The Toad and the Tigress – A short story

As you may know, I am currently taking a break, but wanted to share some of my earliest posts with you, that you may have missed. 

This story was first published on the 8th of April and is one of The Britchy One’s favourites, and she has very good taste 😉

I hope you like reading this story, or reading it again if you read it the first time. 

All the best 🙂 

 

 

“Kelly-Anne Thomas come here this instant!” Boomed Mrs Jameson, the deputy headmistress. Mrs Jameson was the terror of the school, she always wore her formal black gown over the clothes she was wearing, usually a twin-set and pearls, and usually strode up and down the corridors trying to thwart any rule infraction she could catch. 

Kelly-Anne jumped a mile. She hadn’t heard the tell-tale thud of Mrs Jameson’s’ determined steps coming along the corridor. She sheepishly obeyed the order and walked over to where Mrs Jameson was imperiously pointing. 

“What were you doing sneaking into that classroom? You have no business being here at break-time. Why aren’t you outside getting some fresh air into your lungs?”

“I’m sorry Mam, I had left something in my bag and I had gone back to get it.”

“Don’t lie to me girl. That isn’t your classroom. Your classroom is the next one along. So out with it, I will give you one more chance to tell me the truth.”

Continue reading The Toad and the Tigress – A short story

The Piano of Anxiety – A Short Story

As you may know, I am currently taking a break, but wanted to share some of my earliest posts with you, that you may have missed. 

This was one of the very first stories I wrote and published on my blog on the Seventh of March. 

All the best 🙂 

 

 

There was nothing else in the room, just the grand piano, black and solid.

She stared at the piano and the emotions came flooding back. She remembered her piano teacher who had made her play against her will and had withheld love and admiration until she had mastered every note. Anxiety dominated her, leaving little room for anything else. Dare she exorcise her demons and once again begin to play? She had promised herself never to play again, but now faced with this piano could she resist?

Slowly, she walked over to the piano.

Each step echoed around the room.
Slowly she lifted the lid and reached out to press her index finger against one of the keys. The anxiety became too much and she collapsed to the floor, crying.

No comfort came.

It seemed she lay there crying for an age. Eventually, there came a light tap at the door and her fiancé came into the room and rushed to her side, pulling her into his arms. He understood. The smell of his aftershave and the feel of his embrace helped to clear away those emotions conjured up by the piano.

“What’s wrong my love?”

She explained to him, “It was seeing the piano that brought it all back again. You see I used to play but I gave it up years ago. It was my teacher, you see, he was so overbearing and I couldn’t take it anymore, so I gave it up. He was quite famous, you know.”

“What was your teacher’s name?”

“Wilhelm Reinhardt, he was very well known at the time”

“Wilhelm Reinhardt!” David exclaimed, “He was one of the best pianists of his age and one of the best teachers”.

“I know. He was also a brute”.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, love, but he is one of my father’s oldest friends and he’s on the guest list for our wedding. Do you want me to tell dad to take his name off? I don’t want to see you upset at all.”

The news stunned her. She hadn’t thought of her old teacher for years and it seemed strange that on the day that the piano had brought back all those memories she was now faced with the prospect of meeting him again.

“No, I think it might be good to see him again after all.”

It was during the wedding reception that she saw him. He was now a very old man.

“Ah, here she is the one that got away! I never understood why you gave it all up, my dear.”

She realised that the time was ripe for truth.

“Actually, it was you who drove me away. I couldn’t stand your bullying any longer”.

Her old teacher looked shocked. Tears came into his eyes. He spoke and she could hear the sadness in his voice and that gave her the ability to forgive.

“I am so sorry, my dear. I never knew. I could only teach you the way my father taught me. I did not know that I hurt you so much.”

Later she went once again into that room. The piano, which had caused her so much anxiety before, was there exactly as it was. This time she sat at the piano and played Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu. Her hands glided swiftly across the keys. Never had an empty room been so professionally entertained. When she finished, she stood and left. The piano was no longer a piano of anxiety.

The demons had been exorcised, the chains of the past broken.

She was free.

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty – February 2018

Just Too Thin – A sad tale.

All through school they’d taunted her. They called her names because she wasn’t thin like the popular girls.

It had hurt her terribly at the time. She came home crying. She’d even started harming herself. They had made her loathe her appearance. Every bump and curve. 

