Monday, July 26, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #49

Past Transgressions
by Hadley Stevens


“I’ve carried three secrets for nearly all my eighty-five years. The first would have lost me my home. The second would have lost me my children. The third, well, the third would simply have lost me my life.”

Pouring tea, she smiled.

“They don’t hang many women this far north, Mr. Andrews, especially ones so fair skinned as myself. I’m sure they would have made an exception for me.”

The young reporter shifted in his chair. “Can you tell me?”

“Most of it hardly matters anymore.” And time was almost up. “Are you married, Mr. Andrews?”

He could see this would be a puzzle then. “Yes. Ten years.”

“And do you love her?”

“Of course.”

“Children?”

“No.”

She looked out the window. Light was fading. “It will be hard for you to imagine, then.”

“What?”

She hadn’t realized she’d said the words aloud, but she met his gaze. “To have to choose.”

“Between?”

“Your children, or your spouse.”

“And did you?” he asked. “Have to choose?”

“Mmm.” The sound was neither a denial nor an acknowledgement. “Do you like chocolates, Mr. Andrews?”

Patience was difficult. “My wife has a taste for the sweets.”

“Then you must take her this box.” She held it out. “As a gift. Please.”

Andrews walked the narrow lane. He didn’t hear the footsteps approach, or feel the blade as it sliced. The box tumbled when he hit the ground, his eyes dead as the man reached down to gather what lie in the thistle.

14 comments:

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I wonder what her secrets were...? Interesting.

JR's Thumbprints said...

My initial reaction: I'm not too sure about that ending, it seemed so abrupt, so disconnected. I'm wondering whether that was the intent. I'll revisit later.

Peter Dudley said...

I like the first several paragraphs and the dialog very much. They definitely give a mysterious air to this old woman.

I've studied it but still can't decipher the clues. I can't tell what the secrets are nor what her choice was. And I really don't understand the role of the gems.

(And my pet peeve pops up again. Twice in one contest! It really should be "what lay in the thistle," not "what lie in the thistle.")

Jade L Blackwater said...

I love the air of mystery in this piece, and I sense the foreshadowing of action, but I get a little flummoxed at the end. I thought it was the old woman slicing the reporter's throat, but apparently it's a man collecting the treasures from the thistle?... perhaps I got misdirected by only a word or two?

I want to know more of the secrets!!

Aimee Laine said...

Seems like two stories in one, but I'm wondering who's is more interesting. :)

Erratic Thoughts said...

That suspense of her three secrets is interesting!Makes you want to hear more!

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Hadley

Seems like this takes place around the turn of the last century... interesting that she has three secrets, two choices, and one dead reporter.

Nice!

Dottie :)

SzélsőFa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SzélsőFa said...

there seems to be a dark wicked story behind her. i wonder who the third man was, or if there's one at all.

Laurel said...

This is quite a tease. I love the writing but feel like I missed the story. Is she nuts? Is she protecting her family? Does she just have it in for men in general? How do the kids factor in?

It feels like a beginning to me.

JaneyV said...

I think the clues have to be in the three choices she had to make. But I just can't figure out who the murderer is or why.

But I am utterly intrigued!

Deb Smythe said...

Hmm. Intriguing. Still trying to figure it all out. I'll to have to come back later and give it another go.

Vincent Kale said...

I can definitely hear the old woman's voice, plain as day.

Here's my take on the ending: she was in the possession of stolen jewels, maybe her and her husband stole them together (?)They've been hidden all these years, until the reporter came along. She wanted to be free of her burden. She handed the jewels to him in the "box of chocolates." And someone knifed him.

A little thin, but it's the best I've got :-)

JR's Thumbprints said...

By golly gee, I believe Vincent Kale has solved it. Okay, I cheated this time around, I read his above comment before reading your piece a second time. This is very very good, but I'm thinking you should've given the reader a little more to go on. But please please please, don't lower the bar just for me; afterall, there got to be more folks like Vincent.