User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

Briskly they stepped through the grand front door into the entrance foyer. The walls were wooden paneled and a floor to ceiling mirror covered one wall. They were in their late twenties, dressed in designer clothes.

Cindy stood admiring their reflection. We’re looking cool. Her body-tight, light-blue dress suited her slim figure and the colour complimented her long blonde hair and hazel eyes. Frank combed his fingers through his well-groomed hair and viewed his designer stubble from various angles.

'They look busy,’ commented Cindy.

I booked the best table. Had to be Thursday night, they’re full tomorrow.'

It’s a popular restaurant.’

'It’s the ‘In!’ restaurant,’ announced Frank smugly.

'Sorry you had to wait,’ apologized the hostess as she stepped into the foyer. 'Have you booked a table?'

Yes, it's Frank Windsor.’

Puzzled, Cindy whispered, 'That's not your name.'

He grabbed her arm. 'Our table is ready.' Remembering his awful temper she kept quiet and meekly followed the hostess into the busy restaurant. The décor was magically lavish and the low-hanging chandeliers gave off a soft light. The smell of scrumptious food drifted across the restaurant.

Frank scanned the crowd.

Who’re you looking for?’ whispered Cindy.

He did not answer; instead he gave a big smile and a grandiose wave as he spotted a couple he knew.

Cindy waited until the hostess was out of earshot. 'Why Windsor?' she asked.

Sounds better than Jones, wanted a good table.’

Their table was on a small, intimate stage. Frank immediately sat down and waved to some more friends. The hostess pulled back a chair for Cindy.

'Magnificent restaurant,’ said Frank, looking very pleased with himself.

Their waiter arrived and placed two large menus on the table. ‘Good evening, sir. I will be serving you; can I get you something to drink?'

'A bottle of Moёt Champagne,' ordered Frank.

The waitron promptly headed to the wine cellars.

'Frank, can you afford it?' queried Cindy.

He glared back. 'Yes, got my gold card.’

The waitron returned with a bottle of Champagne and began to fill their glasses. ‘Would you like to order a starter?'

'No, we’re fine thanks, two lamb cutlets with vegetables.'

Cindy glared. I can order my own food.

'Cheers to a passionate Thursday night, instead of Friday,' said Frank raising his glass with a charming smile.

Her momentary irritation dissolved. In its place were memories of his luxurious bed. She had gotten into the habit of spending weekends at his penthouse flat. The sea view was amazing and it was close to her work.

Their food arrived and they began to eat. Suddenly, without a word, Frank got up and walked across the restaurant. He stopped at a table and started talking to the couple. Cindy waved to them. They didn’t notice. Feeling awkward, she continued to eat her dinner. Then he moved to another table. Smiles, hugs. No one glanced in her direction. Certainly not Frank.

He returned and looked surprised. 'You’re almost finished!’

'Sorry,' she answered.

'Not my fault I know a lot of people. There's this new club, agreed to meet the gang later.'

Deflated, she softly answered. 'I thought we were going back to your place!

He smiled his winning smile. 'Must go to the new club.' Somehow Frank always got his own way. He wolfed down his food and then sat in silence.

Shall we go?’ she suggested.

He beckoned the waiter and paid the bill.

As they walked to his car, he ran his fingers through his hair and admired himself in the shop windows. What happened to romance and holding hands? His flash car was easy to spot. He climbed in and started the engine. She just managed to get in before Frank revved and accelerated with screeching tyres. ‘Why so fast?’

They sped down the busy road. She pointed to the car stopped in front of them. 'Frank! Car!’ He braked, but it was too late. There was an almighty crash and she lurched forward.

Frank’s window had shattered; he quickly wormed his way out. Smoke started to bellow from under the crumpled bonnet. Cindy’s seatbelt would not unclip, she pushed her door, but it would not budge. She was trapped. The smoke had turned to flames.

Frank! Where are you?’ She screamed,

Desperately she peered through the cracked windscreen. Frank was on the pavement. He looked detached. She waved to get his attention. But he just stood still and straightened his jacket. The car was now engulfed in smoke and flames. ‘Help! Help!’ She shouted and beat the windscreen with her fists. Frank did not move. ‘Get me out! I’m burning!’

Suddenly the windscreen broke into tiny pieces. Two arms reached in, the hands grabbed her and started to pull. With a lot of pain, she was pulled through the opening.

'Bring the stretcher,’ shouted the fireman.

After a bouncy movement, her world got smaller as the stretcher was pushed into the ambulance. 'Morphine!' shouted her rescuer, and then grunted, ‘You’re lucky we're so close.' Then her world turned into blackness.

When she opened her eyes again, there was a white ceiling above her. She tried to move, but her body would not obey. She started to sweat. I can’t move, what’s happening? Where’s Frank? Flames everywhere! Shit! Instinctively she squeezed the hard object in her hand.

A door opened and a pair of eyes surrounded by white clothes blocked her view of the ceiling. 'Shhh, don't panic, you're in a hospital, everything is okay. No permanent injuries, just bad smoke inhalation and some cuts on your legs. What’s your name?'

'Cindy,' she whispered.

