He’d go every Sunday morning regular as the old clock on the mantelpiece until it stopped, so he stopped. It wasn’t that Bert had anything better to do, but the allotment had been Vera’s passion, not his. He’d kept it going for her, even three years after her death, until the weeds started taking over, beating his arthritis into submission. He knew someone on the Committee would say something to him eventually, send a letter maybe or a home visit, be a guest in a house that kept him prisoner except for the weekly shop.
“Nice morning, Bert,” Frankie would say to him as he tended to his runner beans, even if it wasn’t particularly nice. Frankie was like that – glass half-full. Bert wasn’t to know that with Frankie’s stepson Jamie at home, Sunday mornings were his only escape, when Rita took the lad to church, an endeavour for the straight and narrow.
Vera used to sit across the aisle from Rita and they’d smile as the collection went round, or when they took the bread and wine – the body and soul that in some were more lacking than others. Sometimes Rita would leave first, sometimes Vera, but neither spoke to anyone other than the vicar – Rita’s son usually being the topic of her conversation and prayers for a miracle they all knew would likely never come.
Bert looked up as the doorbell went. Muting the television, he groaned to his feed and plodded into the hall. A tall willowy figure loomed through the frost glass so Bert put on the security chain and opened the door a fraction.
“Yes? Can I help you?”
“I’m here to help you, mate,” the voice said.
“Thank you but I don’t need…”
“Name’s Jamie. Been told there’s a few weeds up at your allotment that need sortin’ out.”
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.