I shuffle across to the shower and try not to look at my marbled legs. Trembling, I clutch the grab rail; this is all getting too hard. I’m startled by the doorbell. It’s sod’s law, I don’t see anyone from one day to the next and the one time someone calls by I’m naked. If I grab my towel and cover up, I might make it downstairs before they go. I stretch out to my arm to lift it off the radiator, but it slithers to the floor. Bending to pick it up, my back locks. The doorbell rings again. Tears trickle down my cheeks and I lower myself to sit on the cold, cracked lino. A pool of wee leaks out under me. I pause, then grit my teeth and haul myself upright, gripping the toilet bowl. A spasm jolts down my spine, but I manage to manoeuvre myself out onto the landing. My blue, candlewick dressing-gown is draped over the bannister; I reach for it, ease my stiff body into its warmth and button it up. I lean into the handrail and take the stairs, one slow step at a time. My visitor has gone. A notice pokes through the letter box. It reads:
Could you be an Avon representative? Unlock your potential, make friends and earn money. Ring today.
I slip the pretty pink card, decorated with butterflies, into my pocket. It’ll be nice to look at over a cup of tea. Before I can get to the kitchen, the phone in the hall buzzes,
‘Hello. Is that Shirley Masters. Mrs Shirley Masters?’ says a warm male voice.
‘Yes, speaking. And you are?’
‘John Smith, please call me John. How are you today?’
‘To be honest, Mr Smith, John, I’ve felt better. Aches and pains, you know?’
‘Well, I can put a smile on your face. You’re a very lucky lady; you’ve been chosen to benefit from an exclusive investment opportunity.’
‘I’ve only got £5,000 in the Post Office. I don’t suppose that’s enough?’
‘Not at all. That’s perfect. Now, all I need is your account details and we’re all set. I can explain the rest when we’ve got everything set up.’
I do as John asks, he is very patient. I must be driving him mad, being so slow. When we’re sorted, he tells me to go and have a cuppa and he’ll ring me back. It’ll be a pleasure to learn more about his project, and how much money I’ll make. I’ve never had an investment before. At last, my ship’s coming in and I’ve made a new friend. I can’t wait to get to know John better.
Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon, [MA Creative Writing, Newcastle 2017]
Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She is a Pushcart (2019 & 2020) and Forward Prize (2019) nominee. She believes everyone’s voice counts.