a voice as she could muster.
He approached and stood in front of her. “Is that how to welcome your husband home?”
“Please leave now.”
She walked towards the door. He pulled her towards him.
She struggled to loosen his grip. Then he flung her across the room. Her head hit a side table and she blacked out. Mrs Ferguson found her lying there and called the ambulance.
Emily came back from school, surprised to find only Mrs Ferguson in their living room. Mrs Ferguson gently broke the news to Emily before taking her to the hospital to see her mum.
That night, Emily’s dad was found dead in Abbotsford. The police said it was alcohol poisoning.
Early December Janice began her online business. Just before Christmas, she won a huge contract to redecorate the new Mayor’s official residence.
Mrs Ferguson clapped her hands. “This is the best news I’ve had this year.” She was sitting with Emily and her mum in their house watching ‘Style by Jury’. The three laughed together heartily.
‘Thanks to you and Mimi.”
Mrs Ferguson smiled and said, “One thing I’ve learned recently is that people are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.” Then she added, “I was lonely until I met Emily and then you. Thank you for giving an old woman her life back.” Mrs Ferguson smiled through tears. Janice got up, beckoned to Emily and the three hugged one another.

FAB/2009

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