Junction Ahead Added£1.29
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(A short story of 2479 words)

Junction Ahead


by Kath McKay

One morning when I got up, my dad was still at home, dressed in a tight, shiny suit. I’d only ever seen him in that suit on Sundays.

‘Is it Sunday?’ I asked.

He shook his head.

‘Don’t you have to go to work?’

My dad was always at work.

He continued reading the paper, so I grabbed his legs and hung on. He turned a page of the paper. I breathed in the smell of something sharp and unfamiliar, but I couldn’t resist looking at the sheet he was reading. That’s how I’d learnt how to read, from the back of his newspapers.

I always asked him questions about what I read:
‘What’s agrarian reform?’
‘What’s full capacity?’
‘What’s permanent revolution?’
‘Who was Stalin?’

But this time, before I could read very much, my mother waddled down the stairs, legs apart.

‘Leave your father alone.’

Something else was different. Elsie Mac, our neighbour from over the road, was rushing around in our kitchen. She handed me toast. I had to get off my father to eat it. She had her hand on my mother’s arm. Then she smiled at my father, showing yellow teeth. But her eyes weren’t smiley.

‘It’s all right; I’ll stay with her, George.’

He flinched. I’d never heard her call him George before.

‘You take the girl out. Enjoy yourself.’

Something was wrong. My father didn’t like Elsie Mac, or any other women in the house. When Elsie was around, he said my mother ‘Never got anything done.’ He’d once called Elsie an ‘Interfering old busybody.’ Why was Elsie here?...

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