Chapter Forty


Harriet was feeling despondent and trying to lose herself in some work, but she wasn’t concentrating and making mistakes. She decided it was time to take a break before she wasted too much wood in the workshop, or broke something. Worse still she knew it was times like this that she could make a mistake that could land her in hospital. It was definitely time to stop and do something else, anything else that would stop the incessant sound of Marie’s voice in her head.

It was something that had been plaguing Harriet on and off ever since she walked out. When she was feeling positive about something, getting her friends back, the workshop, and now Daisy, the narrative in her head insisted on voicing Marie’s style of put downs. Tap tap tap! Stop with the friggin’ noise will ya! What’s the matter with you, you’re fooling no one! She’s only winding you up! Nobody is going to fancy you! Look at yourself, you’re useless. Everything you have is because others pity you…

Even when Harriet tried to think about day to day stuff, “Come on Monty, fancy a bit of a walk?” You call that a dog? Ugly stray animal. Should have had him put down! “We can go to the park and throw sticks, you’d like that.” He’s only with you because no one else would be. Down to the park where all the druggies and tramps hang out. You look like a tramp with that mutt!

Monty was pleased to go out but could also sense that Harriet wasn’t happy so he walked close to her, and didn’t want to go very far. The ‘park’ was really just the local green space not far outside of the workshop and was a convenient play area for Monty. “Are you okay, Monty?” Harriet rubbed his ears after he brought back the stick. He was fetching sticks but was unenthusiastic about it and kept looking back to check Harriet was still there and okay. Monty sat and leaned against Harriet’s leg. “If you don’t fancy playing shall we just walk then? Come on, Monty.” Harriet patted her thigh as she walked on and Monty followed closely. They walked around the perimeter of the small park and then along the roads with Monty back on the lead. Monty’s ears pricked up at the distant sound of the clatter of cans being thrown on a box. He knew that sound, that was the sound of his new friend, Daisy. Monty hoped that if he got Harriet to Daisy she might be happier. “What is it Monty? Why the rush? You don’t usually pull like that.” Harriet tried to rein Monty back a bit. “Heel, Monty, heel!” Then Harriet saw a yellow cargo tricycle come around the corner at the end of the road. “Oh, I see. It might not be Daisy, I can’t tell at this distance.”. Monty could though. As the tricycle came closer Monty slowed down, it wasn’t Daisy. The man collecting the recycling showed no recognition as Harriet and Monty approached. Monty had to go and have a sniff at the tricycle as he was certain it was the right one but the wrong person. “Hi!” Harriet waved at the man. “Sorry about Monty, I think he recognised the sound of the trike and thought it might have been our usual collector, on Thursdays.”

“Oh, that’s okay. Hello Monty.” He bent down to give Monty a head rub. “We’ve met before, haven’t we.” He said to Monty. Then to Harriet, “Hi, I’m Steve, I’m Daisy’s friend. You’re Harriet, at the workshop, I take it.”

“Yes! That’s me.” Harriet wondered what Daisy might have said about her. “Oh yes, you swapped rounds with Daisy, she told me about that. How is she?”

“Daisy? Daisy’s fine, she talks about you a lot.” Steve winked. “She’s back to house hunting again, has she said?”

She talks about me a lot Harriet thought, I wonder in what way? “No, not since the last time we met. I take it house hunting isn’t easy at the moment.”

“No, I don’t think it is. But Daisy can tell you the details. Anyway, I’d better get on. Nice to see you, I’ll tell Daisy we bumped into each other.” Steve got back on the trike and pedalled away.

“Oh, yes, send her my love. Thank you!” Harriet called out. Oh heck, did I actually say that? Harriet blushed as she turned to walk away. She talks a lot about me, Daisy talks about me! Harriet grinned and felt lighter as she walked. Sensing the change in mood, Monty was was far more bouncy and happy as he walked along side. “Is that was was getting you down? Were you missing Daisy? I was missing Daisy. I should call her, shouldn’t I, Monty.”.


