[Short Story] Some days you just get lucky

pen writing notes studying

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William is sitting in a classroom. His desk is next to the window. On the desk is an exam paper. It is upside down. The back of the paper has nothing on it. In about 15 minutes, the woman in charge of the exam will say, “Please turn over the exam book. You can begin the exam now.”

William is very tired. He studied all night. This exam is very important. If he can pass the exam he will be able to get a better job.  

I hope I can pass this exam, he thinks. The boss said he would promote me to assistant manager, but only if I pass this course. But I am so sleepy.

The sun is coming in through the window. It is very hot. William’s eyes close. His head goes forward onto the desk. William is asleep.

He wakes up suddenly. A bell is ringing. He shakes his head and sits up. What!

The woman in charge of the exam is speaking.

“Time is up. Please put down your pens and pencils. Do not touch the exam papers. We will collect them now.”

Seconds later, one of the woman’s assistants picks up the exam paper from in front of William.

“Stop! Stop!” William is shouting. The assistant looks at him but doesn’t say anything. She moves away and picks up the next exam paper.

Oh, no! I slept all the time. I studied so hard but I didn’t take the exam. My boss will see my score is zero. I will never get a better job. I might lose the job I have now!

William puts his head in his hands. The other students on the course are standing up. They are packing their bags and walking out. William doesn’t move. Finally, he looks up. He is the only student left. The woman and her assistants are putting the exam papers into boxes.

Then, an alarm rings and an announcement comes over the loudspeaker system. “Emergency! Emergency! There is a fire!  Leave now. Everybody, leave the building now!”

The woman and her assistants run to the door. William follows them. They hurry down the stairs and out onto the street. The fire is very small. It is on the other side of the building. The fire department arrives soon, and puts the fire out. The danger is over. Everything is fine.

William doesn’t have his bag. He left it in the classroom. He has to wait until he is allowed to go back inside. He is standing next to the woman in charge of the exam. “What happens now?” he asks. “Are you waiting to go back and get the exam papers?”

“Yes,” she says. “But there is no hurry.”

“Why not?” asks William.

“Well, we left the exam papers in the room. That is against the rules. I’m very sorry but all the students will have to take another exam. Maybe next week.”

She smiles at him. “I saw you sleeping. Maybe next time you will stay awake!”

Short Story – Marvellous Max

strength strong toy action figure

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A short story for learners of English.

Max loves action comics and movies. He works in the car park of a big supermarket. It is a not a good job, but Max was not clever at school. He doesn’t have any qualifications. He couldn’t go to university. This job was the best he could find.

Max collects the shopping carts that shoppers leave in the car park. He takes the shopping carts back to the entrance of the supermarket. It is sometimes hard work but it is not difficult. So Max has a lot of time to dream.

He dreams of being a hero. He dreams of being Superman or Batman. Of course his dreams are crazy but as Max tells himself, Dreams are free.

Today it is very wet and windy. Max is wearing a long blue raincoat. It has the name of the supermarket on the back.

Max is standing next to a row of carts. He will push them together and then he will take them all back to the supermarket door. He looks around to see if there are any more in the car park. There are special places for shoppers to leave the carts. Most people take their carts to these special places but some people are lazy, and leave them near their cars.

He sees two young boys in jackets with hoods.

They should be in school, he thinks. What are they doing here?

He sees a small woman pushing a cart towards her car. The cart is full of shopping bags. She looks old and the weather is very bad.

I’ll go and take her cart for her, he thinks.

He starts walking across the car park. The woman puts her cart behind her car. She walks to her car door to unlock it.

Suddenly the two boys run towards the cart. They take the cart and push it towards the road.

“Hey you!” shouts Max “What are you doing?”

Max chases the boys. The boys run out of the car park with the shopping cart and along the road. Max runs very fast.

“Stop! Stop!” he shouts.

