An Encounter - Estelle Westley

Submitted into Contest #49 in response to: Write a story about two strangers chatting while waiting for something.... view prompt



"Hi sonny - where are you off to?"

Drat my luck to find Mrs Henderson here at this moment. He had heard of Mrs. Henderson. Darren rolls his eyes but not so that Mrs Henderson can see it. There are some folk that steer clear of her when she starts jabbering. She sits with her shopping bag folded on her lap and looks at her watch. Darren had to take the bus today, his car wouldn't start.

"Down town." replies Darren. Trying not to be too talkative but still polite. He didn't want to start a lengthy conversation.

"To do what, sonny?"

"Shopping." Darren again tries again to halt the conversation. He has heard people say Mrs. Henderson is very nosy.

"Sit here sonny," Mrs Henderson pats the bench. "The bus is late already, might as well make yourself comfortable."

Darren slowly makes his way to the bench and sits a fare distance from Mrs. Henderson, but not far enough to be rude. He nods a thank you.

"I have been taking this bus to do my shopping down town for more than forty years, you know. I always arrive early so that I can just sit and take in the happenings around this area." she starts off.

Drat, drat, drat. Hope this bus is not late today, thinks Darren.

"I love to see how the children have grown up and how families have moved into and out of the town. I have only seen you a handful of times, you haven't lived here that long have you?"

Darren shakes his head. Don't be rude to Mrs. Henderson he thinks, so he gives her a smile.

"It's very interesting, you know!" she continues. "I have watched families go about their business and then one day they are off to somewhere else. Just like that." she flips her hand in the air. "Then on another day I see a new face on the street and wonder what brings them here. Life is very interesting if you will just take the time to observe those around you."

"Take you for instance. Did you think that you would be sitting next to Mrs. Henderson, that lady that talks too much, this morning?" she looks at Darren.

He shakes his head again.

"Well, sonny, will you tell me about yourself or am I just going to make you one of my interesting characters?" she chuckles this time.

"Firstly, my name is Darren so now we can drop the 'sonny'?"

"Good," Mrs. Henderson puts out a hand to shake. "I am Evelyn Henderson."

Darren shakes his head and takes her hand. This Mrs. Henderson is quite a character he thinks.

"I am studying to be a lawyer and when my father passed away a year ago and left the house down the road to me, my wife and I thought it a good idea to move out here. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, so here we are. My car won't start this morning and we need some groceries." That was far more than I was going to share, thought Darren but carried on, "And I love to wonder around the local market on a Friday and then go and have coffee at that little bakery on High Road. My mum would tell me about the fresh loaf she had just picked up from them and my mouth would water. Nothing like that at boarding school."

Mrs. Henderson just sat listening and looking attentively at Darren and he just carried on.

"Mum died a month or so after they bought the house and Father then stayed here alone until last year. I never came to visit here because Father was always too sad. The loss of Mum broke his heart so I would visit my Nan in Scotland during the holidays. Father had a heart attack, it happened very quickly."

Mrs. Henderson had a thoughtful look on her face.

"Sonny - sorry Darren!" she laughs. "Thinking back now, I think I know who your father was. Is your surname Wickham?" and Darren nods at her. "I would like to let you know, I thought your father to be an absolute gentleman and handsome at that too. All the old biddies in town would watch as he drove his green Austin into town and sit in that same bakery waiting for his loaf every Friday morning. My friend Francis said he was snooty but I know she liked him. She would walk past his house just so she might be noticed, even though it took her out of the way and Lilly, my other friend, would bake him a pie and go knocking at his door to deliver it. Your father would take the pie, thank her and the next morning he would leave the pie dish on her door step but she never gave up and your father never invited her in. I also remember you father would visit the library every Friday as well. You would often find him sitting on the porch reading and enjoying his cigar. He was a real mystery to most of us and it was very sad that he passed away so suddenly."

Mrs. Henderson was now really enjoying all this banter and as a matter of fact, so was Darren. They were so busy chatting that they did not notice the bus pull up.

"Hop on now if you two are going down town, I'm late already!"

Darren helped Mrs. Henderson onto the bus and took the seat next to her.

The bus pulled into the down town terminal and Darren turned in his seat. "Mrs. Henderson, would you like to meet me for coffee at the bakery when you have done your shopping? I would love to know more about my father and his life here."

"That young gentleman would be a splendid idea!" again she chuckled. "Now do you see why I arrive at the bus stop early. When we take the time to see what is around us and who is around us magical moments happen. It was a great pleasure meeting you."

As Darren sat and waited for Mrs. Henderson, cup of steaming coffee on the table and the aroma of fresh bread filling the bakery, his thoughts drifted back to his mother.

Mum, you would have had a good giggle at my encounter with Mrs. Henderson this morning. Did you hear how they flirted with Father.

Must have made you smile.

Oh how we rush past everything in the cities and miss these magical moments. I didn't want to engage with her this morning but the pure act of having to slow down and wait for the bus has been an eye opener for me. 

I think country living is going to be good for me - Oh here she is and I think she has brought Francis and Lilly too. 

Let me order coffee.

Mrs. Henderson walked toward the table with her friends in tow. "Ladies, this is my soon to be lawyer and friend. Let me introduce you!"

July 10, 2020 13:09

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Bronwyn Andrews
11:38 Jul 21, 2020

Estelle, I really enjoyed your story! It flowed well the only thing I can think of revisiting is the emphasis you put on Darren not wanting to talk to Mrs Henderson. I feel as though it was a little overstated, although I loved how you incorporated Darren’s internal thoughts. I cannot think of anything else to say other than I loved it! 🙂


Estelle Westley
18:33 Jul 21, 2020

Thank you so much for your input. I always look into every comment made. Much appreciated.


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