In the Air Added£0.99
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(A short story of 3437 words)

In the Air


by Adrienne Silcock

Not one inhabitant of Bois-Bezolles remained unshocked by Frederique’s suicide. As news spread around the village, disbelief became anger at such an outrageous lie. What was the truth?

Frederique’s body lay just fifteen metres down from Vieux Pont, limbs spread like a broken egg, caught on the branches of a tree that had been plucked from the banks in the previous month’s storms and washed down river, easy as syrup. And here she was, a gelatinous mass held by leaf and branch. An ugly sight indeed.

No amount of firemen or ambulances could save her, and that, according to her note, was what she wanted. The exact wording was not disclosed, save to the few who were involved in the enquiry which took place behind closed doors, provoking further outrage amongst the villagers who maintained that the death of such a prominent citizen deserved a public hearing.

Whatever the official verdict, the ongoing debate as to the truth of the matter stretched into months, and in some quarters, years.

Most believed that the trouble stemmed from Frederique’s last but most notorious love affair. Prior to that she had lead a steady, though, some said, colourful life running the village store, and remained a popular member of the community.

People hinted, however, that she was not a good business woman, but then it was generally agreed that making money out of a village shop these days was no mean feat.
“Everyone goes to the supermarket,” exclaimed Monsieur Lozier, as if he was the first to think of it.

“Only donkeys shop in the village,” remarked Monsieur Pepinard. “Just look at the prices they charge!”

Yet Frederique LeBon’s quaint little shop, with its narrow doorway and alley-like rooms stretching back into three dimly lit sections as if stretching back into a different era, was seldom empty for long.

“It’s everything but nothing!” Madame Claire used to say cattily. Her husband owned a specialist pork butcher’s in the larger centre of Dompierre. “You go for bread and she offers you only one type. You go for orange juice, she gives you a carton half-filled with sugar. As for her coffee...“ And she would purse up her lips as if she were about to spit a mouthful of it out, wave her hand high in the air dismissively and then burst into cackles of laughter.

It was the men who leapt to Frederique’s defence...

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