The boys run to the corner. There is a car coming. They have to stop. They turn around and see Max. They see a very big man. His long coat is blowing in the wind. It looks like a cape. He looks like Batman, or Superman. They are frightened. They leave the cart and run across the road.

Max takes the cart of shopping and pushes it back to the supermarket. The little old lady is sitting on a seat outside the store. The store manager is talking to her. She is very shocked. She is crying. Max walks up to her.

“I couldn’t catch the bad boys, but here is your shopping,” he says.

“Oh, thank you!” she says.

“Well done, Max,” says the store manager.

“You are a hero,” says the lady.

Max’s face is red. “Oh, no,” he says. “I am not a hero.”

“You are a hero to me,” she says. She gives Max $20.

Max doesn’t want to take it, but she pushes it into his pocket.

“Please take it,” she says.

Max helps her put her shopping into her car. Then he takes the empty cart away.

I’ll be able to buy a new comic on the way home, he thinks.

[Short Story] The Power of Words

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A short story for learners of English.

Janey has moved to a new town. She found a one-bedroom apartment in a big apartment block. Her new job is interesting and her salary is good. She works hard in the office, and her boss, Angela, is pleased with her. But Janey has a problem. She is very, very shy. The other people in the office have been there a long time. They know each other well. They laugh and joke. They go out for lunch and to the pub on Fridays. But they don’t talk to Janey. She feels like she is invisible.

When Janey has been in her new job for about four weeks, the boss decides to have a party. The company is doing well, and the boss wants to thank her staff.  It will be a BBQ on Sunday afternoon. All the workers are invited.

Janey listens to the conversations in the office. Everyone is very excited. The boss’s husband is very rich. They live in a large house with a swimming pool.

On Friday afternoon, Janey takes some letters into the boss’s office. She waits for the boss to sign them.

“Thank you, Janey,” says Angela. “See you on Sunday.”

Janey doesn’t answer.

“You are coming on Sunday, aren’t you?” asks Angela.

“Mmmm. I don’t think so,” answers Janey.

Angela frowns. “Why not? I want all my staff to be there. It’s my thank you for all your hard work.”

Janey knows that Angela is a little angry. “Uh, OK. I will come,” she says.

“Good. The party is from 2pm.”

Angela turns back to her computer and Janey works back into the office. She sits down at her desk. Cressida and Mary, two of the office workers are standing in front of her desk. They are talking and laughing.

“I wonder if Angela’s brother, James, will be at the party,” says Cressida. “He is so good looking and very rich. If he’s there, you stay away from him! I want him to ask me out on a date.”

Mary laughs. “I am going with Axel from the finance office. You don’t have to worry about me. But if James is as wonderful as you say, maybe I will drop Axel and chase James.”

“Don’t you dare!” shouts Cressida.

“Excuse me,” says Janey. Cressida and Mary don’t hear her. Janey tries again. “Excuse me,” she says more loudly.

Cressida and Mary stop talking and look at her. “Oh, I didn’t see you,” says Mary. “Do you want something?”

“What kind of clothes will you wear to the party?” asks Janey.

“Oh, just casual clothes,” says Cressida. “It’s a BBQ. Anything will be OK.”

Cressida and Mary walk away still talking and Janey starts working again.

On Sunday, Janey is very nervous, but she knows Angela will be angry if she doesn’t go to the party.

I will go for a little while, she thinks. I don’t have to talk to people and I don’t have to stay. What can I wear? Cressida said ‘casual’.

Janey puts on a pair of shorts, and orange T-shirt and sneakers. She has a map to Angela’s house, but she doesn’t know the town very well. She gets lost. It takes her a long time to find the house. When she arrives, she can’t find Angela. There are so many people. Everyone is drinking and talking. It is a very noisy party. Janey feels very bad.

Everyone is wearing very smart clothes. It is a very dressed up party. I look stupid. My clothes are all wrong. I’ll find Angela and say ‘thank you’ and then I will go.

