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by Chestersmummy 

Posted: 26 August 2018
Word Count: 1002
Summary: Entry for FF comp.

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‘Out of my way, you useless animal.  Go on – bloody well move you lazy donkey, or I swear you’re off to the knackers.
Usually it was the sun that woke me gently, its rays crayoning yellow stripes across my duvet.   But not today.  It was my Daddy’s voice that broke my dream and he sounded angry.  He’d even used the ‘B’ word.   I heard the dull thwack of something wood against something solid and my fists clenched.  Daddy was hitting Fergus.  How could he?  Fergus didn’t understand.  I jumped out of bed and ran to the window.
‘Wait, Daddy.  I’ll move him.’
I almost fell down the stairs, on the way grabbing three apples from the bowl in the hall.  Daddy was standing over Fergus a stick in the air but he stopped as I rushed towards them.  His face was all red and he didn’t smile.  Instead he frowned as if it was my fault.
‘Some clown left the gate of the paddock open and this hairy fool is standing right in front of the garage.  I’ve got a plane to catch.  If I don’t get away soon, I’ll miss the bloody thing.’
Two bloodies, I felt sick.  This was bad, generally Daddy never swore.
Fergus was standing with his ears laid back so much that they were almost touching his shoulders and his eyes were rolling so I could see the whites.   He was really upset.  Poor Fergus, I blinked quickly.
I held an apple under Fergus’s nose his nostrils widened.
‘Come on, boy,’ I took a step backwards.  Slowly he began to follow. When he was well out of Daddy’s way, I gave him the apple and he crunched it up in no time.  I stroked his neck and petted him, hoping his back didn’t hurt.   Was it me that had left the gate open?  Sometimes I did silly things.   I must be more careful otherwise Daddy might send him away.  I hugged Fergus close and  heard the spurt of gravel underneath Daddy’s tyres as he roared down the drive.
When I went back to the house Mummy was in the kitchen.  She was sitting at the table staring into her computer.  A cup of coffee was beside her, it had a thick skin over its top so she’d been there for a long time.  Hadn’t she heard Daddy shouting and swearing in the yard?   Suddenly, I felt sad. I remembered back to the time I was five and only little.  Daddy and Mummy were always laughing together then and we did fun things, like going to the swimming pool and having picnics in the meadow.   We never do anything nice now.  Perhaps it’s because of me. I know I am naughty  sometimes.   
‘You’re up early.   It’s Saturday remember.  No school.’ 
Mummy was still staring at her screen but there was no one else in the room so I guessed she must be talking to me.
‘Daddy was angry with Fergus.’ I said.  ‘He was shouting at him.’ I didn’t mention the swearing because I didn’t want Daddy to get into trouble.
‘Really?  Oh well, you know Daddy’s always grumpy in the mornings.  Make yourself some breakfast, will you?  Mummy is very busy today.’ 
Then she started tapping at the keyboard. I noticed that she’d painted her nails a different colour, bright orange. I felt sad again.  She used to let me choose the colour.
I turned away and started to smear butter on two pieces of bread.  She didn’t care, I thought.  I bet she wouldn’t care even if Fergus was sent to the knackers.  I didn’t know what that meant but I guessed it wasn’t nice.   Maybe, he wouldn’t have a nice warm stable to sleep in.  My eyes started to sting and then I had an idea.  Quickly, I finished buttering the bread and wrapped the pieces in greaseproof paper.  Opening the frig, I took out a bottle of orange juice.  I’d still got two of the apples so that was OK and there was the compass I’d got from a cracker last Christmas.  I might need that.   I started to tiptoe out of the room.
‘Where are you off to?’
Mummy’s voice made me jump and I almost dropped the sandwich.
‘Just going for a walk.’  I said
‘Well, you’d better take your waterproof underwear with you.  It’s going to pour with rain later.’
‘What do you mean, you haven’t seen her since breakfast?’
David stared at his wife’s flooded face his exhausted mind trying to unscramble her words. What a greeting.  It had been a hell of a day and now this.
                ‘She said she was going for a walk and I was so busy, I said OK.  Then when I looked up it was hours later and pouring with rain.  You know how it is David.  Times flies when you’re busy and I had that presentation to knock into shape.’
                Christ, he thought.  She’s only seven.  ‘And you’ve looked everywhere and ‘phoned her friends?  And what about the police?’
                She nodded.  Her hands were twisting her sweater out of shape and for the first time, he noticed how thin she was.  They’d all suffered and none of it was their fault.  He felt a vicious urge to take hold of fat necks and squeeze until their eyes popped and grease ran down his arms.  Lying bastards.  They’d ruined so many lives whilst all the time conniving to save their own.
                He took a deep breath and made a vow.   If, when, Chrissie turns up, he’ll throw in his job.  He was sick of trying to pick up the pieces anyway.  This place was theirs so at least they were better off than some.  They’d manage.  He should have done it months ago.
                He took Julia in his arms and held her until her shakes muted into a tremble.  ‘Shh,’ he whispered.  ‘It’s going to be all right.  She’ll come back.  They’ll find her.’
                They’ve got to, he thought.  They must.

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Comments by other Members

euclid at 17:24 on 26 August 2018  Report this post
Nice one, Janet.

A few things I noticed:

Missing quotation mark at the end of the first line.
Change of format (paragraph indents) bewteen the two parts of the story and
frig should be fridge (unless your 7-year-old can't spell).

Did she take Fergus with her?
I imagine she would have and someone might have mentioned  that at the end.

Good story. I enjoyed it.



Chestersmummy at 12:02 on 27 August 2018  Report this post

Thanks for your conmments on 'Fergus' and for pointing out my unforced errors.
I agree that I should have made it clearer that Chrissie had taken Fergus with her.  I think, in my mind, I thought the fact she'd taken the last two apples with her was a clue but obviously  this was dependent upon the reader being a mystic!

Funnily enough, I have always spelt 'fridge' as 'frig' as in refrigerator.  I think this is an age thing as I looked it up on the 'great guru' aka 'the internet' and apparently in days of yore it was spelt (or spelled - again I am not clear), 'frig'. I shall try and haul myself into the 21st century.

Best wishes


michwo at 12:17 on 27 August 2018  Report this post
This could almost be the start of a novel, Janet.
Having said that, the only way I can write a novel is to translate one from French or German, and even that's not easy!

Chestersmummy at 11:29 on 28 August 2018  Report this post
Thought you were writing a novel.  Hope you still are.


michwo at 13:17 on 28 August 2018  Report this post
When you say 'writing a novel' you're basically drawing on your own experience of life and your own ideas about things.
What 'writing a novel' means for me is feeling comfortable with what someone else has already expressed in a certain way
and, with what I'm doing at the moment, dividing it up into chapters - I know there are going to be 20 altogether, and I'm currently half way through chapter 14.  Is it the writing equivalent of painting by numbers?  Something like that anyway.
What you do is much more demanding cerebrally.  That's why I think you fully deserve every encouragement to do it, and nothing I've read so far of what you write has been less than very good, very readable, and very interesting.

Chestersmummy at 08:26 on 29 August 2018  Report this post
Thanks for your encouragement, Michwo.   Have not proceeded with my novel for some time unfortunately.  But on a hopeful note, I have started to write little bits and pieces and by this way hope to get back to some serious writing again.

BW - Janet

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