Her mother had supported her through those difficult years and then she had met the love of her life. In his eyes, she wasn’t overweight, she was the perfect size. It was everyone else who was too thin

He taught her to love herself. It was ironic that once she began to appreciate herself, she lost weight. She’d never be skinny, but she became more toned as she no longer felt the need to seek comfort from her eating. She felt loved and felt good about herself. 

Her wedding day remained one of the happiest of her life. She felt great and looked great and she was surrounded by people who loved her. 

Not long after her honeymoon she was just starting a night-shift at the hospital when she came face to face with a demon from her past. 

She had been assigned to the ward for severe eating disorders. On the rounds she saw one of those girls who had tormented her back at school, Lucinda Jessop. She had been one of the ring leaders. She had been tall and slim with beautiful long flowing hair, she had wanted to be a ballerina. Lucinda lay there, the same eyes, but sunken into a face that looked like all the flesh had been boiled away. It was amazing how much a person could change in ten years and yet she still recognised her. 

Lucinda recognised her too, as she entered the room and lifted her wrist to take her pulse, the patient looked up at her.

“I know you don’t I?” She said in a quiet breathy voice. “You’re Brenda Weston aren’t you?”

“Yes, Brenda Kaufman now. Please just rest, I am taking your pulse.”

“I envied you, you know. I was so flat chested and you had large breasts. I wanted to be like you. You also had a loving family. Mine didn’t give a damn about me. I wanted so hard to please them. They never loved me.”

Her pulse was rapid and getting faster. She called for the Doctor.

Doctor Phillips came in and took over treating the woman.

In the early hours of the morning, in the rest area, she saw Doctor Phillips again and walked over to her.

“Doctor, how’s the patient? I need to declare I was at school with her. Perhaps I should be reassigned to a different ward.”

Doctor Phillips pushed her hand through her short brown hair and took a deep breath before speaking. 

“There’s no need to do that Nurse. You knew her did you? Well, I’m sorry to tell you, but she died just a couple of hours ago. We have been treating her for several weeks now, trying to get nutrients back into her body. The damage had already been done to her organs, I’m afraid. You know, in all this time, no one’s been in to visit her. It’s very sad. She was just too thin.”

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 16/May/2018

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/thin/

 

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The Ashcroft Hall Chronicles – Part three

This is part three of a story that I started a couple of days ago. The first part was called The Toad and The Tigress.

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/the-toad-and-the-tigress-a-short-story/

Part 2 is here

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/ashcroft-hall-chronicles-the-story-continues/

Chess with a Snake.

It was nearly two weeks before Miss Huntley could arrange a meeting with Cathy Pargeter’s Father. Apparently parliamentary affairs had kept him too busy to meet before this. In a way that was a good indication. If Mr Bernard Pargeter was too busy to discuss why his daughter had been suspended from school, this could indicate that his daughter was rather lower in his priorities than she should be. This could well be the root of the problem. Cathy was exceptionally bright, there was no doubt of that. She had so many good qualities, she could inspire loyalty in others, she had determination and could plan ahead but also take advantage of a new situation. Unfortunately, she was also extremely devious and lacking in any moral compass. In short, she had every skill necessary to become a successful politician. Miss Huntley hoped for something better for her. She was determined, if possible, to make something worthwhile out of Cathy Pargeter.

Miss Huntley knew she was about to embark on a very important meeting and she was prepared to play the game of politics for all it was worth.

Ethel entered the room.

“Headmistress, the Right Honourable Member of Parliament, Mr Bernard Pargeter is here.”

“Thank you, Ethel; show him in please. You know what to do?”

“Yes, Shall I bring in tea?”

“No let’s let him thirst for a bit. I will call you if necessary.”

Ethel left the room and in moments a large man bounced into the room. He was in his early fifties and had a carefully cultivated air of respectability about him. He was dressed in a very smart three-piece suit, Navy blue, with matching waistcoat and gold cufflinks. He extended a hand and Miss Huntley shook it and invited him to sit down.

Miss Huntley fixed Mr Pargeter with her interrogating stare. The effect of her blue eyes was always enlightening. Mr Pargeter stared back, his eyes were similar to those of his daughter, well genetics will tell.

“Look Miss Huntley, let’s get down to brass tacks. I’m a busy man and I haven’t got time to waste. You’ve suspended my Daughter from school. What did she do? Forget to do her homework?”