Janey sees Cressida. “Uh, Cressida,” she says. “Where is Angela?”

Cressida looks great. She is wearing tight white pants and a beautiful blue top. Her hair and make up are perfect. She stares at Janey. “Do I know you? Oh, yes. You’re the quiet one from the office.”

“Do you know where Angela is?” Janey asks again.

“No idea,” says Cressida. She walks away.

Janey walks around looking for Angela. She can’t see her anywhere. Janey feels so bad she wants to hide. There is a rose garden behind the swimming pool. Janey goes and stands behind a rose bush. She can watch the party and wait until she can see Angela.

Cressida walks towards the garden. She is holding the arm of a very handsome man. “Oh, James,” she says. “Isn’t this a wonderful party? And all this lovely champagne! Come into the rose garden with me.” Cressida is looking up at James. She knows she looks beautiful. She is sure he will ask her out on a date.

But James says. “I must talk to some other people. I must talk to all the guests.”

Cressida is not happy. “But some of these people are so boring. And did you see the woman in the orange T-shirt? What terrible clothes! She works in our office but she has no idea about fashion.”

James is looking towards the rose garden. He can see a small woman in an orange T- shirt standing behind a rose bush. He guesses that this is the woman Cressida is talking about. He knows she can hear them talking. He is a very kind man. He thinks Cressida is not a very nice person. He wants to say something to make Janey feel better.

“Oh,” he says. “I saw her. The woman in the orange T-shirt. I thought she was very cute! And now I must go and talk to other people.” He pulls his arm away from Cressida and walks towards the house. Cressida is angry. She goes to find Mary and some more champagne.

Janey is amazed. That handsome man thinks I am cute!  Suddenly she feels much better, but she still wants to go home.

Just then, she sees Angela come out of the house. She hurries towards her. She thanks Angela for the party and then she leaves. At the gate, she sees James talking to Mary and Axel. He smiles at her and Janey smiles back.

Janey has a beautiful smile.

She really is cute, thinks James. I must ask Angela about her. I would really like to take her out on a date.

Short Story – Lemons

A short story for learners of English.

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Rowan is cooking dinner. It is a very special dinner because her new boyfriend is coming to her house. She has oysters for the first course and steak for the second course. She bought an expensive chocolate cake from the bakery on the way home.

She is making salad to eat with the steak. When she finishes the salad, she cleans up the kitchen and goes to her bedroom to change.

She wants to look good, so she chooses a very short dress from her closet. She puts on silver sandals and does her hair and makeup very carefully.

She goes back to the kitchen. The table looks beautiful. She has candles and flowers.  The wine glasses are ready.

He will be here in twenty minutes, she thinks. All I have to do is put the oysters out on their plates. Oh no! Lemons. I forgot to buy lemons! I have to serve lemons with the oysters. Do I have enough time to go to the store and buy some? No, I don’t! Those oysters were very expensive, but they won’t be any good without lemons.

Rowan is very upset. Her new boyfriend is older than her. He is a successful businessman. He eats out in good restaurants all the time. He takes her to very nice places. She looks out the window. Her next-door neighbour has a big lemon tree.

All those lemons! she thinks. I only need one or two! I could go and ask Mrs Atkins for some lemons, but she is in hospital. There is no one there.

Then Rowan has an idea. I could go into Mrs Atkins garden and take some lemons. No one will know. The gate to her garden is locked but I could climb over the fence.

Rowan takes a chair from the kitchen and runs out into her garden. She puts the chair next to the fence. She climbs onto the chair. She can reach the top of the fence. She climbs over. It is very difficult in her short tight dress and high-heeled sandals, but she can do it. She jumps from the top of the fence onto the grass. She goes to the lemon tree and takes two lemons. Then she goes back to the fence.

Rowan looks at the fence. Oh no! I don’t have anything to stand on! What can I do? The fence is too high!

