This was an entry in the April Showers competition on Shortbread last year – I thought I’d give it another outing – hope you enjoy it
With the spat of raindrops on tarpaper Nellie’s first reaction was irritation. Now he’d nag, say she never listened, say she shouldn’t be so cranky, then the horrible words, “I told you so Nellie.”
The wind whipped the trees and whistled through holes in the walls. Lightening speared the gap under the door, followed instantly by the crack of dark noise. She’d hold on, wait until it passed. It was a spring storm, a sudden fury.
Drips plopped onto the floor, already water trickled down the walls. She was recovering from bronchitis and shouldn’t risk a chill. That’s why Harold had been snippy. He meant well, “Don’t go Nellie, make do here, don’t be a fusser.”
Never, in all her long life had she done that. She had pride and wasn’t going to compromise now.
“The sun’s shining now but the clouds are building. The wind’s coming. Don’t go out. Listen to me woman.” The last had been the final straw.
She’d stomped out of the house in temper without her shawl or stick. Well, she was getting her comeuppance now wasn’t she?
She pushed the great door, leaned against it, arms straining, shoulders bunching, but the wind blew straight onto the little building. It wouldn’t shift, she gasped, felt her heart start to pound, dizziness hit her. She turned and leaned her back against it, desperate.
The storm was howling fury, a corner of roof lifted. The icy wind threw searing water onto her head. She squealed, slumping to the floor. Her legs shook; she was weaker than she’d thought. The roof flapped and slapped, the old building was crumbling before the spring storm, trapping her.
She straightened, old back creaking and complaining, wrinkled hands clawing at the walls.
Then she heard him, “Nellie, I’m coming, hold on old girl.” Moments later the door creaked open. There he stood, her silly old husband, thin hair whipped and torn by the blast, gnarly old hands clutching a sack around his shoulders.
He thrust the shawl towards her. Letting go his piece of sacking he helped to tuck it around her. “Come on you daft old thing, hang on to me.” She did, clinging to his arms, thin and wasted, but strong enough to hold her against the squall.
Slipping on gleaming flagstones they struggled to the house. She fell once and he bent to raise her up. She looked into his eyes and the fierce love she saw took what little breath she had left. For one moment in the midst of the deluge she let her soul go to him, in spite of it all she was his, would be until her last gasp. They sparred and niggled and sometimes tore at each other but he’d come through the storm to bring her home.
Safe in the house he was the first to speak. “Nellie, promise me something.”
“Aye love, anything, what is it?”
“Promise me before next winter we’ll have one of them new-fangled inside lavvies.”
Read more: Short Story: Passing Storm | Shortbread