Clear Vision | A Fun Short Story From Our Archives

Specs, blackbird and necklace

Written by Moira Robertson

Would seeing the world through another’s eyes change your perspective?

The celebration meal had been a huge success. Gigantic sparklers had fizzed on the cake and the figure skiing downhill, ten handbags wildly swinging, reflected her dynamic, stylish image. Thus the blow of sixty had been softened for Lynn.

“Had a good time, Mhairi?”

The guests had started swapping seats so everyone had a chance to chat.

“Great! Any photos of that new baby?”

“Of course! Hundreds.”

“Wait till I get my glasses…”

“Here, use mine.”

She put on her glasses to examine the lights

The next day Mhairi peered in dissatisfaction in the mirror. She looked so staid and frumpy. Why had she never noticed how her well-groomed image was actually putting years on her?

Without time for a radical make-over, she picked up a scarf and draped it artfully over her jacket, then eyeing the five ropes of pearls hanging on her jewellery rack she gleefully added them all. Quite the transformation, she nodded approvingly at her reflection, before dashing out.

Her lunch date in the garden centre over, Mhairi was walking back to the car when she passed outdoor lights to transform your garden. She paused. In her own garden, the previous year, a landscape gardener had built a superb cedar summer house (much too grand to be called a shed)  in the back where the fly-infested raspberries used to grow.

Mhairi’s initial delight had been replaced with a sinking disappointment: James had used it merely to store his gardening tools, packets of seeds, compost… Her vision of a cosy retreat with cosy chairs, low table, pictures, candles and fairy lights had faded with his grunt of disapproval each time she broached the subject.

She put on her glasses to examine the lights, then collected a barrow and began to fill it…

A rich aromatic smell perfumed the air

Reading the text James sighed. Hurry straight home. Surprise!

He loved his wife dearly, but her lack of imagination depressed him. The surprise? Probably another bland, boring meal followed by the dreaded we-have-got-to-talk scenario. She thought he was working too hard, needed to retire, to have some time to relax without worrying constantly about meeting impossible targets. He was stressed at work it was true, but he was bored with the same old conversation and arguments.

He walked through the gate, straightening his shoulders as he went. A rich aromatic smell perfumed the air as he entered the house. He was instantly transported to Morocco where they had enjoyed rich tagines. This was not like Mhairi!

“I’m in the garden,” she sang out.There sat Mhairi at a candle-lit table on the grass in front of the summer house. Fairy-lights twinkled at the windows through which he could see two easy chairs and some canvas photos of their grandchildren on the walls. His gardening equipment must all have been moved to the garage for a rush-mat carpet was on the floor, and, joy of joys, was that a tiny fridge in the corner?

She beckoned for James to sit while she poured him a delicious glass of chilled Chablis. Their laughter rang out over the lawn as she chatted gaily of this and that before going to the kitchen for his lamb tagine.

You picked my glasses up by mistake

Hours later with the empty plates and bottle beside them James said, “You know, I could get used to this. Maybe I should retire early and spend my days here in peace…”

Mhairi could not believe her ears. She had not even mentioned his work, or his stress, or her desire to be able to take advantage of the mini-breaks which seemed to be everywhere.

When her phone rang she was happy it was Lynn so that she could share this good news.

“I think you picked up my glasses by mistake at the dinner. Can you bring them on Saturday?”

Mhairi paused, looked at her rows of pearls, at the lights twinkling round the windows in the dusk, at James sprawled peacefully in his chair, before replying:

“Would it be OK if I kept them for another week?”

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Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me