march 2017 winner
Congratulations Valerie Volk
Shades of Yellow is March’s winning story. Valerie has won a $20 W.O.W OP Shop voucher, a $20 Officeworks gift card and will have her story featured on our site and social media pages. You can read her winning story Shades of Yellow below now.
Thanks to everyone who entered, voted, shared and liked. Missed out on winning this month, April entries opens 6th & close on the 23rd, for more info click here.
Shades Of Yellow
by Valerie Volk
(MWC – March 2017 Winner)
The door was open. That, in itself, was weird, Lucinda thought. Any man who was as secretive, as cautious, as her grandfather kept his house tightly bolted against potential intruders.
Many were the times when Lucinda had battled through the undergrowth to knock on closed windows to alert the old man that she was there. Not only was the house locked and barred, but his deafness meant that often he could not hear her at the front door.
It was really, she reflected, a major deterrent to visiting him. But if she didn’t, who would? Not her parents. They were in another state. Sometimes she suspected that it was one of the reasons they’d moved. Patrick had always been hard to get on with, and increasing age and deafness had made him, everyone agreed, quite impossible.
So why did she keep going? It was a question she asked herself every week when she made the regular sortie into his enclosed world. Not that she ever got any thanks for it, and was made to feel more like an intruder than a welcome guest.
The word jolted her into a new thought. The open door was disquieting. What if someone was in the house? You read about it all the time in the papers. Elderly recluse … bashed and robbed … lying critically ill in hospital. Police appeal to anyone in the neighbourhood who might have seen anything suspicious …
Neighbourhood. That was another taboo word. Patrick had managed to alienate everyone around him, and there were no neighbours or friends who might have kept a compassionate eye on his house. If she hadn’t come each week he might have died and been undiscovered for months.
Lucinda stood on the doorstep, aware that she was procrastinating. Silly to feel anxious, she thought. I know there’s some perfectly simple explanation. Like what?
He would never go outside and leave the door open. In fact, he’d never be inside with the door open. What if there was someone in the house? Or worse, what if someone had harmed him and taken off?
Should she call the police? And say what? “My grand-dad’s door’s open – can you come?” She’d be laughed at.
I’m really not very brave. But, tough old bird as he is, he doesn’t have anyone else. And he refuses to talk about the past. Even Grandma, and certainly not about his children. Especially not about the son who was drowned, or the daughter who’d killed herself. I wouldn’t even know they’d existed except that Mum told me.
“Tell me about your family, Pa,” she begged on one memorable visit, looking desperately for topics to talk about. But he’d been angry, and abused her as an interfering busybody, telling her to get out.
She almost didn’t come back after that day. Or the time she had seen the photograph albums in the bookshelves and asked to take them out.
“No one touches those!” The message was loud and clear. “The past is dead. I should get rid of them.”
“Do you ever look at them?” She had been really interested. He shook his head, but the look on his face had puzzled her. It was not just anger; it was almost more like fear.
“Never. And I won’t!”
Yet she had never seen him as a coward.
Did he have anything a robber would have wanted, she pondered. She hadn’t seen any signs of valuables. Only enough to live on, with his pension check. Only the Council cleaner came in once a month to give the house a quick run-through. She didn’t linger, either – not given the reception she got. He seemed to want to blot out everything, both past and present. There must have been something terribly wrong in the years gone by. And yet she would swear that he looked for her visits, in spite of the way he spoke to her.
Lucinda swallowed, and stepped inside. “Pa?” she called.
There was no answer, so she moved cautiously into the kitchen. The table was still set for breakfast, with congealing egg on the plate. Again, unlike him. He was fussy about cleaning up after meals.
“Is there anyone there?” she could hear her voice trembling.
By now, the girl knew she was frightened, and as she moved on carefully towards the living room, her breath came quickly. I hadn’t realized what a coward I was, she thought. She pushed aside the door, steeling herself for what she might find.
Her first feeling was sheer relief. He was the only one there, and his back was towards her. But the bookshelves had been disturbed, and photograph albums lay all over the floor around his chair. Beside him on the table stood the old Minolta camera which had never been out of its case in the years she had been coming.
“You took your time coming in,” he said. “I left the door open for you. Figured it was about your time.”
In spite of the gruff tone, she was stirred to pity. He looked so alone and oddly vulnerable. Surely those weren’t tears on his cheeks. She had never seen him cry.
“I was worried, Pa. You never leave it open. What are you doing?”
“Decided it was time. Got out the family albums – wanted to take a picture of you to put in with the rest.”
Lucinda was taken aback. “But you haven’t looked at those for years. Why now?”
“Hurts too much to remember. The past’s over. Tried to tell myself there was no point in tackling it. Guess I was too frightened. Just wanted to run away.”
I know what you mean, the girl thought. That’s exactly how I felt coming in today.
“Sometimes you gotta face memories,” he added.
Lucinda nodded thoughtfully. That can take courage. I guess there really are different sorts of bravery!
“Let’s look together,” she said.