12 Days of Christmas STORIES; “Q” by Kate Shrewsday

Here’s another fab Christmas goodie from Kate Shrewsday (THANKS KATE!) Don’t forget to stop by Kate’s blog to check out more of her writing genius HERE. (You’ll be glad you did.)


by Kate Shrewsday

Flake 3

It was irritating, not being able to leave the armchair with the alacrity she used to.

Tiny things like turning off the Christmas tree lights had become mountains to climb. Making a cup of tea required considerable forethought. And one could never get a cat to stroke when one really needed one.

Edgar the ginger tom sat on the windowsill, stubbornly refusing to play the lapcat. What I need, Cynthia thought acerbically, is a lasso. I could take lessons. I could collar the cat that way; but it would only be the start of a new way of life. I could lasso teapots and sandwiches, walking sticks and posh frocks.

The world would be mine.

She smiled wryly to herself. She liked her own company. At least she would always laugh at her own jokes.

She was interrupted from her reverie by a knock at the door of the little London ground floor flat. Cynthia had lived there for more than two decades, ever since her husband had died. The great London town house had echoed so after he left. It was better for everyone that she take her most beautiful things and move with them into a place which required the minimum of steps but was still a stones throw from Berkeley Square and the sound of the nightingale.

Ah, Cynthia thought: that would be her son.

“Hullo, Q,” she greeted him as he kissed the air close to her with absent-minded affection.

“Hullo, old thing. How are you?”

She grinned, happily. “Oh, you know. So-so. I watched the Sound of Music for the umpty-seventh time.”

He smiled. “You always did have a weakness for lederhosen. I’ve brought a few things.”

Cynthia’s heart gave a leap. She loved the things her son brought with him.

Q opened the black briefcase he had carried in. Somehow it seemed much larger inside than Cynthia could have thought possible. And the lights inside vied with those on the Christmas tree flickering on and off. As Q spoke, some of them responded to his voice. The Microchip elves, the old woman grinned to herself.

“Now: pay attention, please, “ he began, genially, picking up a remote control. This, amongst all the things in the suitcase, was simple. It had large buttons with words emblazoned in large clear print upon them.

“Take this, “ he said.

“Now: I want you to find the button marked Christmas lights. Got it? Good. Give it a jab with the old digit please. “

Cynthia did as she was told. The Christmas Lights faded to nothing. Oh, super. She pressed again and they sprang into life. “Press it twice,” M said, “and I’ve programmed a small additional device.”

She did so. And there was her own personal light display, a cascade of delicate little fireworks charming her as they had always done.

“Moving on,” directed Q in businesslike fashion, bringing out a large tube which she had not seen arrive: “this should be of some assistance in the tea situation.” He fiddled with the tube. “I’m just calibrating the concentration – shouldn’t take a second.”

The tube was as tall as her armchair, and thin. M fixed it steady so it was at arm’s length. At hand height was a small hatch.

“Now:” said Q, “press Earl Grey Tea. That’s what you have at three, isn’t it?”

Cynthia nodded and pressed. There was a whirr, and two clicks, and then the small hatch slid open. Inside was a bone china cup and saucer with steaming tea which smelled divine.

She took it out and sipped it.


But Q had moved on. He was taking out a small executive pen from the case and what seemed to be the softest, red velvet cat collar. On it was a small silver medal inscribed: “Edgar”.

He handed Cynthia the pen, and took the collar over to the windowsill. “Edgar’s favourite chow is still turkey, I presume?”

Cynthia nodded delightedly. What had her son got up her sleeve now?

“Press the button marked “Edgar”, her son directed. Edgar’s eye lit, as if he had perceived prey. His gimlet-sharp eyes were scanning the room for imagined quarry. He got up, jumped down from the windowsill, and walked over to Cynthia, jumping up onto her lap and purring like a Ferrari engine.

Q gazed at Edgar sternly. “Now, try to keep it intact this time,” he admonished the ginger tom.

Cynthia was astonished. “But how….?” She began.

Q seemed preoccupied with the contents of the suitcase. “The collar uses a little microchip to lay a trail of turkey scent directly in front of the collar. Edgar simply follows his nose to the pen.”

He had other things. For each, as always, her son seemed to have read her mind; each gadget gave her choices which age and infirmity had attempted to wrest from her.

Q fixed a tea, picked it up and sat down with his mother.

“How is MI6 treating you?” Cynthia asked. “ I trust they are appreciating you suitably.”

“Not nearly enough: plus ça change,” Q smiled wryly.

She patted his hand. “Well: I think you are a genius,” she said. And she lifted the impeccable bone china to her lips for another delicious sip of tea.

Royal Grafton fine bone china teacup & sauce i...

Royal Grafton fine bone china teacup & sauce in raspebrry pink from England (Photo credit: highteaforalice)


About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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