Short Stories


 The penumbra was slowly covering the room.  Annette was sitting in her favourite chair close to the window.  Far away the sky was tinted with the last golden-orange hues as the sun slowly disappeared behind the horizon. It was that part of the day when she felt the need to have someone around. Sensing the way she was feeling, Monique her ageless cat, lifted her head and looked at her and leaving her favourite cushion where she has been lying down, walked towards her rubbing herself against Annette’s legs before jumping up and sitting down on her lap.

It was almost a year when the young man that she had loved as he was his own son had said goodbye to her. James had lived at her home for thirteen years. She liked to remember when she first had met him; he was only eight years old and she had rescued him from an orphanage. He was very skinny with big dark sad eyes. Soon under her care he became a normal, happy child.

After finishing primary school he continued studying in the same private school until he finished year 12. How happy Annette was that day when he received his certificate. She was proud of him and of herself. She had achieved something important when she had thought all those years ago that her life did not have any meaning after her only son, Henry, had gotten married and moved to live to another city close to his workplace. He visited her with his family once a month and every time after they left, the silent emptiness filled her home. Then would be the long wait until they were visiting her again.

After James had finished his studies that year and while on school holidays he asked permission to Annette to go to stay at one of his friend’s family house near the beach where they would spend a week. At first Annette was a bit reluctant when thinking about him going away with people she did not know well, but she could not resist his cheeky smile when asking for her to say yes. She could see how excited he was while packing up his bag pack. Annette gave him some pocket money, which made him even happier.

That day when he was returning home, back from his holidays, she felt so happy as she had

been missing him, it seemed that it had been a year instead of a week. She prepared his favourite cake. His room was tidy, and his clothes clean and ironed, waiting for him to wear them. She wanted for him to notice how much she cared for him. Will he like the changes I made in his room? Will he like it better this way? she asked herself. And she hoped he did.

His friend’s father brought him back home. Annette was at the door waiting for him but she felt disappointed when he just passed by her side saying: “Hi, Mum!” Not a kiss on her cheek the way he always greeted her when coming home after an outing.

“Oh, hello! Where is my kiss” She said smiling, following him.

“Oh, Mum! I’m not a little boy anymore. I can’t be giving you a kiss in front of other people,

they will be laughing at me.”

She noticed that there was something bothering him and wondered what had happened to make him come back like that. Was he annoyed? Unhappy? She decided to wait until he changed and had dinner, he must be tired, for sure he will be his old self again.

Annette set up the table and waited for James to change. He is taking long, she thought and decided to wait a bit longer. After a while she knocked on his door and asked him whether he was ready to have dinner, but his answer surprised her when he said he was not hungry. Something was wrong with this young man, a week away from home has changed him, she reflected. She sat at the table and waited, hoping he changed his mind and had dinner with her. She waited in vain.

The next day while having breakfast, he started talking about his friend’s family. “They have a big house close to the beach and a yacht. We went around the harbour, it was great. I never thought Peter was so well off. At school with our uniforms we all look the same.  But the truth is we are different, I mean social status is different. Peter lent me a couple of T-shirts as I didn’t have a spare one to change, the one I was wearing was wet with sweat as we have been playing tennis. I noticed that all his clothes are of the most expensive brands.

Then he changed the subject and started talking about Peter’s family, Annette was listening attentively, she was worried, here was her son as she calls him talking in a way that did not show happiness but worry. “Peter has two sisters they are younger than him, Felicia, she is fifteen years old and Marjorie, is sixteen. I didn’t like Marjorie very much; she is full of herself and I felt she was looking me down.

Day after day the time was passing by and although Annette had noticed the change in James she just decided it was because he was growing up. And that morning she said to James that she would need to buy a few things and she would not be long. He was playing games on the computer, and he just nodded at her.

Later on when she went to pay for the goods, she was about to buy she noticed that instead of two $50 notes she knew she had, only one was in her wallet. She had enough to pay for her purchases but left the shop thinking about what had happens with the rest of the money she was sure she had. When she returned home, she told James about the money, he was still in the computer so he just looked at her and again, he just nodded. Annette started doubting about having two notes in her wallet, she had probably spent it but as hard as she thought about it she could not get any answer to the problem so she decided to forget about it.

That day she was expecting Rose, her neighbour, for afternoon tea. She had made scones, and everything was ready when she noticed that she did not have enough milk. She called James, who was sitting in the living room reading a book and asked him to go and get some milk for her. She gave him a $20 and closing her purse she put it where she always kept it. In the first drawer of her bedside table. It was a nice afternoon with Rose and James was a young gentleman, very attentive, and polite at all times. “This is my James,” Annette thought, smiling at him.

The next day, James told her he was meeting Peter they were going to a football match. Annette was happy, Peter was enjoying his school holidays. That evening when he arrived, he was carrying a parcel and as he did not say what it was, Annette did not ask. She just looked at him as he went to his room and a few minutes later he appeared wearing a very nice shirt, he smiled at her and said he was going to meet Peter again. It was then that she asked about the shirt, James answered that it was a present from Peter.

A few days later Annette discovered that she had some money missing from her purse, the one she kept in her bedside table. She counted the notes and counted them again and wrote down what she had been buying. She felt very upset she thought that she was losing her memory. Buy that day when she was about to go out, she went back to get a coat as she noticed it was a bit cold, she was surprised seeing James coming from her bedroom, with some money in his hand. And it was then when she realised that not only a shirt but new sport shoes and pants were bought with her money.

“Oh, James, how could you do this to me. To me, that I have loved and cared for you all these years. Do you know that the money I have been saving at home and then taking it to the bank is for you? I have started saving since you came to live with me. Why didn’t you talk to me about what you needed? She was crying now. James threw the money on her bed and without saying anything he went out, slamming the door behind him.

He did not come back that night. She did not sleep waiting for him. Forgiving him, loving him as always. Wondering where he was. What happened with her James? She had never expected something like this to happen. Henry, her son never asked for more than she could get for him, he always understood that his mother had to work for the two of them. Maybe she had spoiled James?

James was back that morning, filling up his backpack with clothes he turned around about to leave, as a way of good bye he said; “I have found a member of my family who is going to take care of me.”

The pain on her chest made her almost bend over, she closed the front door while silently wished him well. Then she thought, what would happen if he continued living with her and kept stealing money from her?  How could she ever trust him again?

Georgina Rozas  ©    2020.


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