Chapter Thirty

Harriet is leaning back on the closed workshop door with her hands on her chest, looking wistfully at the ceiling. Monty Dog is up on his back legs to see if Harriet is feeling ok.


“Hey Mum.”
“I just wanted to say how proud of you I am, for getting into college.”
“Thanks Mum,”
“No one else in the family went to college.”
“I’m looking forward to it, I really want to get my A’ levels.”
“Will you be ok, living away from home? Oh I wish there was a college nearer by.”
“I know, Mum, but I’ll be fine, Rach and I will look out for each other. And we already have digs sorted.”
“Oh I know. But you’re teenagers now, and when Rachel gets herself a boyfriend…”
“Mum! We’ll be fine, Rach isn’t going to get a boyfriend.”
“Well, you say that now but…”
“Mum! Please! We’ll be fine, we’re going to study, not to, you know, with boys!”
“And what if you meet some young fella then?”

It was the last time Harriet remembered kind words from her Mum. When Harriet came home from college for Christmas she was filled with confidence from her growing relationship with Rachel and decided it would be a good time to ‘come out’ and tell her family. They had always been open and accepting of other people, but sadly not of her. Harriet’s Mum claimed the ‘disgusting talk’ ruined Christmas dinner, her Dad refused to acknowledge her at all and just muttered “No daughter of mine.”. Harriet was distraught and eventually went back to her college digs after Boxing Day. She only heard from her Mum again in the January blaming her for her Dad’s heart attack on new year’s eve and refusing to allow her to attend the funeral. Harriet had to grieve her Dad alone.

It was years later, when Harriet and Rachel had split up that she felt there might have been some reconciliation with her Mum. They were talking at least but it was an uncomfortable truce existing only as long as Harriet never mentioned her relationships. Her Mum had a new partner and they were happily using the proceeds of her Dad’s life insurance and the sale of the family house to ‘travel the world’ in an early retirement. But then Harriet made the mistake of telling her Mum about meeting Marie.

All these memories flooded back nearly every time Harriet wrote to her Mum. She was well past being made to feel guilty for being a lesbian, but not past the deep sadness of not having her Mum in her life. Harriet would often lose random days, even weeks later, sleeping fitfully and waking often trying to come to terms with how it all went wrong. It became another reason for Harriet not to write too often.

This night was no different and eventually disturbed Monty Dog to the point where he wanted an extra wee in the early hours, after which Harriet, and Monty, finally fell asleep exhausted.

Harriet overslept and woke up to the sound of clanking and rattling as something came up the cobbled road outside. Monty was still dozing on his bed and in no great rush to go out. Suddenly Harriet realised it was recycling day and she had forgotten to take the recycling box out.
“Oh heck!” Harriet cried out as she leapt out of bed and quickly pulled on a pair of jeans before running down the stairs. She didn’t have time to care about washing or tidying herself up, she looked a mess but as it was only the recycling collector Harriet wasn’t going to loose sleep over it. Monty, less concerned about his appearance, leapt up and followed Harriet down to the workshop. “Hang on! I’m just coming, sorry!” she shouted at the workshop door in an attempt to attract the recycling collector’s attention.
Harriet grabbed the box and quickly snatched open the door to hand the box over and was momentarily speechless.
“Sorry, I… err… forgot…” she finally managed to say. As she looked at the person outside Harriet felt the floor fall away from her feet, and felt as though she was watching herself from behind, looking out of the door and handing over a recycling box. Time seemed to pause for a moment…

“Morning! That’s ok, I can take it from here, thank you.” The recycling collector was a woman, tall, blonde, and attractive despite the grubby high visibility work coat and waterproof trousers. She stood there as they held the box between them, smiling, friendly, and also patiently waiting for Harriet to let go of the box.

“I… errr… yeah…” Harriet wasn’t sure if she was staring or not and looked away quickly. As she finally let go of the recycling box Harriet tried to say something but was stumbling over her words mumbling little more then “Fanks…” and blushing.

“Cheers, I’ll leave the box on the drive.” The collector replied, and with that she turned and walked away with the recycling box.

Harriet closed the door and leant back on it sighing. She hadn’t had a feeling like that for a very long time. She felt light headed and her heart was pounding. “I wonder if she is still there?” Harriet whispered to Monty. She opened the door a crack and looked, the road was empty and the solitary recycling box was on the drive. Oh well, Harriet thought. There was always next week. I’d better go and wash. And Harriet went off to the shower room with a little spring in her step to enjoy her moment of fantasy. And of course, that is all it could possibly be, but for the moment it was a very nice fantasy indeed.

After her shower Harriet took Monty out for his morning walk. The autumnal sunshine felt warm and the clear skies uplifting. One of the advantages of the recent months was the lack of aeroplanes and the skies seemed all the more blue for the lack of contrails and the fresh breeze made it feel more like spring then autumn. However, the town was less quiet then it had been as more people were out and some shops and cafes were opening up. Harriet decided to avoid getting too close to the town centre and headed back towards home to do some more work.


Steve was taking a week off work. The recycling team had been so busy that they needed reminding to take the time that was owing to them, just not all at once. Taking leave was a little awkward for all of them as there was nothing to do while on leave so it was easier and more fun to just stay at work where they were with friends and outside doing something active. However, Phil was adamant that leave must be taken, even if it meant being bored at home. And to ensure no excuses he arranged for one of the Centre’s volunteers to come in as a paid casual worker to cover shifts on a modified rota.

