Spare change

Rain started to pour. Tom watched it splatter on the pavement, dripping into existing puddles, running down the sides of cars parked on the street. People walked past quickly, their backs hunched against the onslaught of rain splattering into their faces and drenching their woolen jumpers. The sky rumbled above, its twisted face a mass of grey and black clouds.

Hours later it was still raining. Tom had started to get a bit wet now. The front of the store had provided some protection from the weather, but the direction of the wind had now changed, and the little droplets had started to splatter on his hair and face. He supposed he should find somewhere else to sit, but he stayed sat where he was anyway. The majority of people had gone home now. Only a few cars remained on the street, and most shops had their metal shutters pulled down.

Tom saw a woman in the distance on his side of the road. As she got closer, he became nervous. She was very pretty, exactly the type of girl that Tom would go for under different circumstances. He didn’t want to have to speak to her; he felt embarrassed. But he will anyway.

‘Any spare change please?’ He held out his hat.

She didn’t even look at him. Sitting back against the shop wall, Tom stared at the rain dripping into the puddles once again.

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Be home soon

I walked past the church. I was nearly halfway home. My ears still rang from the booming bass that filled the nightclub, and my steps felt slightly wobbly.

It had gotten dark now, and streetlamps flickered at me amidst the thick, black cloak of night. My heels clipped sharply against the pavement as I walked, my steps getting quicker as I got colder. I wrapped my arms around myself for warmth as I passed through a patch of thick fog.

I heard steps behind me and I walk quicker, the noise of my shoes seeming louder to me than they had before. I turn around, and see someone tall, wearing a short brown jacket and a beanie appear under one of the streetlamps. They quickly walk through the lit area, and dissolve into darkness. My breath quickens, and I walk faster still. Had the person behind me sped up? It was probably my imagination, but I turned down Parkins Road; a different road to the one I would usually take, in the hopes that whoever it was would carry on along May Street. I head down Parkins Road; and let go of the breath I didn’t know I was holding, as I see the person behind me carry on along May Street.

Fumbling in my bag, I find my phone, and press the ‘messages’ button as soon as I see the screen glow. I quickly text my housemate. ‘Be home soon. x’. She probably wouldn’t be up, but I didn’t see the harm in texting anyway. I carry on walking down Parkins Road, feeling a lot calmer. I reach the end of the road, and I go to turn left. Having made the slight detour, I now needed to get back on track. I’d be home soon, thank God.

***

GRUESOME MURDER ON TYNE CRESCENT

22 year old Penny was brutally murdered last night on Tyne Crescent. She was killed with four stab wounds to the stomach and chest.

It is believed that at approximately 2am, Penny left Gerry’s Nightclub in West Norton to get home, however believing she would not be able to get a taxi at such late notice, she decided to walk the 20 minutes it would take for her to get home. Her friend, Michael, stated that he walked with her up until the edge of town, however his house was in a different direction, at which point, they went their separate ways.

At around 2:10am, Penny was seen walking along May Street by a resident living in one of the houses on the street:

‘I’d just got up for a glass of milk to help me sleep, when I saw a young girl walking along the road. Behind her was a tall man, wearing some kind of hat, I think. I went upstairs after that, I didn’t think anything of it.’

It is then believed that Penny took a detour home to avoid the man behind, as she was found at 5:30am on the paths connecting Parkins Road and Tyne Crescent. The police have yet to make an official statement.

 

9-5

I look grimly at the stack of papers sitting on my desk. Shirley walks past and gives me a tight smile. God I hate her.

Tea break time. I pass Donald in the corridor. I’m pretty sure his wife is leaving him. That’s what Tina said anyway. I pour myself a cup of tea and wrap it with my cold fingers.

Back to work. I check Facebook a few times and see that Mandy is pregnant. Fab.

Lunch time. I rush to the microwave with my sad chicken noodle ready meal, hoping that Clare hasn’t got there first again. For fuck’s sake, she’s already there.

Three more hours of being on the phone and I leave work, but not before Kevin raises his eyebrows at me for leaving on time (God forbid I have a life).

I get home, cook dinner, watch TV and go to bed.

Morning. I get up, grab a cereal bar and get in my car.

I get to work, and look grimly at the stack of papers sitting on my desk.

 

New baby

‘She won’t stop crying!’ I jiggled her in my arms, her wailing in my ear bringing me closer to the brink of a full scale migraine.

‘She will eventually love, it just takes time to get to know what she needs. Have you checked her nappy?’

‘Yes, like 4 times, it’s not that.’

‘Is she hungry?’

‘No she’s literally just fed. Help me I don’t know what to do.’

‘Put her in the crib and see if she’s tired, she might just need a nap.’

I placed her in the crib as gently as I could, scared that I would break her. Her third night at home and I didn’t have the first clue about what she wanted, liked or needed from me. I checked my watch, and mum saw me.

‘I know, I’m sorry, I’ll be back tomorrow to help again.’

‘Is there no way you can stay?’

She shook her head, gave me a kiss and a hug goodbye. ‘You’ll be fine, love.’

I thanked her and shut the door, leaving me alone with my baby.

‘It’s okay, shhh, don’t worry Mummy’s here.’ I felt like a fraud. I wasn’t her real mum and she saw right through me. I was playing the part, but I wasn’t even playing it well. I didn’t know how to take care of her. The books I swore by had taught me nothing. Was I naive to think this could work? Emma – the lady from the adoption agency, had said it would take time, but I wasn’t so sure. I stroked Anna’s soft head slowly, not sure who I was trying to reassure; me or her.

She started to quiet, and I exhaled slowly and sank to the chair beside her. Her tears had worn her out and her angry, red face cooled to a soft, blush pink.

I started speaking softly to her. ‘It’s you and me here, Anna. I can’t do this without you too.’ I started to cry. ‘I’ll take care of you, don’t worry. I won’t leave you. You’re so beautiful, aren’t you, hey? You’ve got the prettiest blue eyes, and you’ve got the loveliest, wrinkliest little hands I’ve ever seen.’ I brushed my fingers over her minuscule palms. Feeling my touch, her hand clamped around my finger, tighter than I imagined.

‘Do you know what, Anna? I think we’re going to be alright.’

The end of summer

Death by hanging.

His death marked the end of summer, a summer of drinking in hazy fields with him, kissing secretly behind blooming bushes and swimming in chilly water with the sun striking its red hand upon our skin. Ferris wheel rides and silky ice cream making our fingers sticky. We had our first fight, and we lost our virginity.

He died in his bathroom. I won’t go into grizzly details, but I will say that that’s not how I would want to go.

I had no idea.

First kiss

A mosquito-filled haze settled on the moor. Pink and orange burst through the darkness like candyfloss, and the air tasted sweet. Clammy hands held each other – loose, but not enough to let go. Birds cawed in the distance and mice scuttled nearby, dancing over the crisp autumn leaves.

They looked at each other. A perfect evening can only mean one thing. Their first kiss. They leaned in so slowly it felt like they were underwater. Everything felt still and quiet. Their lips touched and suddenly everything was a blur. Frail, wrinkled hands stroked each other and glasses fell to the floor. Lipstick and mints fell out of their handbags and rolled on the ground. Everything was loud and vibrant. Birds sang gloriously in their nests and the wind howled.

For the first time in 76 years, Margaret and Lilith were truly happy.