In Time of Struggle

“Oh pleeeease Mummy!” The small girl begged, but to no avail. She shuffled dejectedly behind a flustered woman who was trying to manoeuvre a buggy up the café’s stepped entrance, whilst simultaneously struggling to keep the door open with an out-struck elbow. Inside the buggy, a chubby slumbering face nestled over the top of a creamy crocheted blanket. It was quite remarkable how the baby remained undisturbed, amongst the din of the bustling café.

“No Ellie, you are NOT going to have Sarah round to stay the night. I’ve already told you no and that’s final!” The buggy tipped precariously backwards, sagging helplessly under the weight of several bulging shopping bags. A young woman seated near the entrance, glanced over at the disturbance and swiftly got up to hold the glass door open. 

“Oh thank you!” The mother gushed appreciatively, finally lifting pram and all safely onto the café floor. “Thank you so much!” Warmly returning the mother’s rather strained smile, the slim woman gratefully went back to her seat and resumed sipping her delicious hot chocolate.

“But whyyy?!” The little girl pressed, a whine weaving into her voice.

The stern look returned in a second. “Because I said so. Now stop arguing with me otherwise you won’t be getting any cake at all!” Her mother snapped. “Now go and sit down whilst I order.”

It just isn’t fair! Mummy knows I want Sarah to stay the night so badly. She’s just being horrible and mean! Right, that’s it. I’m not going to talk to her ever again!

Pulling a stony look of silent rage, the girl slumped moodily down at a table near the window, the sudden jerk causing her auburn ringlets to bounce merrily about her flushed face. She crossed her arms sourly and began swinging her legs, causing her pretty green dress to flap up and down.

The last thing she needed was a couple of hyper seven year-olds bouncing around this evening when she was trying to keep her sister with her husband entertained, solely on her own.  There were a million other things she had meant to do today, but they would have to wait. She was so desperate for a coffee! She hadn’t even started thinking about what to cook for dinner and groaned inwardly at the thought of tackling the supermarket now. Roger and Sue surely wouldn’t mind something simple tonight; there were those steaks in the freezer that needed using up…

A familiar stab of misery and pain welled up inside her, as she was agonizingly reminded of how badly she needed him at times like these. Oh how she wished he could be by her side just once more. Even that would be enough. But he was gone. Forever. She had managed to convince everyone else that she could survive, carry on, taking Ellie to school, carry on looking after Charlie, carry on, on her own; she would be okay…but was she really? After two years, she still hadn’t got used to that horrible brand; a black plaque dangled cruelly in front of her vision, with the word 'widow' scrawled onto it in white writing. It was all wrong! Breaking down inside again, the memories crushed her, squeezing a solitary tear sliding down her pale right cheek.

“Excuse me madam, what would you like?” The slightly embarrassed enquiring face of a tall teenage boy brought her out of her reverie.

“Oh sorry, err,” She paused, whilst brushing away the tear as if to rub the side of her face and glanced up at the soave new menu board, squinting at the fancy writing. “I’ll just have a regular latte, please and a piece of that chocolate cake.” She gestured toward the display cabinet and then paid the appropriate money, leaning over to check Charlie was still sleeping soundly. Grasping the tray in one hand and pushing the buggy awkwardly in the other, she made her way towards the table and gladly plonked down the load.

She sat down wearily, bringing up a slender hand to rub her forehead and sighed heavily. Her brown hair ruffled as she ran bony fingers through it, a solitary ring glinting off the newly polished windows. Her arm was brought down heavily onto the table top; she wished this headache would just go away!

Ellie turn towards her mother with large hazel eyes and looked down despairingly at the plate of moist cake she'd extracated from the tray.

“Mummy, I need a fork.”

“I’ll get you one in a min-” Her pupils widened for a split second before her whole body was torn to shreds in an instant. Red droplets spattered the window; the glass then showering out artistically in every direction along with a torn cream blanket, smothered in a dark brown sludge.

The End

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