“That’ll do, thank you Amanda. It’ll take a bit of getting used to but it looks good, I am glad you thought of it. I should get it cut soon and that will finish off the transformation.”
Harriet was admiring her new hair colour in the bathroom mirror. Amanda had helped her re-colour it back to a dark chestnut shade, as close as they could get to her natural colour, without the grey. Harriet was feeling a little strange being brunette again, she seemed to have been blonde for so long even though it was only for a few years. But those few years seemed to have dominated so much of her thoughts.
“You look good now, nearly back to the Harriet you were, but with upgrades!” Amanda replied.
“Just got to wash off the last of the dye on my neck and ears before I’m presentable again. Sarah said she’d be coming over later. She’s asking a chap at work about a bike for me. I’m looking forward to that. Hopefully I can afford it.” Harriet was feeling quite lively, quite a contrast to a few days earlier, when she was feeling very down.
“That’s great, Harriet, I hope you can.” Amanda replied.
“How are you feeling about all this now? I mean, we are all still looking after you and looking out for you. We’re happy to do that, don’t get me wrong, but do say if we are stifling you, or doing too much ‘looking after’. We’ve worried about you so much but also don’t want to over do it all now.”
“Thank you, and I do really really appreciate everything you have done, everything you have all done. I was so afraid that once I left, there would be no one on my side. I wasn’t even sure if Adam was going to answer my call when I phoned him. I know you have taken me in a few times when Marie and I had a row, but I thought, I feared, I might have used up all the favours.
That’s what she used to tell me. Each time I tried to leave she’d tell me that no one would want me, no one would help me, that I was worthless and valueless.” Harriet paused from scrubbing the dye from behind her ear and sighed.
“I’m not, am I? I know I’m not, now.”
“Of course you’re not. None of us would be here if that were the case. You notice that when you needed us we all came to help. It was all of us against Marie, and that says a lot. Who was on Marie’s side? Who was saying she was in the right? Who stood up against us all? That should tell you how much more you are loved and valued then she is.
I do feel a bit guilty though, thinking maybe we should have intervened sooner and got you out…”
“Oh don’t be. I wasn’t ready. I know you tried a few times and… and… I remember I didn’t want to hear it then.”
“I was so worried we were not helping you when you needed us to, leaving you alone and…”
“I felt like I was alone. But I realise now that was Marie’s doing, not yours, not any of you. And thinking about it, there often seemed to be one you lot in the café, I remember now, making a single coffee last hours while reading or tapping away on a tablet, using up the café WiFi! I didn’t know why at the time.”
“Yeah, that was Sarah’s idea. We’d take turns at it when ever we could.
But, look, you’re safe now, and we’re still looking out for you, and when you are ready to move on from staying with us, that will be fine, and it’ll be another positive step you’ll do for yourself. And even then we’re all friends and will still be there, all of us, for each other.”
Warmed by that Harriet and Amanda hugged before getting ready for Sarah’s arrival.
Later that evening there was a lot of clanking and scuffing outside the door as Sarah rang the doorbell. Amanda opened the door to find a flustered Sarah wrapped around a green two wheeled contraption. Struggling to keep it not only upright but together. “Help?!” Sarah said.
“Harriet! You’re needed!” called Amanda. Harriet came rushing through from the kitchen.
“Harriet, this ‘thing’, this, whatever this is supposed to be, is yours! Please, come and take it off my hands before it falls apart completely!” Sarah pleaded as she struggled to uncoil her arms from the contraption, before giving up and letting fall in an ungainly pile on the door step. The bell on it’s handle bars ‘tring-tringed’ in protest. “Oh, nice hair, by the way.”
Harriet paused halfway to the door in a stunned silence, before chuckling, and being confused.
“Thank you, Amanda did it this afternoon. Anyway, what do you mean ‘mine’? What have you done to it? I thought you were just finding out how much it was and what condition it was in first!”
“Mitch said you can have it. I told him about you, and why it would be good for you, sorry if I was over sharing your private life, but to be honest he isn’t going to be shouting it from the roof tops. He’s not got long left, poor chap. Anyway, he decided you should have it. His wife did try to show me what to do with it and I thought I had it. She folded it up to put in the car, and I thought I’d just unfold it and wheel it into the hallway for you as a surprise, but I don’t think it likes me!”
“Awww, that is so kind of him, I am so sorry!
Anyway, give it here, and lets have a look” Harriet picked the bike up by the handle bars, flicked it around and tightened a couple of locks on the frame and wheeled the bike in. “Tiddley little thing, aren’t you! Has aunty Sarah been taking good care of you on the way here, Tiddles?”
Amanda and Sarah looked at each other, rolled their eyes and laughed…
“We’ll just leave the two of you there getting to know each other while we pop into the kitchen for a cuppa, yeah?
Come on Sarah, we’ve lost her to a folding bicycle!”
