‘Advice from the Heart’ by Madeline McDonald | Krampus Crackers
Back in November we announced the winning authors of ‘Krampus Crackers‘ – an innovative flash fiction project from Brisbane-based publisher Tiny Owl Workshop. Run in both Australia and the UK, Tiny Owl Workshop sought 12 short stories to be illustrated by artists (including Terry Whidborne, Simon Cottee, Kathleen Jennings and Gustavo Ortegar) before being made into Krampus Crackers – replacing our conventional Christmas cracker jokes with the winning flash fiction.
The short stories were all inspired by the mythical Christmas demon Krampus and we published a sneak peek into each winning author and their story here. After their launch on December 4th, the crackers are now available to pick up in venues across Leeds including Mrs Atha’s, Outlaws Yacht Club, Heaven, Friends of Ham, Leeds North Bar, Sandinista…and many more.
Over the next couple of weeks in the run up to Christmas, TSOTA are bringing you four of the twelve winning Krampus Crackers stories that you may well find in your cracker. The third in the line up is ‘Advice from the Heart’ by Madeline McDonald, illustrated by Kirsty Greenwood…
Advice from the Heart
by Madeline McDonald
Illustration by Kirsty Greenwood
Margaret checked her watch. The boiler repair man had telephoned to say his van had broken down. She assured him she would wait. Naturally. This was Myrtle’s house and Myrtle’s boiler.
For as long as Margaret could remember, Myrtle had taken advantage. She had been unable to think of an excuse not to keep an eye on the house while her brother’s widow took a luxury coach tour to the German Christmas markets.
Margaret pulled her coat tighter. Myrtle would not thank her for waiting in an unheated house. On past form, Myrtle would not even bring her a souvenir, although she had sent a very odd postcard of Santa Claus with a horned devil beside him in the sleigh.
The letterbox rattled. Margaret sorted the post. A thick, tasteful envelope disgorged an invitation to sign up for a month’s free trial of an elite dating service for mature singles.
Yet why should Myrtle have all the fun? Examining the letter, which was addressed to Mrs M Jones, Margaret reasoned it would not be cheating if she signed up instead. For she was also M Jones, having reverted to her maiden name after a divorce.
Les Sullivan was overweight, with a braying laugh. He talked about cars all evening.
Robert Barnes was a skinflint, suggesting a move to the burger bar after one drink in the pub. His hobby was taking bus rides on his pensioner card.
Now Margaret waited for number three, Jim Hunter. According to his profile, Jim was a sprightly 67-year old, interested in indoor bowls and car boot sales. Margaret watched him enter the hotel lobby. He looked promising: ten years older than his photo, but otherwise in good shape. Single red rose in hand, he lingered by a display cabinet. And lingered. After following his probable line of sight to a busty twenty-something immersed in her laptop, Margaret folded her magazine and stalked out; Jim Hunter did not even notice.
Margaret arranged to spend Christmas Day with Myrtle. She rehearsed the words she would use to persuade her dear, dear sister-in-law that she had mourned long enough. A year’s subscription to a reputable dating agency would be just the thing for Myrtle.Madeline McDonald
Author biography:Biography: Madeleine McDonald lives on the Yorkshire coast, where the wind whistles up through the floorboards. She finds inspiration walking on the beach before the world wakes up.
Follow the Krampus team on Twitter @tinyowlworkshop & @vickypointing and for more on the Krampus Crackers project and where you can pick yours up from, visit vickykpointing.wordpress.com/krampus-crackers
All 12 stories are available in the limited edition crackers around Leeds – the challenge is to collect them all!