...was an active supporter of the Writers Workshop for many years. She wrote in many styles, sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, but always with warmth and a sharp eye for detail.
Rose died peacefully, at home, in June 2020. In affectionate memory of her we have kept this page in place.
Rose selected these two items herself: a psychological thriller and some childhood humour. We hope you will enjoy these short stories as much as we do ...
THE TEDDY BEAR
Loreen was standing transfixed in her parents dark bedroom, which was part of a large apartment of an old house . The street lights sent eerie shafts of brightness through the windows. She had the choice of two ways back to her own bedroom.
One was to the left of her, a door leading into a dark corridor, then she had to turn right to her bedroom. She had to negotiate her way in almost total darkness across her room to the only light switch.
The other way lay in front of her. Two high double doors separated her from the large dining room which she would have to cross to get to her other bedroom door.
The distance she had to traverse through the dining room was not far but the creaking of the parquet flooring and the ghostly moonlight shining through the windows, lighting up parts of the room and leaving the rest in unearthly shadows, terrified her. However, she knew that as soon as she opened her bedroom door the light switch was at hand.
Beads of perspiration were running down her face and her body tensed in an effort to make a decision. Whichever way she went, there was something lurking in her dark bedroom waiting for her to switch on the light.
With a sudden determination she made for the double doors in front of her. She opened them just enough to slip through and shut them behind her. Heart pounding, eyes cast towards the ground, she groped her way towards her bedroom door. She was shaking with fright, terrified of what was waiting for her on the other side of the door.
Loreen emitted a little scream as she woke, exhausted from this recurring nightmare. The sun was shining through the window panes, lighting her bedroom with a warm, friendly glow. She could hear the street vendors preparing for the day, shouting and laughing from the street below. Everything was normal.
She got out of bed and went to the bathroom to wash the stale dampness from her body and refreshed she returned to her room. The terror of the night was still lingering but slowly her mind accepted the fact that this was the usual bad dream that haunted her at times.
In the corner of her bedroom stood a very old writing desk. It had beautifully carved turrets on each side. Secret drawers were hidden within these towers. The legs were tall and carved in the same motif as the turrets with prancing figures of fauns garlanded with flowers. This piece of furniture had been in the family for many generations. A black leather swivel chair stood in front and in it sat a very old teddy bear.
Loreen picked him up and held him savagely to her breast “ Moorlie, “ she said, “Why do I get these awful nightmares?” She looked at his glass eyes and thought she detected a knowing look. “What do you know about it? Tell me.” She squeezed him even harder.
“You and I have no secrets from each other, do we?” she asked of the battered bear. How many times had mother mended the feet and arms when the stuffing escaped and how often had the eyes needed sewing back . His dark coat was still glossy and his growl as deep as when he was new.
They had been inseparable since Loreen had been given the bear on her fourth birthday by her Uncle Cedric. He wasn’t a real uncle but a close friend of her father’s. Loreen had never liked him and even felt afraid of him. It was strange that Moorlie became her constant companion and she loved him more than any other toys.
The nightmares had started when she was eight and now she was thirteen, she had experienced five of them, Always starting the same and always ending the same.
Loreen’s parents decided to make her fourteenth birthday special and gave a big party. Her grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends were invited. The living room was magnificently decorated with streamers, balloons and bright displays of flowers and birthday cards. A gramophone played popular music, couples danced around the room.
A heap of presents lay on a large table and everyone watched as Loreen, with great excitement, started to open the parcels. She left the largest box to last, it was big, taller than herself.
Her cheeks were flushed with excitement, as she asked of no-one in particular, “Whatever is it?”
“Open it and see”, Uncle Cedric’s voice mocked her.
With an hysterical, high-pitched laugh, Loreen tore the wrapping paper off and was confronted by a huge beast of a stuffed bear. It was the same colour as Moorlie but about five times larger.
