Open, this week’s #writephoto flash fiction from New2Writing.com was done in a hurry. I had the idea quickly enough, but I was preparing to go on holiday. Checking I had everything, then realising I did not have either phone number for the friends I was due to meet Wednesday or Thursday, and I wouldn’t have email access at the cottage, brought a sense of panic. It transferred well enough to my idea for the story. It’s just over 500 words, because I don’t have time to make it shorter!
It had been a fraught morning. Trying to get ready while the cat was sick all over the front carpet, babysitters failing to turn up, next-door’s builders parked across their driveway. The list went on.
The traffic had been awful. It was always awful if you left later than 10:50. Paul’s theory was that it was a peak time for a container release from the docks twenty miles to the south. Whatever, it was always packed with transporters and other high-sided vehicles.
Leaving the stationary traffic, they took a side route, part of which was a regular alternative. The rest relied on satnav.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to check the map?” she asked, as they turned down a narrow lane, passing places only. Well-used from the tyre marks and worn edges up the sides of the bank.
“No, no, we’ll be fine.” Paul didn’t actually grit his teeth, but he’d overdone the ‘relax, I’m in charge now’ voice.
She relaxed anyway.
Except for looking at her watch every five minutes.
On the ninth glance, Paul said, “We’re nearly there. And we’ll have avoided all the security for His Nibs’ attendance.”
“I quite like him.”
“I know you do. It’s why we decided to go. Have you got your hat in the back?”
Oh, no. The hat! Everything necessary for a garden party. In a real live Tudor garden, one where the heir to the throne had been enthusing about his restoration project.
Paul turned into the car park.
It was curiously devoid of gate security.
It was even devoid of cars.
“We’re in the wrong place,” she said. She tried to keep it matter-of-fact, nonchalent. A mere trifle.
“I agree. But…,” Paul reached for the map, while twiddling the satnav view to make some features tally with the guidance on his phone invitation. “Ah, I see. Wrong side of the estate. Hat’s on the floor, by the way.”
He reversed, sped out of the entrance, and they were soon in a line of very smart cars, approaching the security barrier.
“Invitations, if you please!”
Paul held out his phone. A mere tap, while an army person scanned around and under their car, and they were in.
She adjusted her hat, changed her shoes, and started tottering towards… a ruin.
“Are you sure we’re in the right place?”
“Of course. What would all these other people be doing here if not?”
“I should have worn my sandals. I can do ruins in those.”
“Don’t worry darling. You’ll be fine. And you can take the hat off after we’ve had our pics taken with The Couple.”
Her worries increased as they climbed through a stone ruin, which might have been a window, or possibly a Tudor door.
“Ah, indeed. I knew you’d like it. Come on, let’s grab some fizz before we get involved in some other party activity.”
So they joined the rest of the invited guests, examining the new Physic Garden laid out in the ruins of the abbey, before taking their places in the marquee, where his Royal Highness, as the patron of the Trust, would make the opening official.
© J M Pett 2022