Leo Reynolds - Lion Brass Door Knocker
Short stories on International Women's Day

Mary doesn’t live here anymore

Captain James Marsh stood at the top of the drive and looked down at the grand four-bedroom detached house with its manicured lawn and regimented flower beds. It had taken him two years but he had finally found where he thought his birth parents lived – or, at least, he thought his birth mother lived there.

He paused to run his leather-gloved hands down his uniform tunic. Satisfied that he looked as smart as he could, he took a deep breath and marched briskly down the drive. Once he reached the front door he took another deep breath and raised his hand to beat out a sharp tattoo with the heavy brass door knocker that gleamed in the bright sunlight.

He stood and waited, with his cap tucked smartly under his arm, fighting the urge to turn tail and run away like a child playing dolly knocker. Was there no-one there?

Finally he heard the clatter of the chain being removed, the door creaked open and he saw a well-dressed middle-aged woman standing in the doorway. Was this the moment he would meet her? She looked about the right age and she had hazel eyes just like his. “Hello. Can I help you?” she asked.

James started as he realised he needed to answer her question instead of just staring at her. “I am very sorry to bother you, Ma’am. I wondered if you know a Mary Reeves. I would very much like to talk to her,” James replied, while Please let it be you. Please let it be you repeated in his head as a constant refrain.

“I’m sorry,” came the kind reply, “but Mary moved away. We bought the house from her two years ago. Can I help?”

“Who is it? If they are selling something tell them we don’t want it, whatever it is,” came a gruff voice from inside.

“It’s no-one,” called out the kind-faced woman. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She turned back to James and smiled. “I am sorry, Mary doesn’t live here anymore.”

James tried to hide his dejection by smiling as brightly as he could. “Well, thank you anyway. I am sorry to have bothered you,” he said a touch too loudly.

“No problem, I hope you find her,” she replied, closing the door quietly. James found himself standing on the doorstep looking at the highly polished door knocker once more.

Doesn’t anyone stay in one place anymore… he thought sadly to himself as he turned and walked away.

Mary stood behind the door, surreptitiously lifted the corner of the stark white net curtain and wistfully watched James walk away.

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