Rowan puts the lemons on the ground. She looks around her neighbour’s garden. She sees a small garbage can near the back of the house. She runs over and carries the garbage can back to the fence. She climbs onto the garbage can and reaches for the top of the fence. Suddenly a light comes on in her neighbour’s house.

Rowan looks towards the house and sees a man standing at a window. Oh! No!

Rowan throws herself over the fence. She lands hard. Her legs are bleeding, her dress is torn. One of her shoes is broken.

She walks back towards the house carrying the chair. When she enters the kitchen she realizes she doesn’t have the lemons. She put them on the ground when she went to get the garbage can. This is terrible! she thinks.

Her smartphone is on the kitchen counter. It makes a ringing sound. She has a new message. She picks it up and reads the message. It is from her new boyfriend

— Sorry I can’t come to your house tonight. I didn’t tell you, but I’m married. My wife just came back from her cruise. I had fun with you, but now it has finished. —

Rowan feels very angry. I was such an idiot! She kicks off her sandals and walks towards her bedroom. Just then, her doorbell rings.

She goes to the door and looks through the hole in the door. There is a very attractive man standing there.

“Who is it?” she asks.

“I’m Phil Atkins. Your neighbour’s nephew.”

Oh, no. He was in the house! He saw me! Has he called the police? she thinks.

Rowan opens the door. The man sees she is wearing no shoes, her legs have blood on them and her dress is dirty and torn.

He smiles. “You forgot your lemons,” he says.

He has a wonderful smile. He is very handsome and he is holding out two lemons.

“Do you like oysters?” asks Rowan.

 

[Fast 500] Where are my shoes?

A 500-word story for learners of English.

Ann loves shoes. Today she is wearing a pair of beautiful red high-heels that she bought in Paris. It is the first time she has worn them. At lunchtime Ann is walking to a café when she sees a sign outside the shoe shop.

 

MOVING SALE.

We are moving to a new shop in the Mall.

We are selling all our old stock at low prices.

Come in and look!

 

Of course Ann goes into the shoe shop. The shop is full of people. There is big box in the middle of the shop. There is a sign on the box.

 

OLD STOCK

MIXED STYLES AND SIZES

$25 a pair

 

Ann hurries to the box. Many people are taking pairs of shoes out of the box and trying them on. She sees a pair of green sandals.

They would be great for the beach, she thinks.

She takes the sandals and checks the size. They will fit. I’ll just try them on.

Ann finds an empty seat and sits down. She takes of her red high heels and tries on the sandals. They fit well. She walks over to a mirror to see how they look. They are perfect. She looks at the shoes on the shelves but there is nothing else she likes.

Ann goes back to the seat and takes the sandals off. I’ll buy these, she thinks.

She looks for her red high heels. They are not on the floor where she left them.

Where are my shoes? My beautiful red shoes!

She hurries to the counter carrying the green sandals.

“Excuse me”, she says to the salesperson. “My shoes have disappeared.”

“What shoes?” asks the salesperson.

“I came into this shop wearing a pair of high-heeled shoes. I took them off to try on these sandals. They have disappeared.”

“Oh,” said the salesperson. “Are they red?”

“Yes, they are red. I just bought them in Paris.”

“Oh, no!” said the salesperson. “I thought they came out of that box of $25 shoes. I just sold them. I am so sorry.”

“Who did you sell them to?” Ann is very unhappy.

“A young woman in a black business suit. She is not in the shop now. I guess she has gone.”

Ann and the salesperson run out of the shop and onto the street.

“There she is!” shouts the salesperson. She points to a woman in a black suit, carrying a shoe shop bag. Ann and the salesperson run after the young woman. They get close to her. Ann is shouting “Stop! Stop!”

The young woman stops and turns around.

“Are you shouting at me?”

“Yes, I’m sorry. I made a bad mistake.” The salesperson explains that the shoes belong to Ann.

The three women walk back to the shoe shop. The salesperson gives the woman in the suit her money back. She takes the red shoes out of the bag and Ann puts them on. Ann is still holding the green sandals.