“No, I’m afraid it is rather more serious than that. Very serious. I don’t suspend girls for anything trivial, I can assure you. We are dealing with blackmail, extortion and bullying. Oh, and planning an attack on a teacher.”

“I suppose you are going to expel her then. Just like the last school she went to. This is very embarrassing to me, my reputation. If this gets out, it could lose me votes, and the elections only next year. Right, I will take her away if that’s what you want.”

“No, not so fast. Can you tell me a bit about her home life? What about her Mother?”

“Her Mother died seven years ago. She’d been an invalid for a couple of years, rather made a career out of it. We used to wait on her hand and foot. Cathy, in particular used to like to sit with her and read her the newspapers. It was a bit of a surprise when she suddenly went downhill and died.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. What did she die of?”

“Some kind of gastric trouble. Anyway, I threw myself into my work at the time. I had only just been elected for the first time then so I was very busy.”

“But you remarried. I remember you and your wife coming to parents evening last year.”

“Yes, I married my secretary a couple of years ago. She had been so kind after Virginia died and so helpful in getting me re-elected. We’d grown very close.”

Miss Huntley remembered the current Mrs Pargeter. She was in her thirties and had worn very heavy make-up, a Mink stole and rather cheap perfume. The image fitted the circumstances.

“So how do your current wife and Cathy get on?”

“Well, not very well at all. They keep far away from each other as possible. Cathy keeps to herself.”

“You don’t spend much time with her then?”

“No, it’s awkward with her and Laura not getting on. My wife is jealous.”

“Thank you for telling me this. It paints a picture for me.”

Miss Huntley was, quite frankly, relieved that Cathy’s home life was difficult; it accounted well for her behaviour. Had her home life been stable and loving then that would have indicated a more psychologically disturbed reason and one that Miss Huntley hated dealing with. That Cathy may have been born a Psychopath. The fact this did not now appear to be the case was a huge relief. It did not, however, make the problem less difficult to deal with. A great deal of the problem was sitting in front of her.

“I will be frank with you Mr Pargeter. Your daughter is exceptionally gifted. She is intelligent and persuasive. I don’t want to give up on her. I think if we worked together we can turn her back to the right path.”

“Well, what do you have in mind?”

“I am going to feed her to the lions. Or more accurately, a Tiger. One of my staff is a very forceful lady and called behind her back by the girls, the Tigress. I am going to place your daughter into her care. Further more I want her to be dropped off an hour after school starts and picked up an hour after school ends, so she cannot mix with the other girls. Only for a while, until I am convinced she is cured and fit to mingle. I would suggest that you yourself drop her off in the mornings as much as you can and you spend as much time with her as possible. She needs you in her life and that may well be the most beneficial thing we can do.”

“Well I am very busy, I may be up for a plum role if I get elected with an increased majority. And there’s Laura, she might divorce me, think what that would do to my career?”

“I can assure you that whatever fuss she creates Mrs Pargeter will not divorce you. She knows which side her breads buttered better than that! Your daughter is at stake here. Would you rather I just expelled her?”

“It may be the easiest course. Laura can be quite nasty when she wants to be.”

“Don’t you care for your daughter at all? Don’t you care what your voters will think if they find out you could have prevented her being expelled but you decided to do nothing instead?”

“I care for her, of course I do, but this is all nonsense. How will people hear about it anyway?”

Miss Huntley leaned over the intercom and spoke to her secretary.

“Have you got all that Ethel? Lock the tape away for safe keeping, will you?”

Mr Pargeter sat back in his chair and gave Miss Huntley a new appraised look. It was impressed, it said ‘Bravo’ and ‘Checkmate’ as clearly as any words could.

“I will do what you ask Miss Huntley. I do think it’s time I got reacquainted with Cathy. She takes after me in many ways, perhaps that is what I feared, facing myself. Is there anything else I can do to help?”

“Well, we are always looking for donations to our scholarship fund, I would be most grateful if you could make a contribution. I will be sure to mention it widely if you did.”

“I see, Miss Huntley, that you would have made an excellent politician, an excellent Prime Minister even.”

“Oh no. I have something far more important to do. Thank you for coming to see me.”

They shook hands and the Member of Parliament left the room.

Miss Huntley smiled to herself and looked out of the window at the girls playing in the school field. Her faced glowed, it was practically luminescent. Nothing was more important to her than this.

                             The End.

