Reminder: Free short story – see below ‘A Pearl for Your Enjoyment.’
It was a lucky day for me when my research led me to Michael from the Hervey Bay Troop of the Australian Light Horse Association. Michael kindly offered to review the relevant chapters related to the adventures of the Australian Light Horse in WW1, in my new novel (still some months away). Now the search is on for a book cover picture.
Current Weather and Tides
On the 5th of September, I have an Author Talk at the Bundaberg Library at 10 a.m. For those living within the Bundaberg area, I would love to meet you there.
Bundaberg Library was the first library I spoke at when I first started this writing journey some years ago. I will never forget the sensation I felt when I first entered this building. The openness and natural lighting left me gasping with pleasure. The pleasant and helpful staff matched the wonderful setting.
Keep safe, Keep smiling, Keep reading, Keep writing.
A Pearl for Your Enjoyment
Granny handed me the red crocheted shopping bag in which she placed the little black purse with the precious coins.
“You’ll have to go to the markets on your own today, Bess. Your cousin Charlie has found a day’s work over in the next village and my old pins won’t carry me that far.”
The pride rose in my chest like Christmas balloons lifted on the afternoon breeze when set free.
“You’re to get half a dozen potatoes – and make sure the man has brushed off all the dirt before he weighs them.” She spat on her finger and wiped at the dried porridge left around my mouth. “We’ll need three big carrots – and none of those with black spots.” The damp arthritic finger smoothed the fly-a-way strands of hair across my forehead. “And we’ll need a handful of brussels sprouts – nothing like brussels sprouts to add flavour to a stew.”
With an effort, I contained the groan before it erupted through my lips. I was too elated to be going on a shopping adventure on my own without triggering a ten-minute lecture on the healthy goodness of brussel sprouts.
“And don’t talk to strangers or let yourself become distracted. We’ll all go hungry tonight if you don’t return with the vegetables.”
The large market shed was crowded with shoppers bent on getting a basket of bargain vegetables. The market was always crowded, but today it was exceptionally so.
“It’s the COVID,” I heard a lady in a green skirt and white blouse tell her friend wearing the sky-blue dress way too short. It was hard to see their faces in the pressed bodies when your eyes reached barely to their waists. Even my bare feet remained hidden beneath the crush.
Cousin Charlie may have been a bit of a pain but he had taught me a few good tricks. In no time at all, I had elbowed, shouldered and nudged myself to the edge of the counter where boxes of potatoes emptied under numerous grabbing hands of the shoppers as seen by my blue gaze which just cleared the bench. The weight of the crowd slowly pressed me under the edge of the counter. No more could I see the spuds, let alone the carrots or brussel sprouts, which hopefully may run out before I get to them.
I could hardly breathe with the forest of legs fencing me in from one side and the wall of the counter behind me. The sound of my squeal went unheard when a large-sized brown boot squished my big toe of my right foot. Another foot tried to brush me aside. I felt the fire of anger burning in my belly. It reminded me of the day Cousin Charlie persuaded me to eat a spoonful of his curry. The heat rose in my throat. Steam seemed to spurt from my nose and ears just like it did with the young dragon in my birthday book.
And then I noticed it lying unattended on the floor beside me. The green hose attached to the sprinkler gun snaked its way to where I could not see. The sprinkler gun felt good in my hand but I needed both hands to get the strength to pull the trigger. Within a moment I draped the shopping bag over my head and shoulder to free up both hands and pulled the trigger hard. A fierce line of cold water shot out into the forest of legs.
Screams roared out through the market shed above me. The press of legs and shoes backed away. My hands ached with the effort. The counter wall behind me dug into my back. Suddenly the water ceased. I crawled out of the space and presented myself to the box of potatoes.
The tall muscled man behind the counter grinned. “So, you’re the little squirt down there, are you? Can I help you?”
“I want half a dozen potatoes and make sure you remove the dirt before you weigh them or Granny will not be too happy with you.” I kept my eyes on the large man. The wave of bodies moving in behind me was sensed rather than seen. As the shopkeeper placed the spuds into the brown bag, I asked, “I want three big carrots without black spots please.”
The brown eyes a long way above me sparkled. “Anything else?”
“Yes, please. I need some brussel sprouts, but if you have none, that is alright. I like broccoli better.”
The large brown hand moved above the half-full box of brussel sprouts and lifted a large green broccoli from the next box.
“You’re Granny Armingdale’s squirt aren’t you.”
“I’m not squirt, I’m Bess. Granny Armingdale is my grandma and cousin Charlie’s grandma too.” The bodies were closing in against my back but they eased back at the sound of the man’s roar.
“Back off you lot. This squirt has business to attend here.” He turned his attention back to me as I shoved the brown packages into the red crocheted bag and retrieved the little black purse. “Now that lot will cost you ten shillings and tuppence.”
I counted out his money and handed it over.
“Here give me your hands and I’ll lift you over here. You can find your way out through the back. That crowd out front will tear you apart.”
With my bag once more hanging from my neck and shoulder, I flew through the air like my story dragons, to land gently beside piles of boxes of fruit and vegetables.
“Here would you like an apple to eat on the way home? It’s free.” The deep voice invited.