Un-shattered dreams

Submitted into Contest #97 in response to: Write a story in which a window is broken or found broken.... view prompt

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Fiction Friendship



Rosa opened her eyes, her heart fluttering in her throat. Was this a dream? She lay still. Barely daring to draw another breath.


She listened.


A perfect June dawn bathed Rosa in a calm delicate light. It nudged at the white cotton curtains, teasing the sleeping bedroom with glimpses of a glorious deep blue sky, filling the room with salty honeysuckled air.

Just outside the cottage window, a bumble bee drifted between the flowers, before starting his engines and taking flight with his bounty. A gull sat on the chimney pot chuckling to himself.


Rosa listened.


With her old eyes refusing to focus properly, she leaned over and searched for her glasses, taking extra care not to make a sound. Her mind was slow to let her take control, flitting between dreams and reality, her body refusing to shake off the aches from yesterday’s gardening . . . had she heard breaking glass?

She lay still.


She listened.


The clock showed 3.58am as her eyes finally focused and her heart slowed. Awkwardly propping herself up against her plump pillows, she took a sip of water. Maybe it was a dream.


She listened.

Down stairs, Hira reached a thin sun beaten arm in through the broken window and quietly turned the key. The heady dawn scent of the huge honeysuckle above the back door made him feel dizzy. He pushed the door slowly open and stepped into the kitchen silently, making sure he stepped over the shards of broken glass. His heart thumped under his thin t- shirt, hanging limply from his scrawny frame. As he pulled his arm back through the door, a stubborn spike of glass effortlessly sliced open his salty olive skin. Rich red blood dripped onto the tiled floor. Hira squealed, then clasped his hand over his mouth. He stepped back, crunching a dusty warn sandal on the broken glass. 

He froze.


He listened.


Rosa’s tired eyes might not be what they used to be, but her hearing was as sharp as a pin. This was not a dream. She had had many dreams through her long life. As an ambitious and beautiful young woman, she would dream. She would dream of a handsome man who would sweep her off her feet. Of a perfect wedding day with a white dress and pink roses. Of a perfect marriage. She had dreamed of a child, a son maybe. Someone who might look after her when she got old and couldn’t manage the gardening anymore. She married a soldier. He drank too much, but Rosa held on to her dreams. After seven miscarriages and a still born, the doctor concluded it was time to stop trying. Rosa’s dreams where shattered. 

“Some woman just aren’t meant to have babies” he said. “I’m sorry,” he said.

Rosa was sorry too. She kept a black and white picture of her still born child in a locket on her necklace.

She left her soldier to his drink.

She never stopped dreaming.

40 Years of teaching English to other people’s children would have to be enough…but it never was. Not really.


Hira clutched at the wound on his arm, blood seeped through his fingers. His olive cheeks turned ocean grey. As the room spun, he felt his legs buckle and slumped to the floor, leaning up against the kitchen cupboards.

Rosa slipped on her dressing gown, she stood for a moment allowing the stiffness in her joints to ease. The old cottage floor boards creaked and groaned above Hira’s head as she moved around the bedroom.

“I’m coming down now.” She called, “and I’ve called the police so I suggest you run for it . . . if you know what’s good for you!” She scanned the bedroom, picking up her hairbrush from the wooden dresser. She waved it about in front of her as she made her way down the stairs.

Hira could hear her getting closer. Every stair squeaked a warning to him which made his heart thump in his ears. He pulled in his legs and made himself into a ball. Tears stung his eyes as he began to quietly sob.

“Who is it? Who’s there?” Rosa could hear faint whimpering from the kitchen. “I’m coming in . . . and I’m armed!” She took a deep breath, held the shaking hair brush up in front of her, and gave the kitchen door a gentle push. 

Hira pulled his legs in tight and held his breath.

Rosa lowered the hairbrush as she cautiously stepped into the kitchen. Small pieces of glass crunched beneath her slippers. She followed the drops of blood around the kitchen table to find a small boy curled up in a ball on the floor. His scruffy dark hair covering his face as he hung his head, the back of his neck red with sunburn. He whimpered like a tiny puppy. 

“Well.” Rosa whispered. “What do we have here? . . . Who are you? . . . Are you hurt?”

Hira said nothing, just kept his head tightly buried in his hands.

Rosa pulled out a chair and sat down . . . her own legs finally giving in to the adrenalin pumping through her veins. 