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 10/April/2018

 

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Ashcroft Hall Chronicles – The Story Continues

Yesterday I wrote a story that I called the Toad and the Tigress. It was a short story about a schoolgirl who was caught doing something naughty. I created the characters of two teachers, one who was very demanding and forceful and the other that was much more rounded and clever. I was kept awake all night by this second character and I decided to write some more about her. Her name is Miss Huntley and she is the headmistress of a rather old-fashioned girls school called Ashcroft Hall. 

Please read my story – The Toad and the Tigress, this story continues where that one left off. https://wp.me/p9J3l0-8f 

After Miss Huntley had retrieved the poor terrified toad and taken it back to its tank in the science lab, she helped Mrs Jameson down from her desk, where she had taken refuge. 

“Never mind Beatrice, we all have our little phobias. Have some tea, with a tot of brandy in it, that should buck you up again.”

“Thank you Headmistress. I hate those slimy things, where did it come from?”

“That was the prank that you thwarted. Cathy Pargeter blackmailed poor Kelly-Anne into placing that toad in Mrs Beacham’s desk. Unfortunately it fell out of her pocket when you were talking to her. I have got to the bottom of it, and now it’s time for some punishment. I’ll depend on you to help me mete it out.”

“So that’s what it was all about. Yes Headmistress you can count on me to come down very hard. “

“I never doubted it Beatrice.”

Returning to her room, Miss Huntley set the next part of her plan into action and summoned Miss Cartwright and Mrs Beacham in to see her.

“Thank you for coming so promptly, I hope it wasn’t too much of a disturbance for your classes.”

Miss Cartwright was tall and willowy with long straight chestnut hair that she left free and untied. She always seemed to be wearing brown. Today, it was a long brown skirt with a white blouse and brown cardigan. She was an excellent teacher though. 

“No trouble at all, I’ve got them reading the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, that’ll keep them going for a while.” Said Miss Cartwright in her usual soft voice.

Mrs Beacham was a round, pink-faced, blond-haired lady encased in a yellow flowery frock. She had the outward appearance of being all pink and fluffy, but she had a solid core. She was more of a disciplinarian that Miss Cartwright, but just as good a teacher.

“I’ve got my lot onto algebra. Should keep them quiet for a time. What was it you wanted Headmistress?” 

“I have uncovered a little prank that I think has rather a nasty undercurrent. Jessica, you teach Cathy Pargeter, Joan Langley and Alicia Spink don’t you? And Felicity you teach Kelly-Anne Thomas. Tell me your opinion of them please.”

Felicity Cartwright spoke first. “Kelly-Anne is a timid girl, easily lead and highly strung, I can’t imagine her doing something really bad.”

Jessica Beacham continued “Well Joan Langley is like that too. She latches onto more outgoing girls for their protection, she’d be a prime target for bullies. She isn’t as bright as the other two you mentioned. Now Alicia Spink is very forward and outspoken. She has the loudest mouth, often a sign of being less of a thinker. She might be in the thick of trouble but unlikely to be the brains behind it. On the other hand, Cathy Pargeter is one of those brainy people who can plan something, then get others to carry it out.”

“Well you’ve hit the nail on the head with that Jessica. Tell me, why did you put those three in detention?”

“I caught them cheating in a test. They had been passing their answers around to each other, but none of them knew the capital of Turkey, They’d all put down Constantinople, which of course isn’t what we now call that city anyway.”

“Well I am going to make an example of all of them. Joan Langley is going to go into the year below. Her birthday is in August and she is behind anyway. She will see it as a punishment, as intended, but it may be a blessing for her in the long run. I am going to transfer Alicia Spink into your class Felicity, I hope that’s all right with you. Have you got a bright girl that we can give to Jessica? Otherwise she will be down three.”

“Yes Gloria Baker is one of my brightest, she’s already read all of Byron’s poems.”

“She’s one of our scholarship girls isn’t she?”

“Yes her parents work in the biscuit factory, but she is awfully bright.”

“Excellent, think you can give her some stretch Jessica?”

“Definitely, we are starting Keats next term, that will stretch her alright.”

“Very good Ladies. I will be removing Cathy Pargeter altogether. I am going to speak to her father and then, depending on that meeting, either ask her to leave altogether, or give Beatrice Jameson a free hand with her. You can go back to your classes now. Jessica please send those three in to me will you?”

As they turned to leave Miss Huntley asked another question.

“Tell me Jessica, do you like toads?”