“I heard that!” Harriet called after them! “Do thank Mitch for me, Sarah, and if he would be ok with it, I’d like to thank him myself, if I can. Do you think that would be ok?”
“I’ll ask his wife and see if he is up to it.” Sarah replied. She and Amanda put the kettle on and settled down for a chat while Harriet examined ‘Tiddles’ and checked all its working parts.
“So how’s work going?” Amanda asked Sarah as she poured the tea.
“So so. With Mitch off we’ve had as minor shuffle around and some temps in to cover the workload. It isn’t ideal and, I know it seems, you know… but we don’t really want to do anything until after Mitch has passed away as we haven’t made him redundant or anything as we were always hoping he’d be back. He won’t be, and he really hasn’t got long left so we’ll deal with it after.”
“I guess you’ll be advertising the post then. If you need any help with that you know you can always ask.”
“Thank you. It might be a good time to reshuffle the team, I know someone has been itching for a promotion, and I might look at splitting Mitch’s role to make best use of the staff we have. We’ll still be short but I don’t yet know at what level. Hopefully not mine!” Sarah laughed!
Daisy spent her Saturday in and out of the local estate agents. She wasn’t looking for anything in particular at the moment but did want to get on their mailing lists and see what she could afford. She also popped into her bank to get some mortgage information and discovered that her change in job wasn’t such a good move for borrowing as her average pay from the agency jobs and modelling was significantly higher then the four days a week collecting recycling! She could have applied for the mortgage and bought a house before changing jobs, the bank’s advisor had told her.
“Hindsight is wonderful isn’t it?” Daisy told him. “But thinking sensibly, I would have changed jobs anyway, and I wouldn’t want to end up having borrowed more then I could comfortably pay back.”
“Yes, and if you didn’t tell us of the job change and we found out afterwards it could affect the validity of the mortgage offer if you hadn’t completed a purchase.” said the advisor, “Anyway, you have enough savings to put in a sizeable deposit, so that is a big plus to make up any potential shortfall.”
Daisy sat in a café and pondered the options over a mug of tea. Size of mortgage verses size of deposit verses no mortgage and every penny she has to her name.
That last option, Daisy guessed, would probably only buy her a storage shed, or an off street parking space for a year. But out in the less affluent areas of town, it could be a good way towards a small house, maybe. And Daisy wanted to buy a house, not a lease on an apartment, or flat over a shop. No, she wanted it freehold and preferably something interesting instead of a new build.
It had dawned on Daisy, as she looked at some random estate agent offerings, that her historic research could be around her future home, that along with the inspiration from guessing at the social meaning behind the recycling she was collecting had sparked ideas. Maybe if she could make that into a viable piece of work then she could return to college to look at that degree course properly. She could certainly look to blend the two solutions of home buying and research subject, and researching your own house would be more fun, and maybe easier, then someone else’s.
Daisy scanned the assortment of houses from the various estate agents, despite everything being online sometimes it was just easier to read or scan comparisons when on paper while scribbling notes and comments in the margins. Despite being well out of her price range Daisy still gave considered thought to the big detached and semi-detached houses in Higher Theraton, more as a means of determining what she really needed verses what was desirable but a pipe dream. En-suites, dining rooms, second receptions, utility rooms, double garage with electric up an over doors, five guest rooms, separate granny flat, third of an acre of garden…
She accepted that much of that was going to be frivolous for her needs but if her future home was to have more then two bedrooms then an en-suite bathroom would be nice, as would a utility room. The garden would be dependent on so much, a scrappy little yard would be easy but boring, a big manicured lawn would be hard work to maintain, some sort of front garden space would be nice, just so the front door wasn’t straight on to the street. Car parking would be useful, except Daisy didn’t have a car, nor need for one at the moment, though that might change. Close to work so she could walk there, but not city centre so she could afford it, or she could buy a bicycle, maybe.
All these little notes were jotted down in the margins while crosses were put against undesirable properties.
“If she can afford to be buying a house, you’d think she could afford to buy more then one drink!” A strident voice called out. The comment came from the café proprietor to one of the waiting staff behind the counter and was intended to be discrete but still loud enough to be overheard.
Daisy sipped at her tea and decided not to respond to the comment, and also to change her plans and go elsewhere for her lunch. It irritated her, not the concern the proprietor had for someone spending little but staying long, that was fair especially as lunch time tables would soon be needed. No, it was the rudeness of saying it out loud in judgement. Maybe ‘Café Marie’ didn’t deserve her custom.
Daisy made a few more notes and then checked the time on her phone, eleven fifty-five, She had only been in there for half an hour. But it was a good point at which to head off for food. But before she went, she picked up the menu and pretended to peruse it checking options for light meals, main meals, puddings. Daisy then shook her head disappointedly and tutted loudly at the range of options as she got up to leave, just as the proprietor came over with order pad in hand.
Daisy didn’t look at her as she turned towards the door, and she didn’t leave a tip.