[Short Story] The Present


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Cora has been married for six months. She lives with her husband in a small town outside the city. Houses in the city are very expensive, so they bought a house with a big garden about an hour by train from the city. Brian, her husband, takes the train to work every day. He works in a bank. Cora doesn’t have a job. Sometimes she gets bored. Brian bought her a dog for Christmas. The dog is very naughty but he is good company during the day.

Today is Cora’s birthday. I wonder what Brian has bought me? she thinks. I hope it’s something very pretty.

Brian gets up very early in the morning. He has to take a train at 7:00am. He always brings Cora a cup of tea in bed before he leaves for work. Today he brings Cora’s tea and a parcel wrapped in beautiful paper with a big ribbon tied around it.

“Happy birthday!” he says. “I hope you like your present!”

Cora puts her teacup on the table next to the bed. She unwraps the present.

“Oh,” she says.

“Aren’t they great?” says Brian. He is very pleased. “They will be perfect for working in the garden!”

Cora looks at her present. It is a pair of black rubber boots. Cora is very unhappy, but she doesn’t say so. She knows that Brian thinks it is a very good present.

“Oh, thank you!” she says. “They look very useful!”

“I have to go,” says Brian. “I’ll see you tonight. I have made a reservation at the local hotel for dinner.” He kisses Cora and leaves the house.

Cora is very sad. Then after she gets out of bed, she starts to feel angry.

What a terrible present! I hate these boots. I wanted a romantic present!

She throws the boots into the garbage bin and goes into the living room to watch TV.

A little later she hears the mailman. The mailman rides a motor scooter. It stops outside their house.

Maybe my mother has sent me a present, thinks Cora. She knows I like pretty things.

Cora goes to the door. She wants to go to the mailbox, but it is raining heavily.

I didn’t hear the rain because I had the TV on very loud. Where are my outdoor shoes? Did the dog take my shoes? Where did he hide them?

Cora looks everywhere, but she can’t find her shoes.

The dog is out in the garden. Cora opens the kitchen door and shouts, “Bad dog!”

The dog runs to her. He is wagging his tail. He is a very friendly dog. Then Cora sees the garbage bin. I could wear those ugly black rubber boots, she thinks.

Cora goes to the garbage bin and takes the boots. She takes off her slippers and puts on the boots.

Oh no! They are ugly and they don’t fit! They are too small and very uncomfortable. Why did Brian buy these?

She feels very angry. She takes the boots off, and throws them into the garden. One of the boots lands upside down. Cora can see something on the ground. It is a small box. She runs into the garden in her bare feet. She picks up the box. She takes the other boot and shakes it. Another box falls on the ground.

Cora takes the small boxes back into the kitchen. She sits down at the table and opens them.

There is a beautiful pair of earrings in one box and a matching necklace in the other box.

 I am very lucky. The garbage man will come soon and he will empty the garbage bin. Brian is a wonderful husband but sometimes he has very crazy ideas!




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.

A Surprise Birthday Party – Lesson Plan

A free, printable lesson plan based on our Fast 500 Easy English story A Surprise Birthday Party


Download file (PDF) No Sweat! – A Surprise Birthday Party

We hope you and your students enjoy this lesson and we welcome any feedback!

(Update: 9th September, 2013 – Typo in the story corrected and file re-uploaded.)

Our teaching resource section is a work in progress, and your thoughts and insights will help us to improve and expand this series of short fiction and lesson plans.

The Mystery House – Lesson Plan

A free, printable lesson plan based on our Fast 500 Easy English story The Mystery House.



Download file (PDF) No Sweat! -The Mystery House


We hope you and your students enjoy this lesson and we welcome any feedback!

Our teaching resource section is a work in progress, and your thoughts and insights will help us to improve and expand this series of short fiction and lesson plans.

No Sweat! EFL Role-plays

No Sweat! EFL Role-plays

50 EFL role-plays for the busy teacher!

This is a free e-book in PDF format.

You can download, print and photocopy this book for use in your school or classroom.

If you find it useful, feel free to pass it on to other teachers.


Got a class starting in minutes but no time to plan? No sweat!

DOWNLOAD FILE: No Sweat! EFL Role-plays

(This e-book is free and may not be sold for commercial gain or any other purpose.)

(We appreciate your feedback, good or bad! If you find a typo or an error let us know and we’ll fix it straight away. Or if you just want to comment, don’t hesitate!)