Tante Rouge Added£1.29
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(A short story of 4238 words)

Tante Rouge


by Cherry Potts

Hannah is on her way to the bus stop when she is accosted by a man offering her eternal life. Once she gets over the surprise, her feelings are decidedly mixed

There was a man on the doorstep, hand raised to the bell. Hannah glared, annoyed, but triumphant at preventing the completion of that move.

‘Well? What is it? I'm on my way out.’

God-squad? Market research? Another charity collection? The man smiled winningly. Not a charity then.

‘Good morning. I'm from Tante Rouge.’

Selling. Hannah pushed her way onto her doorstep, pulling the door to behind her, making considerable show of the three locks that must be secured.

‘I'm not interested, and I have a bus to catch.’

She started down the path, noticing irritably that the man had left the gate open. The man followed, undaunted.

‘As I was saying...’ he tried.

‘Shut the gate behind you,’ Hannah snapped. The man obliged, the slightest shadow of a crease appearing between his brows, just for a moment.

‘Mrs Brown...’

‘Don't Mrs Brown me, young man,’ Hannah said, in a tone designed to curdle a cow's udder. She turned her back on him and started to walk towards the end of the road, and the bus stop.

Well researched, this one, checking up names before he came to do his pitch.

The man watched Hannah retreating, at an unexpectedly swift pace. He looked at his watch, knowing perfectly well that the next bus had been cancelled.

‘Don't you young man me, Mrs Hannah Elspeth Brown,’ he muttered, pulling his jacket tighter at the neck, feeling rain on the way. He was intrigued that Hannah was passing for a married woman, and yet had kept her maiden name. Besides he was not young, even by Hannah's standards, and was not quite sure he ever had been.

What had happened, he wondered, when had Hannah's life lost its excitement, its edge?

He had not really expected Hannah to recognise him. As far as Hannah was concerned he did not exist, had ceased to exist more than fifty years ago. He could not expect Hannah to know him, but it still hurt. For three years Hannah had been his joy in life, his reason for existence. It had taken a lot of work to find her again. Where was the girl who had laughed at making the choice between becoming a world class physicist or a successful dancer? He had been warned to expect changes, but this was so far from his expectations that he wondered if he had made a terrible mistake. When he was asked to choose, there had not been a moment's hesitation. Hannah Brown had been lurking in his heart and mind ready and waiting to be offered this opportunity – but not this Hannah...

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