[Short Story] Maisie and the Lifeguard

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Maisie goes swimming every morning before she goes to work. She leaves home at 5:30am and drives to the swimming pool. She swims for an hour, then hurries home for a shower and breakfast before she leaves for work at 8am.

On Wednesday night, Maisie had a big fight with her boyfriend and they broke up. On Thursday morning, Maisie drove to the swimming pool as usual. She did not feel happy. She was crying. She was thinking about her ex-boyfriend. They worked in the same office and so Maisie did not want to go to work.

I’ll feel better when I am swimming, she thought. She parked the car opposite the sports centre, took her sports bag from the back seat and hurried into the building.

While Maisie was swimming, her car started to move. Very, very, slowly the car moved out of the car park and across the road. It was early morning so the road was empty. There were no people walking and no other cars on the road.

There was an announcement on the loud speaker system in the swimming pool. “Is the owner of a white Honda, number plate XJY436, in the pool?”

XJY436! That’s my car, thought Maisie. She swam to the side of the pool and climbed out. A lifeguard was standing next to the pool. Maisie ran up to him. “That’s my car,” she said. “Did I leave the lights on?”

“No,” said the lifeguard. He was laughing. “Come and see.”

Maisie followed the lifeguard out to the entrance of the sports centre. “Look!” said the lifeguard. He pointed to the big entrance doors.

“Oh, no!” shouted Maisie. Her car was in the doorway. It was half inside the building and half outside. No one could go in or out of the sports centre.

“Do you have your car keys?” asked the lifeguard?

Maisie ran to the changing rooms and came back with her car keys.

“I’ll drive it out for you,” said the lifeguard. “You are too wet.”

He took Maisie’s keys, got into the car and reversed out onto the road. He parked the car and came back in.

“The hand brake was not on,” he said. “The road goes down a little from the car park to the sports centre. The car must have rolled from where you parked it, to here.”

Maisie was very red. “I am an idiot!” she said. “I broke up with my boyfriend. I was thinking about that all the time and I forgot to put the handbrake on.”

The lifeguard gave her the car keys. “I think your boyfriend is the idiot. Who would want to break up with you?”

Maisie looked at the lifeguard. He was very cute. Perhaps I am not so sad. I wonder if this guy works every morning?

[Short Story]The Waiting Dog

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Romero has a café in the park. It is called The Park Café. Romero thinks the name is boring, but he can’t think of a better name. The Park Café is very popular in summer. Many people come to the park to walk their dogs.

Romero likes dogs and he is a smart businessman. Dogs cannot come into the café, but Romero has a special area for dogs outside. Dog walkers can tie their dogs up there. They can see their dogs through the window. Romero has bowls of water and treats for dogs. It is good for business.

One Saturday, the café was very busy. The dog area was full. The café was full. Romero did not notice that one dog had been there for a very long time. The café closes at 4pm. All the customers left. Romero was surprised to see that there was still one dog tied up outside. He looked around his café. It was empty. He went outside to talk to the dog.

“Where is your owner? Did your owner forget you and go home without you?”

The dog wagged its tail and barked.

Romero looked at the dog. It was a nice dog. It was clean and well fed. He looked at the dog’s collar. There was a tag on the collar with the name Lucien, and a telephone number.

He went inside and called the telephone number. There was no answer. Romero did not know what to do.

He went into the kitchen and found some leftover hamburger. He put it in the bowl and took it out to the dog.

I will have to call the people who take dogs that are on the streets, he thought. But first I will clean up. While Romero was cleaning his café and kitchen he watched the dog out the windows. It was a very nice dog.

Finally Romero finished his work. His last job was to take the bags of garbage out. When he went out to the back of the café he got a big shock. There was a man lying on the grass. Romero thought he was dead, but he ran inside and called an ambulance.

The ambulance came. Romero was right. The man was dead. “It looks like a heart attack,” said the ambulance men. “He’s been dead for hours.”

The police came. It was dark and Romero went outside and brought the dog into the café. It’s against the rules, he thought. But I don’t care. That poor dog has been alone for hours waiting for his owner.

Romero sat in the café with the dog. The dog put his head against Romero’s knee and Romero patted him.

Finally the police said. “The dog belonged to the dead man. The man’s name was Raoul Findeas. It seems he had no family. We will take the dog now.”

“No,” said Romero. “I will keep the dog.”

“OK,” said the police and went away.

“Well,” said Romero to the dog. “It has been a hard day for you, but I will take you home. And I think I will change the name of my café. I think I will call it Lucien’s Café. What do you think?”

The dog barked.

[Short Story] Why do you have blue hair?

