26th October, 7:2pm
This evening I thought I’d share a short story with you all. I have lots of short stories and poems that I’ll be posting to my blog, so make sure you subscribe to be the first to know when they’ll be posted!
Hope you enjoy.
The Secret of Great Gap
It was a Tuesday morning like any other in the sleepy village of Great Gap. The cold, bright November sun shone down on the thin layer of frost covering the streets like a sprinkling of icing sugar. The roads were relatively quiet, the shops not yet open, the local park empty. Mrs Grunning swung open her front door with floral bag in one hand, dog lead in the other. The icy air hit her soft, creased face with a pang and she shivered, snuggling further into her thick scarf. Closing and locking the door behind her, she adjusted her glasses and glanced up at the neighbouring house. Though it was similar in size and stature to her own, the resemblances ended there. Mrs Grunnings’ beautifully kept front garden and neatly painted door contrasted eminently with the overgrown weeds and peeling paint of the adjacent building, with its broken windows and littered front step. Like every morning, Mrs Grunning walked her pug Betty in the opposite direction of this unattractive sight and pretended not to hear the loud sobs of the young girl who lived there.
Upon Mrs Grunning’s return home, the streets were beginning to fill with young children on their way to school. The girl next door was no exception, though unlike many other children of the village, she did not walk to school with her mother or father. Instead, like clockwork, at 8:45 every morning she waited on the corner for Reggie McDonald and his mother and joined them on their journey.
‘Morning Maddy!’ Reggie greeted her happily. Shifting his school bag to his left arm, he reached out to hold Madeline’s hand. She took it and the two six-year-olds trailed after Reggie’s mother, conversing as six-year-olds do. They spoke of clouds, trains and feet and had almost reached school before Reggie’s mother ended her important phone call and had a proper look at the children.
‘Oh Maddy, sweetie!’ She straightened her jacket and bent down to Madeline’s level. ‘Did Mummy not have time to do your hair again today?’
Madeline did not reply, but stared at Reggie’s mother, her sea blue eyes piercing.
‘Maddy’s mummy doesn’t like doing hair, I don’t think,’ Reggie commented thoughtfully. Reggie’s mother smiled, producing a hairband from her pocket; one she always carried for Madeline
‘Come here sweetheart.’ She gently turned the young girl and scraped her knotted hair into a ponytail. Madeline said nothing.
Once inside the school gates, Reggie ran off to put his coat on his peg whilst Madeline wandered into the classroom. She caught sight of her reflection in the small mirror on the door and gave herself a rare smile; she liked her hair in a ponytail. The children began filing in and Madeline quickly took her seat, disliking the commotion. She sat on the same table as Reggie, though not next to him as she would have liked. Instead, she sat next to Mary Clarke who always sat up straight and knew the right answers. ‘Hi Maddy,’ Mary greeted her, sliding into her own seat. Madeline took in Mary’s neatly plaited hair and freshly washed face and said nothing.
At lunchtime Mr Green was on duty. A tall, bald man, he worked only at the school for a small but steady income and lacked interest in the children. He filled the rest of his time selling large quantities of substances he kept in his cellar to local teenagers and business men and Madeline’s mother. When several children approached him that lunchtime claiming that Madeline was scratching her wrists with sticks, he of course sent them away without another thought. Resolving those kinds of incidents were above his job description.
When 3.30pm arrived, the children spilled out of Oakley Lower School clutching bags and books and important letters, and the teachers stood at the doorways waving them out. Reggie McDonald went to After School Club, so when Madeline was ushered out of school by Ms Harrison that day it was assumed that she would tag along with another child to walk home. To some extent, this was true; Madeline simply followed the crowds of children and their parents down Oakley Street and took the third left to Johnsons Way, to the house next door to Mrs Grunning. If Mrs Grunning or Reggie’s mother or Mr Green or Ms Harrison suspected anything about Madeline, they kept it to themselves. Perhaps if any of them knew what was going to happen once Madeline returned home on that Tuesday afternoon, they would have acted differently.