“You can keep them,” says the salesperson. “I caused you trouble. So those sandals are a gift.”

Then she turns to the woman in the business suit. “If you can find something you like in the $25 box, you can have them for free.”

Everyone is happy, but Ann thinks she will be more careful in the future. She thinks, Always carry the shoes you wore into the shop when you are walking around. Especially if there is a sale.

 

[Fast 500] The Yellow Hat

A short 500-word story for learners of English.

Mindy has a pet dog. She takes him for a walk every day. Usually she takes him to a park near her house. The park is next to a river.

Many people take their dogs there. The dog owners all know each other. They stop and talk.  It is a happy place. But last year a homeless man moved into the park. He slept under the trees near the river. He was very dirty. He had no teeth. His clothes were old. He talked to himself. He frightened Mindy. When she went to the park, she tried to stay near the other people walking their dogs. She didn’t want to meet the homeless man when she was alone.

When winter came, it was often cold and wet in the park. Mindy wore a thick jacket, gloves, a scarf and a wool hat when she went walking there. The homeless man looked very cold and ill.

One day Mindy saw he was wearing a warm yellow hat. It was new and clean. He came towards her. He was smiling and pointing at his hat. Mindy was scared. She ran away.

One of the dog walkers called out to her. “Mindy!” Mindy ran towards her. It was Alison. “Mindy! He is harmless! He won’t hurt you! He just wants to show you his new hat! He is so happy.”

Mindy felt bad. “I’m sorry. Where did he get the hat?” she asked.

“I bought it for him. I saw it in the $2 shop. It is so cold and he is so poor. I wanted to give him something. I left it under the trees for him,” said Alison.

“You are very kind,” said Mindy. The next few days the weather was very bad. It rained and rained.  Mindy didn’t want to go to the park. She felt bad, but she was still frightened of the homeless man. She took her dog to for walks along the streets.

One night she was watching the news on TV. “Homeless hero saves child!” came up the screen. The newsreader explained that a car had gone into the river near Mindy’s house. People walking dogs in the park had run to help. A homeless man was faster than all of them. He jumped into the river and got the driver out of the car. Then he had pulled a child from the back seat of the car. He saved the child but he could not save himself. The heavy rain meant that the river was very deep and fast. He handed the child to the other people but then the water pulled him down. He drowned in the river.

Mindy stared at the TV. “I could have been there,” she thought.

The phone rang. It was Alison. “Did you see the news?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Mindy. “It is so sad. Were you there?”

“Yes, I was,” said Alison. “He was so brave. We all tried to help. We helped carry the driver and child away from the river. We called the emergency services. But we couldn’t save him.”

“Was it our homeless man?” asked Mindy. She was crying.

“Yes, it was our homeless man. We are all meeting at the park tomorrow at 4 o’clock. We are going to throw flowers in the river. I know you didn’t like him but do you want to join us?”

“Yes. I’ll be there,” said Mindy.

The next morning, Mindy went shopping. She wanted to buy some flowers. When she walked past the $2 shop, she saw a display of yellow hats. They were the same as the one Alison had bought for the homeless man. Mindy went into the shop and bought one. I will wear it this afternoon, she thought.

In the park that afternoon, all the dog walkers stood together by the river. They talked about the homeless man. They threw flowers into the river, and everyone was wearing a yellow hat.

Another Halloween Story from Old Jack

A short story for learners of English. We hope you enjoy it!

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Hello everyone! I’m Old Jack. I travel around the world searching for interesting ghost stories. It is almost Halloween, so I have decided to share a special story with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Around fifty years ago, when I was about twenty years old, I visited London. I stayed with my friend, Richard, for a weekend. We had a great time. I lived in the north of England, so I couldn’t go to London often. I was very excited. We went sightseeing, and drank beer every night.

On my last night in London, Richard said, “I’ll take you to an interesting pub. It has a ghost. You like ghosts, don’t you?”

