Doris had a gift: she could conjure little stories out of her fountain pen almost at will. Even when she wasn’t at her table, pen in hand, she would be writing in her head. Little words flitting about as she picked up her groceries, or did the laundry. She couldn’t stop. It wasn’t uncommon to see Doris, in the middle of a big dinner party she was hosting, hunched over a paper napkin, scribbling furiously whilst saying to her guest, ‘Oh shush you, give me a minute here.’ Later when all the distraction had retired to their respective bedrooms, she’d sit in front of the fire with her black journal, adding her latest bit, with a few tweaks here and there.

Doris began each year with a ritual: first she’d toss the old journal into the fire, and then she’d buy an identical new one. If they didn’t have the same pattern, she’s adopt a new one and continue the tradition. She always said a new year should bring with it a new set of stories, and the past, well it shouldn’t get in the way.

When she was in a good mood, Doris would let those closest to her read some of her work. They all agreed she had a spark of genius. She accepted their praise with a bright smile, but never once did she succumb to their bullying to get her journals published.

This year, her eighty-third, Doris didn’t buy a new journal. Three weeks later she died. She is gone now, and so too is her work; like her best stories, this too is with a hint of irony – it’s such a great tragedy, and yet no one knows. Doris would be pleased.


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