Hello, I am taking part in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who don’t know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. (I guess it should be called InaNoWriMo as it is now International!) The idea is to write a novel length story (at least 50000 words) in one month (so at least 1667 words a day for 30 days). Last year I took part and “won” (ie I wrote over 50k in a month). This year I am going to give it another go.
As I did last year I will use @MarianneWest’s daily freewrite prompt as a starting point (so each day I will use themostdangerouswritingapp.com and write for 5 minutes with @mariannewest’s prompt in mind. I will then write another 1500 odd words and publish it on the blockchain so you can see what crap I come up with!
Today is 13th November 2019 and this chapter twelve of my story
I am using @mariannewest’s prompt (from a couple of days ago) to write this story
The prompt is helmet
Sydney sounded exhausted when she eventually phoned, responding to a message Jenny had left her not long after getting on the coach.
"Hard night?" Jenny asked.
"Isn't it always? We had someone brought in by the police. He was wandering the streets completely naked. Well, not completely naked, I suppose. He was wearing a motorcycle helmet. And carrying a large sword."
"We know him. One of our regulars. It’s the first time he’s taken the sword out for a walk down the high street though. Gave people quite a fright.”
“I’m not surprised. He’s lucky he didn’t get shot. People are understandably a little bit sensitive about that kind of behaviour these days.”
“Yes. Luckily, he's well known to the police too. Despite the sword, he is more of a danger to himself than others. He dropped the sword and accepted the dressing gown the police officers gave him once they’d reassured him a bit. But enough of my night. What's happening with your mum?"
Jenny told her what little she knew. Which wasn’t very much.
"Gill called and told me she’d found Mum on the floor. She’s had another ‘turn’ whatever that means.” She took a deep breath. “I guess I do know what that means. She’s had another stroke. It sounds more serious than the last time.”
“Oh, Jen. I’m sorry.” She did sound sorry. Despite the less than warm welcome her mother had extended to Sydney of late, she had always liked her mother. “I’ll see if I can change my shift. I can see if I can wangle some emergency leave. If I can come up and join you, I will.”
“Don’t do that. Not yet. Late’s wait and see what happens. There is likely to be a lot of sitting around doing nothing but waiting, at this point.”
“That’s fine. I’m good at sitting around doing nothing.”
“Ha ha,” Sydney was really not good at sitting around. She was always busy doing something. If she wasn’t working or studying she was exercising, tidying the house, or fixing something. Jenny said she was like a shark: if she stopped moving she’d die. “Seriously, stay where you are. Save your leave. If things really go south, at a later date, I might need you more.”
Silence. Then, “Okay. Yes, you are probably right. But, please Jen, take things easy. The baby needs you as much as your mother.”
“I’ll be good, I promise. I'm on the coach now. I even let a guy help me with my luggage.” On the other end of the phone, Sydney laughed. She knew Jenny hated being treated like a “helpless woman”. As Jenny talked, an old woman with a hat rammed down on her head walked up to the front of the bus and sat down in a seat near the driver. “I’m going to try to get some sleep when we’ve finished talking. I should be in Humpbuckle just in time for Foodie's to open. I'm looking forward to one of Old Zack’s bacon sandwiches."
Foodie’s Haven was a tiny cafe on the seafront. It was run by Old Zack. No one knew how old Zack was but as far as she knew he had always been known as Old Zack. Jenny’s mother had first taken her into that café almost twenty-five years ago, and the decoration - and Old Zack himself - hadn’t changed in all that time. Either he shaved his head or he was bald, and had been since the first day she had seen him. He worked alone, taking the orders, cooking them, serving them and taking payment. It was true it was only small - perhaps twelve people could sit at the tables if they didn’t mind knocking elbows as they ate - but he had plenty of take-outs to manage, as well as people choosing to eat in. Jenny remembered how as a child she had watched him work, marvelling at how he never seemed to be flustered, always smiling, joking with the customers standing at the counter, whistling one tune or another that was almost - but not quite - recognisable.
“Bacon? Really, Jen?”
Ah. Slipped up there didn’t you, Jenny.
Jenny watched the old woman with the woolen hat stand up and talk to the driver. She seemed to be a bit agitated. Jenny could see the driver pointing to the “don’t distract the driver” sign. The woman shook her head. Jenny hoped the woman didn’t cause any trouble. The last thing she needed was for them to have to pull over and have her removed.
“Are you really going to eat a bacon sandwich?”
