Under The Elm Tree – Episode 03


AS if Sid could feel her gaze upon him, he looked up, blinking against the rain, and his face broke into a wide grin. Kitty smiled. She couldn’t remember a time when Sid hadn’t been in her life. They’d known each other since they were babies.

“Kitty!” he called.

She pushed open the window, and a spray of rain swept in.

“What?”

“Are you going to the dance on Sat’day?”

“I might be.”

“Would you like to come wi’ me?” he asked.

She paused, aware that lately his behaviour towards her had become more attentive.

“We can walk down together,” she agreed non-commitally.

As she gave her shoulder-length waves their customary hundred strokes, she pondered the situation. Through the open window, Kitty could hear the steady tread of two pairs of boots turning right on to the lane towards the farm where Sid and her father both worked. As long as he wasn’t becoming sweet on her. She frowned. She would hate things to change between them.

Pulling on her cardigan, she opened her bedroom door. A delicious smell of frying wafted up the stairs to greet her. She hurried down to the tiny room next to the scullery that served as both kitchen and living-room. She was starving!

Kitty’s mother was standing at the gas stove, her apron on, cracking eggs into a pan. George was the eldest of the children at home since Joyce had been taken on at the new telephone exchange and gone to live in Farchester. He sat opposite Florence at the table, chewing a crust of bread contentedly. It seemed he was in no hurry for the five-mile journey to the carpenter’s shop in the next village where he worked.

“You’d better get a move on, son,” Muriel reminded him, glancing at the alarm clock on the dresser before motioning Kitty to sit down.

George drained his teacup and stood up, pushing back his chair.

“Right you are, Mother,” he said obediently, but he winked at Kitty and stopped to give Florence’s plait a playful tug as he stepped round the table. He was a live wire, was George.

Florence glanced up from the fashion magazine she’d propped against the teapot in front of her, and gave him a glare. All of the children had their father’s wavy hair, but while Kitty’s and George’s was dark, Florence and Joyce were fair like their mother.

Soon there was the sound of the porch door banging shut.

“You’d better get going, too, my girl,” Muriel added sternly, “or you’ll be late for prayers.”

Florence shrugged.

“I don’t care!” she said defiantly. “I’ll be leaving school at Christmas anyway.”

“Don’t care was made to care,” Muriel told her as she slid an old Oxo tin across the oilcloth table cover towards her. “Here’s your sandwiches,” she said. “Now off you go.”

Kitty never took offence at her mother’s tone, for she knew that beneath her sharp exterior beat a warm and kindly heart. But Florence, so similar in character to Muriel, often clashed with her.

“Do you want an egg, Kitty?”

“Yes, please, Mother.” She drew a cup towards her, and reached for the teapot. The movement caused Florence’s magazine to tumble to the table, and she gave Kitty a frowning stare before getting up and flouncing out into the hall.

“Make sure you wrap up well!” Muriel called as she flipped the egg over in the pan. The porch door banged shut for the second time. “Well, thank goodness that’s the last of you ever going to be fourteen,” she said, letting out a long sigh.

“Don’t mind Flo, Mother,” Kitty reassured her. “She’s worried about starting work in Farchester, that’s all. She was telling me about it last night before we went to sleep. She might not be very good at schoolwork, but she’s wonderful with her needle, isn’t she? It’s all she’s ever wanted to do.”

“My cousin Edie’ll look after her,” Muriel said firmly. “And Joyce will be there for a week or two till she gets wed in the New Year. That’ll help her settle in.”

“I’m sure it will, Mother, and she is excited about the apprenticeship,” Kitty replied. “It’s just the thought of living away from home that’s making her bad-tempered,” she continued. “She likes cousin Edie well enough, and she’s pleased she’ll be sharing Joyce’s room for a bit, but it’s not the same as home,” she finished.

Muriel’s face softened, then she pulled herself up.

“It don’t do to wrap young ’uns up in cotton wool,” she said, folding her arms. “She’s got to earn her way in life same as everybody else, an’ that’s an end to it!”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.