“I could do with a cup of tea.” she looked at the small boy for a moment, his bony shoulders twitching with every sob. “Would you like a cup of tea? . . . Maybe a glass of water?”

Hira raised his head and peered at Rosa through dark curls that hung over his eyes. His dark cheeks a wash with tears.

“Water?” he said in a tiny voice. Rosa could hear a strong accent in his croaky reply. 

“Water it is then . . . and I’ll put the kettle on . . . can you speak English?”

Hira looked uncertain.

“Speak English?” Rosa said again.

“Little.”

Rosa gestured towards the boy’s arm. Hira reluctantly straightened it to reveal a bloody wound. He looked away as Rosa inspected it.

“I’ll need to wash this before I put a dressing on it.” she said, twisting it this way and that. “Do you have a name?”

Hira, head bowed, said nothing.

Rosa stroked the back of his hand and he looked up to face her, his big brown eyes finally meeting hers.

“If we are going to be friends I’m going to need to know your name?”

“Hira . . . Diamond!”

“Ah I see, Yes, Hira means diamond in southern Asia if I’m not mistaken. Well Hira diamond, my name is Rosa. What am I going to do with you? How old are you, 12?”

Hira straightened himself up and swept the hair from his eyes.

“Food? . . . Water?” he said. His voice full of hope.

Rosa thought for a second.

“Ok . . . but let me sort this wound out first, otherwise we’ll have blood everywhere, and we can’t have that, can we Hira . . . no no, we can’t have that.”

Hira watched Rosa intently as she moved slowly around the kitchen. She cleaned and dressed the wound. She made him tea and toast with butter. Then sat and watched him as he ate it like he hadn’t been fed for a month. She sipped at her tea, not taking her eyes from him.

“Can you tell me where you have come from? Where do you live?”

Hira washed the last of the toast down with a huge glass of milk, which left a white moustache on his top lip. The contrast against his sun burnt skin made Rosa smile. She dabbed at it with a napkin. Hira pulled a face which made her smile even more.

“Boat.”

“Sea.”

“Man.”

“Bad man.”

Hira thought for a moment longer.

“Run.”

“Scared.”

Rosa leaned back in her chair and nodded. She gave a sympathetic smile.

“And your parents?”

Hira stared at her. She spoke slowly.

“Mum and Dad?”

Hira hung his head, when he looked up at her his big brown eyes were swimming with tears.

“Dead.”

Rosa shut her eyes and breathed deeply.

“Right,” she said, “Lets clear up this mess.” She grabbed a broom from the pantry and began sweeping the glass. Hira watched for a moment then stood and took the broom from her.

“Help . . . Hira, help.”


Five days later.


Rosa opened her eyes, her heart fluttering in her throat. Was this a dream? She lay still. Barely daring to draw another breath.


She listened.


A perfect June dawn bathed Rosa in a calm delicate light. It nudged at the white cotton curtains, teasing the sleeping bedroom with glimpses of a glorious deep blue sky, filling the room with salty honeysuckled air.

Just outside the cottage window, a small boy with olive skin and a milky white moustache, stood on a ladder and clipped away at the overgrown honeysuckle growing above the back door of the cottage. Bumble bees drifted from flower to flower. A gull sat on the chimney pot chuckling to himself. Rosa, lost in her thoughts, clutched at the locket around her neck, stroking it gently. Maybe, she thought, just maybe, dreams can come true after all.




June 08, 2021 21:17

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4 comments

Beth Connor
17:49 Jul 03, 2021

This was beautiful! I realized I am way behind on your stories and need to remedy that!

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Phil Manders
05:36 Jul 04, 2021

Hi Beth, Thanks for dropping in! I did stop writing for a while . . . But I’m still here. Thank you for the comment.

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Deidra Lovegren
12:35 Jun 09, 2021

Oh Phil — I just loved this. As an old English teacher, it spoke to my heart. Solid characterization. Great pacing. Everything flowed so nicely. Wonderful ❤️ I truly want a sequel!

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Phil Manders
15:24 Jun 09, 2021

Hi Deidra, You are very kind. I wrote this one way back before we became pals. It fitted the prompt this week, so I did some editing and submitted again. It’s one of my favourites. 😁 It’s nice to recycle something I’ve already written and try and improve it. And by the way . . . You’re not old.

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