Listen: As Luck Would Have It

We're all richer when we have each other.

by @ParlayVacay

Welcome to Layer Cake!

I'm your host, Dr. Angela Brumett, and this is your English fluency podcast. Layer Cake is sponsored by Parlay Vacay English Immersion Weekends. Build your English fluency online and in person at beautiful and relaxing destinations.

Layer Up your English!

You can listen to Layer Cake on your favorite podcast app, or go to Parlay where you'll also find podcast notes, more about our guests, and learn all the new vocabulary and phrases in the content of our show.

And with that out of the way, let's get started!


Welcome back, to Layer Cake. For this episode, we have a short story. It's about the relationship between a single mother and her teenage daughter, Sylvia. This story has no other characters, but it's not as simple as you'd think.

We'll explore their relationship, their roles in it, and the generation gap. The story takes place on two single days in their lives that are less than a month apart. One in the present, and the other in the recent past. In other words, pay special attention to verb tenses, like the present, past, and future, but also the variations of these, like simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous.

Hey! Now, I have some great news. The tenses and recognizing them is much simpler than you may think. You'll see. But, for now, you'll just have to trust me, I guess! Deal?

Future tenses are also used, but only by the characters. Because, obviously, a third person narrator like ours, even when omniscient, knows only what is happening and what has already happened, but not what is going to happen in the future. Anyhow. it's a good time to review those tenses! And practice them by telling a story.

Now, it's time for us to also find out what happens! So, let's get to the story. Please relax, listen, and enjoy.


When the tickets went on sale, Sylvia didn’t have enough money, and Mom couldn't spare any either. It was some really bad timing. Later, when Sylvia had finally saved enough, it was too late. Sylvia came home from school and burst through the door of their apartment, sprinted to her room, slammed the door, and started balling, her face buried in her pillow. Mom still heard her.

Mom knocked softly, waited for a moment, then tried the door handle which wasn't locked.

"My goodness, honey. What on earth happened? Why are you so upset? Did something go wrong at school today? Or on the bus, maybe?" Mom imagined the bullies were at it again, while the bus monitor filed her nails or read Cosmo. Mom was planning to talk to the driver about it then the principal if necessary, but Sylvia begged her not to, "It will only make it much worse, Mom. Please promise me you won't. I will stand up for myself."

"If it has happened again, " Mom thought, "Nothing will keep me from putting a stop to it even if I have to hunt down and confront their parents tonight."

At first it didn't seem like Sylvia was going to talk, but then she erupted,