Backhand Stories: The Creative Writing Blog

Aunt Ellie had a secret past. As kids, we all instinctively recognised this from the way the family treated her. There were a lot of sidelong looks, lowered voices, and a general air of disapproval whenever her name was mentioned.

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We all loved her. She was so different from all the other grown-ups, with her wild grey hair caught up in a comb that never quite managed to capture those wayward curls. She wore long floating skirts, and low-cut tops showing acres of chest that crinkled like tissue paper when she folded her arms. In summer she wore sandals, and in winter, soft leather boots with a smelly old shaggy coat she called an ‘afghan’. And she walked around singing all the time.

We weren’t allowed to stay overnight at Aunt Ellie’s, the way we did with all the other aunties. Mum said it would be ‘inappropriate’. That was a word that people used a lot when they talked about Aunt Ellie. I heard Mum say she was a ‘tart’, but we all thought she was much more exotic than that; we thought she was more of a ‘gateau’, sort of foreign with lots of rich things going on inside her, things you could only begin to dream about.

Dad looked sad when Mum said this, and he said Aunt Ellie was just a ‘free spirit’. We liked that; it made her sound kind of spooky, and in a way she was. Dad also said it was ‘inappropriate’ for Mum to call her sister names, being a vicar’s wife and all. It was the only time I ever heard anyone use that word about Mum. She was very cross, and her neck went all red and blotchy.

Aunt Ellie used to let us go through the big packing cases she kept in her attic, and we found photograph albums of her when she was young. She was so beautiful, and she was with all these famous people who are still famous even today, pop stars and musicians. They all had their arms round her, and in one of them she was being kissed by Mick Jagger. That couldn’t have been so good, we thought, not with those lips. But you could see why he’d have wanted to. Her face was softer somehow, fuller, and she wore her hair loose, with flowers threaded through it.

There was a photograph of her with my Mum and even then Mum looked like she disapproved of Aunt Ellie. She held herself kind of rigid, and stood slightly apart from her sister. It was the only photograph we found where Aunt Ellie wasn’t being embraced by somebody. She was obviously very popular.

My cousin said she heard her mother call Aunt Ellie a groupie. Then her mother was embarrassed when she saw she’d been overheard. It was no big deal, we thought. Obviously she was a groupie, every single one of her friends belonged to one group or another. What was wrong with that?

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  • Jane Burgess

    Loved this vivid tale, but wanted MORE…Ellie reminds me of someone I met once!
    Well done, keep them coming.

  • Sue

    Oh I like this, wanted to carry on reading more about aunt Ellie , bet she could write a book. Keep up the good work Sandra

  • Dorothy

    Yes, I wanted more too. How kids would love an auntie like that. I would love a peek in Aunt Ellie’s diary!

  • Nicely written work

  • Sandra Crook

    Thanks Jane, Sue, Dorothy and Oonah. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • jennifer walmsley

    Loved this story. Aunt Ellie is a lady after my own heart.

  • Akarsha

    I want more!! 🙂
    very nice

  • Sandra Crook

    Thanks Jennifer and Akarsha, glad you liked it.

  • Grey

    Like it lots.

  • Some great writing. The setup is good. I eagerly awaited the dramatic turning point, but alas it wasn’t there. I think that’s what the reader’s mean when they say they wanted more. And that’s not really a criticism. It means you’ve done well to lead us to a certain point and we’re chomping at the bit for a conclusion.

  • raena

    This is really nice, totally my kind of writing =)

  • Sandra Crook

    Thank you Grey, Charles and raena. Glad you enjoyed it. Looks like Aunt Ellie’s heading for a resurrection then!
    Keep an eye on for future developments. 🙂