As the week progressed Daisy found herself riding the trike on one of Steve’s rounds while Beryl was used to take the volunteer to one of the other rounds. She had the clipboard with the addresses on as her only guide. Not every road was included, and not every house on a road was included. Daisy had gotten used to the oddness that was finding that not everyone wanted the Environment Centre to collect their recycling. They simply returned the box and had a set of Council wheelie bins instead. It was quite frustrating as it meant a Council refuse lorry would drive down that road just for one bin. But as Daisy learnt with the job, people are just odd!

Still, Daisy cycled from street to street. She would park up and collect from a few houses, and then cycle further along, collect from a few more. The address list included notes about where to find boxes that were not on the door step for various reasons. Sometimes that was due to a narrow pavement, or someone with mobility difficulties who couldn’t have their doorway and access obstructed. There were small blocks of flats with a bin room where the boxes were placed, and a door code would be included. She would tick off each address that had a box out for collection and tally the ticks at the end of the day.
Then Daisy spotted a new address hand written between two lines of print. It was the workshop where she had dropped off a box a couple of, or was it three, months earlier. Was it that long ago, Daisy wondered. With the pandemic lockdown nothing else was happening and all the days and weeks just merged and it was easy to lose track. Steve had mentioned, when Daisy checked with him, that even though it was a workshop there was someone with a dog living there and it was residential. The address was a little out of the way along a tree lined cobbled road, and it was the only box to collect there. Daisy decided it would be easier to push the trike then to ride it over the bumpy surface. She pushed the trike, its contents clattering and rattling, up to the gate posts and turned it around ready to leave again. She walked up the drive looking around for the box but didn’t see it. Then she heard a voice calling out so she waited. The door opened and a short, slightly scruffy but pretty woman with dark hair and glasses stood there holding the recycling box. She looked like she had just got out of bed.

“Sorry, I… err… forgot…” the woman said. She was also staring at Daisy, and looking flushed.

“Morning!” Daisy reached out to take the recycling box. “That’s ok, I can take it from here, thank you.” The woman didn’t let go of the box. She just stared at Daisy for a while longer, and then looked away saying something that sounded like ‘thanks’ and then blushed before quickly letting go of the box.

“Cheers, I’ll leave the box on the drive.” Daisy turned to take the box to the trike, but glanced back over her shoulder and saw the door closing. “Well, that was interesting!” she said to herself as she sorted the recycling into the trike. It was mostly paper dog food bags, food tins and boxes, a few jam jars and a machinery catalogue. Daisy couldn’t help but notice the address on the back of the catalogue was to Ms Harriet Board. Daisy assumed that the woman at the door was the Harriet mentioned and she buys or uses machinery. Daisy also noted that there were no newspapers or magazines, nor any alcohol bottles or cans. It was an easy box to sort as it was already nicely segregated, and clean. That said a lot about a person in Daisy’s eyes. She took the box back up the drive and placed it near the door and returned to the trike. As she pushed the trike along the cobbles she heard the door open, and then close again.
“That was interesting!” Daisy said again. “I wonder if I will be here again next week?”
Daisy continued on the round finishing a few more streets before cycling the trike back to the Environment Centre to unload.

As Daisy went to sit down at the smoking shelter to have her lunch Tom gave Ann a nudge. “Something’s put a grin on your face, Daisy! You feeling better now?”

“I don’t know what you mean, Tom!”

“You’ve been a bit low recently, and now you can’t stop grinning. Want to share?”

“Leave her alone.” Ann scolded, “If something has cheered Daisy then that’s a good thing, leave her to feel happy about it. She’ll tell us if she wants to.”

“It’s nothing. Honestly, Tom, I’m oh kay.” Daisy poured herself a cup of tea from her flask and unwrapped her lunch. “Maybe it is the sunshine and fresh air getting to me.”

“Of course it is. But if he messes you about you tell us and we’ll… we’ll… we’ll have your back!”

“Who are you talking about?”

“Who ever it is that has put that ‘I’ve met someone’ grin on your face!”

Daisy sighed. “Is that what you think it is?”

“Yes!” Laughed Ann and Tom in unison. “Look Daisy, if you are happy, that’s all that matters.” Ann added, “We don’t need to know the details.”

“Speak for yourself!” Tom exclaimed. “I want to know all the gossip. What’s his name, who his people are, what he does for a living, is he rich… Come on, Daisy, spill the beans.”

Daisy rolled her eyes and bit into her sandwich.

“Ignore Tom. He’s just being a clown. You can tell me later.” Ann winked.

Daisy wasn’t sure if there was anything to tell. It wasn’t as if she had met a man, as Tom assumed, or really met anyone to be fair. It was just an interesting woman, based on the contents of her recycling box and one meeting at the door. Hardly anything to get excited about and by Daisy’s standards she knew nothing about her. But there was something Daisy couldn’t quite put her finger on, she was interesting, if a little odd in her behaviour. Daisy tried to dismiss the thought, but the grin kept on sneaking back onto her face when she least expected it. The afternoon part of the round seemed to go quite easily, the late sun was warm, and even cycling the trike back at the end of the day came with a tail wind to ease the load.

(Chapter 29 here)
(Chapter 31 here)

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