There is a time in life when one realises a change has taken place. Sometimes it is a ground breaking event, other times it is a miniscule shift in awareness, a thought that could be lost forever if it was interrupted just at the moment of its inception. Daisy lay in bed suddenly wide awake. She felt the nervousness of impending embarrassment. Had she made a noise? Did anyone hear her? Her hand was still between her thighs, she left it there and closed her eyes again trying to retreat back into that moment just before she awoke. The memory was fading fast, just moments, flash backs, another hand touching her, the caress of lips and warm breath, her fingers stroking a soft back feeling the bumps of vertebra and the ripple of muscles over a ribcage…
The sudden rush of emotion, tension, and then release had jolted her awake.

Was this how it was supposed to feel? Was this what other people felt? Why now? This moment was no different to yesterday, nothing else had changed. She had spoken with Harriet by phone a number of times previously so what was so different now? Daisy breathed deeply, closing her eyes again and letting her body relax back into the warmth of the mattress. Harriet had phoned her. Harriet, that strange, unconventional, intelligent, talented, beautiful woman had phoned her to ask her if she would like go for a walk.

It had always been Daisy who phoned Harriet, mainly to arrange a time to take Monty for a walk, and though the nature of the conversation was practically no different, this time Harriet had taken the initiative. Daisy was used to her phone ringing, though it tended to happen less often now she wasn’t signed up to any agencies. It could have been one of the recycling team, or Fran, or her Mum, but seeing Harriet’s name appear had made her catch her breath. It was only an invitation to go for another walk, not that there was anything else people could really do during a pandemic lockdown, but Harriet phoning and asking had surprised Daisy enough that she missed a street on her round and had to back track to make the collections.
Daisy drifted off to sleep again with a smile on her face and a warm feeling inside, remembering that Steve had also said ‘Harriet sends her love’.


“Morning Fran. What have you got planned for today then?” Daisy put her breakfast bowl in the sink and began to wash up.

“I dunno.” Fran yawned as she shuffled over in her slippers towards the kettle. “I think I am gonna recycle all that cardboard, it just ain’t doing it for me. Then I’m gonna job hunt, if there’s any jobs I can do.”

Daisy picked up her rucksack and began to put in her packed lunch and flask. “Making miniatures not doing it for you then? Some of it was looking alright.”

“I thought it would be fun, but I just felt like I was doing it for the sake of it, passing time until something happened in life. I might as well been playing solitaire with my time. I need to get out there and have a reason to do stuff. Maybe I’m just bored. Or I need to be outside more, like you, making some vitamin D, but being paid for it.”

“Haha, I’ll let you know if we’re hiring again and we can do bins together.” Daisy laughed. “Though here’s a thought. You can ride a bike, how about being a courier? One of the chaps was telling me last week that they are looking for more couriers to keep up with the amount of stuff people are buying online.”

“You’re kidding me! I cycled to work, sometimes. And I used the gym, sometimes. Pedalling on of those great big things will give me a heart attack!” Fran slumped back in her chair, let her head fall back and made gasping sounds for the full effect. “I reckon I’d be dead, or worse, broken, within a couple of days!”

“I’ll tell Nick you’ll pop over and see him then?” Daisy grinned and headed for work before Fran could protest. “See ya later!”


Fran folded up the last of the cardboard and squeezed it into the recycling box. It was now so full that nothing else could be put in it and it wouldn’t be collected for another three days.
“Damn, I should have kept one of those boxes out to put all the others into! Right, back to job hunting.”
Fran wasn’t very enthusiastic about spending any more time looking at job agency websites. There was nothing useful that morning, and she wasn’t convinced that the afternoon would be any better. Most of the jobs were unsuitable or zero hours gigs, and the rest were too far away to be worth considering without a house move. Maybe that would be an option if Daisy was moving out anyway, and Ingrid wasn’t coming back. But that would mean long commutes or living away until she was sure the job was right.

Her phone rang, it was Daisy.
“Hey Daisy, what’s up?”
“Nick? Who’s Nick?”
“Oh, that Nick. No you didn’t did you?”
“Daisy! Oh you…”
“Okay, okay, I’ll talk to him, and I’ll tell him I can’t ride a bike! But you’ll owe me a pizza for this, Daiz!”

(Chapter 39 here)
(Chapter 41 here)

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