A Fresh Cream Start

Posted: August 15, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

The village of Inglewood was very quiet and quaint, with one main road running through it and several small dead-end streets trailing off it.  With a large roundabout a mile or so up the main road and at the opposite end two dual carriageways forking off in two separate directions, from the sky the village looked like a giant fishbone.

Laura felt at home here, even though she’d only moved a few weeks previous.  She was going to be a teacher at the local primary school.  With the start of the new school year approaching and new surroundings at her finger tips, she was looking forward to a fresh start.

She’d had warm welcomes from several of the neighbors and by the time her first day of school arrived she had gotten to know her surroundings.  The whole assembly hall full of children and teachers gave her a ‘Hello and welcome Miss Cisco’ that morning and her small class of seven and eight year olds were adorable.

At the end of her first school day she picked up her bag and an armful of student’s textbooks, turned off the light to her classroom and headed for her car.  As she drove down the village’s main road, in the distance she saw a small but adult sized figure.  It was an older lady, dainty, with pastel colored clothes, fluffy grey hair and a wrinkle on her fragile skin for every year of her life.

Laura drove past and smiled sweetly at her as she stood by her front gate post with a plate of what looked like sausage and mashed potato, covered in thick brown gravy.  The lady looked at her blankly, but kept eye contact with Laura as she drove past.  Laura pondered for a while as she turned into her street.

Filled with contentment, Laura hadn’t given the lady much thought until she saw her the next evening in exactly the same spot.  The lady was dressed in similar attire, but this time holding a Pyrex casserole dish with paisley fabric oven gloves.  The lady watched Laura drive past with the same vacant expression across her face.

Laura drove past the following evening too, this time later than her normal early evening encounters, the street lights shone directly onto the little old lady’s waiting spot.  A plate of bacon, eggs and sausages looked cold and congealed, but still she stood patiently next to her gate post.

*   *   *

During her busy session of show and tell the next morning with her students, Laura thought she’d ask them about the little old lady.

“That’s Mrs Berry.  My Mummy says that Mrs Berry waits outside with her husband’s dinner, hoping he’ll smell it and come home quicker.” Laura’s most insightful student Molly explained.

“Today is Friday,” mumbled George from the corner of the room, “Mrs Berry always cooks Fish and chips on a Friday!  YUM, Yum…” he smiled rubbing his stomach with a gleeful grin.

“It is funny though Miss Cisco,” Daisy pondered, “cos my Mummy says that when you go to Devon you can’t eat real food.  You eat stuff made from clouds!”

“Devon?” Laura repeated in a quizzical way, unsure of what her young student was telling her, “Why is Mrs Berry’es husband in Devon?”

“Miss Cisco,” Molly raised her hand, “Miss Cisco, she means Heaven.  Mrs Berry’s husband is in heaven!”

“Oh.  I see.”  Laura was shocked.  That poor lady was standing there night after night after cooking endless meals, waiting for someone who would never appear.  The thought of it was heart wrenching.

She had to shake the thoughts and feelings off quickly, as she looked around at a busy beehive of seven and eight year olds.

On her drive home, sure enough, Mrs Berry was standing outside, this time with what looked like a homemade cake, topped with strawberries and frosting.  Her apron was dusted with more flour and icing sugar than what was probably in the cake itself.  Laura decided to pull over and park the car.  She wandered up the driveway to the gate post where Mrs Berry was standing.  She smiled politely at Laura as she approached.

“Hi,” Laura smiled, “I’m Laura. Laura Cisco.  I’m the new junior’s teacher at Fellowes Primary.”

“Hello Dear,” Mrs Berry responded, “lovely to meet you.”

“That’s a great cake.  Did you bake it yourself?”

“I did.  It’s my Angus’ favorite,” she beamed.  Then she looked at Laura and her bottom lip began to quiver.  “He’s gone Dear. The problem is, “she paused and looked down at her creation, “The problem is you see, I married him when I was just sixteen.  We were married and had a wonderful life.  But all I’ve ever known is to cook him his dinner and favorite treats and have them ready for him to come home to.  I’m lost without him!”

Laura took hold of the cake from Mrs Berry’s trembling hands and the two walked down the garden path.  “Maybe you and I could have a slice with a cup of tea?” Laura suggested.

“I’d like that Dear,” Mrs Berry smiled.

*   *   *

On Monday morning the children gathered in Laura’s class excited to hear what lessons today would bring.

“Right children,” Laura said with a glow, “I have got something extra special for you.  Today we are going to have a cooking lesson!”

The children cheered.

Laura opened the classroom door and held out her hand.  An elderly hand appeared from behind the door and Mrs Berry walked in very shy and overwhelmed. “and Mrs Berry, will be our teacher!” Laura explained.

The children cheered again.

It didn’t take long for Mrs Berry to settle in and start to enjoy her cooking class.  Flour and egg shells were scattered over the floor but the children were buzzing with excitement and pride of their creations.

Molly raised her hand.

“Yes Molly,” Laura smiled.

“Miss Cisco, why can’t Mrs. Berry come and cook with us every day?” Molly asked with a pout.

“Because Molly,” Laura smiled at Mrs. Berry who was anticipating the answer, “Mrs Berry will be teaching other classes the rest of the week.  But we will have her every Monday.”

Mrs. Berry smiled as a tear rolled down her cheek.  “Thank you,” she mouthed timidly at Laura, as she whisked George’s rather lumpy bowl of cake mix, “Thank you!”

  1. Larry Kollar says:

    Such a wonderful thing to do! Sometimes, it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see past the goofy things people do and give them the purpose they need. Loved this story, and glad to see you FridayFlash’ing again!

  2. John Wiswell says:

    Mmm, all stories are well that end with cake mix. Good to have you back, Haze!

  3. luca says:

    I ran across your blog website on google and look a few of your own early articles. Continue to keep inside the very good run. I just additional up your RSS feed to my own MSN Media Reader. In search of forward to reading more of your stuff later on!…

  4. […] A Fresh Cream Start by Brainhaze ~ @Brainhazewp ~ Between 500 and 1000 words ~ Slice of Life […]

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