Short Stories

Norah’s Journey
Westminster Abbey – July 1914

Thank goodness Westminster Abbey has more than one entrance. Now, Norah, easy does it… quiet as a mouse, remember. Ha! How ironic. I AM a mouse, according to the Cat and Mouse Act. Good… I’m in… where can I hide? Must keep out of sight till the service starts. Drat – I’m getting cramp… this pillar will have to do for now. That nun looks as if she’s on the prowl. If I put my head down to rub my leg she won’t see my face… Wish my hat was bigger… Mustn’t get caught too soon…That letter I wrote to the Bishop about coming to his service will put ‘em on the lookout for me… Give me sanctuary? I don’t think so!! Still, have to try… Votes for Women needs this, Norah… Careful does it! Let’s hope the press and everyone turn up… Good, I can hear the Bishop’s processional starting… wish they’d get on with it… They take ages… all that chanting and praying… Never realised how interminable it was … How much longer? If they don’t hurry I’ll get caught… Good job I saw that nun before she saw me. At last – he’s started his sermon… Now… let me just get this… sash on – Votes for Women needs you, Norah – here goes – “My Lord. In the name of God, stop forcible feeding. I myself am a prisoner under the Cat and Mouse Act and will be arrested on leaving the Abbey.”
So the nun was looking for me… I suppose they hope that will be better than having men manhandle me out… Why the handkerchief over my mouth? I’m going quietly… Stupid puppet… Pity her really, can’t think for herself, just follows rules… I won’t resist… Let’s hope the policemen outside aren’t too rough… Don’t think of Holloway… Courage Norah… I hate this Black Maria… Such a tiny cage to be crammed in… it’s inhuman, that’s what… Drat, they’ve torn my dress… more dressmakers’ bills…

Holloway – three days later
Here they come; the clanking keys are the give-away… Five of ‘em… Ha… frightened of me struggling are they… Mustn’t disappoint then… A curse on you, wardress! This is oral rape! Be ashamed, foul woman… Oh God, that hateful doctor and his obnoxious steel gag stretching my mouth… Ahhh… the pain… How much longer… He’s broken more teeth, wretched fool… Ahhhhh… He won’t get that disgusting filthy tube down that easily… Bet he didn’t clean it after his last torture session… Abominable wretches… each one of you… paid torturers… Close your throat Norah, close it… Don’t retch… Control yourself… He’s pushing so hard… Ignore the pain Norah… No taxation without representation… Votes for Women… Incompetent fool… Look, his eyes betray him… Torturer… Compassionless fool… Ahhhh… He’s got it down… What a vile, filthy …. Look at me wardress, don’t turn your eyes away… Look at me!… Coward!… How much more tube does he think will go down… I can feel it in my stomach… Stop pushing, I can’t take any more… For goodness sake get on… pour that filthy muck down the tube… Now you can retch Norah… Good aim, it’s all down his front and shoes… vile, evil torturer…

First published in Kent and Sussex Courier


Driving home to fetch honey he drooled at the prospect of drizzling it over figs tonight and toast tomorrow. He chuckled over the calamity of forgetting to take it. How to get through his day if he was unable to enjoy the one pleasure he looked forward to? He reflected on the qualities of honey. How it reminded him of the important things in life; its sweetness, the way it slid off the spoon – soft, smooth, even and with stately grace. Its viscosity allowed it to cover everything in perfect proportions – right up to the corners or in the holes. His sister claimed that a proper Christian made certain the honey spread all over. Then he met a gorgeous girl. His father said he shouldn’t bother with her because she insisted on spending weakends with him, and because she spelled week as weak, wasn’t worth the trouble. But he had no qualms or quandaries because she adored honey. He often deliberated on how all this came from bees digesting and regurgitating nectar. As he opened the front door he called out, “Honey, sorry I forgot to collect you. Make sure you bring the honey when you come.”

Please see more of my short stories in A Blend of Tea Break Tales

©Verity Short