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In a small cottage, miles away from its nearest neighbour, lives a very old lady.

She has very few visitors; no living family, and no friends. She says it’s easier that way. She hardly speaks to anyone any more, except the receptionist at the solicitors, who she telephones once a week, and the postmistress in the nearest village.

Every day, she sits down at her antique mahogany writing desk. She spends a few moments looking up at the framed sampler on the wall behind it. ‘Practice makes Perfect’, it says. She stitched it herself, a very long time ago, when she was only a fairly old lady.

She uncovers her typewriter, slips a fresh sheet of paper in, and starts typing.

She’s been writing stories all her life.

Every time she finishes a story, she binds it neatly and sets it on the side of her writing desk. Then she goes to bed. She lies there, looking up at the ceiling, and waits to die.

Eventually, she falls asleep. The next morning, she gets up and has breakfast with the same memory echoing through her mind.

“Make a wish…”

“The perfect story. I want to write the perfect story. That’s my wish.”

“The perfect story? The one that makes all other authors weep with jealousy and lay down their pens because there is nothing left to say?

So be it.”

Breakfast finished, the dishes washed, she calls the solicitors to tell the receptionist that she’s still alive. They have instructions to come to the house straight away if she ever fails to call, to collect her manuscript for publication. She made the arrangements many years ago, to make sure that all her work won’t go to waste.

She sits down in front of her typewriter and gazes up at the framed sampler on the wall behind it.

How many more decades, she wonders, how many more centuries must pass until all her practice finally makes the perfect story?

© Kari Fay

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