google-site-verification: googlec7224cac6d883d54.html Nora by Charles J Harwood: Nora by Charles J Harwood Chapter 17.2

Nora by Charles J Harwood Chapter 17.2

Sheila had supplied Nancy with a couple of twenties for spending, but was loathe to break into one so early. She snuck into Millie’s room to see if she could find change. Photographs, lace curtains and a parma-violet counterpane roused an urge to mess the place up. On the dresser next to the bed, Nancy spotted Millie’s slimline black purse. In the next room, studio laughter prickled the air. Nancy unfastened the clasp and leafed through to find four tenners. She unzipped the card holder and rummaged through the top pouch. She found several store cards and a passport sized photograph of Millie and Bernadette cheek to cheek. Bernadette might have been Nancy’s age at the time and quite pretty in a sappy sort of way. Bernadette had seized Millie in a garroting sort of embrace that brought an inner repugnance.
Nancy’s fingers found their way back to the tenners. Would Millie notice? Nancy reckoned not, but at that moment, Nancy got the notion her hands had grown large and grubby. If she took the tenner, Nancy could never be let into a secret. The passport-sized photo prodded at her. They loved each other; it was obvious. Nancy wanted to tear the photo up. Instead, she closed Millie’s purse and left it on the bedside table without taking anything.
Nancy made a quiet exit through the back door. Not knowing what else to do, she ambled to the off-license at the top of Stafford Hill. Coke and crisps and change for a twenty. No vodka, no gin. The man behind the counter, Nancy was certain, would have refused to sell liquor to this minor.
Nancy perched herself upon a bench eating crisps. Sitting outside had become a big feature of her life – park benches, bus stations, whatever. Outside was preferable to what home might have in store: one of Sheila’s boyfriends watching the box, socked feet on the coffee table supping brown ale; Sheila holding one of her Ann Summer parties and getting pissed, Sheila in hangover mode or Sheila in a bipolar rage. ‘Where you goin’, Nance?’ ‘Out.’ Always ‘out.’
Nancy glanced across and noticed a boy of about fifteen leaning against the shop front. His skinny frame had yet to fill out his sweatshirt. His lanky features didn’t come together too bad if not for his over-gelled hair. ‘Hi,’ he uttered.
Nancy turned away.
‘Ain’t seen you here before.’
Nancy was used to this and felt no compunction in not answering. The coke-supper was undeterred. From the corner of her eye, she watched him approach.  ‘I already have a boyfriend,’ Nancy lied as he roosted himself upon the arm beside her.
His not-quite-broken voice quivered. ‘Well, that’s just gutted me!’
Thankfully the dusk concealed her blush. ‘I’m only here for a couple of weeks anyway, so just save it, won’t you?’
Another quiver. ‘Stop it, you’re sending bubbles up me nose!’
‘Are you always this rude to strangers?’
Gelled Hair sensed her irony. ‘I dunno. I should take some lessons from you, Crisp Hoarder.’
Nancy proffered the bag. He took one.
‘So what’s your name?’
‘Nancy.’
‘That’s a bit old fashioned, isn’t it?’
‘My mum didn’t think so.’
‘I’m just ribbing you. My name’s Mark. I always come here.’
‘Well, that’s good to know.’
‘Always pleased to serve.’
Nancy grabbed another crisp as Mark swigged his coke. A green Smart Car turned a corner. Nancy scrunched her crisp packet. The driver’s window framed Millie’s tall head. Why did she insist upon that pageboy haircut? Nancy cast her sights onto the littered slabs as the engine cut outside the shops.
‘It’s weird Mrs. Clements.’ Mark commented.

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