11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 02

“My first idea,” Georgia continued, “was to make it into a house. I’ve been working away and have just come back. So I’m living with my parents, but I’d like somewhere of my own and I’ve always loved it here. Because it’s so odd-looking, I think.”

“It’s certainly that!” Mel nodded so vigorously the scarf securing her hair nearly came loose. “Maybe, with it being halfway down the street, whoever built it was wanting something a bit different.”

She considered a moment.

“It would make a good-sized house, certainly. And I know what you mean – it has some nice original features.” She finally shook her head. “But I can’t see myself living in it. Not at all!”

Georgia laughed.

“No-one can, except me. Everyone I’ve spoken to says it’s a mad idea. So it’ll stay as offices . . . for now, anyway.”

“The agent said you’re going to take space here for yourself. The big long room?”

“Yes, I’m going to give Spanish lessons. I’m a languages teacher. I’ll have to see whether there’s enough demand to make it viable, but it’s looking good so far just from a little advert I took out. Anyway, that’s the current plan.”

But was it the right plan, when this was supposed to be a new start?

Just then the kitchen door flew open and a slim, blonde-haired teenager, dressed in school clothes, came bouncing in.

“I’ll bring you a cup of coffee, Dad!” the girl called to a man who Georgia could see just from the back as he proceeded along the corridor.

“Meet our Amy,” Mel said. “She pops in on her way to school most mornings with her father, Alex. He’s in the rear office. An accountant.”

Having switched the kettle back on, Amy plonked down beside Georgia to wait for it to boil and proceeded cheerily to expand – at length – on Mel’s brief introduction. Which school she went to, which subjects she liked and didn’t like, her aspirations for the future . . .

“I definitely don’t want to be an accountant like my dad. He gets all engrossed with his work, but can you imagine being that interested in columns of figures? Weird, that’s what I think. I wouldn’t mind being a TV presenter but I don’t reckon I stand out enough for that.” She gave Georgia an appraising look. “I wish I had red hair like yours.”

As she paused for breath, Georgia exchanged an amused smile with Mel.

While they’d been talking, Mel had also been getting on with clearing out the fridge, as she’d told Georgia she intended to do. Every now and then an item was despatched to the bin.

“Two weeks past their use-by date,” she explained as she disposed of a four-pack of yoghurts. “They seem to put them in, then forget all about them. And, goodness me, what’s this here? Cheese, I think.”

“Smelly!” Amy turned up her nose as Mel now removed a loosely wrapped package. “It must be months – or maybe years – out of date!”

Mel nodded as she slung it into the rubbish bin.

Amy went off with her dad’s coffee, nearly colliding with a stick-thin man, immaculately dressed. He carried a mini-carrier bag with the name of a classy local delicatessen on it.

“This is Brett.” Mel helpfully introduced him to Georgia. “He’s a photographer, with an office . . .”

“Studio,” Brett interrupted in a superior voice.

“With a studio . . .” Mel tried again, only to be interrupted as Brett let out a dismayed yelp and pointed to the bin and, specifically, the recently disposed-of cheese.

“My cheese! What’s it doing in there?”

“Oh!” Mel looked awkward. “We thought it had gone off. But, look, I’ll get you some more.”

“You can’t get cheese like that just at the local supermarket!” Brett retorted, waving his hands about in a dramatic manner.

“Not a problem.” Mel held her hands up, but in a calming way. “I’ll go to that deli you like.” She pointed at his little bag, which he’d now put down on a chair.

“You won’t even find it there! I have it sent by order to me from –” he named somewhere that Georgia, although fairly well-travelled, had never heard of “– where it matures in a special cave.”

Suddenly he screeched.

“You put that back!”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.