Kindness for Strangers

365

Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about acceptance by Margaret Crompton.

Between 1975 and 2012, Margaret’s publications comprised mainly articles, papers, training materials and books about communicating with children and young people in the context of social work, healthcare and education.

Since 2013, she has been exploring different forms of writing. Her play scripts are published online by Smith Scripts, and have been performed by several theatre companies, including Script in Hand (which she directs) and TalismanHer short stories are included in a number of collections, including Arachne’s eighth anniversary anthology, and Solstice Shorts Festival 2020. Margaret’s first Fairlight story, ‘The Midwinter Marriage’, was published online in 2019 and included in The Fairlight Book of Short Stories: Volume 1 (2020)Other Fairlight stories are ‘A House of Music’ and ‘Jacko, Meggie and the Very Old Gran’ (both 2020). Her publications also include poetry, flash fiction and guest blogs, and she reviews children’s literature for a North American journal.

Between 1975 and 2012, Margaret’s publications comprised mainly papers, training materials and books about communicating with children, in the context of social work, health care, and education, and especially developing ideas and practice about children’s spiritual well-being. She has also written articles about English Literature.
Since 2013, she has been exploring different forms of writing. Play scripts are performed by drama groups, including Script in Hand (which she directs), and Talisman (YouTube). Short stories are included in Brick Lane Tales (2016), Arachne’s 8th Anniversary Anthology: No Spiders Harmed In The Making Of This Book, and Solstice Shorts Festival: Tymes Goe By Turnes (both 2020). Margaret’s first Fairlight story, ‘The Midwinter Marriage,’ was published online (2019) and included in The Fairlight Book of Short Stories: volume 1 (2020). Other Fairlight online stories are ‘A House of Music,’ ‘Jacko, Meggie and the Very Old Gran’ (both 2020), and ‘Kindness For Strangers’ (2022). Publications also include poetry, flash fiction, and guest blogs, and she reviews books (children’s literature/adult non-fiction) for Friends Journal (Philadelphia, USA).

‘Kindness for Strangers’ follows someone feeling lonely at Christmas.

Enjoy!

 

The snow began as I was driving home from Sunday dinner with Maria and her family. Really Christmas, I thought, and felt comforted. Maria’s family had welcomed me as an honoured guest. Probably, I’d thought, the first foreigner ever to enter their home. Certainly the first welcome foreigner.

The country is full of memorials to visits from unwelcome foreigners. Invaders. Not the sanitised war memorials of home, stately statues of anonymous soldiers from a long-ago war, and lists of long-forgotten names, safely corralled in church yards and on village greens. How do these people bear to see reminders of relations and friends shot on this very street, between those doorways, beside that bridge? To be reminded every time they pass, strolling or shopping or hurrying to work. Every time I saw the single flower, the simple plaque, I wanted to yell out against the violence recorded with such grave dignity.

Maria’s mother had installed me in the living room with Maria’s father. Then the women withdrew to the kitchen. My plea for permission to join them had been declined with kind laughter. Honoured guests were confined to the best room. I would have relinquished any amount of honour for the pleasure of the kitchen in the company of comfortable women.

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