Dash Pebbled, short fiction, short story, flash fiction, judy darley, uk fiction, short story collection, remember me to the bees, literature - HeadStuff.org

The note flapped from the letterbox, not even pushed in far enough to fall through and land with a flutter on the spiny welcome mat that collected stray mud from the soles of our boots.


Written in thick black marker pen on thin yellow paper, it asked: “Is your howse for sale? I would like to buy it and live in it. Cash waiting.” And then a scrawled phone number, and a name – Faye.


We laughed and guessed that it was from a child playing some kind of game. No grown up would push such a note into a strangers’ home, would they? You crumpled it up, threw it away.


The next day, another appeared, this one in thick black marker pen on thin pink paper. It stated: “I will look after your cat when you go on hollyday, for just a small amount of money. Leave your keys in the lock and the cat food on the kitchin counter. Faye.”



We didn’t have a cat. We laughed, less loudly this time, and commented on the curious misspellings – wondered if they were deliberate. I folded the note very small and dropped it into the recycling bin.


Another day, and another note, this time written in thick black marker pen on thin sky-blue paper. It claimed: “I payd a visit when you were out or asleep (you didn,t amswer the dorrbell) and noticed your dayleers wilting so I have watered the flowers for you. No payment required. I have allso tydeed the snails from your garden. Faye.”


We’ve never had dahlias in our garden, just daisies and dandelions springing out of the cracks between our flagstones. We did have seashells though, brought home from trips to Teignmouth and arranged artfully along our wall. Every single one was gone, even the sweet little yellow and orange periwinkles you’d gathered to give me, calling them mermaid’s kisses.


Our laughter sounded hollow to my ears. We tore the note into small pieces and scattered it in the wastepaper basket, avoiding each other’s eyes.


We didn’t go to work the next day, just sat in the living room watching furtively through the net curtains, freezing each time someone neared our home. By mid-afternoon our limbs were asleep and we’d long run out of things to say to one another.


Then, as we heard the school over the road begin to empty for the close of day, someone crunched up the dash-pebbled path to our front door. We gripped each other’s arms, eyes wide, our breath coming in gasps.


The letterbox creaked open, a leaf green sheet of paper poked through.


We had intended to leap to our feet at this point, fling open the door, catch our mystery note-writing shell-stealer in the act, but our legs were pinned and needled to our chairs. When we finally staggered over the prickly welcome mat, there was no one in sight.


The note hung limp from our fingers; we unfolded it with extreme care, read the words scrawled in thick black marker pen. “I no longer wish to buy your howse. I have bourt the one next dorr. Looking forward to being good naighbores! Faye.”


We looked at each other, and smiled uneasily. “We should bake her a pie,” you suggested, “or a cake.”

“Something with plenty of nuts,” I added. Neither of us laughed.