• Ellie Atkinson

Second Chance

Updated: Jul 25

RUNNER UP FLASH FICTION

Walking, dark and cold, not knowing where I am. I am disorientated after my escape. Hungry and so, so tired. The lights of passing cars sweep over me; I cower in the shadows, not wanting to be seen.

I am alone, again. Abandoned, again. Homeless, again. My husband (such as he was) was a ‘wham, bam, thank you ma'am’ type of guy. My kids are grown and flown without a backward glance. Just me, on my own.

The weather is closing in; what sun there was today setting in a bruised sky, rain sweeping across the horizon like a dark cloak. I hunch my shoulders, anticipating a drenching. I stumble into a shallow ditch, pick myself up and continue.

As I walk, I reflect on where I went wrong. I was a wife, a mother, happy in my domestic cosiness, and then, suddenly, it was all taken away. The house was repossessed; major upheaval due to council regulations; hostile neighbours. I ran away from the tragedy, uncertain of where my future lay.

I trudge on, putting one foot in front of the other, treading carefully, looking to left and right, not wanting to stumble and hurt myself. At my age, I could fall and bust a hip. What does my future hold? Do I even have a future?

Suddenly, lights shine out of the darkness. I see a driveway. I turn into it, walking hesitantly, uncertain of the reception. After dinner, a woman putting a bag of rubbish into a wheelie bin turns; she smiles, beckons me forward gently, and murmurs to me. I bask in the warmth of her expression.

She leads me to the back door. A nourishing meal, a much-needed drink, and a warm bed for the night. She hugs me good night. I am so grateful for the welcome, the love and care. I send up a prayer of thanks that I am rescued; I have found a haven.

The following day after a beautiful sleep in my new bed, I eat a hearty breakfast, kind words encouraging me to eat more and regain my strength. I walk in beautiful gardens, admiring the flowers and the lush grass, rich with bees, grasshoppers, and other scurrying insects.

That night, after a golden day sitting in the sun, feeling the warmth ease my old bones, I retire to bed.

As I hover on the brink of sleep, muttering softly to myself, I feel a long-forgotten ripple in my abdomen. Could it be? After all this time? I think it may be. My first gift to my new owners. Tomorrow I may lay an egg. There’s life in the old hen yet.