Mummy ran out the back door, Daddy went out the front door.
I think they forgot me.
Daddy’s a banker. He travels a lot. Mummy said this time he’d gone too far. She threw the earrings he’d bought her in the bin. Then Daddy threw his briefcase. It hit mummy’s china.
I took my parcel into the lounge and cried.
The string is too tight. I need scissors from the kitchen. It’s messy in there and too quiet. Perhaps Mummy will be pleased if I tidy up. I pick her earrings out of the bin and put them in her special cookie jar and I put Daddy’s briefcase back on the table.
Daddy calls me his princess and Mummy calls me her angel.
I collect the big pieces of broken plates and drop them in the bin. There’s a shadow on the floor, I look up and see a man staring through the window. I know him but I can’t remember his name. I saw him outside the school gates last week. He waves at me. I wave back.
He opens the porch door and smiles.
“Can I help? You don’t want to cut yourself.”
“If you like.”
“I saw your parents leave, so I thought I’d better check on you. I was right to be concerned; I see there’s been an accident.”
“I don’t think Daddy meant to break Mummy’s china. He was cross because Mummy said he loves money more than he loves us.”
“I’m sure he doesn’t.”
He finds the broom and starts to sweep the pieces into little piles.
“I think your Daddy knows how important money is to live. But your Mummy knows other things are even more important. Like children.” He pushes the little piles into one big mound and I brush it into the dustpan. “It’s a question of finding the right balance.”
He smiles again and I smile back.
“Daddy brought me a present. It’s in the lounge.”
“Well, we’re just about done here. Shall we go and take a look?”
I shake the pieces out of the dustpan into the bin and take the scissors from the drawer.
“Lead on my merry mistress! Let’s find the hidden treasure!” he cries.
He smiles and laughs all the time. He reminds me of Santa Claus, only he doesn’t have a beard.
I cut off the string, rip off the paper and open the box.
“Wow, look at that!” he says. “It’s the biggest book I’ve ever seen! The Princess and the Thief. That sounds exciting.”
I trace my fingers over the large, gold letters.
“Daddy always buys beautiful presents.”
“Shall I read or do you want to?” he says.
He closes his eyes. He looks peaceful and content like Daddy does after Sunday lunch. Sometimes I don’t know a word, so I spell it out loud and he tells me what it is. He would be a good teacher as he is very patient. I read on until the story ends.
He opens his eyes and smiles again.
“You have a lovely, soothing voice and read so well.”
“Will I meet a prince?”
“Every girl meets her prince.”
He holds out his hand and leads me to the window. The sky is blue and sunny but he tells me how clouds are made and why rain falls.
“Shall we go for a walk?” he says. “While the weather’s good?”
“What about Mummy and Daddy?”
“We could leave a note.”
“Can I bring my book?”
“That’s a wonderful idea.”He laughs and smiles.
Okay, so that's a bit of flash fiction I wrote for a competition and which bombed out. If anyone has any useful feedback please feel free to leave a comment. I'm never quite sure what these judges are looking for and thought something depressing/arty farty might work this time - clearly I was wrong -or maybe it was just simply not good enough!
Update 02/12 - I have now rewritten this piece adding another 130 words. The story above was the original one which was written to a limit of 600 words. This is obviously a worthwhile challenge for any writer as it concentrates the mind and makes you focus on the effect of each and every word.. However, now that I have fleshed out the piece a little more and improved the ending to make it more rounded I feel it is a much better piece of writing. The updated story can be found on my story website.