SHORT STORIES: ‘Veritas Girl’


The Waterloo Road traffic lights changed and Darren pulled away slowly. As always his eyes involuntarily drifted across towards the large billboard on the right. There she was, a vision of angelic loveliness, perfect beauty in both body and soul. Gemma Mathers. His heart leapt as he accelerated past, onwards home.

He loved that advert. He’d looked at it daily ever since it had been pasted on three months before, replacing a dull exhortation to purchase a leather sofa in some must-end-soon sale. He loved the image that smiled down on him from on high, but he loved the real person so much more. And he felt grateful to God, chance, whatever that he worked with that angel from Heaven. Work relationships could be awkward, he knew that, but if Gemma Mathers was the prize…

His heart fluttered as he recalled taking her into that store cupboard, her lips pressed against his, her soft skin and long luxuriant hair, her slim waist, then moving down for further intimacies… instinctively he picked up his mobile and texted Thinking of u babe adorning the message with several hearts to confirm his adoration. She did not reply immediately but he knew that it could be awkward, particularly if she was home already.

At home he busied himself tidying up, making it nice, just in case. Fancy coming over? he texted. This time she replied. Sorry cant. Disappointed he went to the gym to run off his frustrations but the scantily-clad lovelies in the videos on the screens before his eyes gyrating to the work of today’s finest DJs only reminded him all the more of her. He imagined that it was Gemma Mathers in those videos, twerking for his private benefit. On the way home he took a detour past the billboard again and as soon as he got in he opened up her Facebook page and relieved all that built-up tension. Tomorrow perhaps it would be the real thing again.

Going to bed he still could not believe it. She had said “Yes”, she had accepted his advances, him, boring old Darren Lancashire, over all the others who wanted her! He knew how jealous they would be if only they knew, the Veritas Poster Girl was his, oh yes indeed, all his! It was good to be alive; it was all too wonderful to be true!

That night though, the tigers came. He had a dream in which Mr. Mathers was after him, threatening to kill him for going with his Gemma. He woke up sweating. It was 3:00am. Thankfully, he fell asleep again soon after and this time his unconscious thoughts drifted to a childhood family holiday on the Algarve.

He awoke bright and early. The sun was streaming through the windows and the birds were singing. He showered and dressed eagerly, impatient to get going, to see her again. He wolfed down his tea and toast and was about to grab his briefcase when there was a knock on the door. Puzzled, he walked up and opened it. There, stood under his porch, were two police officers. “Mr. Darren Lancashire?” the female one asked.

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Darren Lancashire, you are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent but anything you do or say will be used and recorded for evidence…”

Sat in the back of the police car in the queue of morning commuter traffic, Darren gazed up at the billboard beside him. For the first time, not only did he look at the girl but also the wording underneath her photo:

The Veritas Academy
12-18 Provision
69% 5 or more GCSE Grades A*-C.
Excellence in every respect!

In just over a year’s time his Gemma would be taking her GCSEs. He was confident that she would get an A* in Maths; she’d been his brightest pupil. Once she’d passed her exams and finished university he would be released from gaol. Then they could settle down together as fate intended. She would wait for him, he knew it.

It wasn’t his A* Veritas Poster Girl who had betrayed him.

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