Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mash stories podcast of my short story

About a year ago I wrote a short story for Mash Stories as an entry for their monthly competition. It was called ‘The Perfect Surname’. It was shortlisted but did not win. Mash Stories podcast all winning and shortlisted entries and this week they podcast mine. It is so great to hear it read out.

‘Smith, Jones, Davies, Hughes …’ he thought to himself, strolling down the High Street.
‘These are obviously too ordinary. Tardis, Enterprise, Defiant, Serenity … these are too me and not sufficiently her.’
Gilbert Ramsbottom could still not quite believe that he was getting married. The wrong side of forty and the most boring, nondescript person in the known universe—in his opinion—and he was getting married. How had that happened? Gazing into the mouth of a patient is not the most obvious way to meet the woman you are going to marry, but for a dentist called Gilbert there were not many options.
‘Rivendell, Mordor, Baggins, Took …’
Valerie had absolutely refused to become a Ramsbottom. He could not blame her—the name had always blighted his social status—and he was quite happy to lose it as well. One of the advantages of living in a country where democracy and freedom of choice still had some meaning was that they could decide to choose their own surname. It was a simple procedure to adopt a new one. But what name to choose?
‘Pegasus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Ursa …’
And there she was, waiting for him.
‘Rose, Lily, Forget-me-not, Love-in-a-mist …’
“Hello, Darling.” She plonked a fat wet kiss on his mouth and he felt himself colour. “How is my gorgeous boy today?”
Would he ever get used to this? To be kissed by a buxom belle with come-to-bed eyes and curves in all the right places was beyond his wildest dreams. How did she find him attractive—a balding, skinny dentist, with a tendency to wear brown? He had decided that it was best not to question it, but to embrace it and enjoy the ride.
“Where shall we go to eat?”
“I quite fancy a burger today, if that is okay with you,” Gilbert replied.
“Perfect. Let’s go to that place in the arcade.”
They always agreed. Everything was always so easy.
Arm in arm, Gilbert and Valerie ordered their meal at the little café and as they sat at a table, Gilbert noticed that Valerie was looking excited. She had something to tell him. He ignored the little voice inside that said ‘she is going to break up with you.’ Her excitement was happy-excitement, not anxious-excitement.
“I’ve found the perfect surname for us,” she exclaimed, unable to contain herself any longer.
“Oh, wonderful. Well done. What is it?”
“Dearheart. It’s from a Terry Pratchett book. Isn’t it perfect?”
Well no, not really. It was too obvious, too clichéd, and likely to cause as much ridicule as ‘Ramsbottom’. Gilbert gazed into Valerie’s eyes. She gazed back like a child offering a gift. Her look was open and artless—she truly felt that ‘Dearheart’ was a wonderful surname to secure the union of their love. He melted into her eyes, and knew he could deny her nothing.
He heard himself say, “Yes, my love, it is indeed perfect.”

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