Perfect Family Tales And Other Trivia

The art of the short-story writer is that of the cartoonist. It is the magical craft of creating entire worlds with a few simple strokes of a pen. Tales told by an idiot? Maybe! But my tales are also a mix of reality and fantasy; truth and lies; some based on my own family; others, not. Readers must guess which characters are real; who are inventions - and who are an amalgam of both. Please draw the boundaries for yourself.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

‘What Made Maggie Fly?’

There had been the gorgeous gown, splendid church service and a sumptuous banquet with dancing till dawn. No wonder Maggie saw stars.

“Thank you,  Mummy. Thank you, Daddy”, she said. “Colin and I have had a wonderful day”.

“Shush!”, said Dad, putting his finger to her lips. “We wanted to show how much we love you”.

“Yes”, said Mum. “We’ve only ever wished the best for you. Enjoy your new life. Now promise not to think about us – not even once – until you and Colin return”.

Caribbean BeachSo they flew to a Caribbean island – a magical land overflowing with gold-tipped sands, shimmering seas and waving palms.

On their first night – and three nights after – Colin put his finger on Maggie’s lips – just like Dad.

But not quite. More like his entire hand. No wonder Maggie saw  different stars: garish, purple-yellow bruising lights whose spikes dug deep inside her, ripping her apart in dreadful, secret   places until a soothing blanket  of thick black nothingness took the pain away.


Later, as Detective Inspector Edwin Daniel arrived at the St Mark’s Beachfront Plaza Hotel to investigate how and why a bride had plunged eight storeys and ninety feet to her death, Maggie’s parents opened an email.

Dear Mummy and Daddy” they read, “I’m coming home. But not the way you’d want. I’ve got to escape Colin. He’s changed. He keeps hurting me. He wasn’t like this when we were courting.

“It’s like he wore a mask that he ripped off the moment we closed the door of our hotel bedroom.

“He lunged at me, pressed his hand hard on my mouth and whispered, ‘You’re mine now, Maggie. I can do whatever I like with you’. Bride.Balcony.Suicide

“Mummy – Daddy - I can’t live like this, but please know that you’ve been the best parents a daughter could have.

“I’ll love you always.

Maggie xxx”


After the shaming inquest, trial and demeaning publicity, Maggie’s Mum said, “It’s funny how life turns on a hair”.

“What?”, said Dad.

“The night before we got married my own mother shared a confidence. She said my Grandma Olive had told her it had been almost a miracle that she was born”.

“How’s that?”

“Olive had no trouble conceiving. It was because she had to – umm - take the initiative. My grandfather was  diffident about intimate relations and Mum was the result of their one full act of love”.

“But I recall your grandparents as utterly devoted. People to be emulated”, said Dad.

“Yes”, you’re right”, said Mum, struggling to remember Olive’s words, third-hand:

“Grandpa Roland  was somehow ‘asexual’. He loved and admired my grandmother more than he could say. So he put her on a pedestal and shrank from defloration. For him, the act was like a desecration. He wasn’t bothered about starting a family. Although he was a loving, first-class father, he wanted to keep Olive for himself”.

“So”, said Maggie’s Dad, now anxious to end the conversation. “Roland maintained Olive  in mint condition. Just how he liked her. I don’t know about you, but as it’s almost midnight, I think it’s time for bed”.

Natalie Wood

(© Natalie Irene Wood –15 March 2014)

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