What a treat! My lovely husband has written a story for the collection. Richard would never call himself a writer even though he is a blogger. Almost all of his writing is non fiction, but he has come to a few writing events with me and has tried his hand at fiction the odd time. So I’m not always a bad influence on him 😉
So.. a rare fictional story from the better half…
Mercy by Richard Miles
It was a dull, grey day. Not much different from all the other dull, grey days that had characterised what seemed like months on end. As she looked out of the window, Julie sighed deeply. Nothing about today looked promising. She knew she had to go and face it, but how much easier it would be if the clouds would clear. Somehow things were always better when the sun was shining. She breathed deeply again and opened the front door.
As she walked down the street, she felt an increasing sense of foreboding. What if things turned out badly? What if they didn’t understand? What if…? She felt so fed up that she ran out of what ifs.
At last she saw the big gates in front of her. She pressed the buzzer and slowly they opened. As she walked up the long, tree-lined drive her spirits dropped even further. She knocked at the door.
Julie waited for what seemed like an hour. Her mind flashed back to that fateful day two weeks previously. She remembered clearly that she had thought that there was too much artificial snow in the window display, and anyway Santa’s beard was meant to be white, not a dirty grey.
Then later she had been impressed by the appearance of the woman when she had turned up at the apartment to claim the baby. Immaculately dressed in a dress suit, and expensive looking shoes, the sort that Julie knew she could never afford! She was probably in her early thirties, the same as Julie. She hadn’t realised at the time that this lady was a judge, but that became clear after a few minutes of conversation.
“Of course, you know that you are in violation of the law of the land regarding kidnapping,” she had said. “And as such there are custodial consequences for a breach of such a law. I know; I pass the sentences!”
Julie had only been able to mumble a response to this woman who was dressed in a smart suit, part of her admiring the fact that, as a female of around her age she had risen so high in a male dominated legal profession.
Today was different. The door opened and the woman who appeared was barefoot, but with immaculate nail polish, and dressed in a scruffy polo-necked top with torn jeans.
“Come in, won’t you?” The tone of voice was not that of the imperious legal enforcer that she had encountered before.
Julie was led into a sitting room, which was smaller than she expected. She sat on a hard, upright chair.
“Won’t you sit on the sofa?”
“No thank you – I am quite comfortable here.” was the bewildered mumbled reply.
Julie was still trying to get her head around what was going on. She had been expecting to be told in no uncertain terms that she had been completely in the wrong and would therefore be facing a court case probably ending in a jail sentence.
Instead, this relaxed informally dressed judge said, very gently: “now tell me what was going on.”
“Well, umm,” started Julie uncertainly; “you see I really wanted a baby and I can’t have one and I saw him outside the shop in his little buggy, and well I just started pushing it and before I knew it, I was at home. Then you came and knocked at my door and I didn’t know how you found me, and…..” Julie burst into tears. She looked into the corner of the room and saw the beautifully dressed 7 foot real tree with the lights and decorations perfectly placed. She thought of the ragged tinselled one that she had at home. Why had the judge asked her to come to this grand place? She had seen Julie’s small apartment!
“Yes I know and…”
“I’m not going to prosecute you.”
“What? But I’m guilty.”
“And so you are. But I’m choosing to show mercy. As a judge, I am in a position to do that.”
Julie just did not know what she felt, there were so many emotions vying for position.
“But what about the custodial sentence,” she eventually spluttered
“Believe me,” said the judge. “Losing a child for two hours is a severe enough sentence in itself! But I forgive you; and what is more, I would like you to come here for dinner on Christmas Day.”
Julie was completely speechless by now. All she could think of was what had she done to deserve this judge’s mercy?
“I know what you are thinking,” the judge said. “And by the way you can call me Elizabeth. You’re wondering what you have done to deserve me being lenient to you. I’ll tell you – absolutely nothing! If you were in any way deserving, it would not be mercy.”
Julie still didn’t really understand, but was extremely grateful none the less.
“What better time of year to show it?” Elizabeth added
Suddenly Julie remembered the quiet man that was with her on their previous meeting. “Where’s your husband?” (She assumed he was the husband, after all Elizabeth had handed the baby to him!)
“He’s gone down to the food bank – there’s a delivery this morning, and he wanted to be there. Hopefully, if you say yes and agree to come for dinner on Christmas Day, you can ask him to…’
Julie interrupted, astounded. “What? You’re inviting me to dinner on Christmas Day?”
“Yes I am. We’d love you to come and spend Christmas with us. My husband wants to tell you his story; it’s quite remarkable. At one time he would have been grateful for that food bank that he now volunteers with. Someone showed him mercy too.”
Find out about Richard Miles and his writing
on his blog Thinkings
or follow him on Twitter @richjm612