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Rei met a nice guy on the train. He was sitting next to her. She thought he was handsome. There was a typhoon and the train was stopped for a long time. He started to talk to her. His name was Ichiro.

They were both university students. They both liked JPop. They both belonged to the kendo club in high school.

“Uh, would you give me your phone number?” asked Ichiro.  “Maybe we could meet again sometime. Go out on a date?”

Rei was very pleased. She didn’t have a boyfriend. She thought Ichiro was very nice. They exchanged phone numbers.

“Can I ask you something?” said Ichiro. “Why do you have blue hair?”

Rei didn’t want to tell him why her hair was blue. But Ichiro smiled at her, and she thought, He is talking to me. He asked for my phone number. Maybe he thinks my blue hair is OK.

“When I left my hometown and went to university, I felt very bad. I was very shy. I didn’t have any friends. I was too frightened to go out of my apartment. I was too frightened to go to classes. I wanted to do something to make me feel strong.

“I have a sister who is much older than me. She had many Sailor Moon manga. When I was young, I read them all the time. My favourite character was Sailor Mercury. She is a very friendly character. She’s smart. I wanted to be like her. She has blue hair. So I changed my hair colour to blue.”

Ichiro laughed. “What do your parents think?”

“They hate it. But I don’t care. But maybe you don’t want to go on a date with someone with blue hair.”

“Oh, I do!” said Ichiro. “I like friendly, smart girls very much. Maybe I should do something about my hair colour.”

[Short Story] Some Mistakes are Lucky

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Samuel ran towards the train station. He was hot and tired and felt very bad. I don’t want to miss my train. I want to go home and change my clothes and have a beer.

He looked at his watch. Two minutes before the train leaves. Can I make it in time?

He ran into the train station and looked at the departures board. Platform 7. He ran towards the stairs with the sign ‘Platforms 6 and 7’. At the top of the stairs he ran to the left. There was a train with open doors. He ran onto the train and found a seat.

He closed his eyes and thought about his day. Samuel had come into the city for a job interview. The interview had been very bad. He couldn’t answer the questions. He made mistakes. He knew he would not get the job.

I knew all the answers, but I was so nervous. It is six months since my uncle’s restaurant closed. I have almost no money. I must find a job soon.

 Samuel was very worried, but he was also very tired. He fell asleep.

“Ticket please!” The train conductor was shaking him. Samuel found his ticket and gave it to the train conductor. “This is a ticket for Trenton. This train is going to Bywater.”

“Oh, I got on the wrong train. I must get off at the next station.”

“This is an express train. It doesn’t stop until it gets to Bywater. When we get to Bywater, you must go to the ticket office and pay for this train trip. Then you must buy another ticket back to the city.”

The train conductor went away. What can I do? thought Samuel. I don’t have enough money to pay for the extra tickets.

 “Are you in trouble?” said a voice behind Samuel. Samuel turned around. A woman in the row behind him was talking to him.

“Are you in trouble?” the woman asked again.

Samuel was very shy and didn’t talk to people very much, but he was very tired and he felt very bad.

“I went to the city for a job interview today. When I got back to the station I caught the wrong train. Now I have no money to pay for the tickets. I don’t know what to do!”

The woman smiled. She was an older woman. Her clothes were very smart. Her face was kind. Samuel thought she looked like his grandmother. “It is easy to catch the wrong train. Was the job interview good?”

“No. It was very bad. I wanted the job very much. I was too nervous. I couldn’t talk well. I made mistakes.”

“You have to talk well for some jobs. It is very important if you want a job in a shop or at a TV station,” she said. “What kind of job do you want?”

“I am a chef. I trained for many years. My uncle had a restaurant. I worked in my uncle’s restaurant. My uncle said the restaurant would be mine when he retired. But he died and there was no money. The restaurant closed.”

“Where was the restaurant?” asked the woman.

“It was in Trenton. It was a fish restaurant.”

“Was it Seaways?”

“Yes.”

“I knew that restaurant. I knew your uncle. He was very good with food, but maybe he did not know about money.”

The woman asked Samuel many questions about fish and cooking. Samuel could answer all the questions because it was not a job interview, and the woman looked like his grandmother.

Then the woman said, “Do you want to live in the city?”

“No,” said Samuel. “I like small places better, but I must get a job.”

“I will pay for your train ticket,” said the woman.

“No!” said Samuel. “You cannot pay for my mistake!”

“Yes, I can. My husband opened two restaurants in Bywater. He was a very good chef, but a very bad talker. He died. Now I have no chef. I need a chef. I think you will be my new chef. Tonight you will stay at my house in Bywater. Tomorrow we will go to the restaurants. Your mistake is lucky for me.”

