Girl With Floral Basket.

by Tracey Curzon-Manners

Dorothy sat on the edge of the bed, her plump feet pushed into furry pink slippers. Opposite, the unwrapped gift waited patiently on the floral dressing table where she had placed it moments earlier.

It had been a good day all things considered. She was calm and at this precise moment felt no desire to swig from the bottle of vodka hidden beneath her collection of china dolls or empty the paracetamol plus tab next to it.

Her face revealed remnants of smudged make-up applied that morning before work. She had dressed carefully in her favourite lace collared outfit that her mother helped her choose some years earlier, her hair taken up at the sides and secured at the back with a pink bow; her fingers had shook with excitement as she peeled the small disc of midnight blue eye-shadow from the front of her weekly magazine and dabbed it liberally onto her lids. Lipstick doubled as blusher which she massaged in with vigour to give that all over glow.

She sat quietly with her hands folded in her lap, her fingers intertwined like freshly made sausages punctuated by diamond rings she had bought for herself over a long period of time. A small vein in her temple pulsed methodically belying the volcano of turmoil simmering steadily somewhere within the root of her being.

They had been pleasant enough to her today. Her antennae hadn't picked up any abnormal readings and once or twice she had joined in the conversation, laughed even.

Closing her eyes, she leaned back and nestled among the dolls mindful not to disturb their neat arrangement. Chintz curtains fluttered in the light breeze coming from the open window and beside her bed, an Edwardian Lady clock from Marks and Spencer's kept perfect time.

Yes, it had been a good day, all told.

“You alright up there love? Pot of tea made when you're ready.”

Startled, she raised herself up awkwardly on one elbow.

“Down in a minute, just getting changed.”

Swinging her legs off the bed she walked over to the dressing table. The gift was beautifully wrapped with gold ribbon. She could save that in her wish box or better still, wear it into work the next day instead of a bow.

“Just a little something we thought you'd like.” Steph had pouted before tottering back to her work station in deliciously high stiletto heels, her pencil skirt accentuating the curves of her fulsome thighs.

“Oh thanks, you shouldn't have.”

It was a rare waft of warmth echoed by smiles and nods from the other desks in what was otherwise a cold, unforgiving climate.

“Bye then. See you tomorrow.”

“Oh yes, see you tomorrow.”

They left her to tidy up the paper cups and plates she had provided before turning off the lights and locking up the office. She didn't mind that they were probably going to the pub for a drink without asking her along. It was enough to have enjoyed being at work, one of the girls, part of the group. When the cake was unveiled everyone had gathered around and wished her many happy returns before slicing healthy portions and melting back into the furniture. They had even gone to the trouble of buying and wrapping a gift. Mummy would be overjoyed to know that she had settled in at last.

The bus journey home took her along the high street. Impulsively she got off and headed into MacDonald's where she ordered large of everything then found a corner to gobble it up as quickly as possible. Young children eyed her dolefully as lumps of mayonnaise littered with lettuce drizzled slug like down her chin becoming entangled in a few sprouts of thick facial hair. The gas from the diet coke made her burp loudly causing parents to turn their children's faces away hissing for them to stop staring.

Dorothy sat back and waited for the girl to clean the floor around the table next to her before getting out the remains of her birthday cake which she scoffed under cover of a propped up magazine.

“Excuse me,” said the girl. “You aren't allowed to eat your own food in here.”

Dorothy peeped out revealing a frost coated moustache.

“I was just about to leave!” she squealed picking up her shoulder bag and throwing the girl a vicious stare. “Foods crap in here anyway.”

She flicked open her pink clam phone as she walked to the exit and dialled home.

“Mummy, it's me. I'm going to be a bit late…yes…great, really good. We're all off to the pub then maybe a club. Don't wait up, OK.”

 Ignoring the icing clinging to her upper lip she decided to take the long way home by the canal. Mummy would be in bed by the time she got back and she could watch the late film in peace. It was already dark but the path was well lit with plenty of people about on cycles, couples strolling, men jogging, one or two walking their dogs.