'And surname?'

'Van Rensburg.'

'Thanks. We’ll do the forms later. You wouldn’t stop moving, so we had to give you a muscle relaxant. It’ll soon wear off and then you’ll be dancing like a ballerina. Oh yes, we had to shave off what was left of your hair. But it will soon grow back.’

All Cindy could remember was feeling trapped with the flames touching her and the jammed door. The tears streamed down her cheeks.

'Please, phone my mum.'

'What's her number?'

'Maggie van Rensburg,' Cindy mumbled.

'That will do. Now take this tablet, you need to rest.'

When she woke up, the first thing she did was to try to move her feet. They obeyed. Thank God! She became aware of a presence next to her, it was her mother. 'Mum,' was all she could say and then the tears streamed down her cheeks.

Her mother stood up and gave her a warm reassuring hug.

'Shh, you’re okay now, just rest,’ soothed her mother.

'Mum, big flames! Smoke!’

Don't worry; you’re fine now, safe in hospital.’ Her mother clasped her hand and sat down next to her. ‘Where’s Frank?’

Don’t know, haven’t seen him, hope he’s okay.’

He should be here, looking after you. Where is he? Was he also hurt?’

No, he was standing on the pavement.’

So where is he?’

Don’t know Mum.’

Always said he was no good. He should be here with you.’

Mum, he just watched me, trapped in a burning car.’ Cindy started sobbing.

Forget about Frank, I’ll stay and look after you.’

Mum I can’t, he’s --.’

Can’t what?’ asked her mum.

Can’t forget about him, he’s part of my life.’

Cindy, you almost died, you’re in hospital, think about it.’

They sat in silence holding hands as Cindy’s sobs slowly subsided. She felt safe with her mum by her side.

She spent all day slipping in and out of sleep. As the sun started to set, she whispered, ‘Mum, you should go now, it’ll start getting dark soon. I'll be okay.’

'Yes dear, but I will come tomorrow. When you’re better and can leave, best you come and stay with me for a few days.’

Cindy looked up. She noticed signs of aging in her mum’s kind face ‘Thanks Mum. See you tomorrow.'

The following morning, after breakfast, the nurse came in carrying a phone. 'There’s a call for you, a gentleman, calls himself Frank Windsor.'

Cindy froze and then snatched the phone. 'Where have you been?'

I had to sort the car out. It's a write-off. I spent the whole day at the garage with the insurance assessor. He said I can buy a new car. It's great; I get a brand new car! I can get the latest model. I’m going to choose a metallic blue one. I think it will be really cool. I also had to see the gang and tell them why we weren't going to be at the club.'

'When did you see the gang?'

'When the car burnt out, couldn't keep them waiting, had to tell them I was alright.’

'Frank, did you go to the club and have a drink?'

'It was only one drink, had to see them.'

'Frank! I’m going home! Don’t call me.’ She slammed the receiver onto the phone and handed it back to the stony-faced nurse, whose lips gently moved into a sympathetic smile.

She stared at the ceiling thinking about the phone call. Stuff you Frank. The door opened, her mother shuffled in and sat next to her.

Glad you here, Mum.’

Don’t worry dear; the sister said I can stay all day.’

Finally the day arrived when she could be discharged into her mother’s care. That morning her mother brought her a present.

Like a child, she unwrapped it. ‘Mum, it’s beautiful, my favourite colour, happy yellow.’ Her mother had bought her a beanie to cover her shaven head.

Cindy looked into the mirror before putting it on. ‘I look like Sinead O'Connor: better learn to sing.'

She felt detached and strange as they drove to her mum's house. But as she stepped into the familiar surroundings, the slightly musky smell reminded her of warmth, love and happiness. ‘Home sweet home,’ breathed Cindy with a smile. It was a large double-story house with a big garden leading to the countryside. A bit empty since her dad had passed on. But she still loved it.

She walked out onto the patio and sat down. After a few minutes in the warming sun, she started to feel better again.

Cup of tea,’ said her mother, as she joined her and placed two cups on the table.

Thanks. Great to be home.’

Take it easy: been through a rough time.’

Mum, I’ve been thinking. Can’t go back to Frank! It’s always about Frank. What about me? I also count. He’s never opened the car door for me, ever. I’ve given him everything.’

Yes dear. He should not have left you. Take your time, there’s no rush.’

Thanks Mum. ... The big city, it’s strange. Nobody really cares, so trendy, but empty.’ Cindy wept silent tears as she gazed across the fields.

The following day, after a good night’s sleep, she strolled into the garden and sat on the grass. She recalled the days when, as a little girl with her brothers, they had pretended to be aeroplanes. With outstretched arms and making aeroplane noises, they would run across the grass.

Slowly Cindy stood up, stretched out her arms and started running in big circles. After a few more sweeps she stopped and walked to the fence to stare across the field. She paused and then spoke out. ‘No! it’s not for me.’ Despite her injuries, for the first time in a long time, she felt whole again.


Donate a little?

Use PayPal to support our efforts:


Genre Poll

Your Favorite Genre?

Sign Up for info from Short-Story.Me!

Stories Tips And Advice