Today I'm taking part in Flash Fiction Day. What that means, is that I will be writing as many flash fiction stories as I can today, and posting them all here for you to read. If you would like to find out more, or join in yourself, go here: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/11744923/posts/1505112945
Here is my first story for the day.
Sharon looked up from her book as Paul came into the room.
‘Happy Birthday, darling,’ he said, leaning in to kiss her. ‘Your breakfast is ready, if you want to come through.’
‘It smells delicious,’ Sharon said, climbing out of bed and leaning in to Paul for another kiss.
They walked through to the kitchen hand-in-hand. The children were already at the table, washed, dressed and playing together as they ate breakfast. Sharon smiled and kissed each of them on the head as they offered her birthday wishes. There was a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the middle of the table as well as a few gifts and cards.
Sharon sat down to hot coffee and fresh fruit with croissants and butter – her favourite breakfast. After she had eaten, it was time to open presents. From the children, a bracelet that she had admired a few weeks ago. She hugged them all and mouthed her thanks to Paul. There was bubble bath and her favourite perfume, the next book in the series she was reading and a new dress. A slinky velvet dress with a lace back. She looked at Paul, eyebrow raised.
‘Open this next,’ he said, sliding an envelope across the table.
Sharon opened the envelope and slid out the contents: two tickets to see Les Miserables, her favourite musical. In London. The next night.
She looked at Paul questioningly.
‘We’re dropping the kids off at my mum’s at lunchtime and flying to London this afternoon. We’re staying at the Strand Palace Hotel. Tomorrow we’re going to Madame Tussauds and Covent Gardens. Then you can put on your new dress and we’re going for dinner and then the theatre. After a lazy start to Sunday, we’ll fly back in the afternoon. Sound good?’
‘Oh, Paul. Thank you. That sounds wonderful,’ Sharon said, her voice thick with emotion.
‘Have a great time, mum, you deserve it,’ said Yvonne, their eldest child.
‘A thank you for all the work that you do for this family,’ Paul said.
Sharon squeezed her eyes tighter shut, trying to hang on to the lovely dream.
‘Mum! Holly’s been sick!’
Sharon groaned and hauled herself out of bed. Paul had left early for work so she was on her own.
‘I heard you. I’m coming.’
Holly was pale with flushed cheeks, her hair sticking to her face. Sharon carried the three-year-old to the bathroom and got her stripped off and into the shower then asked Yvonne, the nine-year-old, to keep an eye on her while she cleaned the mess in the bedroom. That of course, was when Colin, the baby, began to cry.
Eventually they were all washed, dressed and fed. Holly had been put back to bed, Colin was in his playpen and Yvonne was getting a lift to school from a friend’s mum. Sharon stood in the doorway, sipping coffee and watching Yvonne run down the street to the waiting car.
‘Oh, I almost forgot,’ Yvonne called back over her shoulder. ‘Happy Birthday!’
‘Where’s my birthday girl,’ Paul said, opening the front door.
‘I’m in the girl’s room,’ Sharon called back. Holly’s fever had broken and she had stopped vomiting but she was still pale and tired. Sharon was reading to her, Colin in his bouncy chair at her feet.
Paul appeared in the doorway a moment later with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine.
‘Happy birthday, darling,’ he said, leaning down to kiss her.
Sharon gave him a tired smile.
‘Long day?’ he asked.
‘Yes. Although we seem to be past the worst of it.’ She fondly stroked Holly’s forehead as she spoke.
‘I was going to take us all out for dinner, but… maybe take away instead?’
‘Anything, as long as I don’t have to cook!’
An hour later, they sat at the table, around plates of food. Holly had come downstairs, though she just picked at some toast.
Yvonne gave Sharon a cardboard photo frame that she had made, decorated with pasta shells and glitter, containing a photo of the two of them, taken the previous Halloween.
Holly had drawn a picture for her and Paul handed over a present from Colin – some bubble bath.
‘Would you like to use that tonight?’ Paul asked. ‘A bubble bath, a glass of wine and your book?’
‘That sounds perfect,’ Sharon said, rolling shoulders that were stiff from cleaning and carrying children all day.
There were more presents; some books, a new cardigan, some vouchers.
‘Mum’s going to watch the kids tomorrow night,’ Paul said. ‘Dinner and a movie?’
‘Perfect,’ Sharon smiled.
Her children all gathered around her, squeezing her, as Paul tried to put his arms around them all at once.
‘Happy Birthday,’ they all chorused.
Sharon had never been happier.