English Short Story - Gifts to the Dark Gods

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English Short Story - Gifts to the Dark Gods. English short story is good enough to learn and improve our reading skill, that is why on this post I will share a story of Gifts to the Dark Gods. The story of Gifts to the Dark Gods is a short story by Mary McCluskey which contains a good story. Here is English Short Story - Gifts to the Dark Gods.

Gifts to the Dark Gods
Short Story By Mary McCluskey

The tap on her shoulder freezes her; the quiet, warning voice in her ear is exactly what she has feared. In a small dark place inside herself she is prepared for both. She had not expected a teenager.
"Come with me please, Madam," the young man says, his back stiff with self-importance.

He is young enough to be her son; young enough to be one of the troubled youths she tutors in the small charity-run literacy programme in the suburbs. She is tutoring a boy now: he has a tattoo on his forehead that spells HATE and eyes that dart around the room, alert for predators. This young man, though also dark skinned and mixed-race, keeps his eyes averted. He is smooth suited and smells of fresh citrus cologne as he grips her arm and leads her to the manager's office.

The manager is tired and he lowers his pale lashes when he asks to see her ID, as if asking for something intimate, inappropriate. Then he turns to his computer.

Helen swallows. This is new. As he scrutinises the screen, then types something into the computer, fear knots her chest. Her name is now accessible to every major store in the city. The next time she is caught she will be arrested and booked. No question.

"Is that legal?" she asks. "Storing information on someone who hasn't even been charged?"

"You want to call your husband?" he replies, with a tiny smile. "Or a lawyer?"

"My husband is a lawyer," Helen says.

The manager blinks rapidly, the smile vanishes. The young man who had escorted her from the jewellery department leans against the door and makes a small groaning sound.

"He'll be very angry if I call him," Helen says. "At me. Or at you. I'm afraid he's likely to make a big fuss about wrongful arrest."

They understand her. She knows they haven't called the police yet. She is carrying a fat wad of cash in her purse, four credit cards, including a Platinum American Express and their own Valued Customer Card. She wears an emerald ring, an anniversary gift from her husband. The diamond studs in her ears are one caret each. She is easily able to pay for the designer scarf and the hard plastic earrings in the shape of sunflowers she was seen to stuff into her bag. Helen knows that what most disturbs them is that these are two different items, from two separate counters. But she always steals two items. That is one of her rules. It has to be two items, from different counters, from the same floor of the same store. But they want to let her go. They don't want trouble.

"Perhaps if I pay for these things now? " she asks.
When she reaches her car, Helen is shaking too hard to insert the key into the car door. She stands still, taking deep, gulping breaths, willing herself to calm down. That was too close.

They had almost called Daniel. The thought makes her light-headed. Her husband is a man of principle and firm opinions. A strong man, which is why she married him. He seemed the type of man who would take care of her. And he has. But his view of the law is simple and punitive. He thinks that teenage gang members who commit murder should be executed, that fourteen-year-old thieves should be tried as adults. Only yesterday they had disagreed over a youth arrested for stealing a bottle of cider in a local off-license.

"It was an initiation thing," Helen had said. "His mother's a crack head. He wants to be part of the gang. He wants a family."

Daniel had given her a long look.

"He's probably been unhappy and hungry all of his life," Helen added.

"Nobody's hungry in this country, " Daniel said. He actually believed it. "You heard of Benefits?"

Helen thought of the people in the literacy programme – young and old, struggling with so many demons. Hunger was not unknown. Though her teenage pupils were more likely to eat badly than not at all, their problems went far beyond an inability to read or write.

Daniel knows little about the literacy programme. He believes she teaches pensioners how to use a computer. He would not understand Amanda, the girl who carries a kitchen knife to make small cuts in her wrists when she is stressed. Or Zak, the boy with HATE tattooed on his forehead.

When she first met Daniel, he was studying law and she was passionately involved in a course on Writing and Madness. She would quote Rimbaud, Breton, Artaud, Foucault. He teased her for taking this "foreign" literature seriously. He made her feel stupid for liking it, stupid for understanding it. An irony that did not occur to her until much later.

To be Continue

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