R is for Rihanna (and Rita) #AtoZChallenge #Rihanna #Rita #Rhubarb

Nah, only joking.  There’s no Rihanna.  But my most read posts recently have been the ones with a celeb in the title so I thought I’d give it another shot.  Instead, here’s a short story about Rita (and Arthur).

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‘Seven down.  Arose from the sea foam or daughter of Zeus and Dione, what is she goddess of? Four letters. Last one!’

Arthur narrowed his eyes and tapped his fingernails on the rim of his saucer. ‘I know this one, it’s on the tip of my tongue.  Hmmm, what letters have we got?’

‘Well, if ‘on the contrary’ is right, then the second letter is O. That’s all I’ve got,’ said Rita, as she doodled a large rose on the corner of the newspaper.

She relaxed back into the sofa, adjusting the waistband of her trousers, which were digging into her stomach. Their Sunday afternoon ritual was set in stone. A full roast lunch, followed by tea, shortbread biscuits and the Mail on Sunday crossword.

‘I’ll pop upstairs and get that Brewer’s Fable book. Bound to be in there.’ Arthur pulled himself up from the sofa, his knees creaking as he did so. He gave Rita a wink as he walked towards the door. ‘I won’t tell if you don’t.’

They didn’t consider it cheating if they looked in books on their second attempt. And on the third go, they rang Mike from down the road. In all their years of doing it, they’d only twice been stuck after that.

Rita reached down and pulled at her trousers again. They were too tight and she felt sick. She shouldn’t have had that second helping of rhubarb crumble but she hadn’t been able to resist. She really did make a lovely crumble, if she said so herself. Every time she made it, she thought back to Mrs Gardener telling the class that, to make a light crumble, their palms should remain completely clean. ‘Fingertips only, girls, fingertips only.’ Good advice.

Rita’s breath caught in her throat. She wheezed, a tight pain squeezing her chest. ‘Arthur!’ she cried.

‘Hang on; you’ve put that box for the charity shop in front of the shelf. Ok, I’m coming.’

Arthur came into the living room, concentrating on the open book in his hand. ‘Aha, got it!’

He looked up to see Rita’s expectant face before he revealed the answer. But Rita’s face was blank, her eyes lifeless.

‘Oh, Rita.’ He sat on the sofa next to her and patted her still hand. He took the newspaper from her lap and picked up the pen from where it had fallen to the floor.

In the blank squares, he wrote the final letters. LOVE.

‘All done, Rita love, all done.’

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