Sarah and Harriet were walking into town to find Harriet some new clothes. After Harriet abandoned all the dresses and figure hugging clothes Marie liked her to wear she was getting a bit short of normal clothes, and was wearing the same things for too long before laundry day came around again. Adam and Amanda hadn’t said anything, they wouldn’t, but Harriet was feeling a bit self conscious about it. Getting used to not applying make up and hair products everyday was fine, it was never really her thing anyway and not having to do it made for a lazy start to each day. But rotating two pairs of jeans and three tee shirts was bugging her. It was something that Harriet had mentioned to Sarah at the Stor-It box when they were there. Harriet had hoped to find some more clothes that might have been accidentally moved in there with the rest of her things but there wasn’t anything. She was surprised at how few clothes she did take with her.
Many of the side streets in the town centre had a good range of charity shops that were well stocked by the wealthier residents of Higher Theraton. There were often good bargains to be had thanks to the fickle nature of those who could afford to restock their wardrobes, and homes, seasonally. However, Harriet wasn’t really looking for posh frocks.
“How about this one?” Sarah pulled out a bright green jumper from the rack in the Oxfam shop.
Harriet held it up to her chest. “It’s bit too big and chunky for me I think, warm though. Any good for you?” She offered it back to Sarah.
Sarah laid it across her arm. “Hmmm, I don’t think it works with my skin tone. I’ll put it back.”
“And nothing like this!” Harriet grinned as she extracted a very short embroidered denim skirt from the display.
Sarah took it and held it to her hip. “Is it meant to be a belt, or a garter? It might need more elastic to fit around my thighs!” She laughed and pretended to assess it for fit, ignoring the sideways glances of other shoppers.
They carried on rummaging the racks and displays in Oxfam and after buying a couple of small tee shirts from the men’s rack, and a quick browse at the books, moved on to the next charity shop.
At the Cancer Research shop Harriet managed to find a couple of pairs of jeans but then noticed Sarah looking thoughtfully at an old wicker bicycle basket.
“Interesting?” Harriet enquired.
“No, but it reminded me. You don’t have a bike at the moment do you?” Sarah asked.
“No, Marie made me sell it. She said I didn’t need a bike any more as she had a car. Why?”
“Oh, I just know someone at work who is selling a Brompton.”
“Oh I wish!” Harriet sighed, “But I can’t afford a Brompton.”
“I think you could afford this one.”
“You mean it is broken and irreparable!” Laughed Harriet, “That will be the only way I could afford it. It’s not one of those fake ones is it?”
“No, it a good bike. It’s sad really, the consultant said Mitch has only got a few months left so he is rehoming his stuff while he can.”
“Oh shit! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s ok, he’s accepted it, he’s known for a while. He wanted his stuff to go to people who would appreciate and use it. It matters to him that it isn’t just thrown out, or taken by a house clearance firm just to make money. His wife will be selling up and moving to a smaller house near her parents. I thought of you and told him I’d ask you. What do you think?”
“Well, yes. Yes, of course. That would be wonderful, if I can afford it. And I will look after it, I’d want him to know that.”
“I know you will, that’s why I thought of you. I’ll let him know and see if I can find out how much he’d want for it.”
With that they continued shopping and Harriet had a little spring of hope in her step despite the sad way it was coming about. It was those little things, friends thinking of her in those odd but useful ways, for her benefit and not just their own, that made her realise just where she had been in her relationship with Marie.
They finally got back home and shuffled the bags inside.
“Right, that’s it, shopping done!” Harriet said, as she and Sarah dumped the various bags on the sofa.
“Great! Lets see what you’ve got!” Amanda was excitedly hoping for something fun to come out of the bags.
“Charity shop jeans, more old jeans, a pair of… jeans….” Sarah was pulling items out of one of the bags.
“Red tee shirt, grey tee shirt, another grey tee shirt, white tee shirt, black sweat shirt, red tee shirt…” Harriet continued, playfully tossing the garments in the air.
