One a day: Finishing Up
“What time do you call this?” Natalie shoves her porky wrist towards me. The clock face on her Winnie the Pooh watch is tiny, I can’t see the hands.
“I lost my keys.”
“That’s the best one yet.” I don’t mention that it’s only the second time I’ve been late in four and a half years. “Get behind the till; I have some stock taking to do in the back.” The shop isn’t due to open for another five minutes, but I do as I’m told. It’s the easy bit of the day now, the quiet time, no shouting from the back room, no customers returning used hair products, skin cream and sweeteners with the excuse ‘they weren’t what I was after.’ I adjust my work shirt, re-do my ponytail and take a few, deep breaths. The post rattles through the letter box. Bills for the company mostly and some junk mail from Frozen Foods and Asda, but there’s a postcard from Jenna too, the lass that left last year to go live in Germany. It doesn’t say much. It was never going to. It was just to brag that she had managed to get away from this shit hole and make a better life for herself. The postcard is beautiful though, of a castle called Neuschwanstein. I slip it into my back pocket. Natalie will never know, she never liked Jenna anyway, had too much ambition and drive. I pull myself through the day, sneaking a look at the postcard whenever a get a spare moment. I quickly become obsessed to getting there, and further. I’m five minutes late back from lunch, and it gets docked off my wages, but I don’t care.
I want to bottle the look on Dad’s face.
“You’re doing no such bloody thing. You have a job and wage coming in. You can’t just piss off now.”
“Had a job and a wage, Dad. I’ve saved enough to do something with my life.”
“How is gallivanting off around Europe doing something?”
“It’s an adventure, Dad.”
“It’s a waste of bloody time if you ask me. That lovely woman at that shop gives you plenty of holidays, and the caravan we have at Haggerston Castle, it isn’t cheap. If you go, consider yourself disowned.”
“You’re supposed to be proud and supportive.” He waves his can of Guinness at me.
“They know shit over there. You’ll get gang raped, beaten and robbed; now, get out of the way of my telly.” I hold my head high while I pack. Mam comes in with a cuppa but doesn’t say a word. On the way to the train station, I drop my notice in through the letter box of the shop, glued to the back of a postcard of a castle in Germany.