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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Great Expectations (not about the book) (08/25/11)

TITLE: Dickens flew over the cuckoo's nest!
By Danielle King


Celia is my friendless friend. She has an innate mechanism that activates within 30 seconds of meeting someone new. It’s a kind of people repellent and shows up when pleasant formalities are being exchanged.

Now me – I’m rhino skinned with a passion for challenge, so getting to the bottom of this middle aged, prickly and paranoid person became my consummate obsession.

I met Celia on the Psyche Wing at the Royal General - I was a visitor by the way! For Celia re-admission for review of medication was a regular necessity. I glanced across at her and smiled sweetly.

“What’s your problem lady?” She scowled.

Somewhat taken aback I confessed that I didn’t have a problem but was just about to introduce myself.

“My name’s Sue.” I offered tentatively.

“Sue … GO TO HELL!” was the reply. “Do Gooders! - Can spot ‘em a mile away.”

She’d hit a raw, ‘people pleasing,’ nerve inside. Most folk think I’m, ‘nice’ but Celia saw through me! I perceived chemistry between us that needed to be nurtured.

By the time Celia was ready for discharge she’d mellowed somewhat. The drugs had worked a treat. I planned a short trip for us both; an effort to secure the mutual and possibly therapeutic friendship that had formed on such tenuous foundation.

We took a train ride to a quaint bustling town in the delightful, ‘English Lake District National Park,’ and booked into a very, ‘Olde-Worlde Inn,’ dating back to 1612.

The oak beamed ceilings and heavy latched doors were in keeping with the time period and through a narrow window that overlooked the cobbled yard, I visualised weary horses being tethered and watered whilst travellers quenched their thirst with tankards of real ale.

I looked forward immensely to exploring this hugely popular part of the country with my new, albeit odd friend and I think she did too.

Downstairs in the bar I ordered drinks while Celia popped into the ladies room. She was gone thirty minutes. I found her sitting by a crackling log fire in the snug.

“Just coming,” she explained. “I was chatting with Mr Dickens.”

“Mr Dickens?”

“Yes. He knew so much history about this place – truly fascinating stuff. And he’d actually dressed in Victorian garb.” She read my thoughts. “I know. It’s not me is it?” I attributed this untimely and uncharacteristic bonding to the powerful, ‘Lindisfarne Mead’!

Two days later we re-packed our week-end bags and headed for the station.

“It‘s been a fantastic break,” said Celia as our train sped South. “It exceeded all my expectations. Let’s do it again soon.”

“I’d like that.” I said, hoping I wasn’t too transparent. “Tell me Celia, who were you waving to as we left this morning?”

“Didn’t you see Mr Dickens?”

“I saw no-one Celia.”

“He was standing in the doorway in full Victorian costume, waiting to greet the punters I expect.”

Celia caught up with some sleep two hours into the journey. As her facial muscles relaxed I studied the features. She had good bone structure and a mop of thick dark hair. She would have been a good looking woman in her younger days. But who was she? I actually knew very little about her!

Back home I uploaded pictures from my camera. I laughed out loud when I noticed a plaque above the low doorway of the Inn; something we’d both missed completely. It read – ‘The oldest Tavern in Cumbria and known to have been frequented by Charles Dickens.’

So that explained Celia’s mysterious Mr Dickens. What a clever tourist puller! Doubting over, I picked up the phone.

“Hello, is that the Inn where Mr Dickens drinks?” I joked.

“’Scuse me?”

“My friend was chatting with him last night.” I laughed. “I’d like to book a second visit please.”

“Certainly Madam - but run Mr Dickens by me again?”

“Do I have the, ‘New Hall Tavern?” I asked.

“You do.”

“My friend Celia was talking with him.”

“Talking with whom?”

“Mr Dickens?”

“Have you been drinking Madam?”

“Erm … No.”

“Are you high on something?”


“You’ll be telling me you’ve seen Charlie next!” He laughed sarcastically. “Tell me you’re not insane.”

“What? … NO!” I spluttered. “I’ll get back to …” He’d hung up on me!

I heard my front door open - then close again. Hesitantly, I turned to face my unconventional, eccentric and periodically cuckoo, friendless friend.

Our eyes met, and a chill ran down my spine!

Celia just became friendless minus one!

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This article has been read 415 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 09/03/11
Interesting story. God Bless~
Leola Ogle 09/03/11
Catchy title! I was a little lost at the end. Perhaps I should read it again!:) But great writing and an interesting story! God bless!
Noel Mitaxa 09/04/11
Love how you have skated around the title with this energetic, absorbing entry. Profiling Cecilia as you have shows real insight and a little self-mocking, which adds to the gentleness of your work. Well done.
Noel Mitaxa 09/04/11
I'm sorry, I'll read that again... I meant Celia. just proviong that I never forget a name - even if it's the wrong one!!!
Linda Goergen09/05/11
Clever and interesting read! Enjoyed!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/07/11
This was a fascinating read but such a sad ending. So many of is may try to reach out to someone different, to befriend them only to do or say something insensitive and lose that friend. Amidst your charming humor is a powerful message.