Miss Christie Revisited

A few months ago I had my 25000th blog hit and I asked the person that ‘hit it’ to write a guest post for me. It was a busy time for her, but she has kept it in her mind and then recently she was inspired by a post here at Lucid gypsy. She is Sharon, or New Pillow Book, and her blog A Number of Things is an eclectic mix of poetry, photography, writing and just good fun. She takes part in several of the challenges and is a regular and supportive visitor. She made me laugh with Pie of Newt and I love her travel themes. She blogs most days, but not in a flashy way, she has a quiet unassuming style but also a strong voice.

When I posted about Agatha Christie’s Home recently, she said  `Dittisham is a perfect name for a village in a Christie mystery! Aside from that, your photos are so lovely. For some reason, I especially like the one of the moored sailboats dotting the river.’ So I challenged her again and she came up with this very clever and thought provoking flash fiction. Enjoy, and she would love to read any comments :-)

Death in Dittisham

Enid checked to be sure that her stocking seams made a straight dark line up the backs of her legs. She peeked through the curtained doorway. There were only a few customers at the tables in the tearoom. “It’s quiet for now,” Mavis said. “Just as well you’re here, though. We’re expecting two busses of trippers today.”

“Shame they won’t have a chance to talk to Mrs. Mallowan.”

Everyone who worked in Dittisham knew who Mrs. Mallowan was: Agatha Christie, the famous writer. Of course, many of the trippers thought she was “Miss Christie” or, sometimes, “Mrs. Christie”. They all knew that the big house across from Dittisham was hers, though. That was part of the reason they visited, and their visits were what kept the Pink Petunia Tearoom open and kept Enid and Mavis employed.

Not that Dittisham was really the placid English village it seemed at first glance. But wasn’t that how any good Christie story started out, with a world that wasn’t at all what it seemed to be?

“Mrs. Mallowan? Oh, lots of them don’t want to see her,” Mavis said. “A nice chat with old Miss Marple, or a glimpse of that funny Belgian fellow, and they go home happy.”

But just then the first wave of trippers poured into the tearoom. It was hours before Enid and Mavis had another chance to catch their breath. “Regularly run off my feet,” Enid remarked as they leaned against the wall in the back room, tables emptying at last.

“It’s better than Micky D’s.”

“One party asked me where they could stay the night. I recommended Bertram’s Hotel.”

“Oh, get on with you, do.” The two girls wiped down the tables and tidied up before setting off in opposite directions for home. Enid liked walking through this silent Dittisham by herself. It seemed so real. She wondered if she and “Mavis” would convince the characters in a real Christie story. The light was fading, but she knew all the back streets and shortcuts. Sweet-smelling flowers, a friendly cat on its nightly prowl, a huddle of – something – under a bush. She crossed the lane and bent over the crumpled object.

And then she was running, running, all the way to the police station on the green. PC Jackson looked up in surprise as she burst in. “Now then, Enid, what’s all this?”

“Oh, Jim!” she panted. “It’s Miss Marple!” He gaped at her. Stupid, I’m being stupid, she thought. He wasn’t PC James Jackson any more than she was Enid Green. He wasn’t a policeman at all. This wasn’t England, and the 1930’s were eighty years gone. This was only a sham Dittisham, ChristieWorld, nothing but a specially built tourist attraction filled with actors working on their English accents. She loved it, and now she had to destroy it.

“Miss Marple?”

“Look, Matt, phone the real cops. It’s Miss Marple. I mean Mrs. Milewski. She’s dead.”

* * *

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