Boxing Day

Drawing of a floral stained-glass window set into a brick wall, with rose bushes in front.

Boxing Day short story by Iris Carden

Settle in dear reader while I tell you the story of Betty who was under-appreciated and wished for a different life.

Christmas Day had been the usual chaos. Betty had cooked for her own two children, her husband, her brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, her father, and a couple of his elderly friends who’d had nowhere else to go for the day.

Everyone had eaten her work in no time, and no-one had bothered to thank her. Then they’d all ripped open the presents she’d spent weeks thoughtfully shopping for and wrapping. The thanks were minimal and mumbled. Her gift, bought by her husband, had been his own favourite chocolates.

Betty had been exhausted at the end of the day, and, after filling the dishwasher with the final load, had decided to leave the wrapping paper piled up to deal with on Boxing Day.

Now it was Boxing Day. No-one had magically decided to clean up the mess in the meantime. Picking up the discarded wrapping and cards, Betty found an envelope addressed to her which she hadn’t seen before.

She opened and inside she found a card which said: “Good for one wish. Write your wish here.”

It was a strange thing, but Betty appreciated that someone had thought of her. She found a pen and wrote in the blank space: “I wish I lived in old-fashioned times, in a fancy house where there were servants.”

The room around her seemed to melt. She found herself kneeling on a stone floor. The light around her was multi-coloured, and when she looked up, she saw a beautiful stained-glass window set in the brick wall. Looking down, she saw she was wearing a long, but very plain dress, and an apron. Beside her on the floor was a bucket of soapy water and a scrubbing brush.

“Off with the fairies again, are you girl?” A harsh voice behind her said.

She looked around and saw a woman dressed similarly to herself.

“Get back to work or you’ll be on the streets,” the woman said.

Well, dear reader, you can imagine Betty’s shock and regret. She thought about that wish, and the simple fact she hadn’t added that she wanted to be the lady of the manor.

She thought about that tiny omission constantly as she scrubbed, and washed and cleaned and ironed for the rest of her life.

Betty’s story is sad, of course, but spare a thought, dear reader, for a servant girl, who suddenly found herself with no explanation in Betty’s life, with modern appliances to help her, and with Betty’s unappreciative husband and kids who didn’t even notice the change.

I invite you, dear reader, to look out for more:

Strange Tales

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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