Short, short story: What Valerie Did

I’ve missed a few posts lately, and I offer my apologies for not having explained myself to you. After two and a half years of posts that arrive like clockwork, you could be forgiven for expecting more consultation.

The good news is: I’m still as opinionated as ever. And I’m still committed to the opportunity to look at just about anything to do with relationships, community and world peace from a fresh point of view.

The bad news is: I seem to have misplaced my muse. I think she might have decided to abandon ship and stay behind in Noosa, where Rick and I recently had a holiday with our FLAFFing friends. She particularly liked the pool and the shady cabana nearby, and Christmas timemay just be hanging out there for a few extra weeks.

But in the vacuum created by the missing muse, I’ll post you a Christmas story I wrote a few years ago.

What Valerie did

Valerie leaned her foot on the accelerator, then jammed on the brake. The car rocked and screeched. There wasn’t much ground, or satisfaction, to be gained, but it provided a moment’s relief from the frustration of the stopped traffic in the overcrowded parking lot. For over 20 minutes she had been locked in a crawl of traffic, each car desperately and hopelessly trying to find an empty spot. She couldn’t believe her own idiocy in coming to the shopping centre two days before Christmas. She couldn’t believe the idiocy of all these other lunatics. She couldn’t believe she’d ever get a spot, or even get out of the parking lot.

And suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she caught the flash of the brakelight of the car just to her left, about to leave its spot. She was directly at the rear of the car, unable to back up because of bumper-to-bumper traffic behind her, so she flicked on her indicator and pulled ahead. The car manoeuvred out, and just as Valerie was about to back in, the vehicle to her rear accelerated into the spot. Into HER spot.

The magnitude of the offence overwhelmed Valerie. She flung open her door and looked back at the offending vehicle, a large black late-model 4-wheel-drive with opaque windows. She glared, considering the bully who was driving it.

Then she raced round to the back of her car, flicked open the boot and grabbed the tyre iron lying there. She strode over to the leering black vehicle, her little sandals tapping fiercely and her white cotton dress in full sail. She slammed the iron into the back window, glass showering everywhere!

…Well, she didn’t do that, actually. But she could taste how much she wanted to. What she did, after the steely glare, was huff back into her car, slam the door, and accelerate fiercely almost into the rear of the car stopped a few metres ahead of her.

Heart pounding, she continued the snail’s pace. And then, not three or four minutes later, the miracle finally occurred. A lady returned to her car, arms full of packages, just ahead of Valerie, and the catch was hers, all hers. Moments later she was finally in the mall.

Yes, she was in the mall, but still caught in a desperate crush of people. All her body wanted to do was run! – run! – run to Myers and run to Target and run to the butchers. But running was not an option in this crowd. A seat on a nearby bench was vacated by a large lady who lurched to her feet directly in Valerie’s path.

Valerie leaped onto the seat and shouted, “Stop! Stop, all of you!” Everyone turned toward her. “Can’t you see the insanity of this?! Can’t you see the cost of this rampant commercialism?! Go home, everyone. Go home to the people who love you!”

…Well, she didn’t, actually. What she did, after the large woman lurched in front of her, was grit her teeth almost to the breaking point and continue to force her way forward.

That was just before she saw the Santa. One glance showed him to be bored with the boy on his lap, stifling a yawn, barely even making the motions. Valerie grabbed her handbag and slammed it into the side of the Santa’s head. “Wake up!” she shouted. “Make a connection with this child, for God’s sake. He has only moments of pure belief left to him, help him make the most of them!”

…Well, she didn’t, of course. Because what happened was that her eye was caught by another child, a little girl of perhaps three years old, standing on a bench leaning Angel with trumpetagainst her tired mother. A haze of golden hair around her face, the child was transfixed by the activity around her. As Valerie watched, rooted to the spot, the little girl shifted her earnest gaze to a little silver angel with trumpet dangling just overhead. A smile of appreciation mesmerised her tiny face.

What Valerie actually did at that point was smile herself. She suddenly saw around her people committed to the season and to the others in their lives, wanting to make the most of a time that holds great meaning. A man beside her caught the smile. “Sometimes I’m not sure why we do this,” he said wryly.

“For the moments of wonder,” she replied. “For the moments of connection.” They grinned at each other and bustled on their separate ways.


2 thoughts on “Short, short story: What Valerie Did

  1. AAAwwwwweeee… You got me right here, Missy Heather, [ hand over heart]…. Thanks . Hope your muse gets back from Noosa… Love you and your writings..

    Sent from Windows Mail

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