Saving Grace

Digital cartoon of woman in a hot air balloon basket, blue sky and fluffy clouds

Grace had been looking for a way to escape the confines of her life for some time now…

Grace stared at the blue dress in the window. It was beautiful.

“What are you staring at?” said George, as he finished putting coins into the parking meter.


George smirked.

“I saw you looking at that dress. Don’t even think about it. No way would I give you money to buy something like that.

“One, it would cost a fortune since this is one of those fancy up-market designer shops, and two, it wouldn’t even suit you, you’re too old.”

“Fifty is the new forty, they say,” Grace said, still gazing at the dress.

George laughed and walked away.

She fell into step with him, silently.

I’ll have the last laugh, George, you’ll see.

During the drive home they didn’t say a word to each other but when they walked in the front door George immediately said, “So where’s the change?”

Grace’s shoulders slumped. He even wanted the change from when she had a coffee while waiting for him to visit the accountant?

She reached into her feather-light purse and pulled out the lone two-pound coin.

“That’s all?”

Grace nodded.

“Look, here’s the receipt… three pounds for one flat white with a shot of espresso.”

George slipped the coin into his trouser pocket.

“Guess you won’t be having any more fancy coffee for a long time.”

Maybe not as long as you think, thought Grace.

Butterflies churned her stomach with steel wings. She knew if people had any idea what she had to put up with they would wonder why she just didn’t leave him.

It wasn’t that simple. She had no family, and a social phobia stopped her working.

And George had treated her well… at first. His true nature showed itself eventually, though.

The following week, after George left for his job managing the local hardware store, Grace headed to the shops. She walked to the returns counter of the discount clothes store.

“I bought these last week and I accidentally picked up four T-shirts for myself instead of three. So I’d like to return one, please.”

“No problem,” said the smiling girl.

Soon Grace was home again, adding the £10 refund to her stash of hidden money.

The first time she had worked out how to get some money for herself was by accident.

She had bought groceries for the week, showed George the receipt and given him the change, as usual. But later while putting the groceries away, she realised one of the packets of chicken thighs was out of date.

She returned it while George was at work. Because Grace did all the cooking he didn’t notice one of the chicken trays was missing.

She immediately hid the money in a container in the laundry room, a place George wasn’t well acquainted with.

Ever since then, Grace had been returning things. Things George wouldn’t notice missing.

It had taken her fifteen years, but finally she’d saved enough money.

A new life was within her grasp. Before George got home, she made a phone call.

When George arrived home that night, his expression made her flinch.

“Did you go anywhere today?”

Grace’s heart fluttered.

“No, of course not. I’ve been home cleaning and cooking like always.”

“Someone told me they saw you at a clothes shop returning something.”

George strode over to Grace, his face red. “Got a refund, did you? Is this something you’ve pulled before? That counts as stealing from me, you know.”

Grace shook her head.

“Not a return – an exchange. I picked up the wrong size T-shirt by mistake.”

“I don’t believe you.” George’s low voice was full of menace.

He didn’t hear the back door open quietly – but Grace did.

“All right. I confess,” said Grace, looking him in the eye. “I just wanted some money of my own.

“All these years of marriage there was one thing I wanted more than anything in this world. It’s taken me a long, long time but I’ve finally saved enough.”

George sneered. “I pay for the roof over your head, and food and clothes. What else could you possibly want?”

Grace stared at the burly man who had just walked into the room, and smiled.

“A hitman,” she whispered.

We’re sharing another cosy crime story from our archives, every Monday and Thursday throughout April. Look out for the next one!