“Oh yes!” I said. “I have been interested in ghosts since  I was a young boy. Let’s go!”

falcon-pub-london-uk

 

We walked to the pub from Richard’s house. It was a cold night in late October, just before Halloween. We were very glad when we arrived at the pub and saw a nice warm fire, and a friendly landlord waiting to serve us beer.

We sat at the bar and talked to the landlord, the owner of the pub.

“Richard tells me you have a ghost,” I said.

“Oh, yes. We do,” said the landlord. “I’ll tell you about it.”

“Please do! I said.

“Well, we have to go back a hundred years,” said the landlord. “This pub was a very popular pub then. It had many customers. But one day, something terrible happened. It was late at night, and the pub was closing. The last customers left the pub. They were drunk and happy. The landlord locked the door and started to count the money.

“Then he heard a noise. Knock knock. Someone was knocking on the door.

“‘We are closed!’ he shouted. But the knocking sound did not stop. Knock knock. Knock knock.

“‘Who is it?’ shouted the landlord.

“‘It’s John! I think I left my coat!’ said a voice.

“The landlord went to the door and unlocked it. But it wasn’t John. It was a different man. The man pushed the landlord into the pub and closed the door. ‘The money!’ he shouted. ‘Give me the money!’

“The landlord tried to fight him, but the man was very strong. He pulled the mirror from the wall above the fire, and smashed it over the landlord’s head. The broken glass from the mirror cut the landlord’s face and neck, and he died. The robber took the landlord’s body to the cellar under the pub, and locked the cellar door. Then, he took all the money and some bottles of whisky, and ran away.

“The next day, many people came to the pub, but they couldn’t find the landlord. The police came, and finally they found the landlord’s body in the cellar.”

“Did they catch the robber?” I asked.

“Yes, they did,” said the landlord. “He was a man from the other side of London. He had robbed many other pubs and shops. The police had been looking for him for a long time. When the police caught him, he cried and said, ‘I didn’t want to kill him! I just wanted the money! I’m sorry!’ A few weeks later, he was hanged.”

“So who is the ghost in here? Is it the landlord, or the robber? Or both?” I asked.

“I think both the men are here. I haven’t seen them, but I hear strange things,” said the landlord. “When I go to the cellar to get more beer, I sometimes hear a strange sound. It sounds like someone is pulling something heavy across the floor. But there is no one there! I live upstairs. Sometimes, late at night when I am in bed, I hear men’s voices. They are fighting. And I hear the sound of breaking glass. But when I come down here, no one is there.”

“That sounds scary,” I said.

“That sounds stupid!”

I turned around and saw a man with a glass of whisky in his hand. His face was very red. He looked quite drunk.

“I don’t believe any of that!” he said. “I don’t believe in ghosts! What a stupid story!”

 

 

Just then, the lights went out! The pub became very dark! We couldn’t see anything!

Everyone started talking. “What is it?” “Is it a power cut?” “It’s dark! I can’t see anything!”

Then, we heard a very loud CRASH!!!

Some people started shouting. Some were screaming.

Then, suddenly, the lights came on. The mirror from the wall was now on the floor. It was broken into many small pieces around the man with the red face. Everyone was quiet. We all looked at the man. We couldn’t believe it.

Then the landlord asked the man, “Are you OK? Are you cut?”

The man shook his head. “No, but my neck hurts.”

We looked at his neck. There were rope marks around his neck. He was too shocked to talk. He picked up his coat and walked out of the pub.

 

 

We all helped to clean up the glass on the floor. The landlord gave us all free whisky.

We all talked about the mirror and the lights, but no one could understand it. In that pub, there were people who believed in ghosts and people who didn’t believe in ghosts. But by the end of the night, I think everyone believed.

 

——

Old Jack has written five books of ghost stories. You can find more information about his books here. Old Jack’s Ghost Stories

Happy Halloween!

 

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