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Sunday Shorts: Pristine White

By Sarah Cate Anstey, Jul 24 2016 09:31AM

Edith Hobbs had high hopes of her marriage to Charles Webb. They married in the same month as Prince Albert and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, which Edith believed was a good omen.

Charles seemed a respectable chap. He had held down a job at the docks for over a year. Mr Hobbs, a father of five, usually held on for no more than three months before he was informed by his curren,t regretful, employer that he was no longer required. It was during these periods Edith’s mother became suddenly more accident prone and explained to her neighbours, in eager detail, how she had fallen down the stairs. Edith was resolute that she would never miss the top, bottom or any steps in between in her house. She was also determined to sleep on pristine white sheets.

Not long after they were married, Edith came to understand that what sustained Charles through a hard week of work was the Rovers match at the end of it. All went well when they won, but a not-so-happy Charles returned when they lost. It was at these times that Edith learnt she had inherited her mother’s gift for falling down stairs. She enthralled her inquisitive neighbours with explanations reminiscent of her mother’s, but she did sleep on pristine white sheets.

One Saturday afternoon, Edith’s neighbour gently broke the news to her that the Rovers had lost. There was no use crying over spilt milk so Edith did her laundry.

That night, Edith lay on a pristine white sheet and soon fell asleep. She was awoken by an almighty crash. At first she thought it was burglars and was about to shout out for Charles when she realised it must be Charles.

Enough was enough.

Charles had drowned his sorrows in the Old George, but his disappointment had not abated. After recovering himself and the hall table he had greeted on the way in, he started up the stairs. He was taking a break, halfway up, when he heard a noise.


Out of nowhere appeared an apparition, pristine white. For once it was Charles who fell to the bottom of the stairs, where he spent the rest of the night.

Edith, lying on her pristine white sheet, dreamt luxuriously.

The following morning, at the docks, the story that Charlie boy had seen a ghost, was taken up and passed about with glee. By Friday, it had been elaborated on to such an extent that Charles felt it was no longer fitting for him to be credited with its authorship.

Charles wondered how much attention it would get in the Old George after the game. Charles considered that, as a married man, it was his responsibility to set an example. Therefore, he conceded it was only proper for a husband to spend his weekends with his loving wife, not down the pub, drinking.

From then on, neither Charles nor Edith fell down the stairs, but Edith kept a spare sheet, pristine white, just in case.

© copyright Sarah Catherine Anstey 2016

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