A Year In France – Episode 13

Supplied © A Year In France illustration by Mandy Dixon

Dannie swung her legs out of bed and rummaged in her rucksack for some clean clothes. She’d have to ask Maddy if she could do a load of washing later.

“Morning, Maddy,” she said, opening the bedroom door to the hall.

“Hi. Would you like a coffee?” Maddy said. “And I thought maybe poached eggs on toast?”

“That sounds great. Can I help?”

Maddy shook her head.

“The kitchen’s so small there’s barely room for me. Did you sleep all right?”

Dannie perched on one of the tall stools by the breakfast bar.

“I can’t thank you enough for last night. You were very kind.”

Maddy pushed a mug towards her.

“No worries. You look better than you did last night, which is a relief.”

“I’ve been thinking about your offer,” Dannie said. “The sensible thing would be for me to go home and admit I’ve made a mistake, wouldn’t it?”

She glanced at Maddy, who simply shrugged.

“On the other hand, the thought of living down here, working, making my own way for once, is something I’ve dreamed about for ages now.

“I thought that being with Jason was the beginning of realising my dream. Instead it’s been the worse three weeks of my life.”

Thoughtfully Dannie stirred sugar into her coffee.

“What sort of job did you have at home?” Maddy asked.

“I worked in our local bookshop until it closed. I loved it. Since then I’ve only managed to get part-time jobs. Coffee shops; newsagents at weekends. I’ve not got any qualifications to have an actual career or anything.” Dannie sighed as she took a sip of coffee.

“I suppose my dream job would be in a boutique that sells vintage clothes. This looks good,” she said, as Maddy placed two poached eggs on toast in front of her.

“I don’t know about vintage boutiques, but there are lots of coffee shops here which always seem to be short staffed,” Maddy said. “I’m not sure what they pay, though.”

“Minimum wage,” Dannie answered. “I’ve applied for some, but once they found out I didn’t have an address they didn’t want to know.

“It’s a catch twenty-two situation. No address equals no job. But with no job, I can’t get an address.”

“Minimum wage isn’t a lot,” Maddy said. “You would need to work a lot of hours to earn decent money.”

“If I find a job and sort myself out,” Dannie said slowly, “how much rent would I need to find?”

“Nothing for the first month.” Maddy pursed her lips. “After that you should know if you’re happy here or if you want to go home.

“If you do decide to stay we can work out a figure you could afford based on what you are earning.”

Dannie concentrated on eating for a moment.

“I would like to stay. I want to see if I can make things work out.”

“Good. There’s just one thing – your parents. Have you told them about Jason?”

“We’ve spoken a couple of times,” Dannie replied. “But I haven’t told them about Jason or how I’ve been surviving. I didn’t want to worry them.”

“That’s the first thing, then,” Maddy told her. “Tell them what’s happened and what you’re doing. If they want to talk to me, I’m happy to do that. To reassure them.”

“I can’t believe you’re doing this for me,” Dannie said, fighting the tears that were threatening to fall.

“You’re just down on your luck temporarily and I’m in a position to help. Maybe one day you’ll get the chance to help someone yourself.”

“You’re like my guardian angel,” Dannie said. “I promise you I’ll repay you.”

“Not necessary, but as I hate washing-up, I’ll leave you to do the breakfast things.” Maddy laughed. “Afterwards, I thought we’d go out and I’ll show you the neighbourhood and you can suss out places that might have a job for you.”

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.