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Fast Fiction: The Postcard

Antonio Travis, though soaked in gin, intuitively guesses the secret behind a postcard signed “From your former little pupil’’.

Richard Mallinson tells a story of domestic deceit.

Antonia Travis, drinking her third gin and tonic, and smoking her sixth cigarette, looked at the postcard again. She had already read it once, even though it was addressed to her husband, Hedley.

On the front was a picture of the Brighton Pavilion and on the back a short scrawled message, which she now reread: 'Have finally arrived back in town. Love from your former little pupil.'
Now how on earth was she going to cope with this?

She was alone in the house while her husband was out teaching languages, as usual. She poured more gin and lit another cigarette.

Those words! She herself had used them on a postcard she'd sent to her future husband ten years ago.

Yes, she'd been his former little pupil. And then for years his happy little wife. But now it seemed as if somebody was trying to steal him from her, even going so far as to use the very words -

It didn't make sense, did it?

She went on drinking until she passed out and when Hedley found her she was clutching a postcard, which he instantly recognised.


Having survived, Antonia vowed never to touch gin and cigarettes again.

'I'll try whisky and cigars next time,' she joked but Hedley wasn't amused.

'It's just as well you'd put your cigarette out,' he growled. ‘You could have burnt the whole bloody house down.’
For his part, he knew that he would have to be more careful in future.

That woman's intuition,' he said over lunch at the smartest restaurant in town,

has become positively acute.'

At which his latest former little pupil, blonde and bright-eyed, laughed without a care and took a delicate sip of her dry white wine.

Outside, Antonia was waiting.


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