Readers Gazette Short Stories

Short Story Fish Stew

Fish Stew by Paula K. Randall Romance short story

Visit Paula K. Randall , Author Website

In the heart of the old Barrio Gotico a woman waited. She sat in darkness, by the window of her tiny apartment. Across the narrow, winding street she could just see into the dimly lit basement of the building opposite, where her neighbour, the shoemaker, worked on by candle light. Not far away the bells of the Santa Maria del Pi called the faithful to evening worship.

But this evening Teresa did not attend the evening service. Instead she would wait for Jorge, wait with aching heart for him to return from his mistress, smelling of her perfume and flushed from her embrace. The Spanish woman. Teresa had seen her in the street and at church, flashing her smouldering green eyes and tossing her thick, lustrous hair, taunting the men, her man, Teresa's slim, handsome husband. The woman was beautiful, rich and unwed, and came from far away Seville. Esmeralda.

But Teresa had found the watch. Jorge had surely forgotten it, left it carelessly in a drawer, almost concealed by his clean undershirt. Teresa had held it, wonderingly, then opened it up. Engraved inside the case were the words: To my Jorge, from his own emerald. Together always.

Hanging from the chain was a large, beautifully faceted emerald. Teresa knew what such an object would fetch. Enough to feed a whole family for more than a year. While she scrimped. Rage overwhelmed her. Yet she had kept her counsel.
For tonight, tonight would be different.

Teresa had already prepared the evening meal. They were not rich, but she had saved and planned for this night.

With some of that money she had been to the Boqueria market and brought back a selection of fish to make his favourite stew, the Zarzuela, beloved of all Catalans. In the market she had chatted with neighbour women, with stallholders. Admired the artistry of the stalls carefully arrayed with sweetmeats, fruit and vegetables, the wonderful displays of cold meats and cheeses, the fish in glistening mounds.

'Special night tonight, eh, Teresa?' the fish seller had called to her. 'Make sure he eats it all.'
She made sure she had pesetas left for a coffee in one of the little market cafes, and chatted cheerfully with the bar owner about the wonderful Zarzuela she was going to make for her husband. She told him she was going to add oysters to it as a special treat.
'Careful, Teresa,' he had joked. 'Too many of those'll make him randy.'

'Oh, go on with you, Carlos,' she had laughed.

'Maybe that's what she wants, eh?' added an old fellow who was leaning on the counter.

'As if you'd remember, Rodriguez!' said the bar owner amidst general laughter.

Now, the heady aroma of garlic and tomatoes pervaded the little apartment. Before Jorge was due home, Teresa rose from the window seat and put the finishing touches to the dessert, the delicate egg and cream custard of the region. She sprinkled the top with fine curls of orange peel and sprinkled it with cinnamon. Then she laid the table, setting out a pitcher of good white wine, the wine of Penedes. She opened the door a little, so that the delicious smells wafted outside. She heard the voices of people passing.

'Dios mio, that smell makes me hungry!' said one.

Another man chuckled. 'That Jorge's getting a fine welcome tonight, the lucky dog!'

But this night he did not return. As the evening darkened the fish stew cooled and then congealed. The dessert hardened in its porcelain dish. Teresa smiled. She took a sip of the wine. It was good. She stayed at the table but ate nothing.

Around midnight a light tap on the door roused her. She picked up the little purse of coins that she had hidden under the spoons in the kitchen drawer. Two hooded figures stood by the open doorway. One lifted his hand and she saw the blood on it.

'It is done,' he said.
'Both?' she asked.
'Of course.'

She sat back at the table, took another sip of wine, and waited for the constable to arrive to inform her of her husband's unfortunate fate.

To see more of Paula K. Randall's work, click the link to her website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view her member details Visit Paula K. Randall's Website.

Images used for the story are
Visit Wikimedia Sarsuela.

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Short Story written by Pauline

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In the heart of the old Barrio Gotico a woman waited. She sat in darkness, by the window of her tiny apartment. Across the narrow, winding street she could just see into the dimly lit basement of the building opposite,...

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