Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Friday, November 03, 2006

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“Good bye then,” said Ross, raising his hand and reaching for the door but as he did so the door burst open so that the little bell jangled wildly, the chimes mixing up into a discordant mass. A small boy cannoned into Ross, almost knocking him over backwards. The boy had been carrying a paper bag full of apples, which split open and the fruit rolled across the floor.

“Freddie!” cried Emma, alarmed. “Be careful!”

“Sorry,” muttered Freddie to Ross, drawing back from him quickly. Emma began to gather up the fallen apples, held by Mr Hall and her son. Meanwhile Ross simply shrugged and gave a pleasant smile to the careless young boy. Bending down just before he opened the door to leave, he scooped up a stray apple and handed it carefully to Freddie… who took it as if it were a priceless object, something sacred of great significance.

“Here you are,” said Ross, “you almost missed this one.”

“Thank you, sir.” Freddie watched the smart young man step outside the shop into the light Autumn rain. Everything seemed to be very quiet and still with the departure of Ross; Emma felt utterly confused by the things that had just happened, her heart was still thumping and her face still red. She rounded angrily on her son.

“Why don’t you be more careful? What are you doing here anyway?” she demanded.

Freddie stared at the floor suddenly. His short fair hair was wet and plastered to his skull, the raindrops still running down his cheeks.

“I said I was sorry… it was an accident,” he insisted. “I just came over here to see if Mr Hall had any jobs for me… do you uncle?” He looked at the shop keeper, who had found another bag to put the apples in. This he handed to Freddie with a cheerful grin.

“I’ll tell you what you can do Freddie… you can clean and polish the shop windows and the doorstep. If you make a good job of it I’ll give you a penny. Do you agree?”

Freddie jumped up and down in delight.

“Of course I’ll make a good job of it! Thank you!” Freddie hurried outside with Mr Hall to get the bucket and cloth; Emma stared after them, wondering if Mr Hall’s kindness towards her son came from simply him having an open heart, or… was it perhaps something more to do with the loss of his own baby boy many years ago. She sighed deeply; she still felt giddy from Ross’s sudden business proposition. Half a crown! She moved around the shop slowly, like a clockwork toy, pushing all the draws tight shut and putting things away. She liked the monotony of her task; she didn’t have to think, everything belonged in it’s place. She thought she could see Freddie outside, polishing the door step manically. She smiled to herself; the boy was nothing if not enthusiastic. Would half a crown perhaps buy him a brand new pair of boots? Her mind wandered over such possibilities… for a moment it struck her that the situation was quite ridiculous! She had no idea at all what she’d do with the money she had earned… she moved behind the counter, still tidying and polishing before she went. Sam suddenly entered her thoughts, like an unbidden spirit; he would claim that half crown instantly, swallowed up in rent or suchlike. Drawing Harriet’s silk purse from her pocket, Emma opened it and felt the coin inside. She drew in her breath sharply; Mr Ross had paid her in advance. It seemed incredible. But suddenly she knew, she was quite convinced of what she would do with the money. For this coin belonged to her; and she would spend it in whatever way she chose. MORE FROM THE SPACE BETWEEN IN RM#75. DON’T FORGET TO LOOK OUT FOR MORE NOVEMBER POSTINGS OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS!


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