This short-short story was my entry to our Writers’ Circle monthly writing exercise. The prompt was, “underneath the Xmas tree…” which starts off the story. Read on!
Underneath the Xmas tree lay the long box, the contents of which would end my marriage, remove that which I held most dear. I didn’t know it at the time of course, and hindsight is hardly useful after the event.
I noticed Pam’s expression when she spotted the long box under the tree on Christmas Eve. She looked at the box, and turned to me with an odd expression. A mixture of despair and anger, I suppose.
“If that’s my gift,“ she said slowly, pointing at the box, “you obviously didn’t buy me perfume, like I asked you to, did you? You just don’t get it, do you?” she snapped, and left the room, slamming the door behind her.
Women! What can I say? I was accustomed to her seemingly eternal disappointment. I shrugged, and went outside to brush stray leaves off my front lawn. Although small, it was perfect in every respect. Edges neatly trimmed, grass evenly mowed; glowing emerald green, despite the deepening dusk. I surveyed it with pride, and felt my customary warm glow of satisfaction.
Christmas Day came and went. Pam’s lukewarm reception of her Christmas gift was unsurprising. I can’t bear wasting money, and perfume – I ask you? An overpriced product with over-elaborate packaging; a few squirts and it’s all gone. Whereas the new Hoover I bought her for Christmas would last us for years. A five year guarantee on the motor, the latest technology, light and easy to handle, and only a subdued hum when you switched it on. I gave it a trial run on the lounge carpet. It worked like a dream, as I knew it would.
Returning to work after the Christmas weekend came as a relief. To say the domestic atmosphere had been frosty would be an understatement. But I bore it with my accustomed cheerfulness. These things are sent to try us, as we all know.
I walked briskly from the station, down our street towards home, a nice cup of tea, and then some lawn maintenance – the perfect end to my day.
Hello, I thought, what’s a taxi doing outside our house?
And: why is there soil on the pavement outside our property?
And then: What’s the new Hoover doing on my lawn? why is my long extension cord running out through the lounge French Doors?
As I hesitated by our gate, trying to make sense of these unusual factors, Pam burst out of the front door, wearing her coat, and yanking her biggest wheelie suitcase behind her.
She pointed to the Hoover in the middle of my lawn.
“Seeing you’re so keen on the Hoover and your bloody lawn, I thought I’d put the two together and make life absolutely marvellous for you – now you can Hoover your lawn and have the most perfect grass in the world!”
I stood there gaping.
“Watch!” she commanded, abandoning her suitcase, marching onto my lawn – in high heels, in high heels! How could she? My lawn …
Pam grabbed the Hoover, kicked the start button and it purred into life, moving smoothly and efficiently over the grass.
“See?” yelled Pam. “The perfect combination – you and the Hoover on your ruddy lawn. Now it can be spotless. You love spotless, don’t you? And don’t worry about the grass mucking up the Hoover engine, I’ve taken care of that too, don’t you worry!” She shot me a malevolent glare as she barged through the gate, wrenching her suitcase into the waiting taxi,
How could the Hoover operate on grass? My grass! My precious lawn! I rushed over to the Hoover and suddenly it hit me.