“Yes Headmistress I’m rather fond of amphibians in general.”

“So if you opened a draw and one popped out, it wouldn’t faze you?”

“No, not at all. Why?”

“Oh, no reason, off you go.”

About 15 minutes later the unholy trio came into the Headmistresses office. Three chairs had been arranged in front of the desk.

“Please sit down girls, I want to have a word with you.”

The three sat down, Alicia Spink in the middle and flanked by Cathy Pargeter on her right and Joan Langley on her left.

“I just have to speak to my secretary for a minute. Just sit there and think about what you have done and don’t touch anything.”

When Miss Huntley had left the room Alicia Spink immediately spoke up.

“What do you think the old bag knows Cathy? She can’t know about that Toad, can she? We put the frighteners on Kelly-Anne alright, she wouldn’t tell on us surely?”

Cathy replied tersely “Keep your mouth shut Alicia, she can’t know much. If she did tell, it’s her word against ours. Just deny everything. What did you do with the homework book Alicia?”

“It’s still in my locker, shall I dump it somewhere?”

“No, take it home and burn it, that’ll teach the little runt not to mess with us. Now remember keep quiet. Joan, you’re good at turning on the old water works, cry your eyes out if she gets close to the truth.”

In the next room Miss Huntley sat with her secretary listening to the intercom that she had left on. No one ever thought about the intercom. It was one of her most useful tricks. 

Smiling to herself, she turned to speak to her secretary.

“Ethel, take the master key and retrieve that homework book from Alicia Spink’s locker and bring it in to me in, say, about ten minutes, no need to rush.”

Miss Huntley returned to her desk and gave the girls her best stare. Looking at each of them intensely. Neither Joan or Alicia could look her in the eye. It was not always a sign of guilt, but in this case it was. Cathy Pargeter looked back at her undaunted. Her green eyes didn’t blink. That was a worrying indication. It said to Miss Huntley that not only was Cathy Pargeter guilty as hell, she was also completely lacking in guilt or shame. This was a very dangerous young lady. Miss Huntley had dealt with other dangerous young ladies in her time, this was not the first. All will now depend on speaking to the girls father. 

“So what can you tell me about a certain little toad?” Miss Huntley asked calmly.

“Nothing Mam, we don’t know anything about a toad.” Said Alicia, rather unconvincingly, as she appeared to be addressing the floor in front of her.

“Really, nothing at all? What about a homework book? Can you tell me anything about that?” Miss Huntley probed further.

Joan Langley started crying, or at least making the right noises. 

“What are you making those noises for Miss Langley? Is there something you want to tell me?”

“We really don’t know anything about this Miss Huntley and I must protest that you are upsetting poor Joan.” Said Cathy, speaking for the first time.

“I see. That is how we are going to play it? Is it?” Said Miss Huntley, without a break in her façade.

“Miss Huntley, I will speak to my father about this.” Cathy threatened.

The door then opened and in walked Ethel with Kelly-Anne’s homework book and placed it on the desk in front of the Headmistress.

“Thank you Ethel, you may go now.”

“Hey! That was in my locker, you don’t have the right to go into my locker!” Shouted Alicia indignantly.

“Oh but it isn’t your locker Miss Spink, it is the schools locker and I had reason to suspect I would find this in there. You see I know everything; there is absolutely no use in denying it. Miss Spink you will go back to your desk and pack your things you are moving to Miss Cartwright’s class. You will also be staying in at lunchtimes for the remainder of term. Miss Langley, you too will be kept in at lunch, but you will also be repeating the year. Go and report to Miss Henry. I will be writing to your parents to inform them of my decision. You may go now.”

The two girls left the room, in a bit of a rush.

“As for you Miss Pargeter, you mentioned your father, who I am well aware is our Member of Parliament. I will be arranging a meeting with him myself. Until that meeting you will remove yourself from my school. You will remain suspended until I have decided otherwise. Now get out of my sight.”

Miss Huntley did take some pleasure from seeing the colour drain from Cathy Pargeter’s face before she left. She wouldn’t have been human if she didn’t.

“Now comes the most tedious part of the whole thing. I will have to speak to that odious bore, the Right Honourable Member of Parliament, Mr Bernard Pargeter. This job does have its down side.” Sighing to herself, Miss Huntley picked up the telephone to dial and arrange the meeting.

The End. 

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 09/April/2018

 

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via Daily Prompt: Rush