THE END • by Nicola Horn

Church Street was always busy with people bustling and yelling, and Mummy normally kept me very close. Today she let me play outside the butcher’s shop while she bought something for tea, but she warned me to stay by the window.

Funny, it was getting noisier at the end of the street, and there seemed to be a lot more people. A lady hit me on the head with her handbag, and although I didn’t cry I thought I should go inside.

Once I was back in the shop, trying not to look at the poor Peter Rabbits sleeping in the window, I peeped out of the door, tippy-toeing to try and see what the noise was about. Mummy hadn’t noticed anything, she was arguing with Mr Possett.

“Of course I need three chops,” she said. “Heaven knows they aren’t that big, and Flora’s a growing girl.”

Mr Possett muttered something through his beard as he swung his heavy red knife into a block of meat.

“I know it’ll cost, Mr Possett. Doesn’t everything nowadays?” Mummy put her ration book on the counter, shuffled her change in her purse and frowned.

I still couldn’t see what the noise was about. All I’d heard was a single shout, then a few more, then more still. The noise grew louder and louder, but still Mummy didn’t hear.

I decided that this was more important than chops.

“Mummy, what’s that shouting?” I asked.

“Not now, Flora,” she snapped.

“But Mummy, the shouting, what is it?” I asked.

“I said not now! For God’s sake.”

“But the shouting,” I whimpered.

I looked out again, and this time saw a crowd of people dancing up the street. They were laughing and cheering–was it a birthday party? A circus?

I looked at Mummy and Mr Possett, but they hadn’t heard. Mummy was counting out some pennies and looking like she usually looked when I’d done something naughty and was going to get a smack.

A man ran into the shop. His face was red and shiny, and he was smiling as wide as a frog.

“It’s over!” he cried. “It’s over! We won! They bloody surrendered! We won!”

Oh-oh, he said a naughty word.

The man glanced down and saw me staring at him.

“Is your Daddy a soldier?” he asked.

I nodded.

“He’ll be home soon to give you a big hug. And your Mummy too–won’t that be fun?” He thrust a coin into my hand and ran off, laughing as he rejoined the crowd.

I ran to Mummy and tugged her sleeve hopefully.

“Will Daddy be home? Is it true?”

Mummy stood there, tightly holding her purse in both hands.

“Mummy? Is Daddy coming home?”She looked down.

“Yes, he’s coming home. It’ll be strange, that’s all–you’ve grown so much!” She smiled.

I thought of something else and tugged again.

“And Daddy will be so pleased that Uncle Harry’s been looking after us, won’t he?”

Mummy kept smiling, but she was crying too. She must have been very happy to start crying, I knew that grown-ups did that sometimes.

I looked down at the coin still in my hand. A shilling, all for me! And Daddy was coming home too! This was really, really, the best day I’d ever had.

Nicola Horn is a part-time writer, frustrated by the demands of real life. Inspiration comes to her from anywhere–an overheard conversation, another person’s story. When she grows old she will become a scary cat-lady.

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Every Day Fiction