Tuesday 25 December 2018

Marking Time

by Janet Howson

Christmas Punch

The tree lights could be put on, the main light was too harsh. The cards were festooned around the room alternating between garish primary colours, sparkling, snowy scenes and the comical ones. She received a lot of cards, well over a hundred but then again she sent a lot. Every year she meant to cut down as the cost of stamps was getting ridiculous, but she never did. Presents were balanced one on top of the other all wrapped painstakingly in the same or similar paper, displaying an identifying gift tag for ease of identification. The turkey had already been put in the oven and it was starting its considerable journey on a very low heat to its eventual destination on the dinner table. She had already peeled and cut up the potatoes, parsnips, carrots and broccoli and as an afterthought, put some peas in a pan. The gravy couldn’t be done until the last minute but she had already put the cranberry sauce in a glass dish. She didn’t bother with Bread Sauce anymore. Year after year it would return to the kitchen, untouched. Her mother was bringing a microwaveable Christmas pudding and she had cream and Brandy Sauce in the fridge.
    All was prepared but she had this task. A task she must complete before the rest of the household appeared. She had put it off too long. She didn’t want it hanging over her head like the Sword of Damocles, spoiling her day, not to mention the rest of the holiday. No, it had to be done. Why not today? It was, after all just another morning and those who would disapprove would not be up for hours yet.
    She sized up the considerable pile of blue exercise books. Some were pristine, some rather grubby and a few without their cover. She picked up her register to enable her to record the marks. She uncapped her red pen.
    She sighed at the inevitability of the task.
     It was marking time.

About the Author
I taught Drama and English for 35 years, directing a lot of plays, some of which I wrote myself. I have been spurred to start writing again having found a folder of poetry I had written over the years. I am now enjoying writing short stories with the aim of turning some of them into scripts. I feel I am at the start of an adventure and feel very excited about it.

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