Friday with Friends welcomes CrossRiver Media
Author, Kathy Nickerson!
She sat in the bus station and felt the cold weight in her pocket. She should never have taken it, of course. Her mother had raised her better than that. But Mrs. Caldicott had been especially difficult all morning. She had insisted the tea be stirred just so, and she had complained that the biscuits were too dry. One minute she wanted the window open for her health and the next minute she wanted it closed because the hydrangea bush made her sneeze.
Audrey Ann had worked all morning polishing a drawer of silver and catering to various whims. Somewhere around midday, she looked up from the yawning drawer and stretched. She glanced down again at the trays full of silver, which no one ever used. She wished for a moment that she owned just one small spoon from the collection. She would have taken it to Grady at the Duncan Street Pawn Shop last night.
Instead, she had sold Grady her ring. Her mother’s ring, actually. The one with the smooth rubbed edges and the tiny curling letters along the inside. Because of her visit to Grady’s and the coins in her pocket, Audrey Ann had been more than a little tempted this morning to walk right on past the frowning gate of Number Eleven. But, she had taken herself by the collar and marched herself up the steps and gotten on with it all.
She tried to be content by remembering she would finally be able to pay her rent this evening. But then Mrs. Caldicott had gone on and on about the hydrangea incident and about how girls from the country could never be counted on to get things right. The final insult had come when Audrey Ann looked up from the silver collection just in time to see Mrs. Caldicott squeezing the last drop of tea from her Tuesday bag, which she insisted must last until Friday. Then she wrapped it carefully in her napkin lest Audrey Ann try to slip it into her own pocket while clearing away.
Mrs. Caldicott was certain, as she told everyone, that Audrey Ann stole from her consistently. That was better than the last girl, though, who had been gradually poisoning her food.
Suddenly, it had all been too much. Audrey Ann had lifted the heavy spoon and dropped it into her pocket. Now, here she sat, wondering where she should go. The farm had been sold months ago. She couldn’t go back there. She would have to go forward, somewhere.
Although she had never owned any real silver, Audrey Ann was sure the spoon must be worth a large sum of money. Maybe she should go to Grady’s first. Sell the spoon. Redeem the ring. Then she would be free.
She would have enough money left over to escape the city and find a place with trees and hills and birds. Maybe even cows. She would set herself up in a little cottage and write great novels of enduring value.
She would go to a place where no one could scream at her to adjust a window shade just when she had found a minute to scribble on whatever scrap of paper she had managed to scrounge. She would buy thick reams of writing paper, and she would crumple them up and throw away what didn’t suit her without a second thought.
Audrey Ann looked down and touched the pale band where her mother’s ring should have been. Her ring, actually, since her mother had died and left it to her. She remembered the time when she was small, when her mother had promised the ring to her as an inheritance. Audrey Ann remembered being horrified to think of her mother gone somewhere unreachable. She wondered what possible importance a ring could have in such circumstance.
Now that the ring was gone, too, she understood.
Audrey Ann blinked her eyes to clear her head. The she began looking at the other people waiting in the station. She tried to imagine where they might be going and what they might do when they got there. But the game was no good, because the weight in her pocket grew heavier.
Audrey Ann reminded herself that Mrs. Caldicott would never know. She would claim Audrey Ann had done worse, anyway. Then she would hire a new girl, a girl who needed work so badly she wouldn’t care if it cost her a dream. And it would start all over again.
Audrey Ann was convinced it would have taken years to earn her way back to the country on the salary Mrs. Caldicott paid. This was just a harmless little shortcut, like jumping over the creek instead of going the long way around to the bridge. Mrs. Caldicott would never miss one small, silver spoon from a house filled with treasure. And she probably owed the world one great writer in exchange for the meanness she had contributed over the years. For almost fifteen minutes, Audrey Ann carried on a pretty good argument with herself.
But, her mother had raised her better than that.
Finally, Audrey Ann stood up and fingered the spoon in her pocket. Straightening her shoulders, she put one foot in front of the other and started the tiresome walk back toward Number Eleven. She only paused once along the way to pick up a scrap of paper that had blown from the trash bin. She planned to start a new story today. Just as soon as the silver was all put away.
Author Bio: Kathy Nickerson describes herself as a writer, speaker, and eternal optimist. (Because she knows how The Book ends.) She writes from northeast Missouri where she lives, loves, and works with her husband of nearly forty years. Her short stories and articles have appeared in several magazines, and her novel Thirty Days to Glory will be released from Cross River Media this year. (www.CrossRiverMedia.com)
You can follow Kathy’s blog or sign up for her newsletter on Faith, Family, Friends, and Fun at www.kathynick.com .