Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Sunday Confessions By Tim Abbot-Cole

Since Mrs Meldrew’s coffee morning, William had anticipated his Sunday sermons. He recalled it now, running his hand on the walnut banister to his pulpit. Mrs. Cartwright had been nattering away her weekly cargo of gossip after worship. William had caught her in the act; instead of admonishing her he had asked for more, inspired. This gossip had been carefully filed away until he acted upon it the following Sunday.

“People, I am aware of a great injustice among you, and I seek to put it right!” he had begun his sermon. From there the beatings of Maureen Higham by her husband had been exposed. William had faltered a little when they both stormed out; but after the sermon he had been praised. Since then he had exposed someone each week, calling on them to reform.

Mrs Cartwright had sadly passed away, alone in her bath last week; but William had still found secrets to be brought out. This week was the sinful affair of the Lady Lelouch with her Italian cook.

William stepped to the pulpit and braced himself against it. A deep breath he drew and smiled over his congregation. Eager faces, desperate for the next bit of juice – but equally afraid they might be the next target – stared back at him.

“I seek to put right.” he began, laying open the Lady’s affair. Mr Higham burst through the door at the climax. A divorcĂ© now, he had sadly turned to drink; but Maureen was safe in Essex with a distant relative – William had never found out who.

The gun was the last thing William expected. Mr Higham’s dishevelled appearance betrayed his inability to cope with change, change that William had forced on him.

“Mr Higham, please. You have a chance to put right your wrongs and become a better person,”

“My wife left me,” Mr Higham said. His words slurred and the gun jiggled about in his hand. “She left me, she left us all…”

When the gun finally went off, William didn’t think Mr Higham meant to fire it. The drunk stood looking at the smoking muzzle, he appeared amazed. William wasn’t so impressed with the red hole spreading across his smock. The congregation stood as one, as if they were standing for prayer, as William fell backwards down the stairs.

“Mrs Cartwright? What are you doing here?” he asked the old lady standing over him at the bottom.

“Silly sausage,” she helped him up. “It takes years to master the art of a good gossip. You can’t change the world overnight.”

“Mrs Cartwright, where are we going?”

“To see someone who knows a lot more about sin than you do,” she tapped his now-clean smock as they walked into brightness. “Now, while you’re here have you heard what Mr Briggs has been up to in his garden shed?”

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