Tables Turned

Geoffrey tore his tie off the moment he came in; the usual sign that he was stressed. Sally poured him his glass of sherry, anyway. Maybe...

"Sorry love, but no time for that now." He gave her a peck on the forehead. "You know we got placed in the top three in this year's league table. Well, the boss is laying on a big do to celebrate. Several people from the town hall will be there, and we're hoping even the inspector will turn up. Big publicity stunt for the whole school."

"Does that mean..." Sally didn't finish her sentence. Prospects had been always been bleak, and now this. She swallowed his sherry in one gulp and let out a hiccup. Geoffrey turned and began to scrutinise her. His piercing eyes went from the glass in her hand up to her face. She averted his gaze. Why should he see her disappointment? But the tell-tale tear made its way slowly down his cheek.

He moved towards her and watch it snake its way down past the metal frames of her glasses. His finger caressed her cheek. "I know I'm missing your club do, dear. But you can still go. I've asked George to drop by and pick me up. So you'll have the car. You know how sorry I am not to accompany you, but you know I don't get on well with that sort of company. I can never think of anything to say to them."

"You find enough to say to the people you'll be seeing this evening." There was an edge to her voice which warned Geoffrey to be on his guard.

"Come on, dear. We've been through this a hundred times already. I can't help being what I am, and I can't help needing some stimulating conversation when I go out. And your friends are just not up to scratch. Anyway, I have to run. Don't want to keep George waiting.

* * * * *

"Did you have a good evening, dear?"

Instead of a reply he gave her a vague, incomprehensible stare.

"Dear? Geoffrey!"

"What? Oh... You know, the most queer thing imaginable happened to me this evening. Have you heard anything about this crazy ministerial initiative to... 'improve our awareness of third world poverty'. At least, that's how the boss put it. Nothing but bureaucracy gone mad, if you ask me. There we were milling around the tables with all these wonderful things to eat, when the inspector came in and announced no one was allowed to eat using fingers. Then, she produced these bloody metre long forks which were attached to each of our wrists, and said could only eat using these."


"What do you mean, so? How the hell do you expect us to feed ourselves with only metre long forks to put the food in our mouths."

"I'd have thought, it wouldn't have been the slightest problem for such an august gathering of intellectuals. I hope, it at least gave you something to talk about all evening."

"Now, there's no need to take that tone with me. Just be glad that at your party you didn't have metre long forks to eat with, or you wouldn't feel quite so cocky."

"Who said, we didn't have them. Ministerial initiatives concern us just as much as they do you and your merry band of geniuses."

"You mean you found a way to solve the problem."

"I'm not sure I'd put it like that. But we did find a way to eat using our metre long forks. We just did what came natural to us."

Geoffrey looked at her dumbfounded. His silence was an invitation for her to elucidate.

"Well, if you must know, all we did was to feed each other."


The idea for this piece comes from Jewish tradition (I think the Talmud). But the characters and the setting is my own.

16 December 2009 at 13:54  

Interesting read. Lots to digest, but it moves very well.

16 December 2009 at 17:12  

Nice piece, Paul. I enjoyed this. The opening was strong, the characters developed well and the "message" came through nice and clear. Great job and use of the prompts!!

16 December 2009 at 20:56  

Geoffrey's moodiness is conveyed well. I also liked how I, as the reader, could see the solution to the fork riddle, yet it's also believable that Geoffrey and his friends couldn't see it. This makes Sally's triumph at the end all the more satisfying. A very good read.

16 December 2009 at 21:32  

I could see the ending coming, but I really like the way you showed the two characters as being quite different and how the solution fitted with the woman.

Well done.

16 December 2009 at 23:22  

Very interesting story. I kept wondering how they were going to fed each other. Guess I won't meet him at any parties anytime soon :)

17 December 2009 at 14:20  

I love this story and especially love how you modernized it :)

17 December 2009 at 17:53  

I enjoyed the ending, great presentation.

18 December 2009 at 20:06  

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