A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times




            Gina Burrows looked up nervously from her marking and watched the silvery blue van pull up in the school playground. Through the dirt engrained window, she recognised the words SmilerS Portrait Photography and the camera logo.

            She had been dreading its arrival all day, and now it was here she felt somewhat confused and edgy.

            “Okay class,” she said firmly to the huddle of nine year old faces staring up at her, “Start smartening yourselves up. The photographer has arrived to take your pictures and I don’t want you looking like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards.”

            Noisily, the kids produced combs and brushes and began tugging at their tangled locks and adjusting their attire. Gina allowed herself another furtive glance out of the window. She could see Matthew unloading cameras, lights and a tripod. His business had the contract to take all the class pictures and Gina knew it was the third and final day he would be visiting their school.

            That knowledge filled her with relief … and sadness. It had only been 48 hours since the young teacher had met the cheery faced photographer, but it felt she had known him for years. In that short time she’d grown incredibly fond of his friendly smile, and the sight of him now filled her with excitement.

            She bit her bottom lip as she remembered bumping into him on that first morning in the thronging hallway.

            “You’re new here, aren’t you? He’d asked, studying her features, “I’m sure I’d have remembered if I’d seen you before.”

            “I joined last term.” She’d pretended not to notice his searching gaze. “I teach geography.” She’d introduced herself and he’d told her his name was Matthew.

            “But my friends call me Matt.” Then nodding at the children milling past, he’d remarked: “A right bunch of little devils, eh? You must have your hands full,”

            “Oh, they’re good kids really,” she replied, whipping the cap off a passing pupil. ”Just a little high spirited, that’s all.”

            “Well, I think you’re a real saint for putting up with them.”

            Gina smiled wryly at the remark, and as they’d parted she’d realised that Matthew had made quite an impression on her.

            Next day, Matt bumped into her again, and asked if they could have lunch together. Over a lukewarm shepherd’s pie, chips and peas in the school’s cavernous dining hall, they’d chatted about each other’s individual jobs and interests. She’d been pleased to learn they were both film buffs and they’d joked about some of the awful films they’d seen.

            Matt did a passable Bogart impression, “Of all the crummy dining halls in all the world, you had to walk into mine,” and he made her smile when he’d picked up a glass of water and said: “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”

            Gina had been a little shocked at first to find the good looking photographer flirting with her. After her initial surprise, she’d found herself cheered and flattered by his attention. As an attractive blonde 28 year old, she’d been used to receiving appreciative glances, but that hadn’t happened for quite a while.

            “You should smile a lot more often,” he’d told her, “you’ve got a lovely face and it lights up like a stained glass window when you smile, and even your eyes smile and exude a deep passion.”

            It was all nonsense of course, but even though her brain told her so, her heart still responded.

            She’d joked to cover her embarrassment. “You’ll be telling me next that the camera loves me and I should be posing for you. I’ve heard all about you photographers.”

            He’d laughed; a deep, warm, contented laugh. It was the kind of laugh Gina reckoned she could listen to forever.

            That night, Gina couldn’t sleep. Thinking about his sharp, blue grey eyes, she felt herself being increasingly drawn in. He unnerved her in ways she didn’t like to think about. She hadn’t looked at a man since Derek had walked out years before. She’d promised herself that she’d never suffer that pain again. She’d vowed not to have anything more to do with men, and felt more in control of her life because of it. More in control until now, that is.

            Until Matt - smiling and unaware - had walked into her life. The irony of it was, he probably had no idea of the effect he was having on her.

            Suddenly aware that she was daydreaming, Gina shook herself and turned to the class. “Right you lot. Leave your stuff here and get straight down to the gym. Be quiet, don’t talk and don’t dawdle. I don’t want this picture to take all day.”

            Giggling and whispering, the kids filed out of the room. As the last child disappeared through the door, Gina stood and began to nervously pace the floor. She now had time to get a coffee, or just enjoy the well earned peace, but she couldn’t resist the desire to go downstairs to see Matt.

            It was ridiculous, she scolded herself. But she went down to the gym anyway.

            Matt was busy organising her rowdy kids into three lines, and he didn’t spot her at first. When he did, his face brightened.

            “Hi there,” he grinned, as he clipped one boy round the ear and shoved him back in line. “Keep an eye on this lot for a moment, will you? I’ve got to somehow try to make them look respectable.” He made a face. “Heaven knows how.”

            Gina nodded and clapped her hands. The kids obeyed her instantly. Matt’s admiring grin grew bigger, and he returned his attention to photographing the fidgeting children. He focused the Nikon and fired off several shots in quick succession, then changed position and shot off several more.

            He seemed assured and professional in his work, totally at ease.

            Watching him at work, Gina couldn’t help wishing she could get to know him better. She imagined what it would be like to spend more time with him, to have dinner, to see a great movie together but she knew it was impossible.

            Soon the class picture was taken, the kids were dismissed and Matt was packing up. The last bell had gone; school was breaking up for the day. Against her better judgement, Gina hung around to see him off.

            “You’ve been great, I’m really pleased we met,” he told her, “maybe I’ll see you again sometime.”

            “I’d like that,” she replied, “but somehow I just don’t see it happening.”

            “I suppose the job gets in the way.”


            “Something like that.” she agreed.

            He shrugged and frowned. “I understand … I think.”

            Picking up his kit, he slung it carelessly over his shoulder. He held out his hand and she shook it. It felt warm and soft, and her fingers lingered for an instant longer than she’d intended.

            As she watched him go, Gina had an urge to rush forward; to tell him how she felt. But something from within, reluctantly held her back.

            The van door slammed shut and the engine coughed into life. Matt leant out of the window and waved. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she smiled and tried to blink them back. As he drove off, she ran from the playground. She didn’t want anyone to see her crying. That would invite awkward questions and she feared to answer them.

            Instead she stepped in front of the mirror in the gym’s washroom and dabbed at her eyes with a paper tissue. Finally, satisfied that she was back in control of herself, she adjusted her wimple and headed for the convent school’s chapel.

            It would soon be time for evening devotion, and Sister Gina Burrows knew that this night, more than any other, she desperately needed to pray.


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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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