A New Hat

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by Rebecca Field

I cried in the bank that day. Fat tears slid down my cheeks, making dark spots on my corduroy skirt. Lord knows what they must have thought of me. Maybe that I was grieving; that I couldn’t bear the thought of carrying on without him after fifty-five years of marriage. One of those couples where the one left behind dies of a broken heart. They would have been wrong about that. Maybe they thought I was overwhelmed; after all, he had been the one to come in here every week — they must have greeted him by name. I couldn’t remember when I’d last seen the inside of a place like this.

The woman with the navy blouse and the name badge that said “Michelle” handed me a tissue from her desk drawer.

“Shall I write it down for you, Mrs Connell?” She looked at me with genuine pity as I dabbed at my eyes. I worried that I was taking up her time, that the queue must be growing ever longer for the next available cashier. I’d thought it would be simple to close his account, that there might be enough there to get a new hat for the funeral.

“Yes, please,” I said. Maybe that would make the numbers seem real. Because everything else I had thought was real now seemed unreal, like it was someone else’s life. All those times he had told me there wasn’t the money for a new dress, for a haircut, for a present for our grandchild. We couldn’t afford to visit my sister in Australia, he’d said — I’d never questioned him. All that making do and going without. I’d thought him a stickler for traditional values; frugal, but fair. I had been a fool.

And so I cried. For the lost opportunities, for the things we could have done together, memories we could have made. I cried for the little things that would have made life with him more bearable. I cried knowing I would never forgive him. I stared at that slip of paper that told me I was now a millionaire, and blew my nose on the bank’s tissues. There was no time to waste. His funeral didn’t warrant a new hat, but I might need a sunhat for Australia. Maybe quite a few, I decided. I wouldn’t be coming back any time soon.


Rebecca Field lives in Derbyshire and juggles trying to find time to write with caring for two young children and working in a demanding healthcare role. She has been published at Literally Stories, Short Fiction Break, 101 Words and Flash Fiction Magazine.

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