The Connection


She sat, on a low wall three bricks high. A wall that once was tall, now a crumbled remnant beside the mainroad. Her socks, wrinkled; one higher than the other. They offered no protection against the easterly wind; that bitter December day. Her ditsy floral skirt flicked against the already chaffed skin leaving pink welts. A grey knitted cardi hung from her shoulders, the sleeves clenched tight in her hands as she waited. Flat barren fields of East Anglia solid from the morning frost were inviting her gaze. That look, made me wince. Her eyes glassy and wide; unblinking, she looked … lost.

I noticed her many times as we flashed by on the way to Norwich. Each time we’d go I would see her, with pain in her shape; a stillness about her. Once we stopped at the village shop, while I waited to be served I asked her story. The postmistress said, ” She’s about forty, a local she is… not been herself since her daughter… Some says she were taken and others say different.” Slowly she shook her head as she stamped my letters. “Only six she was, her girl. Where she sits, it’s where she waited that day and every one since, for the school bus to bring her; she never came.”

On one occasion I stopped, pulled the car into the lay-by. I walked over and took a space on the rough wall alongside her, leaving a gap of two bricks between us. A respectful gap I thought. My eyes gazed across the flat land as hers did. “Hello, are you … Are you okay?” I felt a tug, a connection, fleeting though it was. She sat unmoved, undaunted by my presence. I felt the cold from her, saw the fogged breath, I could taste her sadness. An overwhelming urge to reach her enveloped me. Determinedly I unzipped my parka, putting it beside her I untied my wool scarf and wriggled my fingers free of the gloves. “Please, your skin is blue, take these, they’re for you.” I shouted, as the wind whistled by my ears and bit the end of my nose. The pile almost touched her chest; I began to tremble, a feeling of despair, soaked into me. Her eyes flickered as I put the clothes in her lap. “I don’t need them, can you hear me?” A pat to reinforce the point made her flinch, and with a straight back but without a second glance I returned to the car. She hadn’t moved as we passed her, the bundle propped on her lap, her glassy eyes staring forward. Alone, she sat.

That day, the clouds gathered so swiftly that everyone around the conference table stared at the snow. The CEO said “Due to the change of weather we will take a working lunch. The sooner I get you home the better.” I remember hoping she had put the clothes on. I wondered if anyone could relieve her… because of the weather. I couldn’t get her out my mind, her eyes, the liquid that refused to drop but puddled in her lids as if scared to fall. Her forlorn image haunted me.

On the return journey we stopped next to the wall. I remember the wipers swished, the flakes came hard and fast, but she wasn’t there. Pleased to think her in the warm I began to feel better.

In the spring my job took me once more to Norwich. We stopped at the place, next the road. Amongst the grass which grew in the crumbled brick, wedged between the cracks was bunch of brown withered flowers tied with a bright woollen scarf. The connection had forever made its mark, imprinted forever in my heart.

This was entered into the bloggers bash competition 2017. I am thrilled to say my story was the winner. I was pleased and honoured to have my work chosen. I hope you like my flash fiction as much as the judges did. Since I am reposting this story long after its first airing I thought I would add an update below.

My story touched many; or so it seemed. The tale also effected me, in a way I could not have predicted. I find myself searching for the sad, the homeless, the uncared for. I take time to sit with and make a connection. I have learnt … if we don’t walk by, ashamed, with our eyes dropped. If we look and smile give a drink or shake a hand. That connection gives back humanity. This year, 2018, I have not given presents to adults but used that money to make-up a ruck sack for a homeless person. I have so far not been able to give it out. In the past month of carrying it in the boot of my car, looking for someone in need. I have been unable to choose. How do you, at a drop in centre or a night shelter,or soup kitchen or at the Quaker house … How could I just pick one. How could I say this one is more deserving. My lips tremble and my chest aches as I write this. I have phoned the Salvation army to see if they will give it for me; my bag of hope. In the newyear The Husband and I will become volunteers because life is nothing if you can’t at least try. Merry Christmas.

Please leave your comments I would love to know if a piece of writing has altered your thinking or caused a change in you.Merry Christmas.


86 thoughts on “The Connection

  1. I love the way two stories seem to get juxtaposed or at least involved, somehow.
    There is something quite inevitable when it comes to othersΒ΄lives… even if we try to change their reality or just subtly intervene, I tend to believe that (unless we play an important active role in their lives), the outcome might be pretty much the same one. In that sense, IΒ΄d say I am quite “deterministic”. Freedom is a personal thing; I think πŸ˜‰ I guess your story might point out in the same direction (Just my thoughts).
    I can see why this one won! πŸ˜€ Great brief story, Ellen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aquileina thanks for coming and the comments. My gut wanted more, but the flash fiction is kept in the confines of a tough word count, that in itself makes you write tight . No words get wasted and it can make it powerful to read … or it fails miserably . I suppose mostly lives (unless you are a recluse) bounce unknowingly off others lives and we are oblivious to know what would have happened if we met a moment later or earlier. Mmm that alone encourages another story. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. An honour to be compared to Hans, I remember seeing the version Allumeette it was a virtual reality story animated, it is i believe still on U Tube many didn’t see what I seemed to when watching it. Thank you for your over generous but kind words. πŸ˜‡ come back soon.


    1. Though I haven’t been to Bungay I have passed it and the landscape is the same… after all Norfolk is Norflok and has it’s distinctive look. I live in Suffolk so an adjacent county . Good luck with Mum’s memoirs and thank you for the wonderful comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very nice Ellen, much room for manoeuvre if you were to expand it into something larger. Flash fiction has never really grabbed me as mine always seem to go off into wanting more. I did write one or two for the blog battles…which I really ought to start doing again! Well done on winning too. I only heard about the bash not so long ago, never mind the competition!!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. There are lots of flash fiction comps but all have varying counts and specifics, the Bridport flash fic comp tells you exactly what’s required and is a fantastic international competition, the bloggers one gave a word you had to use and a count. Once I started to look deeper “what is flash fiction” I soon got hooked. The adhoc which you will find is part of the Bath literary prize is both accessible and leads you to bigger things (catch them on twitter) read their site. Good luck if you get hooked let me know I would love to read yours.

          Liked by 1 person

              1. Very true, mind you writing buddies often are…they understand things!! I have also decided to re-theme my blog too. I rather think my own writing needs better placement than streaming off the blog roll. I’ve been looking back on it recently thinking “How mant projects are here!” To NaNoMoWri this year, or not? πŸ€”

                Liked by 1 person

                1. My blog needs tending, as moving from Somerset to Suffolk has and is taking all our time. I hope to be back with a new post by July the first. After winning Nanowrimo once I am not feeling the call to do so again.But good luck if you do.

                  Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Thoughts by Mello-Elo and commented:
    Meet Ellen Best and her award-winning story from the Flash Fiction competition at the #BloggersBash2017.
    There’s a reason why she was chosen for first place; when the judges described her story as a cut above the rest and something that resonated within them, I just had to find it and read it and I am so glad I did. It’s not often I get chills from a flash fiction – with Ellen’s story, I certainly did!
    Ellen was kind enough to share her beautiful story with us all and here it is:

    Liked by 2 people

  4. this was sad and yet so painfully graceful, if there’s such an expression, to feel the sadness of another and want to offer comfort, seeing the others sadness and being so moved. like reading this from a distance and still feeling the liquid forming but the eyelids not daring to let it loose.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. i will, i left wordpress for sometime and I remember following you then stopped receiving your posts in my reader but somehow I was led back here again. Your words flow and have a tempo that carried me, I really liked this one.

        Liked by 1 person

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