The Surprise Present Competition Winner

We asked you to write a story inspired by the photo in a maximum of 1200 words. We received some amazing submissions but would like to congratulate the winners.

Surprise present

 

1st Prize: £295.00 Caroline Heath

2nd Prize: £200.00 Roy Stevens

3rd Prize: £150.00 T. Parker

Henry’s Package

by Caroline Heath

Tina glanced at the present displayed on the kitchen unit. It drew the eye as it was beautifully wrapped in a green box adorned with a bow. She had to fight back the urge to open it.  Henry must have sent it to her; he was such a charmer, a gentleman with a real old-fashioned air about him. Tina smiled at the thought. She was meeting him later, the least she could do was to wait for him so he could watch her open it.

She’d forgotten how good it was to have someone open doors for her, to buy her flowers and to hang onto her every word and, his car, well, he actually drove a Bentley, Tina hugged the thought to herself, it was unbelievable. Her ex husband had driven a clapped out old banger because he couldn’t keep a job. She’d endured years of disappointment with him, in every way, so maybe it was time for her to be a little spoiled. She wasn’t sure that Henry was the one –if there was such a thing, but now in her 40’s, she’d become a little bit cynical about the intentions of potential suitors. So far, she couldn’t fault him but there had to be something wrong, there always was.

She tidied up the kitchen, her daughter had made the usual mess, knives left out, dirty plates strewn across the tops, and she’d left her sandwiches behind.  It didn’t seem possible that her daughter was 16 and in her final year at school. It didn’t seem possible that her good for nothing father wasn’t even in her life anymore. Tina had felt guilty for throwing him out but she’d been right to do so. Now, he’d run off with a much younger woman and he’d forgotten the family he’d been a part of for so many years. Since then she’d taken her first tentative steps towards dating again, but she’d shied away from a commitment always checking that her daughter felt comfortable with any admirer, but in fairness, Abby hadn’t liked any of them so far.

The time ticked by slowly. She wasn’t meeting up with Henry for hours, it was impossible to wait any longer. With excitement, she opened up the box. Inside, rather than a thoughtful gift, she found photos of Henry with other women. Nothing conclusive but enough to send a ripple of doubt down her spine, there was something a little odd about the photos but she couldn’t quite work out why. Placing them to one side, she opened up the note. The words had been carefully created from cut-out letters from a newspaper.

 He’s a Con Man!

Tina was more perturbed than upset. Who bothered cutting out letters to make up this type of warning? Then, it came to her. Abby. The photos had been doctored too….of course they had and didn’t she recognize one of those women from the television? Oh Abby, Tina thought sadly, was she worried that her mother would find someone else too? Or perhaps Abby was right. She wasn’t tainted by bad relationship experiences and maybe she could see through Henry’s charming persona. Her mood suddenly low, Tina kept herself busy, she couldn’t deny the faked evidence or that the concern for her was borne out of love. She needed to know the truth.

When Abby arrived home, Tina was curled up in her favourite armchair, wearing her favourite pyjamas and sipping hot chocolate, her comfort drink.

“He’s not here.” Tina stated before Abby could ask.

“Did Mr. Perfect’s Bentley break down?” She smirked.

“Not unless you did something to it!” Tina muttered and then handed Abby a present, the same box and wrapping paper.

“What’s this?” She looked embarrassed realizing that her mother had seen through the present she’d left on the doorstep.

“Open it.”

Inside, were photos, but different ones, several of Henry romantically linked with other woman, a newspaper cutting and a gift voucher for Abby’s favourite shop.

“I don’t understand.”

“Your fake present got me thinking. He really was too good to be true so I spent the afternoon researching…painstakingly I might add and found out that Henry is not Henry at all but, a rather good con man. He was born Albert Mussel –I suppose that’s not as appealing a name.”Tina smiled seeing Abby’s face. “The point is Abby, you were right. I was just enjoying the attention but you saw through that practiced performance, so, although your methods were…odd. Thank you.”

Abby jumped to her feet, quickly pocketing the gift voucher. “Cool. I was right all along.”

“But next time, no elaborate gift wrapped surprise? Just come and talk to me.”

Tina watched with pride as her daughter walked away, soon Abby would be flying the nest and making her own way in the world. Maybe dating could wait for a while, she should savour whatever time she had left with Abby instead. Tina had just lost her man friend but knew she’d found something much better, an even stronger bond with her beautiful daughter.

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