Friday, 21 February 2020

Extract Friday (3 of 3)

Three weeks in and 31,000 words written. The first draft is almost (but not quite) complete. As it's "Extract Friday", here's another chunk. This is the last extract I'll be posting. I have something else lined up for next week.

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I was on the last push to get out of the office and pick up Freya from school. I cursed myself for leaving it so late but I was working on spreadsheets and was trying to cram in just a little more data entry. I had to pick up Freya at ten past three. It was five to, and the drive was ten minutes away. But then I remembered that I hadn't got the bloody food. I needed to find something not too nutritionally vacant. I ran onto the shop floor and over to the Italian ready meals aisle, panic-bought a lasagne for two, a bag of salad, and a garlic bread. I also got some apple juice and some ice-cream. My last stop was the toy aisle to pick up a Kyoot Spighdaz Blind Bag, a "collect them all" toy that comes in a foil wrapper meaning you don't know which one you'll get. I knew she loved them. After I paid for everything I retrieved the batteries which I had asked Amy on the tills to run through for me earlier.

I dropped the shopping onto the back seat of my car, next to Freya's car seat, which she would have to use until she was eleven (or one hundred and forty centimeters as the manual said, whichever came first). As she was only five I had a long time to wait. The sooner we got rid of that car seat the better. I drove as fast as I could through the busy afternoon town, which was only letting me do about ten miles per hour. Half the world appeared to be out running errands, or trying to get from one place to another. There seemed to be quite a few parents like me around, dashing across roads and hurrying back to big tank-like SUVs on the last push to get things done before the school run.

I couldn't risk being late. Fifteen minutes or so after the designated pick up time, the school starts making phone calls, and inevitably Steph's mobile is the first on the list. Not only would there be the embarrassment of not being there on time to collect your child, who was supposed to be (and was) the most precious thing in your world, but then you had to deal with the fallout from the child itself, crying because she was the last one to be picked up after having suffered the mounting drama of watching the door to the classroom open twenty-five times, only to see that it wasn't them being collected. And if Steph got a call from the school while she was in Geneva on this conference I'd seriously be in the shit.

It didn't go as far as a phone call, which was a relief. The worst of it was a grim look from Mrs Hill. Freya ran to me when I appeared at the door. She gave me a huge hug around my legs which made my heart want to escape my chest. When she released me I walked over to her tiny table and loaded myself up with her lunchbox, coat, a painting of a summer scene and her cardigan. I consoled myself with the fact there was one other boy in the classroom waiting to be collected.

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