Compliance

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Our short story of the week is a story about an obituary by Nicolas Ridley.

Nicolas Ridley has lived and worked in Tokyo, Casablanca, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Paris, and now lives in London and Bath where he writes fiction, non-fiction, scripts and stage plays under different names. His plays have been performed by professional and non-professional companies in theatres and at drama festivals in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isles of Scilly, the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Australia. His one-act plays are published by Stagescripts; other pieces are published by Smith Scripts and Lazy Bee Scripts. Godfrey’s Ghost, his biographical memoir, is published by Mogzilla Life. A prizewinner and Pushcart Prize nominee, he has had short stories, non-fiction and flash fiction pieces published in a wide range of anthologies, magazines and literary journals in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the USA.

Compliance follows a lawyer whose rigid routine masks painful regrets.

I look up at the clock on the wall. A quarter to nine. I wait for Miss Flood’s light knock on my door. I listen but hear nothing. I continue to wait. The world beyond my office is a muffled, soft-carpeted silence. My eyes have settled on the photograph of my mother and father. It stands by itself on a shelf by the coat stand. They look out at me – arm in arm, indivisible – from within a silver filigree frame. It is a photograph which brings me little in the way of gentle memory. I check my wristwatch.

Now, it is nine o’clock…

And now, a quarter past nine…

Miss Flood knocks and enters. She places my morning coffee and today’s edition of the Times on my desk. She offers no explanation for the delay. This, I admit, surprises me. Miss Flood and I are creatures of habit and, over the years, our routines have served us well. It seems that today will be different.

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