My mistake is lucky for me! thought Samuel.

[Short Story] The Elephant

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It was Friday afternoon and Mrs Watkins was tired. It was a hot day and her feet hurt. I like teaching children, she thought. But maybe I am too old for this. I don’t have so much energy.

The children in Mrs Watkin’s class were six years old. There were thirty children in the class. Mostly they were very good students. But that Friday, Mrs Watkins had problems. On Fridays the children had an art class.

There was no green paint in the store cupboard. Mrs Watkins did not know why. Maybe another teacher borrowed it. All the children asked for green paint. They wanted to paint pictures of trees and frogs and crocodiles.

Melanie spilt paint over Andrew’s painting. Andrew shouted and Melanie cried.

Micky painted his friend Pete’s face red. The two boys thought it was very funny. Mrs Watkins did not think it was funny because it took her a long time to clean Pete’s face.

After a while, Mrs Watkins decided to end the art class. “We are stopping now,” she said. “We will clean the classroom and then we will have quiet reading time.”

The children sat down with their reading books. Peace at last, thought Mrs Watkins.

Then Sandra started crying and shouting. “I feel sick! I have a pain.”

“I’ll take you to the school nurse,” said Mrs Watkins. “Everyone be quiet and read while I am gone.”

Mrs Watkins took Sandra to the school nurse and hurried back to her classroom. She could hear the children shouting. She was very angry. She opened the door. All the children were standing at the windows laughing and shouting.

“Sit down!” she said loudly. “Sit down now. I told you to read quietly.”

“But Mrs Watkins! Mrs Watkins!” The children were very excited.

“No! I am not going to listen to you. Sit down now!”

The children went back to their seats. Then Micky raised his hand. “What do you want Micky?” asked Mrs Watkins.

“There’s an elephant in the playground.”

“Don’t be so silly” said Mrs Watkins. “There is not an elephant in the playground.”

“Yes there is! There is!” shouted the children.

“Stop this now!” Mrs Watkins went across to the windows. I’ll close the curtains, she thought. That will calm the children down.

She stopped and stared. There was a very large elephant eating leaves from a tree in the playground.

Am I going mad? she thought. No, I’m not. The children can see it too.

Mrs Watkins felt bad. “Children. Come to the windows,” she said. “We can look at the elephant.”

As the children and Mrs Watkins watched the elephant, a large truck came into the playground. It was painted red and yellow. On the side of the truck, was written ‘Marvelo’s Circus.’

Men jumped out of the truck and ran towards the elephant. Very soon the elephant was walking towards the truck.

Mrs Watkins turned to the children. “Well that was exciting, wasn’t it? Now go back to your seats, please.”

She stopped. “Where is Micky?”

She found Micky in the store cupboard. “What are you doing?” she asked.

“I am looking for grey paint. Next art class we will all want to paint a picture of the elephant.”

[Short Story]The New Neighbours

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Molly lives in a small house in a quiet street.  She bought her house 20 years when it was new. Jim and Iris Waterson bought the house next to Molly’s at the same time. They were good friends and good neighbours for 20 years, but now the Waterson’s townhouse was empty. Jim and Iris have moved to Florida to live near their daughter and grandchildren.

I hope my new neighbours are as nice as Jim and Iris, thought Molly. I will be very upset if some young people buy the house. They will be noisy. They might have children. They might have pets.

A few days later a moving truck parked outside the house next door. Molly stood at the window of her living room and watched.

She saw sofas, armchairs, tables, chairs and beds go into the house. She saw the moving men carry many boxes into the house.  Then she saw a little bicycle. It was pink. A man carried it to the garden behind the house.

Oh no! she thought. A child!

Next the man carried a red bicycle into the garden. It was bigger than the pink bicycle, but it was too small for an adult. Another child! Shouting! Screaming! I don’t want to live next door to children.

Molly looked at her watch. It was time to go to the community centre. Every Friday, there was a concert at the community centre. Gustav Baer played the piano. He played beautiful classical music. He was a very good pianist. When he was younger, he was very famous. He gave concerts all over the world. Now he was retired, but he still liked to play the piano. So he gave free concerts at hospitals and retirement homes and community centres.

Molly put on her coat. She took her bag and went out of her house. She locked the door and hurried down the street. The men were still taking boxes and furniture out of the truck.

I don’t know if I will enjoy the concert today, thought Molly. I am so unhappy. I love my house. I love my quiet street. But now there will be noisy children. Everything will change.

