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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: The Short End of the Stick (02/20/14)

TITLE: Mad Aggie - The Mystery!
By Danielle King
~6th Place


The drone of an aeroplane in the summer skies went unnoticed by youngsters playing skipping games in the cobbled street. Two women, scouring doorsteps never looked up.

Aggie peeped from behind net curtains. Within seconds, armed and poised for battle, with feverish zeal and a torrent of eye-watering expletives, she’d careered barefoot into the street to terrorise the unsuspecting pilot with her flailing rolling pin.

Mad Aggie, unkindly, yet appropriately labelled, was simply another facet of our small village community. It was said that during the London blitz of WW2, she survived a night time air raid after being pulled from the rubble of the family home. Her parents and sisters did not survive.

In the 1950’s, she made her home up north, in our sleepy village on the outskirts of town.

Aggie was not always mad. She sold wet fish at the market place. “C’mon,” she would yell. “You won’t get a tastier bit ‘o’ cod roe than mine.” With bare fingers she scooped lumps of ice to keep her fish fresh. Each purchase was wrapped in brown paper and carefully bound with sheets of newspaper.

When trade was slack, Aggie enjoyed chatting with stall holders. She owned a repertoire of phrases seemingly pulled from the air, bearing no connection to the conversation whatsoever.

‘Fine words butter no parsnips - Fish always stink from the head down - Triumph is borne out of tragedy,’ and by far her most regular, ‘Every sick has two ends.’

No-one thought to question these strange, out of context utterances, though it was generally assumed it was related to her dreadful childhood trauma.

As the downslide into Cuckoo Land became more marked, it was commonly acknowledged that, ‘the poor lass definitely copped for the short end of that two ended stick she rattles on about.’

Village life was cosy and life was simple. Neighbours were kind to Aggie. Dad kept hens and would pick out six large brown eggs and carefully lay them in a small bowl filled with wood shavings. “These are for Aggie,” he’d say. “Take them to her and refuse any payment.”

If a hen went ‘off lay,’ he would wring its neck and Mother would pluck it and cook it. When cooled she halved it and sent me round to Aggie’s house. “Always lend a hand to those less fortunate, she’d say.” At first I was timid, but after a while became fascinated with Aggie.

One day she opened the door wide, “Come in,” she gestured. “I don’t bite.” I gingerly stepped inside, stealing furtive glances around her living room.

“You resemble my sisters,” she pronounced. “Look.” She pointed to the wall. Three cute little girls, each with pigtails tied with ribbon smiled down at me. “Aunt Eliza gave me this picture. That’s me, on the left.”

“That’s nice,” I said, because I didn’t know what else to say.

“She’s gone now, Aunt Eliza. There’s no one left. Do you believe in Jesus?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Good. You’ll go to heaven when you die.” And that was it.

I returned home bewildered. Aggie’s conversation had been short and sweet, but totally rational. Her parting shot, “Every stick has two ends,” was to my unquestioning eight year old mind, the same one she’d got the short end of.

Well, that’s what the grown-ups said.

“Dad,” I asked eventually. “How can a stick have a short end?”

“It’s a saying,” he laughed. In Aggie’s case it means that life has served her a raw deal. First losing her family and then losing her mind.”

“I don’t think she’s lost her mind. She told me I’d go to heaven because I believe in Jesus.”

“Did she now? That’s interesting.” Dad stroked his stubbly chin.


“That means she believes in Him too.” I pondered this for a while. If Aggie had lost her mind, but lived in the same body, then what bit of her believes in Jesus?

“Dad, how does a mad person get to heaven?” Dad chuckled. He was one step ahead of me.

“God knows the heart,” he said. “Aggie believed in her heart as well as her mind. Now, as promised, Jesus has made His home with her and comforts her through the bad times. Do you think He’d abandon her because her mind is sick?”

“Dad, you know that two ended stick of hers? Really, she hasn’t been given the short end at all, has she?” Dad looked thoughtful and remarked,

“Do you know, I believe you’re correct!”

*Fiction based on a factual character.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Francy Judge 02/28/14
I was so interested in the mystery of Addie's character. You pulled me into this story with the interesting descriptions and details. Great ending.
Francy Judge 02/28/14
Sorry...meant Aggie not Addie.
C D Swanson 02/28/14
So very good! Great job with this piece, I loved it.

God bless~
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/06/14
I really liked this story--You introduced a very interesting character and presented an excellent message.
C D Swanson 03/06/14

God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 03/06/14
Congratulations on your HC, for you've kept a child's insights while warmly portraying a character who would have tragically been all-too-common in post-WW2 Britain and the rest of Europe.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/06/14
Oh I love this. You managed to bring a sense of charm to the story. I could almost picture being in England. :) One thing I might mention is when one person is speaking, and then the action, thoughts, or voice of another starts, you should start a new paragraph to clarify that it's the new person. I think you did a fabulous job of writing on topic, yet you still had a fresh take on it. The feelings were so authentic that I would have guessed it was based on the truth. Congratulations and of course Happy Dance!!!!
Judith Gayle Smith03/06/14
I am positively mad for Aggie . . .

Congratulations, and thank you for your heart for Christ!

Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
Margaret Kearley 03/10/14
Dee, you've done it again! This is just wonderful - on several levels. I love being able to recognise some of the pecularities of living in England post-war! I love the way your characters are really alive and almost recognisable! Mostly I love the natural way you include deep and wonderful spiritual truth. Another great story - so deserving of its EC. (PS Would you believe - we really did have an old Aggy in our neighbourhood, who was somewhat strange ....!!)
Bea Edwards 03/12/14
Thoroughly enjoyable story and cleverly woven take on the topic.