Whereas Moorlie’s face was kind, this monster looked ferocious. Loreen wanted to scream but everyone was looking at her expecting to see her pleasure. She couldn’t disappoint them. She looked at her Uncle Cedric, she felt that he was aware of her fear and she saw a slow smile cross his face.
“Moorlie is too small for you now, you need something larger to play with”. His voice was slow and caressing. “Many happy returns and may all your dreams come true”. His tone made Loreen’s spine creep and she shuddered involuntarily.
That night she experienced her sixth nightmare. She knew it was upon her as soon as she fell asleep. She struggled hard to wake herself but the dream had a firm hold upon her and she could not escape. Loreen instinctively knew that she would have to face the end of the nightmare, the horror would be revealed to her.
She crossed the shadowy dining room as usual but this time she opened the door to her bedroom and switched on the light. Wide-eyed and terrified she looked into her room. Slowly the swivel chair revolved towards her, in it sat the new monster teddy bear.
His eyes travelled up and down her body as he slowly rose. His claws were stretched out towards her . Slowly he moved forward until she could feel his warm breath on her face. His dark fur looked sleek and glossy and his fangs opened in an evil grin reminiscent of her Uncle Cedric.
© 2019 Rose Gotley All rights reserved
THE FACTS OF LIFE
I was already a grandmother when I overheard a 12-year-old boy discussing the bonking that was going on behind the cycle shed at school!
I had never heard that expression before, but it didn't need too much imagination to guess what it meant, and I was shocked.
My generation at 12 years old, were very ill-informed about the facts of life. In the circle of friends in which I mixed, there really wasn't an acceptable word for sexual intercourse. It usually was referred to as:"you know what I mean," and generally, we didn't have a clue.
This train of thought led me back to the time when I was 9-years-old and I had to write an essay at school. I remember the subject was:My dearest wish. I was an only child and my dearest wish was to have a little brother or sister.
I was generally indulged by my parents and we certainly were not poor, but their excuse for not making my dearest wish reality was: "babies are very expensive."
So I decided to go it alone. I had a secret money box where I put every available penny and as I had no idea how much babies cost, I hoped one day to have saved up the magic amount.
When I came to write my essay, I explained that in a large field of lilies, babies grew within the flower. When they had grown sufficiently, a doctor with a black bag came, cut them off at the stem and put them in the bag. From there they were transported to a hospital, where women queued up. Whatever time of day the bag was handed over to the prospective mother and she paid the right amount of money, that was the time the baby was born.
It all sounded very simple. I actually received an excellent mark for this particular essay. I'm sure, the staff-room echoed with the teachers' laughter.
In fact there was an unexplained steady stream of teachers visiting my classroom, where I was asked for by name and I had to stand up. I was very puzzled by this attention, but never associated it with my essay.
When I was 10, a girl by the name of Edith, asked me if I knew where babies came from. I laughed, "of course, doesn't everybody?"
Edith wasn't so sure that I knew the true facts. "Did you know that babies grow in their mother's tummy?"
I laughed out loud, whoever had heard of such a ridiculous idea. "Don't be silly," I said. "They grow in lily fields."
Now it was Edith's turn to laugh. "I thought you didn't know anything. Did you know that men and women have different things between their legs?” she asked.
Well, I did know that. "Of course," I said in an off-handed manner.
Edith played her trump card. "Well, the man sticks his into the woman and that makes babies." I was horrified at the idea.
"Maybe, your mother and father did that, but I know my mother and father didn't do it,” I said.
Edith was hurt to the core and retaliated by saying:"I don't know why you always think you're different from everybody else. I tell you, your father and mother did the same as everybody else.”
I was so shocked that I felt compelled to confide this piece of news to my mother, who very gently and kindly pointed out that Edith's story had some truth in it.
I was mortified.
Next day in the playground, I had to admit to Edith that she had been right and she crowed over her victory. "Let me tell you something else,” she said. "The way to tell that you really love someone is to use their toothbrush.”
"Aagh," I said, "in that case I shall never get married!"
And I kept my promise for another nine years until I was 19 years old.
© 2018 Rose Gotley All rights reserved