It was Ethel and Martha’s usual routine to go for a ride on a Sunday afternoon. Not for them the lycra-clad, bottled-water swigging, bright young things down at the gymnasium. No, a pair of good stout brogues, a sensible tweed skirt, bicycle clips and the wind blowing through their head-scarved pink-permed hair was the correct way to do things.
The sports centre was full of the blaring, undecipherable noise which counted as music these days. Much better to be out in the fresh air, and enjoying a good old gossip as they rode along, with the promise of a cream tea at the end of their journey.
‘Martha,’ Ethel suggested tentatively, ‘I was wondering if perhaps we could try a different route today?’
‘What on earth for?’ came Martha’s booming reply. ‘You need to be careful, dear. You don’t want to use up what little you have left of your brain by thinking too much. No, we’ll go the way we always go. Now, come along, stop lagging behind.’
It was always the same. Martha gave the orders and Ethel did as she was told. Although she wasn’t an adventurous person, just for once Ethel wanted to try something new. There were so many beautiful paths through the park, and she’d heard the crocus were particularly pretty this year. They’d been friends for years, but after a few tentative rebellions she had learnt to give in to Martha’s demands for the sake of peace and harmony.
‘Dear me, Ethel. You are an old slowcoach today. Put some effort into it. No wonder you didn’t have the energy to grab yourself a decent husband. What a little mouse you are,’ Martha shouted, causing a passing young couple with a baby in a pushchair to turn and stare at them.
Ethel was mortified. Ernest had been a totally presentable young chap, and it was highly likely they would have become betrothed had Martha not spread rumours to her parents about him being unsuitable.
It wasn’t as if Horace had been much of a catch, she thought as she watched Martha’s fat legs pumping away at her pedals. A skinny, insignificant little man who had taken to drink to escape the nagging of his harridan of a wife. Immediately Ethel felt ashamed of her unkind thoughts, but still, it would be nice to have her opinion accepted, just for once.
Ethel had a little secret she had never revealed. Arriving home, she changed into her comfortable house-dress, and went to seek out the small globe given to her by her great-grandmother. Polishing it with a soft cloth, the normally placid lady pondered. Had the time finally come?
‘Good morning Martha,’ Ethel called cheerily as she passed her friend, now forever ensconced in the rocks alongside the new route. ‘I hope you are enjoying the change of scenery. See you next week, dear.’
Although there had not been many wishes left in the magic globe, it had been worth using one, just to see Martha’s astounded face when she discovered herself set in stone. There was the added advantage that whatever Ethel said, there was no chance of being answered back.
Life was sweet sometimes.
© Voinks March 2018