I’d like to thank Alex Grey of the UK for her second submission “Betsy’s Bungalow Bazaar”, a charming, nostalgic micro story .
After a lifetime of writing technical non-fiction, Alex Grey is fulfilling her dream of writing poems and stories that engage the reader’s emotions. Her poems and short stories have been published by a number of ezines including Siren’s Call, Raconteur, Toasted Cheese and Little Old Lady Comedy. One of her comic poems is also available via a worldwide network of public fiction dispensers managed by publisher Short Edition. Alex’s ingredients for contentment are narrowboating, greyhounds, singing and chocolate – it’s a sweet life.
This page contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission (at no extra charge to you) should you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate links are how I keep this blog running, thank you.
Betsy’s Bungalow Bazaar
The air was thick with dust as Betsy’s neighbours rummaged through the clutter in the fusty bungalow. They ignored the dreary sandwiches and orange squash on the kitchen table.
Donna sat in her late mother’s armchair.
Betsy had taken in the town’s cast-offs for decades, tutting at the excessive amount of stuff that people wasted. People flocked to leave things with her. Betty diligently sorted it – clothes, china, cutlery, books…some items were donated to charity; others recycled, but far too many stayed.
“It all got a bit much for her.” said Great-auntie Grace.
Donna nodded again; Grace’s mastery of understatement was astounding.
Every surface was covered with piles of bric-a-brac – a thousand thoughtless gifts dumped on Betsy’s doorstep – cross-eyed love bears, silvered plates etched with sentimental clichés, celebrity memoirs, unread and useless. Each item became a treasure in Betsy’s bazaar, acquiring a mythical value as she evaluated which causes might deserve a donation from her hoard.
Betsy had resisted her daughter’s efforts to clear the house; the forced disposal of even the tiniest gewgaw caused her immense distress. Donna gave up, helpless to save her mother from succumbing to the disordered squalor.
Donna found it hard to accept the shambles that her mother had lived in, recalling how hard Betsy had worked to clear her mum’s house. Nana Edith had memorably hoarded bags of sugar, bars of Sunlight soap and ten thousand pounds, the old bank notes curled into chipped teapots on the dresser. Donna was terrified that she would inherit the hoarding gene and ruin her own uncluttered home.
The day after her mum died, Donna decided to break with tradition. Instead of hiring the village hall, she would hold her mother’s wake in the littered bungalow. She posted invitations in the town’s shop windows – “To celebrate Betty’s life, a wake for all the neighbours who sustained her. Please take a trinket to remember her by.”
Hundreds had come, some greedy, offering desultory condolences while eyeing up the goods; others grieved and shared stories about the knick-knacks that they had chosen. Donna spoke of the amber-stoppered hatpin that she had chosen as her solitary memento. She recounted how, every December, she and her mother would sit by a roaring fire, savouring an exotic treat – a pomegranate. They had taken turns to pick out the seeds using the hatpin – the light of the flames making the translucent seeds glow like rubies.
Donna looked up – a scuffle had broken out. Great-auntie Grace emerged triumphant with a dented biscuit tin in her hands.
“Here, this is yours.”
Donna opened the tin to reveal hundreds of buttons; on the top was a gold silk button that she recognised from her own wedding dress.
“This was her memory box.” said Grace, “Your great-grandmother kept a button from every fancy bit of clothing the family ever wore, from christening gowns to army uniforms to funeral suits. Your grandma and your mum did the same. This is your legacy.”
Donna ran her fingers through the buttons; they were warm and comforting. The pearl, nacre, and plastic caught the light like jewels. She imagined the rusty tin in her ultra-modern house – there might be a good spot for it…
Thank you for reading this blog, if you’d like to submit a story for consideration to be published, please visit our submissions page.
If you’d like to keep up to date with all the latest stories, news, promos (including writing competitions and giveaways) plus receive a FREE Ebook, sign up to our mailing list here or fill in the form below.