“So, nothing ‘designer’ then!” Amanda looked mockingly disappointed at the pair of them.
“Dunno, most of the labels are cut off or faded. Look, this one could be…” Sarah checks for a label “Nope, just George at Asda!”
The three women fell on the sofa laughing together.
Daisy closed the front door and took her coat off to hang up.
“That you, Daisy?” Fran called out.
“Yeah, it’s me! Shattered! Need a brew!” Daisy walked into the kitchen.
“What do you mean she left?” Daisy was confused. She had just got home from work, tired and sweaty, and found Fran in the kitchen reading the rental contract. A set of house keys were on the table.
“She’s walked out.” Fran said. “Apparently, Jen decided we hated her and she just packed her stuff and left. I think she went to her boyfriend’s… I think. I guess he can pick up after her.”
“Oh fudge! Did she say anything, leave a note? Anything?”
“Nah, I saw her as I got home earlier.” Fran put down the contract and picked up the keys. “She threw the keys at me and said she knew where she wasn’t wanted and got in a minicab. All her stuff, well, except the rubbish, is all gone. Rent is due too. I hope she’s not cancelled her DD or we we’ll be short! I was just checking for clauses.”
“We’ll just have to tell the agent, ask them to let us know if it hasn’t come through. We can deal with it then.” Daisy put the kettle on, “Brew? You look like you need one too, now.”
Fran sighed deeply. “Yeah, cheers. And if you’re going too that’s going to leave just two of us with all the cost. There’s another year on the contract before we can do anything.”
“I’m not going to go that soon, I don’t think.” Daisy put the kettle on and sat down. “It’ll take time to find a place and I’m sure we can find another person easily enough.”
The front door opened and slammed shut and Ingrid came into the kitchen pulling off her coat. “What’s this? Family meeting?” she asked.
“Jen’s walked out!” Fran replied.
“Properly walked out.” Daisy added, “She’s taken all her stuff and left the keys.”
“Oh, that was probably my fault!” Ingrid hung her coat on the back of a chair. “She chat with me this morning after you both gone out. I think she wanted my support saying that you were bad to her. I asked what was bad and she say you call her… what was it? A ‘slug’? That she was a child. And always messy.”
“Sounds about right.” Fran replied, “Though I think I was a bit harsh with the ‘slug’ bit.”
“No,” Ingrid replied “No, I asked her to explain ‘slug’ and she said ‘It leaves a trail!’. I said ‘That’s fair!’ and she went crazy at me!” Ingrid shrugged “I told her all the time I pick up her laundry, her drink cans, put her plates in the machine, I told her she is like, err, adolescent. She went in her room and slam the door. That prove the point. So I went to work.”
“Oops!” Was all Daisy felt up to saying.
“Yeah, Oops!” Fran added. “Ingrid, we might be short on rent for the month, not sure yet, depends if she has cancelled her direct debit yet. It should be going out in a few days.” She winked at Daisy. “And as you claimed responsibility…”
Daisy laughed as she brought the teas over to the table. “It’s OK, Ingrid, we’re not going to make you stump up the cost, well, not all of it, but we might end up splitting it three ways for last month as well as ongoing if we don’t get anyone else in. And we’ll have to clean her room.”
“I’m not cleaning her room!” Fran protested. “No, we’ll leave it a bit, in case Jen comes back. I wouldn’t want her to come back to find we’ve cleaned it up for her to move back in. No, we’ll leave it a bit and see. And we can assume she’s not coming back if she’s not back by…”
“Dinner?” Ingrid offered. “Schnell! Schnell!”
Fran and Daisy nearly fell off their chairs laughing.
“Haha, gotta love your German humour, Ingrid.” Daisy suppressed her laughter. “How about the beginning of next week? That gives her… what is it, Wednesday today? Thursday, Friday, and the weekend. If we don’t hear from her we can phone her on Monday and if she’s definitely not coming back then we’ll clean and get the agent to find someone else. Fair?”
Fran and Ingrid agreed.