David Clark is a British businessman, who lived and worked in Bulgaria for 12 years before retiring to Norfolk U.K. He is writing short stories and poems. When he was living in Sofia, he had published stories in different media. A contributor to “Sofia Echo” newspaper. He had received an award for a short story from “Manager” magazine. At the moment he is living in England and sending stories to the expat site Sofia Globe. David is married to Galya, his Bulgarian wife for 16 years. He is a member of Writers Club in Hethersett, Norfolk and publish short stories in local media as „Village people“and others.
A CHRISTMAS GHOST STORY
Anna Petrova trudged wearily through the snow, with her two plastic shopping bags laden with vegetables from the Jenskiya market, the cheapest in the city. It was Christmas Eve; she was trying to make the best possible meal, from her meager savings, for the visit of her daughter and her beloved grandchildren. The traffic swished by on the road spraying her with ice laden water, her fingers were numb with cold, and the water seeped into her worn out old boots. Things had been hard since the death of her Ivan. Even though they’d been pensioners these last few years, they’d worked in the autumn to bottle the fruit and vegetables, make the pickles and lutenitsa, and be sure they had enough food for the winter. Now she was on her own and their little Trabant was gone, she couldn’t travel so easily to the village to collect the vegetables from her friends and from her little garden.
Slowly she climbed the stairs to her third floor apartment, the breath rasping in her throat. The flat was so cold; she turned on her one bar electric fire to take off the chill. The heating had been disconnected; she just couldn’t afford the bills. Carefully unpacking her bags she inspected the fruit and vegetables, washing each one under the cold tap. She reached for her coat and her purse to count how many leva there were left. Her heart thumped in her chest, she felt only an empty pocket. Panicking now, she turned out all her pockets and bags, she searched the floor, the table, the hall, the living room – nothing !
Sinking into a kitchen chair with her head in her hands she began to weep quietly.
Her crying turned into loud sobs, she just couldn’t take any more, she slipped into a deep sleep.
Anna woke up with a start. It was dark now and only the faint glow from the electric fire illuminated the room. She could smell the smoke from Ivan’s pipe and see the back of his head as he sat in his favorite armchair, she shivered. “Ivan” she called in a voice quaking with fear, “Is that you?”
“Who do you think it is, you silly old goat”, he replied? “Did you bring some rakia to drive away the cold?”
“No” she sobbed”, she hardly dare tell him, “I lost my purse”.
“What!” he said, “We had better go and look for it, put your coat on quickly”.
He took her by the hand and they slowly shuffled through the darkened corridors into the street below. They didn’t feel the bitter cold, they must find the purse. Searching every pavement and road they hurried all the way back to the market. Her sight was not so good now, but Ivan still had a keen eye. They went back to the stalls she had been to, but nothing, fear started to rise again. Ivan suddenly let out a cry, as he pointed to the purse poking out from under a stall where it had been kicked by the passing crowd. Relief flooded through her old body. She bent down to pick it up, and to her surprise lying next to it were two bank notes folded together, 100 leva ! She couldn’t believe her eyes. Picking up the notes she turned to the stall holder.
“Have you dropped these? “
“No I haven’t” he said, and laughed loudly, “You’re the lucky one, I had a Neck and his girlfriend here a few minutes ago, flashing their money around and arguing over the quality of my fruit, they must have dropped them !” ”Take them, they’re yours!” They certainly won’t miss 100 leva.” “You’ve got yourself a nice Christmas present!”
She turned to ask Ivan what he thought, but he wasn’t there, just the swirling snow and a deepening mist covering the market.
“Ivan! Ivan! “she called.
The stall holder looked at her with a puzzled frown on his face, “ You came by yourself old lady, get home quickly, the weather’s turning worse. “You shouldn’t be out on a night like this”. “Merry Christmas!!”
© David Clark