Here's one of the runners-up in our short story competition...
A Summer To Remember by Audrey Roderick
When she awoke that morning she knew it was going to be a summer to remember and still felt that way at her new Art Life class.
It all started last week when she received a letter signed simply, Robbie.
The letter explained that on his return from South Africa after 20 years, Robbie was starting an art class to get to know some of the locals.
A mutual friend of his and Ellie’s had informed him that Ellie was single like himself and, knowing they had enjoyed the same circle of friends at college, Robbie thought if Ellie joined the class too they could meet up again.
Now here she was, expecting to draw bowls of fruit and the like only to be faced with a naked male model.
The Robbie she remembered had been tall, dark, fairly handsome, and wore horn-rimmed specs. She’d had quite a crush on him. So this meeting excited her.
Ellie was still very attractive with long auburn hair, good skin and a trim figure. Not bad for nearly 40.
The class had to be booked in advance so she was expected, and as she was a little late arriving there was only time for the tutor to say ‘Hi’ and hand her the last name badge.
‘We’ll talk later,’ he said. ‘Just start drawing.’ Then he pointed to the model. (An unnecessary gesture).
When she could take her eyes from the handsome, dark and swarthy model, she perused the rest of the class. Discounting the other six women, being that, with good reason, she was only interested in the men. Two were too young, one too old, one too short, so there were three possibilities.
The first of these was approaching her now. He introduced himself as Charles, looked at her work, smirked and walked silently away. ‘Pompous ass,’ she thought, ‘I’m glad it isn’t him.‘
One of the ladies was heard to say to her neighbour, ‘Well done dahling, you can positively see those muscles rippling.’
Ellie looked at her own work and could see no muscles. ‘What the heck,’ she thought, ‘Anatomy was never my forte, nor drawing either, if I’m honest.’
Now possibility number two was drifting from easel to easel like an art critic. ‘Hello, I’m Tony, pleased to meet you. Oh I say, a touch of the Picasso here.’
With that remark she was glad to cross him off her list.
The next critic was a gushy female wearing a headscarf, gipsy style over thin grey hair.
‘A Worzel Gummage lookalike,’ Ellie thought wickedly.
‘Isn’t the model wonderful!’ she trilled. ‘Just like a Greek God.’
Suddenly Ellie’s mind went into overdrive. ‘Oh boy, Robbie could have had a sex change and now be one of these colourful ladies. On second thought maybe that’s a step too far.’
The last of the possible male students walked toward Ellie now. He looked promising but if he was Robbie, he had put on weight.
But no go, his name was Tristan and he thought her work was very abstract. At least he meant it kindly. ‘Maybe I’d have done better if I had stood behind the model?‘ she thought.
Well, since everyone has been calling the tutor William all evening, he can’t be Robbie. So it looks as though Robbie didn’t show up. Unless, of course, he is the model. ‘Oh dear, no it can’t be. How can I look him in the eye after where I’ve been looking all evening?‘ thought Ellie.
With that thought in her head, William called an end to the class.
Ellie was so confused, she dropped her pencil case. Pencils rolled in all directions but William helped to retrieve them.
The now fully clothed model came out from behind a screen. Why a screen was necessary to dress behind when he had sat there for two hours with all his wares on view was anyone’s guess.
He was certainly handsome and now he was fully clothed, it was easier to look at his face. But he walked away from them after saying goodnight.
Ellie collected her belongings and headed for the door when William shouted, ‘Hey, aren’t we going for a drink or something?’
‘Robbie?’ queried Ellie.
‘Sorry Ellie, I thought you knew. Have I changed that much?’
‘Well, I thought it was you at first until everyone called you William all evening. Since then my imagination has run riot!’
‘Oh Ellie. William Roberts. Remember? Robbie was always my nickname.’
‘Of course,’ said Ellie, ‘I remember now.’
‘Right, let’s go, I’m looking forward to catching up with my college crush,’ Robbie laughed.
Ellie couldn’t believe her ears. She knew her waking thoughts were right – this would be a summer to remember.
© Audrey Roderick