Molly was very surprised when she arrived at the community centre. Gustav Baer was not there. “Mr Baer cannot come today,” the manager of the community centre said to everyone. “He is too busy. He will come next week. Mr Baer’s friend has come. He plays the guitar and he sings. Please enjoy the concert.”

The concert was very nice but Molly thought Mr Baer’s piano playing was better. After the concert she went home. The trucks had gone and it was very quiet.

Before Molly went to bed, she went outside to put some garbage in the garbage bin. It was very dark. There were lights on in the house next door. Molly could hear a piano. The music sounded beautiful. She walked over the fence and looked at the house next door. The lights were on in the house and she could see inside. I guess they have not had time to hang curtains yet, she thought.

She could see many boxes on the floor of the living room. She could see a grand piano, but she could not see who was playing it.

The next day, someone rang the doorbell Molly went to answer it. She was very surprised. Gustav Baer was there.

“Good morning,” he said. “I am your new neighbour.”

“You!” said Molly. “I thought it was a family with children! I saw the bicycles. A pink one and a red one!”

“Oh,” said Mr Baer. “They are my grandchildren’s bicycles. Sometimes they come to visit on Sundays. It is nice for them to have something to do at my house. If they have nothing to do, they get bored and very noisy. Most of the time, there will only be me living there. I’m sorry. It will be very quiet. I think maybe you like to have children and pets next door.”

“Oh, no. No,” said Molly. “Please come in and have a cup of tea! I saw you have no curtains yet. Maybe I can help you. I want you to be happy in your new home.”

[Short Story] Grandparent’s Day

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After Walter Bergen’s wife died, he was very sad. He was lonely. He didn’t care about anything. He didn’t clean his house. He didn’t cook meals. He ate TV dinners and toast. He didn’t wash his clothes. He didn’t shave, or go to the hairdresser. His daughter, Melanie, was very worried about him. She drove to his house and said, “Dad! This is no good! You can’t stay here. Come and live in our house.”

“I don’t want to live in your house,” said Walter. “I am OK. Go away!”

Melanie was worried, but her father was very angry, so she went away.

One day, a few weeks later, Walter walked to the supermarket. He bought TV dinners and bread. He walked out of the supermarket. He walked across the road. He didn’t look to the left or the right. A car hit him. The ambulance came and took him to the hospital.  Melanie came to the hospital. “Dad!” she shouted. “You will not live alone. You will come to our house.”

Walter went to Melanie’s house. Melanie’s husband’s name was Roger. He was not happy. “Your father is dirty.  He is always angry. Why is he living in our house?”

“He is my father,” said Melanie. “He is old. He is unhappy. He must stay here.”

“I understand,” said Roger.

Melanie and Roger’s daughter was called Rosa. She was nine years old. One night while they are eating dinner, Melanie said, “Tomorrow, Rosa’s school has Grandparent’s Day.”

“What is Grandparent’s Day?” asked Walter.

“The children’s grandparents go to the school. They see what the children do at school. The children sing, and the grandparents play games with them. It is very nice,” said Melanie.

“I am Rosa’s grandfather,” said Walter. “I will go to Grandparent’s Day.

Rosa jumped up. She ran away from the table. She went to her bedroom.

Later, Walter was going to bed. He walked past Rosa’s bedroom. She was crying. Walter heard Roger’s voice. “Rosa,” he said. “Stop crying.”

“No!” shouted Rosa. “My grandfather is dirty. He smells bad. He doesn’t clean his clothes. He is always angry. I don’t want him to come to my school. The other children will laugh at me!”

“Rosa!” said Roger. “Many children have no grandparents. You are lucky. You have a grandfather. If Walter wants to come to your school, it is a good thing.”

Walter went to his bedroom.

The next morning, Rosa did not want to go to school. “My grandfather is not nice. I don’t want him to come to my school.”

“You will go to school,” said Melanie.

The grandparents came to Rosa’s school at 1:00 pm.

The students went to the school hall. All the children ran to find their grandparents. Rosa waited by the door. She looked all around the school hall, but she couldn’t see her grandfather. Where is he? she thought.  Maybe he didn’t come.

There was one man who was alone. He was wearing a suit and tie. His shoes were very shiny. He looked very smart. I wish that man was my grandfather, thought Rosa. He looks like a nice man.

The man turned towards Rosa. “Rosa!” he shouted.

Rosa could not believe it. It was her grandfather, but he looked like a new man. Rosa ran to Walter and hugged him.

I’m pleased I heard Rosa talking to her father last night, thought Walter. It made me feel bad when I heard what Rosa said. But I understand. I will be a better person in the future.