Sydney had been vegetarian when they met and had recently gone full-on vegan. Sydney was not an evangelical. In all the years Jenny had known her Sydney had never lectured her. Informed her, yes. Lectured no. They never ate meat at home. Never once had Jenny prepared meat or even brought pre-cooked meat into the kitchen they shared. Jenny ate chicken, sometimes, when they ate out.
“You hardly eat any meat,” Sydney said, one morning munching on some toast. “Why don’t you go vegan too. For the sake of your health. And the environment. We have to think about the baby’s future too.”
Jenny’s mother thought it was a stupid idea. Another reason to take against Sydney.
“It’s not good for a child,” her mother had said. “What about rickets?”
“That’s caused by a lack of vitamin D, Mum. You can get that from sunlight.” Her mother wasn’t stupid. But sometimes she said stuff without thinking. “We’re not going to do anything without making sure I am healthy and the baby too.”
Sydney was an excellent cook and always made the effort to prepare balanced meals. She researched carefully - as she did with everything in her life - to make sure the vegan dishes she prepared them both were as nutritious as possible.
“You might need a few extra supplements. But you have to take vitamins and minerals anyway.”
To be honest Jenny had never really eaten much meat. And she enjoyed cooking and eating vegan food.
But she did miss cheese. And bacon.
“You know processed pig meat is the worse. Not just the health risks - and you’ve seen the growing evidence about links to cancer - but also because pigs are so intelligent. They are far more intelligent than dogs. More intelligent than a toddler.”
“I know,” Jenny said. “I meant a veggie bacon sandwitch. Old Zack has a really good vegan menu, now, you know. He likes to move with the times.”
Old Zack did not move with the times.
His menu hadn’t changed - as far as she knew - in twenty-five years. His entire vegan menu consisted of one thing: beans on toast. Jenny thought he might do a veggie burger at lunch time. One of those old fashioned ones that tasted a bit like vegetable soup. But that was cooked on the same hotplate as the meat.
“Why don’t I quite believe you, Jen,” Sydney was laughing. “You do know you are the worst liar. I can hear the nervous laugh you always have when you are telling a little white lie. Whatever, eat what you like. If you have a craving it is probably something the baby needs anyway.” Pause. Then, “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
The old woman was now walking up the coach, talking to the other passangers. None of them seemed interested in what she was saying. She reached Jenny.
“He’s not well, you know.”
“Who’s who? What are you talking about, Jen?”
“Not you, Sydney. It’s someone on the coach. Asking me something.” Jenny put her phone down and smiled at the woman. “Sorry. Who is ill?”
“Really,” Jenny looked at the driver. He looked okay to her.
“Yes. The elves told me.”
“Oh. Okay. Sorry. Can I talk to you later? I’m on the phone.”
The old woman walked past her and Jenny heard her saying something about Government interference to the people behind her.
Jenny picked up the phone.
“Are you still there?”
“Of course I am. What’s happening?”
“Oh nothing. I think there is one of your patients on here. Are you missing someone?”
“Very funny. What’s the problem.”
“There is an old woman with a strange hat talking about elves, government interference and the driver not being well. Just another late night coach journey back home.
“Oh. Okay. Look, Jeff is calling me.” Jenny could hear Jeff’s voice. Sydney’s voice changed to a whisper. “He’s in charge tonight. And he’s making sure everyone knows it.”
“I need to try get some sleep anyway. I can’t imagine I’ll be able too. Not with this lump I’m carrying, and the small seat I’m stuck in. But I’ll try. Take care of yourself, Sydney. And don’t take any shit.”
“Right back at you, Jen.”
Jenny ended the call.
She checked her phone was set to vibrate - she didn’t want to turn it off just in case there was an update from Gill, or the hospital - and then stood up. She reached up and pulled her jumper out of the bag above her head. She wasn’t cold but it would make a half decent pillow.
Her gaze crossed that of the nice man with the ponytail - Matt, was it? She smiled, as if to say “I’m fine, I don’t need any help, thanks”. He looked away, quickly almost as if she had caught him doing something he should be. He seemed to be talking to a young girl, no more than thirteen.
What on earth was she doing on a coach at this time of night?
Jenny suddenly wondered if the nice man with the ponytail was so nice after all.
She took another look. The girl seemed okay. She was smiling and didn’t seem uncomfortable.
But men who preyed on young people were good at making them feel safe, special even.
At first, anyway.
Jenny promised herself to ask the girl if she was alright when they stopped at the services for a comfort break.
She arranged the jumper-pillow as best she could and closed her eyes. Despite the worry about her mother, she drifted off to sleep within minutes.
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