Half way along she felt the call of nature and dipped behind a hedge lifting the hem of her skirt to avoid the stream of urine gushing below. Steam rose in clouds warming the inside of her thighs. Unable to find a tissue she wiggled about a bit before pulling up her pants and stepping back onto the path.

“Alright love. What you been up to then?”

 He loomed from nowhere without warning.

“Excuse me, I want to get by.” Dorothy edged nearer the water but he didn't budge.

“Now then, what's the rush? Just want to talk that's all…”

Dorothy stood in the shadows eyeing him up and down. He was well built, stout. She looked about to see if anyone was coming but they were alone. There was a road in the distance, she could see car head lights but it was too far to attract attention and any cries for help would be lost in the rumble of traffic...

  Emerging from the hedgerows visibly dazed and shaken, she realised that one of her sling back shoes had come off in the struggle. They were a favourite pair but she couldn't go back, she needed to get home and shower him off her. Her clothes stank of him, he was everywhere, had been everywhere, his strength surprising her plump frame.

 Retrieving her abandoned bag and the gift from where they had fallen, she hurried towards the road. It was still early, barely ten o'clock. Focusing on getting home and nothing else, she half ran half hobbled praying there would be a taxi.


Mummy would still be up.

How would she be able to explain her appearance without upsetting mummy? She was too frail to understand, it would kill her to find out.

She crept in the back door. The television was on low in the front room as she made the dash upstairs, creaky floorboards announcing her return on every step.

Back in her bedroom, Dorothy inspected her reflection in the triple vanity mirror; there were a couple of tares in her blouse and everything would have to be washed tonight. A patch of semen stained her skirt mingled with blood and dirt where she had fought him. Wriggling and squirming until her clothes lay in heap around her ankles; she stepped out of them and reached for her pink towelling bathrobe, kicking the discarded attire under the chair until the coast was clear. The television had been switched off and she could hear Mummy moving about in the kitchen below.

Aiming the shower head into the folds and crevices of her bulky flesh, she scrubbed systematically, teeth clenched with determination to wash away the stench of him. Half an hour later satisfied that the last of his DNA had disappeared down the plug hole, she patted herself dry being extra gentle around the sensitive areas.

 Combing her hair she noticed yet more grey despite her attempts to defend against the advancement of age with various colours. It wasn't fair, women like Steph had it all, looks, sleek hair, voluptuous lips, a great figure. Most of the men in the office lusted after her and she revelled in the attention.

“This tea's stewing down here, what are you messing about at? Do you want me to bring it up to you?”

“NO! I said I'll be down in a minute.”  She arranged a few strands over the beginnings of a bruise at the side of her cheek and touched up the cut on her lip with concealer.

Dorothy went back into the bedroom and picked up the gift. Holding it gently in her hand, she turned it over and over admiring the feminine print of the paper. It was chic, not at all gaudy and a far better choice than she could have chosen for herself. Impulsively, she ripped off the paper and tore into the polystyrene box.

“I've brought your tea up since you didn't come down." Mummy's breath came in laboured rasps as she clutched at the door handle. "What have you got there?”

“The girls at work bought her for me.”

Mesmerized, she traced a chipped nail ever so gently along the delicate cream porcelain of the full skirt and down the slender arm to the tips of slight fingers caught up with an abundance of intricate flowers arranged magically within a woven basket.

“Ah, she's lovely isn't she, let's have a look.”

Dorothy instinctively clutched the delicate ornament to her pushing her lower lip out petulantly. “No. She's mine. Go away mummy, leave me alone.”

“Oh you are precious at times Derek, honestly. I'm off to bed. Make sure you close that window; I was watching the news and there's been another attack tonight along the canal, third one this month.



“I sent Derek away a long time ago and he won't be coming back — not ever; there's only Dorothy now. We've talked about this before and you said you understood, remember?”

“Sorry dear, I keep forgetting.”