These two pieces were written for the Six Sentence Challenge, with the prompt word of ‘keepsake’, one for serious and one for fun.
Alice’s mother and the red brooch
Her mother was sorting through her personal possessions when Alice noticed a cheap costume jewellery red brooch, which she thought was seriously at odds with her mother’s usual good taste, so she said, ‘Sentimental value?’
With a slight tilt of her head and a movement at the corner of her mouth her mother said ‘At the end of the War, many men returned changed in ways we could never have imagined were possible and some sat in silence, some just sat and cried, some couldn’t hold down a job, some became drunks, some became gamblers and some became wife-beaters. A small number of women started wearing the same tacky red brooch you see here and it meant she was living with a ‘case’, a case of a man who could not be put back together again and who was inflicting misery that was no longer tolerable, but society seemed unwilling to stop him.’
Alice blinked involuntarily and rapidly and she said ‘So what happened to these ‘cases’?’ and her mother replied that someone in the network with no connections to the case would ‘remove’ him.
Knowing immediately what ‘removed’ meant, Alice asked if the network still existed and her mother said ‘Haven’t a clue really but I thought I’d put it in your pile as a keepsake, in case it might be useful in the future.’
Stunned, the only thing Alice could think of was to change the subject so she shifted to her father, who had died not long after she was born and asked her mother whether there were any of his things that she’d kept and she said ‘Oh, no, dear, I got rid of those a long time ago because, although I truly loved him when I married him, he was never the same after the War.’
Not the sharpest tool in the shed
The retired Irish dentist, Phil McCavity*, was having some craic over a Guinness with his old friend, the cast iron chair maker, Paddy O’Furniture, when Paddy said ‘Now what’s that dooverlacky you’ve got in your garden there, Phil?’
‘Well, I tell you, Paddy, that’s a multi-headed, reciprocating-engine-powered, mobile water-saving sprinkler that I bought from Pete Moss down at the garden centre, so that I don’t have to keep dragging hoses around when it’s summer next Wednesday.’
‘I think you’re soft in the head, Phil, especially after that automatic lawnmower he sold you last year chopped off half your toes when you dozed off after too many Jamiesons.’
‘Now, that wasn’t Pete’s fault so much as user error, because I didn’t read the very specific instructions that came in the box, although I must say it would have helped if they hadn’t been translated from Korean by that eedjit, Matt Finnish, down at the printers.’
‘Enough of that’, said Paddy, ‘I’m off to Dublin for my holidays next week and seeing as how I’ve never been there before, I wondered if you might help me out with directions and I’ll bring you back a keepsake for your trouble.’
‘Of course’ said Phil ‘that’s easy because you just take the road to the next village, turn right and then after the third intersection, turn left and go for three miles and … no, that’s too complicated, take a left at the village and drive six miles to the first roundabout and take the third exit where you see the sign to … oh, to be honest, Paddy, if I was going to Dublin I wouldn’t start from here.’
*’Borrowed’ from the late great comic genius, Spike Milligan.