Verhaal: The Ballad of Mr. Jones

Gisteren schreven we een stuk over GNE Awards (je kunt het hier lezen als je het gemist hebt). Vandaag plaatsen we het korte verhaal waarmee Judith tweede werd in deze wedstrijd! Geschreven met dank aan Jake Bugg, die een liedje schreef met als titel The Ballad of Mr. Jones en door dit liedje kwam ik op het idee van dit verhaal.

The Ballad of Mr. Jones

I do not believe Oxford Street has ever been more crowded than today. My bags are heavy with presents and I almost cannot move. Maybe Mary-Jane was right after all, and the 24th of December is not the best day to do your Christmas shopping. My sister, of course, started shopping weeks ago.
I raise my arm and take a glance at my Michael Kors watch, pushing back the sleeve of my unbelievably expensive jacket. I’m late, I realize, but the street is crowded with people and I am stuck in the crowd. Suddenly, I see a small alley on my left, which I had never noticed before. It is the perfect chance to escape the street and reach my car as soon as possible. I poke my elbow in the ribs of the sophisticated-looking woman walking next to me and fight myself a way to the alley, ignoring the angry glances.
The buildings on both sides of the alley are high, making it feel like I am trapped in a small room with the sky as my only companion. The street is slippery with snow and I am so focused on not dropping any of my bags that I do not see her until I nearly trip over her stretched legs. I turn around angrily and am surprised to see a girl sitting there. She cannot be older than seventeen and is dressed in a black coat that is absolutely not her size. Her boots are dirty with mud and look older than she. I would have said she looked miserable if it is not for her eyes: the dark green irises gleam in the light of the lantern and remind me of a forest. They make her look fearless, instead of terrible. I do not know why, but I give her a friendly nod and say: ‘Merry Christmas.’
‘Prove it.’
I give her a puzzled look and she shrugs. ‘I am not having a particularly merry Christmas, are you?’
It takes me a minute to answer that question, but in the end I decide to be honest with her. ‘No.’
She smiles, and the smile makes the fire in her eyes burn even brighter. ‘Why all the bags?’
‘Last minute Christmas shopping,’ I answer, and she makes a face like I said I was killing little children to eat with Christmas instead of turkey.
‘What’s your name?’ she asks me.
‘Mr. Jones.’
‘You don’t have a first name?’
That leaves me wondering. I did once, I am sure, but for some reason I cannot remember it. ‘I think I lost it.’
She raises her eyebrows in surprise, and I shrug; even Mary-Jane calls me Mr. Jones, so what do I need a first name for? The girl gets up from the pavement by pulling herself to her feet and then grasping my wrist for support when she wavers.
‘So you do have a jacket which costs just as much as my mother’s monthly allowance, but you lost your first name?’ she asks, when she is standing on her own feet again.
‘And I have a Michael Kors watch,’ I answer jokingly.
She turns around and starts walking away without saying anything. When she is almost at the corner of the alley, she turns around. ‘Correction, you had a Michael Kors watch,’ she answers, showing her left wrist. ‘I will keep this, but if I had to choose, I think I would prefer the first name.’ She laughs, a high laugh, which sounds like ringing bells, and runs away, leaving me with the bags and the suddenly worthless expensive jacket.

Wat vinden jullie van het verhaal?


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